Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Quote of the Time Since the Last Quote of the...

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. Jonathan Swift.
I have little doubt that Swift meant this in a derogatory manner.  But I take this quote as a bit of positive advice.  Many things, such as subjective preferences, have nothing to do with reason, though sometimes we attempt to rationalize such preferences after the fact.

I hate the color pink. Ugly, ugly, ugly, in my subjective opinion.  I didn't reason my way into that preference and nobody can reason me out of it.  Swift's quote points out that it's pointless to try and that it's a good idea to figure what things are just preferences to avoid silly debates - like arguing about my aesthetic revulsion to the color pink.

204 comments:

1 – 200 of 204   Newer›   Newest»
Hey Skipper said...

I think I reasoned myself into atheism.

I know I spent a lot of time on a jeremiad against religion.

I'm certain others have reasoned me into a far more charitable opinion.

I know there was a time when I believed blacks to be an inferior form of humanity.

I know that evidence rubbished that knowledge.

There are more examples, but the point remains: absolutes are absolutely wrong.

Peter said...

Many things, such as subjective preferences, have nothing to do with reason

Not so fast. It may appear unreasonable to have a strong aversion to a colour (especially one so strong one feels impelled to keep blogging about it :-)), but is there anything unreasonable about having a favourite colour? Suppose you said "I love green--can't get enough of it". Would anyone other than unreasonable subversive pink-lovers try to reason you out of that? And if it's not unreasonable to have a colour one loves, how can it be unreasonable to have a colour one hates? Is it the preference or intensity that is unreasonable? Reason is not the same as narrow rationalism.

I'm certain others have reasoned me into a far more charitable opinion.

We don't need no stinkin' charity, Skipper. I'm not sure how you reasoned yourself into a negative, but in any event, it's a modern secular conceit that reason is on one side of the debate. It's true one can't reason onself into belief in a particular religion or things like scriptural authority, but it is certainly possible to reason oneself to the belief that there is design and purpose in the universe and life based on evidence and logic. Acquinas did it and many other have too. It's arguably much easier today than fifty years ago, given fine-tuning arguments about physical laws, the cosmological constant and the statistical improbability of the spontaneous generation of life. Indeed, notable physicists like Paul Davies have remarked how the desperate attempts of many physicists to avoid anything smacking of teleology by dabbling in wild theories about mulitverses or self-replicating universes say more about human psychology than evidence-based scientific inquiry.

Bret said...

Peter asked: "...is there anything unreasonable about having a favourite colour?"

Having a favorite color (or favorite spelling for color/colour :-) is neither reasonable nor unreasonable. The preference is completely orthogonal to reason.

Peter asked: " Is it the preference or intensity that is unreasonable?"

Neither. For example, let's say that I hated pink so much that I became violently ill every time I was exposed to it. That would be a pretty intense preference against pink, yet it wouldn't be unreasonable. It would just be.

If I love blue (I'm not particularly a fan of green either) and you love pink, it would be pointless for us to debate the merits of the colors (colours) and/or our preferences. Instead, we should try to figure out if we can structure our surroundings such that we can both enjoy it, with me being mostly exposed to blue and you mostly exposed to pink.

Likewise, debating the merits of small government versus big government is also pointless. I will still greatly prefer small government regardless of the benefits of big government and someone like Krugman will prefer as big a government as possible even if it were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that small government had more merit.

The real discussion, the discussion that could be fruitful, is how can we structure things such that Krugman can live under the biggest, most bureaucratic government possible, and how can I live under the smallest, least intrusive government possible, at the same time, just like the blue and pink example above.

That discussion, if it led to something workable, would bring the greatest happiness and fulfillment to the most people and would bring harmony to Angry America.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "I think I reasoned myself into atheism."

That's interesting. So you were a believer once?

I've always been agnostic simply because I've never believed. Though I've never believed in "not-God" either nor do I believe that all religious dogma is without merit.

I was bit anti-religious for a while when I was younger but mostly because I just couldn't understand how anyone could believe that which I didn't. Now I'm perfectly comfortable with the fact that many things I believe have nothing to do with reason and therefore have no problem with other people believing things that have may or may not have anything to do with reason.

Peter said...

Bret, here's a visual represenation of your dream society. Looks like paradise.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I just don't think Krugman would quite agree with you.

For all he has written, I believe he reasoned himself in whatever positions he has on government and the economy. And you should be able to reason a man out of a thing he was reasoned into, unless you prefer to deny the converse of your quote.

OTOH, your confession, that you would not change your mind regardless of facts, does play along what he believes about conservatives.



erp said...

Bret, you were probably exposed to copious amounts of pink before you were emotionally prepared for the onslaught of the hue when your two little girls were born.

I predict, when a granddaughter is born, you will be able to tolerate the adorable cherub bedecked in pink quite well.

Others beliefs, even if unfathomable, are fine with me as long as they aren't forced on the rest of us.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I just don't think Krugman would quite agree with you."

Krugman certainly would NOT agree with me (at least not publicly). However, in my opinion, to paraphrase Heinlein, Krugman is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal, and is finding reasons to fit his ideologies. And neither you nor he will be able to reason me out of that opinion. :-)

Clovis wrote: "OTOH, your confession, that you would not change your mind regardless of facts, does play along what he believes about conservatives."

There's a subtlety that you're either ignoring or missing. I did NOT say that I wouldn't change my mind regardless of facts. I said that facts would not change my preference. No matter how wonderful you prove to me that pink is, I'm still not going to like pink. No matter how wonderful you (or Krugman*) prove to me that big government is, I'm still going to prefer small government.

Can you see the distinction, or is that too subtle for you? It might well also be too subtle for Krugman.

The point being, if you and/or Krugman could understand that subtlety, we'd potentially be able to have much more productive conversations and work towards solutions that would benefit everybody.

*Of course I don't think you or Krugman have proved any such thing.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

---
Indeed, notable physicists like Paul Davies have remarked how [...]
---

I guess few non-specialized weblogs, like this one, have people well informed enough to cite Paul Davies. I am happy to see this reference here.

He is a prolific and superb science popularizer, but he also happened to make very good contributions in my field of Physics. I've read many of his papers more than twice, they are the kind you go back to now and then, to take still another angle you overlooked before.


Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Can you see the distinction, or is that too subtle for you?
---

I did not miss or ignored it, it is just that your initial phrase was ambiguous. You said "I will still greatly prefer small government regardless of the benefits of big government". That could be equally interpreted as I did above (without bounds) or in a more limited way.

I've taken the unlimited interpretation when answering you, for it would be more provocative - see, I learned something with Krugman :-)

Anyway, I don't really see any improvement at all if both sides recognize all their differences as mere preferences. Different from the blue/pink analogy, we are not talking about different surroundings that can be easily adjusted to the one living closer to it. Politics is much more of a zero-sum game by comparison.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Politics is much more of a zero-sum game by comparison."

Only if you insist on that. Just as you could insist that everyone live in a pink house.

That's one of the points of federalism. We can have big government states for big government folk and small government states for small government folk.

But to take that step, everyone has to move away from the "we're gonna ram our way of doing it down everyone else's throats 'cause we know what's good for them - they're just too ignorant and stupid to understand that." And by everyone, I mean liberals and conservatives alike.


Clovis wrote: "...your initial phrase was ambiguous.

Hmmmm. I think not. The word "prefer" defines the meaning pretty clearly. I'd blame it on having English as a 2nd language (or 3rd or whatever it is for you), but your English is so good now that I'll go with your explanation of wanting to "more provocative" like Krugman. :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Clovis wrote: "...your initial phrase was ambiguous.
[Bret] Hmmmm. I think not. The word "prefer" defines the meaning pretty clearly.
---
No, wait, I insist on analysing it for my own learning:

"I will still greatly prefer small government regardless of the benefits of big government"

I say it is ambiguous because you do not define magnitude. You say "regardless of the benefits of big government", but suppose I could prove that big government is the only good possible option, with small government always leading to nazism after some time (again, just suppose so), then would you still abide by that phrase? Probably not. You are assuming that both have some limited benefits, but that you do not want to care about those for the big government case, but that is still ambiguous for I need to assume you are assuming that.


---
That's one of the points of federalism. We can have big government states for big government folk and small government states for small government folk.
---
But do you think that the problems pro-Big Government people want to address can be tackled only at State level? Most of them would say it is not enough, so in their eyes you want them sticking to a tool that is not suitable, which amounts to them giving up on their color. A zero sum game again.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I say it is ambiguous because you do not define magnitude."

I don't think so.

Prefer indicates an inclination, not an action. Let's go back to color. If you could prove that if houses aren't painted pink we'd descend into Nazism, I might choose to live in a pink house or go along with society as they forced me to live in a pink house, but I would still prefer blue houses.

I prefer summer to winter but I still live through winters. I prefer blondes, but prior to getting married I did date some brunettes. I prefer sporty cars but I drive a minivan with 175,000 miles on it. I prefer small government but live under the biggest government the planet has ever seen. I would still prefer small government even in the absurd scenario where it was guaranteed to lead to Nazism, but I wouldn't probably act on that preference/inclination.

The point is that sometimes we don't act on our preferences. However, value and harmony are maximized when most people's preferences can be met.

Clovis wrote: "But do you think that the problems pro-Big Government people want to address can be tackled only at State level?"

Since the pro-Big Government people often hold up Sweden as a prime example of utopia and Sweden's population is smaller than most states, the answer is clearly no.

Well, except one. If one's preference is to ram one's ideology, world view, and way of life down as many throats as possible, then that "problem" can only be solved by subjugating everyone.

erp said...

According the Wikipedia, Sweden at just under 10 million has plus or minus one million more people than the five boroughs on NYC. Queens, one of the boroughs, where I was born and bred has one quarter of Sweden's pop. and among them I'd bet are representatives of every race, religion, ethnicity and national origin on the planet. Certainly the very large high school I attended (over 7,000 students) had diversity such that Swedes couldn't imagine.

Sweden is only the exception that proves the rule and even at that, it's fraying at the edges.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I am happy I've insisted on clarifying that point, I did learn something. Thanks for the patience.

As for comparisons with Sweden, you can use them one way or the other. A big-govt. type would say that you can surely move within states in Sweden without loosing your healthcare, your pension contributions, etc, so it is only fair for him to want the same freedom in the entire USA.

The irreconcilable point between small and big govt. worldviews is that one demands higher taxes while the other demans lower ones, that can only be a zero sum game. And it is not really (or only) about "one's preference is to ram one's ideology, world view, and way of life down as many throats": it is clear that states taxing too much compared to others will have competitive troubles, so it is part of the big govt. scheme to make sure the taxes have some level of uniformity.

Sorry Bret, but one way or the other, even if everybody agree this is all about color preference, one color denies the other in too many ways.

But don't worry, it looks like the GOP will dominate both congress and senate very soon, your color gonna be all around then.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

A big-govt. type would say that you can surely move within states in Sweden without loosing your healthcare, your pension contributions, etc, so it is only fair for him to want the same freedom in the entire USA.

And so he would, except for Big Government (health insurance doesn't go across state lines because the federal government prohibits it). As for pensions, that freedom exists now in the USA and would continue to do so under either model (unless the Big Government model leads to the Big Government confiscating those pensions).

I do find it interesting that in the two examples you pick, the problem is Big Government. Do you think it's reasonable for the pro-Big Government person to complain about the results of the very thing he demands?

Also, how often is the discussion here about taxes, and how often about some other aspect of Big Government? In all seriousness I think taxes are one of the minor points of disagreement. If you want a reference, read the last 10 or 20 posts here.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
And so he would, except for Big Government (health insurance doesn't go across state lines because the federal government prohibits it).
---
Please, explain it a little bit more to me. I don't really understand why you guys have this restriction. And is it the Federal Govt. fault or something someone figured out from your old good Constitution?

You live in Illinois, right? If you travel for holidays in Florida, for example, how covered were you before ACA? And now after ACA?

Now, if you move to Florida, how sure were you that you could get insured in Florida if, for example, you had pre-conditions? Now, after ACA, I understand you are sure to get some reasonable insurance.

So I don't know about how the restrictions to take your insurance with you worked (or still work) in the US, but I know you are going to get insured anywhere you go now, hence to a fair extent you've got the next best thing other than keeping your insurance while moving.


---
As for pensions, that freedom exists now in the USA [...]
---
I know, but not thanks to small govt. types, right? You can't complain the govt. is too big and point out to big govt. achievements as good evidence in favor of your position for small govt., don't you agree?

---
Also, how often is the discussion here about taxes, and how often about some other aspect of Big Government? In all seriousness I think taxes are one of the minor points of disagreement.
---
I really disagree on this one, AOG. There are few points being discussed here that do not ultimately reflect on taxes. I don't think you would be so mad about ACA had it not implied higher costs for you. I also do not think you would be so critical about welfare had not you the feeling you are paying for the party. In the end of the day, it is almost only about taxes (in its many forms).


Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...even if everybody agree this is all about color preference, one color denies the other in too many ways."

There's an unfortunate asymmetry. I just don't want to live in a pink house but have no problem with others living in a pink house. Unfortunately, many people want to force me to live in a pink house. It's no different than religion where to not follow the pink house dogma, one is labeled a heretic and punished severely.

Clovis wrote: "...it looks like the GOP will dominate both congress and senate very soon, your color gonna be all around then."

Unfortunately, the GOP is also a party of Big Government, so no, my color won't be all around then either.

Clovis wrote: "A big-govt. type would say that you can surely move within states in Sweden without loosing your healthcare, ..."

And one could move anywhere in, say, California, which is 4 times larger than Sweden, and keep all that. In other words, Sweden is clearly big enough for Big Government and therefore so is California.

Clovis wrote: "... your pension contributions, etc,"

My pension(s) are collectible anywhere in the world.

Clovis wrote: "...so it is only fair for him to want the same freedom in the entire USA."

Why stop at the border? Shall we invade Brazil and ram the same "freedoms" down your throats? Why should he care more about someone 1,000 miles away versus someone 10,000 miles away? Someone in Mississippi rather than someone in Mozambique? Shall the U.S. build a global empire so that everyone can enjoy "freedoms"? If it's not okay to do that outside our borders, why is it okay inside? Because we citizens are weak and easy targets? Does that make it moral?

The bottom line is that the Big Governments types have essentially invaded our space and subjugated us, made us serfs, and tax and regulate away, and there's nothing we can do about it. I say "invaded" because they took over and tossed our constitution and therefore our heritage and birthright. I feel more like a prisoner-of-war than a citizen (note the phrase "feel more like" so be careful how you paraphrase this statement).

As long as Big Government continues to be rammed down my throat and those like me who strongly resent it, we will remain Angry America and our civil society will continue to fray. My guess is that it will eventually end in tears for nearly everybody.

The solution is simple. Many states like California can boost the size of government and become socialist utopias. Others, like Texas can be more Laissez Faire. Then, mostly dismantle the Federal Government. People can move where they want.

We could all be happy.

Except. Too many people insist on ramming Big Government down EVERYBODY's throats.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
There's an unfortunate asymmetry. Unfortunately, many people want to force me to live in a pink house. It's no different than religion where to not follow the pink house dogma, one is labeled a heretic and punished severely.
---
Do you know what is symmetric? This sense of victimhood and powerlessness. In many blogs of Left-wing-pro-Big-Govt-welfare types, there is just this same sense of losing the battle and getting overwhelmed by the other side.


---
Unfortunately, the GOP is also a party of Big Government, so no, my color won't be all around then either.
---
Well, I have the impression AOG would be happy enough, I did not know you thought the GOP would still be pink.

---
Why stop at the border? Shall we invade Brazil and ram the same "freedoms" down your throats?
---
Well, I believe that's a rhetorical question, you surely know well how the world is still pretty much based on nationalities and everything they entail. That's even more evident when talking to Americans, who enjoy a lot differentiating themselves from the rest of the human race.

As for invading Brazil to impose Big Government... Bret, you have no idea. Were you to invade us, you would be so scared by the size and idleness of our governement that you would run away pretty fast. Really, any direction we take to be more like the US would only entail to make our government to lose fat. You guys are way more slim by comparison. I laugh a bit every time you say you live under the biggest government of the world. I don't think you do. Multiply by ten every disgustful experience you have in the US with paralyzing bureacracy, and maybe you start to get Brazil.

Maybe the problem is, I live in so much pink that I can't phantom how a guy in so much blue like you can complain.



Annoying Old Guy said...

Please, explain it a little bit more to me. I don't really understand why you guys have this restriction. And is it the Federal Govt. fault or something someone figured out from your old good Constitution?

It is because of a law passed and enforced by the federal government. Who else would be at fault?

You live in Illinois, right? If you travel for holidays in Florida, for example, how covered were you before ACA? And now after ACA?

Completely covered - as we found out when Boy Two had a skiing accident in Wisconsin. For now. It's unclear what will happen when my health insurance is no longer exempted and I have to comply with the ACA. That is, the ACA can only make things worse for me.

Now, if you move to Florida, how sure were you that you could get insured in Florida if, for example, you had pre-conditions? Now, after ACA, I understand you are sure to get some reasonable insurance.

If you call the ACA policies "reasonable" which I don't. This was also possible before ACA and quite doable if you were previously insured in another state. The fact is that the ACA actually *decreases* portability by creating sub-state regions for insurance.

So I don't know about how the restrictions to take your insurance with you worked (or still work) in the US

Then on what basis did you make your comment about needing Big Government to keep health insurance? "I don't know how it works but I do know you need Big Government" is your point of view?

I know you are going to get insured anywhere you go now, hence to a fair extent you've got the next best thing other than keeping your insurance while moving.

How is that different than before, other than if I move before September or so I can no longer get insurance because the open enrollment period has ended? I think if you are going to make these pronouncements, you should first find out the actual facts rather than admitting you have no idea if your claims have any connection to reality.


I know, but not thanks to small govt. types, right?

Certainly we don't have pensions due to small government types. We also don't have jobs and sunshine because of small government types. Therefore, what?

You can't complain the govt. is too big and point out to big govt. achievements as good evidence in favor of your position for small govt., don't you agree?

Yes. That's why I don't point out Big Government achievements.

I really disagree on this one, AOG. There are few points being discussed here that do not ultimately reflect on taxes. I don't think you would be so mad about ACA had it not implied higher costs for you.

You are free to think that, although it is not true. I have repeatedly pointed out things that aren't taxed based as my objection (including in this comment), but I can't argue with someone who is willing to simply assume facts to show his viewpoint is valid.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...the world is still pretty much based on nationalities and everything they entail..."

And that's the problem.

The United States is not a nation. We were, but not anymore. We were a nation based on the premises of liberty, rule-of-law, constitution, and limited federal government with checks and balances to restrict government power.

Without that, we are 300 million people of all nationalities, all races, all creeds. We are groups that have, throughout history, fought terrible wars against each other, committed genocides against each other, stolen land and treasure from each other, looted, raped, and pillaged each other, and committed numerous other atrocities against each other.

Without the founding principles, we're moving back to that state rapidly, though by rapidly I mean over decades or even centuries.

I don't think it will be a happy ending.

And given that we're not really a nation in the sense of shared history, culture, and genetics, I'll re-ask the question. Does Ned in New York really have any more right (other than Might Makes Right) to force Ken in Kentucky to live under his rule than Beto is Brazil or Moe in Mozambique? If so, why?

erp said...

Bret, you're exactly right. That's why they broke the melting pot. It was working too well.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
It is because of a law passed and enforced by the federal government. Who else would be at fault?
---
I don't get the intent of that.


---
Then on what basis did you make your comment about needing Big Government to keep health insurance? "I don't know how it works but I do know you need Big Government" is your point of view?
---
Sorry, you misunderstood my initial phrase on Sweden and I complied with it.

I've meant any person living in the county of Stockholm, with his free health insurance provided by his state and paid for by his taxes, could move to Kronoberg county and expect to keep his insurance.

You've changed my initial meaning to a mixed up US reality and I should not have played along.


---
How is that different than before, other than if I move before September or so I can no longer get insurance because the open enrollment period has ended? I think if you are going to make these pronouncements, you should first find out the actual facts rather than admitting you have no idea if your claims have any connection to reality.
---
It is just so ironic that, after showing your ignorance about your own healthcare system, you rebuke me for my lack of detailed knowledge on a healthcare system 7000 Km away.

You are wrong, AOG, for you sure can sign up for a new insurance any time you need when moving through States.

And how about learning how your own health insurance will change in the near future, in order to be able to answer the questions on cover I've made above, before giving me any other reprimand?


---
[On pensions] We also don't have jobs and sunshine because of small government types. Therefore, what?
---
Different from jobs and sunshine, welfare as we know it now has been devised in the earlier Big Government expansion of modern times. Go read about Otto von Bismarck.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
And given that we're not really a nation in the sense of shared history, culture, and genetics, I'll re-ask the question. Does Ned in New York really have any more right (other than Might Makes Right) to force Ken in Kentucky to live under his rule than Beto is Brazil or Moe in Mozambique? If so, why?
---
I don't buy your premise that you are not really a nation, hence I can't answer the question followed by it.

You've just stated a very particular definition of how your country is defined by your blue preferences, hence all this pink around makes it not your country anymore.

I don't really have anything to do with all these feelings and pink/blue battles about your country, so you are really asking the wrong person. What I can tell you though is that, looking from my far away point of view, few countries look so much like a real Nation as yours.

erp said...

aog & Bret:

Translation of Clovis' comments above:

Who ya gonna believe, me aka as the lefty juggernaut, or your lyin' eyes?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I don't get the intent of that.

Neither do I, yet there it is, a product of Big Government that makes things harder for citizens. That makes it bizarre for you to claim the opposite as a benefit of Big Government.

I've meant any person living in the county of Stockholm, with his free health insurance provided by his state and paid for by his taxes, could move to Kronoberg county and expect to keep his insurance.

And, therefore ...? If that has no relevance to the USA, why bring it up? Here in the USA I could move anywhere and keep my pension as well, and the only reason I couldn't keep my insurance is because of Big Government.

As for health insurance and moving under the ACA, your claim is that it's not any worse than before. Wow, that's a triumph. While in theory you can get a hardship exemption for moving, we'll see how that works out in practice, just like "if you like your insurance you can keep it" and "the ACA will reduce health care costs". I would ask, how does it benefit me to have to fill out additional government forms in order to do something I could have done before the ACA?

welfare as we know it now has been devised in the earlier Big Government

What does the welfare state have to do with any of this? It is because of the welfare state that I have a smaller pension, so it's already prevented me from keeping all of my pension. Again, you credit Big Government for doing something when in reality it does exactly the opposite.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...few countries look so much like a real Nation as yours."

What about it looks like a "real Nation?"

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I went for the dictionary:

juggernaut (ˈdʒʌɡəˌnɔːt)
n
1. any terrible force, esp one that destroys or that demands complete self-sacrifice
2. (Automotive Engineering) Brit a very large lorry for transporting goods by road, esp one that travels throughout Europe.


As I hardly hope to fit the second option - although I would like to have a big truck for that, it would be fun - I can only conclude you are calling me the first one.

I ask myself what have I done to deserve such a horrible label. I swear to you Erp, I've never killed any kitten in life.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

There were Americans before there was your Constitution. The first made the last one, not the contrary.

I am aghast with your notion that somehow Americans would not have a common history or culture.

After beating the greatest Empire the World has ever known, you went to build the new greatest Empire the World has ever known. Meanwhile you redefined what is understood as Western culture, reshaped so many world boundaries and launched the greatest technological revolution mankind has ever seen.

In between setting your feet on the Moon and giving the main instruments that allowed us to understand how the Universe itself begun, you also managed to inspire the whole world into becoming a better place. I was born and grew up in the 80's, and there were few nations back then not taking you as role models. Probably that is still true today.

While visiting the Kennedy Space station last year, there was a much touched piece of Moon's rock in a room full of kids. The father of one of them was explainig to him, with his face lit up, how one astronaut, contrary to the orders he received, took with him a golf's club and ball, and made the first Golf shot ever in the Moon to look up where the ball would go.

I can't describe to you the mix of proudness and happiness in his boy's face, or even the mix of envy and happiness I was myself feeling. There is only one Nation where people can talk like that to his children.


Apart from all that, there is also that two most great achievements America gave to the world. Gosh, pizza and burgers would never be so good were we depending only on Italians and Germans, that's for sure.

erp said...

A figurative juggernaut, not a literal one.

Sorry, I don't get the snark about kittens.

erp said...

No, Clovis there were no Americans as you are using the word, i.e., citizens of the U.S. before the founding documents. The people living here were indigenous peoples or citizens of various countries around the world.

If you recall, we were colonists.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I don't know how someone can be a figurative "terrible force", but anyway, I will find any day some arcane word to describe you too.

I am amazed by your concept that, because a few people signed up a document written "Constitution" on it, suddenly every one living around went into an existence completely separated from the second before the pens wriggled. That must be a sacred and miraculous document indeed, how come it is not in the Bible?

Bret said...

Clovis,

I want to live the place you just described!

Oh wait! I did once.

Sadly, that place is gone.

Though the pizza and burgers are still quite excellent, so at least we've got something left!

Perhaps it's just a matter of too much information. When I was a kid, we had this news anchor name Walter Cronkite on CBS, one of only 3 common TV channels in the country. Every night, he would end the newscast by saying, "And that's the way it is, Monday April 14" and we would all nod our heads and think to ourselves, yup, that's the way it is.

Later we learned that that wasn't necessarily the way it was at all, but perhaps the illusion of unity and reality were worth a lot. One of those ignorance is bliss kind-of-things.

It was during that era that those moon rocks were retrieved.

There's no way we could do that again.

Peter said...

Bret, Bret, get a grip. It is, of course, the birthright of every Canadian to trash America at will, but we don't like it when others do it and we sure don't like it when you do. It upsets the natural order of the universe and, besides, we don't believe you.

I'm with Clovis on how extraordinary (one might say exceptional) it is to define one's enire nation and relationship with fellow citizens with reference to abstract ideals in a two hundred year old constitution. No other country I can think of would do such a thing, except to a limited extent France, with whom you share more than you think. Your common problem is a revolutionary past and far too much classical architecture. I recommend a healthy dose of the meandering, irrational Gothic the rest of the Anglosphere favours.

I must question whether your history substantiates this pastoral, innocent Arcadia you and erp long to return to. Certainly your Canadian neighbours have always had a hard time seeing it, but then you are talking about a country whose enire history of deaths by political violence doesn't add up to a typical week in Bleeding Kansas.

It's never too late to hit the road to discover America. Bring your sense of humour along.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I'm still waiting for a listing of what the Big Government types expect from Big Government, other than stealing other people's stuff and being Puritanical scolds, having dispensed the claims about pensions and healthcare (which were made worse by Big Government). Or is it that Big Government types want Big Government as an abstract concept, but not the actual effects of it?

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

It is just so hard to make a constructive discussion from you premises. If you genuinely think anyone defending big governement is a thief preaching virtue, why to even listen to them? Keep on your path of hate for anyone who thinks differently.

Clovis e Adri said...

Here, AOG, take this for starters:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/kristof-where-the-gop-gets-it-right.html?src=rechp&_r=0

If you care to pay attention on what soutions he prescribes, you'll see some of them may well lead to government getting bigger, but not all of them.

Let me also say that, although you guys like to state it as Big Govt. x Small Govt., I don't think that all actions liberals/prorgessives preach necessarily involve a bigger government.

The contrary, though, looks to be true: you guys look to be so much more focused on making govt. small, instead of making problems out there solved. You may believe in this magical thinking that everything will sort out by itself if you just take the govt. out, but don't blame your fellow citizens if they aren't such fans of fairy tales.

Annoying Old Guy said...

You could always make an argument from your premises, if mine are so difficult. It certainly doesn't seem constructive to assume that if my premises are different, I must on a "path of hate". Or is stating my views honestly and forthrightly "hate"?

Why do I listen to other people? The rubber duck programming effect. Also, I don't assume I am omniscient, nor do I fear those who think differently.

Having read your article, as far as I can see every one of his policies leads to bigger government. His policies are based on the false presumption "if X is good, it is good if the government does X".

I focus on making government smaller because in my view most of our problems stem from government being to big, therefore making it smaller is reducing many problems. You attach a false view to me, that "everything will sort out by itself if you just take the govt. out" which is not my view at all. What I have said, over and over, is that in our crazy mixed up world, government makes things more mixed up and crazier, not that its removal will make things perfect. Again, I refer you to "The Vision of the Anointed" by Sowell which explores this much better than I can.

You call it "magical thinking" but I call it the judgement of history, that small, strong, focused governments do best.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[...] nor do I fear those who think differently.
---
I fear thiefs, don't you? If you think every one out there taking positions that leads to big govt. are thiefs, you better fear them as well.

Do you believe that, behind Mr. Kristof positions above, he is hiding that he ultimately only want to "steal other people's stuff"?

I see someone in a sincere search for solutions for real problems out there. He may be wrong, his solutions may be all useless or worse, but he doesn't strike me as much of a thief. Look, he is even trying to listen to Republican positions and sort out how right they were after all. When was the last time I've seen someone here trying the same...? I think that maybe Skipper, remotely, may have hinted on something alike.

erp said...

Peter, This one's for you: Move along. No guns were used.

BTW - We drove and camped all over the U.S., every state but Alaska & Hawaii, we also drove tens of thousands of miles throughout Canada and Mexico with the kids and without them when they grew up and everywhere we went we found regular people.

In the U.S. we found Americans just like ourselves wherever we went.

North country people were pretty much the same except for the funny way they say some words like, "about." Not once did we encounter the holier-than-thou attitude displayed by some Canadians who take their pacific nature as some kind of badge of honor while all the while standing behind big brother protecting them with our huge military.

South of the border was wonderful. We drove all over Mexico, not just the tourist spots. Ordinary people were friendly and helpful and didn't make fun of my primitive Spanish, at least not until they helped us and we were out of earshot. :-)

We also drove many miles all over Spain, France, England and Scotland and never once encountered any but friendly helpful people – well maybe some shopkeepers you know where. ;-]

So while you may think I'm fantasizing, I am not. That's the way things were for very ordinary middle class people before the elitists took over and made our lives "fairer" and in the process doing (very) well by doing (no) good.

Annoying Old Guy said...

No, I think Mr. Kristoff is more of the Puritanical Scold type. I think he's willing to steal do that (although he would never think of it as theft) but his real motivation is running other people's live in accordance with his superior intellect.

I would note that the Puritans were quite sincere in their efforts to improve people's lives as well.

I would note that I do listen to other people, which is quite different from disagreeing with them, or (more accurately in this case) disagreeing with your description of his position.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Can you explain to me what do you have against the Puritans that makes you to scold them so much?

Didn't they set the foundation of your beloved country?

Annoying Old Guy said...

I don't scold them, I call them scolds. No, the Puritans didn't set the foundation of the USA, although they were very influential and a strain of their world view has weaved its way through our history. Prohibition was their greatest triumph, despite it not ending well.

The part of Puritanism I don't like is their fear that someone, somewhere, is doing something the Puritans think he shouldn't. It's totalitarian but in a different way from other versions because it is exercised in a (generally) sincere belief that such enforcement is good for the target. C.S. Lewis expressed this best --

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

From Wikipedia:

---
Alexis de Tocqueville suggested in Democracy in America that Puritanism was the very thing that provided a firm foundation for American democracy. As Sheldon Wolin puts it, "Tocqueville was aware of the harshness and bigotry of the early colonists". However, on the other hand, he saw them as "archaic survivals, not only in their piety and discipline but in their democratic practices".[45]
---

Puritans may have had an important role into making you a better place in that distant past Bret longs for so much.

Who knows the new Puritans you complain about now may have such a role too?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

BTW, if Mr. Kristof ideas are all so wrong, I invite you to counter each one of them with a better idea of your own.

As he finishes up in his piece: "If we offer the needy nothing but slogans and reprimands [...] then our antipoverty programs are a cruel joke”.

You say I misrepresent your opinion...

---
[AOG] You attach a false view to me, that "everything will sort out by itself if you just take the govt. out" which is not my view at all. What I have said, over and over, is that in our crazy mixed up world, government makes things more mixed up and crazier, not that its removal will make things perfect.
---

... but in effect, I read your statement above as something like "Everything they are doing is wrong! But as I just don't have any better idea, I will only keep showing how a bunch of idiots they are!"

If you can't provide anything better than that, we opnly get back to my point on how hard it is to make a constructive discussion out of this with you.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

You say I misrepresent your opinion

Yes, as when you wrote in that same comment if Mr. Kristof ideas are all so wrong as if I wrote that, when I didn't.

As for idea counter to Mr. Kristof's, why not go with Tocqueville idea of intermediating organizations, that stand between the individual and the State? He saw them as a great strength of our nation, and it is precisely that which people like Kristof are trying to erase from our nation. Note such things appear nowhere in Kristof's policies, instead their place is taken by a totalizing State.

I read your statement above as something like "Everything they are doing is wrong! But as I just don't have any better idea, I will only keep showing how a bunch of idiots they are!"

One could look at the Hippocratic Oath, which starts "first, do no harm". Beyond that is the First Rule of Holes - "stop digging". It doesn't seem to unreasonable a point of view to focus on those two themes first, and repair later.

I have state specific policies and ideas, I have pointed to those of others. But I read you as writing "if you don't advocate for Big Government, you have no ideas". That, I think, it what makes it hard for you to have a discussion with me.

P.S. If you want some specific examples, (1) a simplified nearly flat tax code and (2) re-applying and strengthening the welfare state reforms of 1996. On the other hand, why don't you tell me what Big Government policies with regard to the Internet would have ended up with a better result than the "don't worry, let the market figure it out" policy that was de facto in force?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Here is a good quote on the ideas that founded this nation --

"America was founded on the notion that most politicians can only be expected to be ornery, low-down, crooks. Nobody in those days was fool enough to believe they could be Light-workers, Messiahs and create a world without guns. Thus in the Founder’s view the only way to guard against rogues was to ensure that government remained as small as possible relative to its essential jobs; to change those in office frequently and often, like we change underwear."

It is when the citizenry stop believing this that a nation begins to decay.

Peter said...

AOG:

I find it extremely difficult to believe you would ever have become a world power, guardian of the international order, holder of the international reserve currency, leader in space exploration and architects of scientific disoveries and technological developments too numerous to list with a citizenry that believed that.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Peter has a good point.

Hey, if you are such a nation led by crooks of the worst type, don't you think we should start building our own nuclear bombs? Really, how come we end up trusting our security with a bunch of crooks? We thought the USSR was like that! But now you really changed my mind, we better call the Russians ASAP and ask them to install some nukes here, you know, for protection. Fidel knew it all! I think you Canadians should do the same, Peter.

erp said...

Peter, even though you can't believe it, we believed it and that is precisely why we were able to accomplish so much. Well, that and the fact that many of the world's most ambitious, smart, capable and adventurous came here to make their dreams come true.

Clovis, we only got a bunch of crooks in power latterly, you know after the lefties took over the schools and started producing dummies.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
If you want some specific examples, (1) a simplified nearly flat tax code and (2) re-applying and strengthening the welfare state reforms of 1996.
---

Let me play your rubber duck then: please spell it out in detailed ways how you believe your two measures above will play out in order to deal with the three main problems Kristof touched: i) family disaggregation, (ii) improved jobs moving people out of poverty and (iii) education.


On your supposedly free-market perfect example, I would note that you too easily forget how Internet itself was born. I talk not only of the tons of dollars in military and civil money to start it out in the old days, but also the other tons of money to build infrastructure for it to work - and not only in the US, but in most of the rest of the world too, by every other government.

Yes, at some point they gradually transfered much of the effort to private enterprises, but still to this day the internet works over a lot of government money and infrastructure all over the world.

I guess to notice that would be to go too far from your preferred Narrative, right?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Clovis, we only got a bunch of crooks in power latterly [...]
---

Please, define to me your notion of "latterly". I remember you saying no one was worst than Wilson, and that's 1913. You also complain a lot about Roosevelt, and that's already nuclear times. Gosh, we have been trusting you all along those crooks?

erp said...

Correct about Wilson and Roosevelt, but there were other administrations in between that stopped the juggernaut. It was only Kennedy's assassination and Johnson's ascension to the throne that started the ball rolling down hill with terrifying speed.

This is actually amusing. Right in the same vein as asking for mercy because you're an orphan after you murdered your parents:

Kristof touched: i) family disaggregation, (ii) improved jobs moving people out of poverty and (iii) education.

All caused by the same policies that are now being put forward as the solution to the failures of said policies.

Peter said...

Peter, even though you can't believe it, we believed it and that is precisely why we were able to accomplish so much.

I actually agree with you up to a point, but my question is whether that way of thinking is both a boon and a burden for you.

Two stories from the past week may serve to illustrate my point (which, BTW, is not to pick a fight). From the right comes this tale of a Nevada rancher fighting the BLM over $1 million in grazing fees he hasn't paid in twenty years. I saw him on TV and he assured me it has nothing to do with money--it was all about FREEDOM!!!! and his refusal to recognize federal jurisdiction based on the constitution. Meanwhile, over on the looney left, privileged Ivy League students are victims of appalling "micro-agressions" like the denial of gender integrated bathrooms and had to take matters into their own hands. I mean, what was Patrick Henry all about if not this?

Now, I believe these folks have something in common, which is that they are 100% sincere in their convictions they are fighting for fundamental rights and freedoms that justify law-breaking and physical resistence if thwarted. It's obvious both have allies who agree. Much as I respect the sovereign right of Americans to determine their own land and toilet management regimes, I simply can't shake the feeling that there is more than a little bit of perspective lacking here and that no nation can hope for a promising, resilient future when such mundane matters are seen as equivalent to denials of fundamental civil and human rights such as to justify civil revolt.

Erp, I do appreciate this is connected to the same idealistic impetus that has led you to being the world's most glorious liberators and all sorts of other admirable stuff, but when do you stop this compulsive search for tea to throw into a harbour and roll up your sleeves to work out compromises?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

Well, history says you're wrong. Read some Menken or Twain for classic examples before our time. Or the Founding Fathers themselves - there is an excellent quote at the link.

Clovis;

Let's see

(i) Family disaggregation - I think the leading cause of this is the substition of government for family and that absent government incentives for family break up (e.g., the welfare state) we would see much less family disaggregation.

(ii) The excessive taxes and regulations we have stifle business growth and the formation of jobs. Simplyfing the tax code would be a first step at removing that burden. It worked well in the 1980s, we should try it again. See here for many examples of how business and job formation are prevented among the poor by government.

(iii) Those two reforms wouldn't have much effect on education.

I would note that you too easily forget how Internet itself was born. I talk not only of the tons of dollars in military and civil money to start it out in the old days, but also the other tons of money to build infrastructure for it to work - and not only in the US, but in most of the rest of the world too, by every other government.

Yes, at some point they gradually transfered much of the effort to private enterprises


I didn't forget, I lived it. I was there, in the middle of it, for the last 40 years and your claim here is flatly and utterly wrong. Just for aone example, the Internet was born by the creation of Cisco Networking, a purely private entity. Or you could look at the Open Source movement which provides most of the software that runs the internet and is again a purely private set of entities. I was just at a conference where the keynote was about "how can we get government to accept open source software?". Is this view why you think the ACA website roll out was such an outstanding success, because of the leading role of the US federal government in Internet technologies and infrastructure?

still to this day the internet works over a lot of government money and infrastructure all over the world

Perhaps elsewhere but certainly not here in the USA. I work every day for and with the private companies that do this.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

when do you stop this compulsive search for tea to throw into a harbour and roll up your sleeves to work out compromises?

When like minded citizens get together to accomplish things, like the Open Source movement I cited just above. Your analytical error is to conflate working out a compromise and obeying the government. It is precisely the genius of the American way that we can get together and compromise without government.

erp said...

Peter, you forget that I am a 79 year old woman who fought the fight when girls like me were expected to be proper young ladies and not talk to the men about important matters, so please do NOT tell me about compromise.

I couldn't be a STEM even though my scores were off the charts because in those days all we female wizards could hope for was to teach high school math or work as human calculators compiling statistics for the less gifted men to actually analyze.

During my lifetime, I changed a lot of that, not by compromise, but like Jackie Robinson, whom I admire greatly and saw play at Ebbets Field countless times, by being better than those who think they are my betters.

You kind will lead us over the cliff, just a little slower than Senator Reid and his followers.

I don't want to compromise with those who wish me and my people, i.e., other human beings ill.

Clovis e Adri said...

Wow, and you like to talk about self-righteous obnoxious people in the left.

A note for the NSA: please big brother's watchers, take a background check on Erp and implant some chip to trace back her moves. She is dangerous.

erp said...

Clovis, please explain your last comment. I disagree vehemently with what Peter said. What was obnoxious or dangerous about it?

Hey Skipper said...

Reaching way back …

[Peter:] We don't need no stinkin' charity, Skipper. I'm not sure how you reasoned yourself into a negative, but in any event, it's a modern secular conceit that reason is on one side of the debate.

Where the heck did that come from?

In my life, there are at least several significant examples where evidence contradicting my beliefs caused me to change them. Reason™ isn't on one side or the other; rather, it is the source of discordant information, from whatever direction it may come.

[Hey Skipper:] "I think I reasoned myself into atheism."

[Bret:] That's interesting. So you were a believer once?


I was raised Episcopalian. I was a choirboy until my voice changed, then an acolyte. I went through the whole confirmation process. At the end of it, I had (I think) looked very carefully (I think) at what I was being taught, and found it just didn't stand up to Reason™.

So now I'm an atheist in the sense that I believe in no theology, and agnostic in the sense that whether there is some prime mover or cause or existence outside our material existence poses completely unanswerable questions.

And I have also (I think) reasoned myself into believing that there is a great deal of value in theological communities, and that the "truth value" of their beliefs is, to a very great extent, beside the point. (Islamists are the one theological group I would put beyond that extent.)

[Peter:] Bret, here's a visual representation of your dream society. Looks like paradise.

Oh, come on, that is just mean.

[Clovis:] I just don't think Krugman would quite agree with you.

For all he has written, I believe he reasoned himself in whatever positions he has on government and the economy.


I don't.

Anybody who writes on tax policies and focuses exclusively on rate at the complete expense of quantity has made himself immune to reason. Moreover, he is appealing solely to those who share his same unshakeable convictions.

And that is before you get to the way his reasoned positions on, say, budget deficits, change with the party in power.

[erp:] I predict, when a granddaughter is born, you will be able to tolerate the adorable cherub bedecked in pink quite well.

There are serious limits to free will.

[Bret:] No matter how wonderful you (or Krugman*) prove to me that big government is, I'm still going to prefer small government.

A preference is not a conviction, though. We have had the discussion about building codes before. Come up to Anchorage sometime (soonerish would be better than later). You would not prefer the results before government imposed stringent building codes.

And the free market proves the point by pricing buildings built through the 1970s waaaaaay below those built afterwards.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
So now I'm an atheist in the sense that I believe in no theology, and agnostic in the sense that whether there is some prime mover or cause or existence outside our material existence poses completely unanswerable questions.
---

To a great extent you are right, almost by definition theological questions pose problems that are well outside science scopus. Yet, it is not completely unreasonable to at least try to tackle some of those questions within our scientific knowledge.

Paul Dirac, maybe the only physicist comparable to Einstein in the last 100 years, an atheist (who may have changed to agnosticism later in life), has tried to bring some theological questions to science quarters, writing this:

----
It could be that it is extremely difficult to start life. It might be that it is so difficult to start life that it has happened only once among all the planets. ...Let us consider, just as a conjecture, that the chance life starting when we have got suitable physical conditions is 10^-100. I don't have any logical reason for proposing this figure, I just want you to consider it as a possibility. Under those conditions...it is almost certain that life would not have started. And I feel that under those conditions it will be necessary to assume the existence of a god to start off life. I would like, therefore, to set up this connexion between the existence of a god and the physical laws: if physical laws are such that to start off life involves an excessively small chance, so that it will not be reasonable to suppose that life would have started just by blind chance, then there must be a god, and such a god would probably be showing his influence in the quantum jumps which are taking place later on. On the other hand, if life can start very easily and does not need any divine influence, then I will say that there is no god.
----

Up to last year, we had absolutely no idea how many planets in the Universe may be fit to develop life. It is
an astonishing thing that it has just changed 06 months ago. Using results obtained through NASA's Kepler mission (take notice, AOG: govt. funded), we have now a reasonable estimate for the number of habitable planets in our Via Lactea: 40 billions of them.

If we suppose our galaxy is no special case - and we have no reason to believe otherwise - it means that there may well be 10^23 (ten to the power of 23, the same order as the Avogrado number, a nice coincidence) planets suitable for life out there.

Up to now, we have no evidence that any other of them developed life. Of course, we don't really know yet, but at least this gives the number Dirac guessed above a definitive face (10^-23 instead of the 10^-100 he wrote).

Take his rationale up above and tell me: if in 10^23 chances, only we won the lottery, how comfortable would you be with such an extreme example of serendipity?

Annoying Old Guy said...

take notice, AOG: govt. funded)

Um, OK...

only we won the lottery, how comfortable would you be with such an extreme example of serendipity?

Very. The Anthropic Principle points out that no matter how unlikely such an event is, we will always observe that it has happened. If there is only one planet in the entire Universe with life, we will of course be on that planet.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

You could give me a few good answers, but to invoke the anthropic principle is not one of them.

The Anthropic Principle is no different, for all practical matters, than to ad hoc postulate a God.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

Knowing "what" is a far cry from "why".

IMHO, Dirac pulled a number out of his rectal data bank, then reasoned from there. Let us consider, as a conjecture, the odds of life arising in a suitable environment as 1^10-9.

Still very long. And just as equally well sourced.

Yet the answer is entirely different. Which implies there is some threshold between life starting and God required, and life starting and God isn't required.

Not only does he leave us in the dark as to what that threshold might be, we are also mystified as to why things exist in such a way that life might arise at all isn't itself the work of some god.

Peter said...

Is it churlish of me to notice that, as the search for life elsewhere in the universe becomes more and more frustratingly thwarted, we keep discovering places where we claim it could exist? Cutting-edged science or jobs for the boys?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

On your answers on the Kristof points, you rubber duck thanks you for the patience.

I rather doubt that your point (i) family disaggregation, would play out as you foresee. I've already argued in detail here how the poor's contribution to fatherless families is low in the total (although high in proportional terms), and you never replied on why do you think economic incentives would be more powerful than social-behavioral trends.

You may well be right on point (ii) taxes, although I have no way to really know. Krugman has quite a few points against it, and they look to be convincing sometimes.


---
[On internet] I didn't forget, I lived it. I was there, in the middle of it, for the last 40 years and your claim here is flatly and utterly wrong.
---
I much respect any personal experience you may bring to the table, but you would help us both if you give me facts before going for the authority argument.

Do you deny that ARPA/DARPA, precursors of the internet, were financed by govt. money?
And its further expansion to the NSFnet was funded by who?

Even the real thing that brought internet to pop history - the world wide web - owns quite a bit to CERN, and guess who pays for the CERN to exist? (Tip: not private money).

Either we are talking different topics, or you ought to share with me why the facts above went absolutely unmentioned in your reply.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
Yet the answer is entirely different. Which implies there is some threshold between life starting and God required, and life starting and God isn't required.
---
I think this was in part his point, Skipper. He only used one extreme limit of this calculus to make it clear.


---
Not only does he leave us in the dark as to what that threshold might be, we are also mystified as to why things exist in such a way that life might arise at all isn't itself the work of some god.
---
Again, this is also part of his point.

He is basically saying that, if life is just so improbable to happen by a natural mechanism, he would see that as possible indication of an external driver.

Yet, a believer should take that with a grain of salt. It is never a good position to erect God as the god of the holes, i.e. as the explanation for things science can not yet explain.

But it is a beautiful thing nonetheless how science, an amazing thing by itself, can lead us to ever more amazement.

In past I used to provoke close Christian friends with the question "How would your faith change if we find intelligent life elsewhere?"

It never occurred to then to strike back: "How would yours change were we to never found life anywhere else?".

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

What, exactly, is ad hoc about applying the Anthropic Principle? It is completely logical deduction about what we can possibly observe. A statistician would call it a "selection effect". Is your view that it is possible to observe a totally lifeless universe?

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

On the other hand, it's the poor who are hurt the most by family disaggregation so it's most important to not subsidize it there. I would agree there are other cultural factors at work, but as usual I don't see "it's already bad" as a valid reason for government to make it worse.

You're saying Krugman has arguments in favor of a heavy and extremely complicated tax system, filled with loopholes and special privileges for the politically connected? I am not a bit surprised, as those are the people who pay his salary.

if you give me facts before going for the authority argument.

I did, providing more facts than you did, as usual.

Do you deny that ARPA/DARPA, precursors of the internet, were financed by govt. money?
And its further expansion to the NSFnet was funded by who
.

It's a very debatable claim that those were precursors of the Internet. Certainly NSFnet wasn't. Nor were they transfered to private control later (as you claimed) and the infrastructure that became the Internet was not funded by government. You see more of a precursor in the dial up networks that arose in the same period, BBNET and its like, or AOL.

Just as big an issue was the ability for ordinary consumers to have the computing power needed to access the Internet, something which was entirely private sector. Or the software, such as Netscape (private sector). I could talk about Unix, MSDOS, or Apple, or Linux, or the GNU project, or the W3 consortium, or email, or ethernet, or long haul fiber optics, all of which were private sector.

Or I could talk about the clever government regulations that let all of this creativity and growth occur, which was basically not regulating any of it. Who decided on all the common protocols that make the Internet operate, that are absolutely essential? The private sector, all on its own, with no government guidance (hey, let's talk about the Clipper chip! And DNSIX!).

So, in my view, you're looking at a few tiny rivulets that fed in to the massive river that is the Internet and claiming them as the source. There is so much more (a little bit of which I mentioned above) that you don't see because you haven't dealt with the real infrastructure that makes all this stuff work.

P.S. I could start in on the hardware that makes the Internet go, if this hasn't been enough.

P.P.S. I have reverted because Typepad is having problems. Looks like a fall out from the Heartbleed bug (oh, yeah, openSSL, the security software that drives the Internet - private sector. Who would have expected?).

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
What, exactly, is ad hoc about applying the Anthropic Principle? A statistician would call it a "selection effect".
---
It all depends on which level you are applying the Anthropic principe, which leads to much confusion about it.

Taken in the context of my question above, it has no predictive power nor an explanatory one. It is just a tautology dressed up in fancy words. A statistician would call it a non defined proposition, to the extent that a sample space of one element is a worthless triviality.

The context where said principle would have meaning, would be in the setting up of many possible universes growing up from a initial common state of a gravitational + inflaton field. In such theories, the fundamental constants (and other things as well) that look conspicuously fine tuned to allow for life would be just the effect of us already looking into one of the very few universes, from an infinitude of them, that could allow for life to exist in the first place.

I don't think I need to point out how a speculative proposition, devoided of much observable content, is the one posed in the above paragraph.

What I do need to point out to you, though, is that none of it has much to do with the proposition I made on the 10^23 habitable planets, that led to your mention of the anthropic principle.

If you take what we do really know right now, the question I posed above was not why our fundamental constants have the valued they do. The question I posed was how comfortable would you be with a coincidental explanation for, among 10^23 planets, we hypothetically ever finding life only in one. Here, the anthropic principle can't help you much.


Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[On family disaggregation] I don't see "it's already bad" as a valid reason for government to make it worse.
---
And why do you exclude the possibility that, were govt. to get out of this, the situation couldn't get even worse?


---
You're saying Krugman has arguments in favor of a heavy and extremely complicated tax system, filled with loopholes and special privileges for the politically connected? I am not a bit surprised, as those are the people who pay his salary.
---
Not at all. I was just saying he has arguments showing that a flat tax, which would mean a reduction of taxes from the rich, has little if any correlation with economic growth.

That said, I am surprised you have the above opinion on the Princeton administrators. Are they all enjoying taxes loopholes?



---
[On Internet] So, in my view, you're looking at a few tiny rivulets that fed in to the massive river that is the Internet and claiming them as the source.
---
OK, it is a fair criticism. And I would quip that you are missing the river for the sea.

If I ask you how a particular river started, you can point to its initial rivulets or the the sea that provides for rain for those rivulets to exist. I believe that we usually have the former meaning as the standard, right?

So how about you trying to filter trhough all this vast knowledge you look to have, and give me a more clear picture on how Internet has really begun in your opinion? For most historic introductions I read out there point out to ARPA to begin with.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

On the Anthropic Principle, you're not being consistent. You claim it doesn't apply to the universe because there is only one, and then that it doesn't apply to (potentially) habitable planets in the universse because there are so many. Which is it?

But the real point is that it points out we can never observe the null result, a universe without life at all. Therefore we need no further explanation than random chance no matter how small the probability. Therefore it wouldn't have much effect on me in theological terms.

why do you exclude the possibility that, were govt. to get out of this, the situation couldn't get even w

I don't exclude, I think it unlikely. Other in discussions on this weblog have pointed out how poverty stats were in a general upward trend until the "War on Poverty" got ramped up. Correlection isn't causation, but it should make one dubious of the proposition that government intervention was of net benefit.

With regard to Krugman, did he look at actually simplified and flat tax systems, or only at the aggregate income sources of the taxes? That you qualify it with "a reduction of taxes from the rich" makes me dubious about such evidence. I don't know Princeton professors in general are abusing loopholes, but Krugman almost certainly is. This is the guy, after all, who's going to be getting $225K/year for a part time job to "study" income inequality. I guess he has to create some in order to study it. It's just another reason to wonder if Krugman actually believes anything he writes. And if he doesn't, why should I?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Hmmmm, we weren't talking about how the Internet got started.

Let's scroll back to my question -

"On the other hand, why don't you tell me what Big Government policies with regard to the Internet would have ended up with a better result than the "don't worry, let the market figure it out" policy that was de facto in force?"

The original question was not about "how did it get started?" but "what policies during its development would have been better than the benign neglect that occurred?". Look at Minitel for a good counter-example.

Your responses included "the other tons of money to build infrastructure for it to work". My examples pointed out this is not true.

"at some point they gradually transfered much of the effort to private enterprises"

Again, my examples show this is not true. There was no "transfer", the private sector took off and did the build out on its own resources.

"to this day the internet works over a lot of government money and infrastructure all over the world."

I suspect this may be true elsewhere but once again my examples show it is not true in the USA.

For a starting point, we could look back at my previous comment where I wrote "You see more of a precursor in the dial up networks that arose in the same period, BBNET and its like, or AOL".

In some strict technical view you could argue for ARPA-net as a precursor, but the real phenomenon we today call the "Internet" started with all those dialup users, ordinary people building community and distributed networks.

I can also tell you, having personally participated in much of this, the idea that there is one starting point or key person is wrong. There is a ferment, lots of people talking about the same issues. It's not a matter of "will someone do it" but "who will do it first". Absent ARPA-net we would have seen roughly the same development. The contribution of the IP protocol made it go somewhat faster, but let's not forget that IP didn't dominate until years after the Internet was operational. There were plenty of other protocols around being used in large scale networks. Other than the IP protocol, what exactly did ARPA-net contribute to the development of the Internet?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
On the Anthropic Principle, you're not being consistent. You claim it doesn't apply to the universe because there is only one, and then that it doesn't apply to (potentially) habitable planets in the universse because there are so many. Which is it?
---
I am being consistent. I've given you two examples of large sample spaces, and stated that only in one the anthropic principle would possibly have meaning. Because it is not only about having a meaningful sample space, it is also about what it does to this space.

If we make up a soup of letters, what's the probability of them all grouping to form a meaningful word? It is a closed system with well defined answers. If, among all the very many possibilities, you happen to form *only one sentence* after mixing the soup zillions of times, you do have a problem to explain. It is like throwing 2 dices 100.000 times and getting the combination six-six only once.

You need to identify a further agent in the mix (or in the dice) that causes your error in the probabilities calculations - for example, maybe most letters came with repellent materials, making their dynamics different upon the mixing process. IOW, you should be getting a higher number in theory, but the experiment gives you a lower one.

That's the opposite of the multiverse example, where you have an infinite sample space, with the very few particular combinations that allows for life having a zero measure. IOW, you should be getting a much lesser number in theory (tending to zero), but the experiment gives you a higher one.

In the soup of letters case, you need a well defined mechanism. Only to state it is so because it is so explains (nor predicts) nothing at all, it is as an ad hoc solution as to state that an outer hand made up the letters to mix right only once.



---
But the real point is that it points out we can never observe the null result, a universe without life at all.
---
Sure, that's trivial. What is not trivial is a universe with only one life occurrence among an absurd number of possibilities. There again, that asks for a mechanism.


---
Therefore it wouldn't have much effect on me in theological terms.
---
I don't want to change your theology. I want to change your reasoning.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
With regard to Krugman, did he look at actually simplified and flat tax systems, or only at the aggregate income sources of the taxes?
---
I believe he looked at the sucessive reductions of taxes for the higher income people in order to test the veracity of trickle-down economics. Much of his arguments on that were displayed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peddling_Prosperity

I also may comment I am appalled by your envying of Krugman salary and success. And I thought you were againt envious people.


---
Hmmmm, we weren't talking about how the Internet got started.
---
I certainly was, for if you get to scroll back up there you'll see me stating in the very begin of this discussion: "On your supposedly free-market perfect example, I would note that you too easily forget how Internet itself was born." All my ensuing arguments were also pointing to initial history. I was clearly pointing out to the role the state has in inducing further developments. Like when it builds roads and railroads to empty regions and cities start growing around.

You look to suffer from a common difficulty with people too much immersed in a development: you can't easily dissociate its many parts to ascribe orders of importance. For example, it is just obvious internet would not be if people had not massive access to computers, and yet it really does not matter to the topic of how internet got started.

Susan's Husband said...

---
But the real point is that it points out we can never observe the null result, a universe without life at all.
---
Sure, that's trivial. What is not trivial is a universe with only one life occurrence among an absurd number of possibilities. There again, that asks for a mechanism.
---
No, it doesn't, because we will always observe at least one plant with life. You keep avoiding that. This is why your alphabet soup analogy doesn't work, because in that case it is possible to observe a outcome of no words formed. But for life, it is not possible to observe such an outcome.

---
I believe he looked at the sucessive reductions of taxes for the higher income people in order to test the veracity of trickle-down economics
---
As I expected. I wasn't describing trickle-down economics, I wrote about simplyfying the tax code and you cited a counter argument for something else.

---
I am appalled by your envying of Krugman salary and success
---
Do you have any actual arguments, or just specious ad hominems?

---
I certainly was [talking about the start of the Internet]
---
Um, OK. That has nothing to do with what I wrote, so I'll leave you to do that.

---
I was clearly pointing out to the role the state has in inducing further developments
---
But you just wrote that you were talking about how it started, not how it developed. I was busying point out how the State did nothing of the sort. I provided a long list of examples. You've provided one pre-Internet example and nothing else.

Harry Eagar said...

I am still reading through the comments, but would like some context for this statement.

Since Dean Swift was the suthor of 'A Modest Proposal,' we know that at one point he did think it worth his time to try to reason (by indirection) English people out of unreasoned beliefs about the Irish.

Was this statement after that? It would explain much if it was.

Harry Eagar said...

We can also say -- or at least English majors who read history can -- that Dean Swift's experience with the solidity of unreasoned beliefs was hard won. He lived during the Sacheverill Riots.

He made the same point in 'Gulliver' with his ridicule of dogmas among the Big Endians and Little Endans.

Harry Eagar said...

' I would still prefer small government even in the absurd scenario where it was guaranteed to lead to Nazism'

I don't think you would find that absurd if you were a Pole.

Harry Eagar said...

'As for pensions, that freedom exists now in the USA [...]
---
I know, but not thanks to small govt. types, right? You can't complain the govt. is too big and point out to big govt. achievements as good evidence in favor of your position for small govt., don't you agree?'

Bingo!

I also find it diagnostic of unreasoning antipathy to BG that Guy speculates -- entirely with out evidence -- that BG might someday take away pensions, while he has never had a word to say about the practice of private employers of taking away pensions. It happens all the time. (Twice to me.)

Harry Eagar said...

'The United States is not a nation. We were, but not anymore.'

When?

It is only since the New Deal that government (small, as it then was) has stopped shooting workers.

Harry Eagar said...

'the only reason I couldn't keep my insurance is because of Big Government.'

Not true. Not true in any way.

Harry Eagar said...

'It was during that era that those moon rocks were retrieved.

There's no way we could do that again.'

The only reason we did it was to avoid being embarrassed by having the Bolsheviks do it first.

It required spending 4% of the government income every year for a generation, so it certainly would not have been done by a small government.

Small government types don't even want to fix bridges we've already paid for.

(I thought, and still think, that putting a man on the moon was silly.)

erp said...

It is only since the New Deal that government (small, as it then was) has stopped shooting workers.

Harry, you have been missed!

Harry Eagar said...

'I must question whether your history substantiates this pastoral, innocent Arcadia you and erp long to return to. Certainly your Canadian neighbours have always had a hard time seeing it, but then you are talking about a country whose enire history of deaths by political violence doesn't add up to a typical week in Bleeding Kansas.'

I learned this month (from reading Rodman Paul and Elliott West) somthing I didn't know:

The incredible levels of murder that accompanied the American Gold Rushes were not matched by gold rushes during the same period in Canada, Australia or South Africa.

Another example of American exceptionalism we can all cherish, I guess.

(And why were the murders not committed? Big gummint in the Empire, apparently.)

Harry Eagar said...

'Peter, This one's for you: Move along. No guns were used.'

I wonder what the point of this is meant to be. I think I can guess.

Calgary is a huge city, and it's worst mass murder topped out at 5.

No American city of comparable size has such a low top, and (I venture to guess) all of those records but one were set by firearms. (Chicago is the curious exception.)

Harry Eagar said...

'It is when the citizenry stop believing this that a nation begins to decay.'

The righting stopped believing that even before the Constitution was signed: Hamilton

It is certainly amusing to see today's soi-disant conservatives list their heroes, who are never the actual small-government founders like Jefferson. If Jefferson had had his way, we would all be subsistence farmers -- and again under the rule of the British empire since he did not believe in a blue-water navy.

Small-gummint states do not have navies; see Ukraine

Harry Eagar said...

'the world's most glorious liberators'

We have not been liberators of brown people.

Harry Eagar said...

'the Internet was born by the creation of Cisco Networking,'

First Arpanet network contract -- 1969

Cisco founded -- 1984

Harry Eagar said...

'Netscape (private sector'

Wow. Shouldn't you have cited Xerox?

Harry Eagar said...

Citing the Anthropic Principle in 2014 is like citing the 'all swans are white' principle before Europeans discovered Australia.

It is beside the point: we have not even attempted yet to make observations. Once we have done so, and if we come up blank, then you could pull out the Anthropic Principle.

Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Eagar;

ARPA-net vs. Cisco - a dedicated single protocol network vs. an inter-network (that is, moving packets between networks). That's why it's called the Internet.

As for Xerox, I only had so much tiem to type out examples.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
No, it doesn't, because we will always observe at least one plant with life. You keep avoiding that. This is why your alphabet soup analogy doesn't work, because in that case it is possible to observe a outcome of no words formed. But for life, it is not possible to observe such an outcome.
---
I did answer that and more. You look to be answering by reflex, instead of taking my arguments on board.

I used the soup of letters examples by purpose. Our picture for life formation is not a much different problem, with a lot more letters. It also requires for life to be an emergent and robust phenomena, obtained whenever you have enough material, conditions and time.

If you can find planets that fulfill the above requirements, but has no life, that's a perfectly valid observation of an outcome of no words formed. At some point, we will probably have the technology to check that for planets in our galaxy. We have quite a few billions of them to make for good statistics, so don't worry, no magical handwaiving through pseudo-physical principles will be needed.



---
As I expected. I wasn't describing trickle-down economics, I wrote about simplyfying the tax code and you cited a counter argument for something else.
---
Sorry if I misunderstood you, but when you said flat taxes, I understood it as: we set everyone in the minimum tax, instead of the progressive ones we have today, which is pretty much like reducing taxes for everybody out there paying more than minimum today. Hence my comment. If you believe this is still too much different from your proposal, I appreciate any link or reference explaining your proposal in greater detail - it is not my fault if that was not better defined here.



---
[On Krugman] Do you have any actual arguments, or just specious ad hominems?
---
Oh, that coming from you who accused someone else of abusing loopholes without a shred of evidence. Great, I am laughing out loud.

Harry Eagar said...

I was thinking about theft.

Hey Skipper said...

Krugman gets rubbished.

Hey Skipper said...

No American city of comparable size has such a low top, and (I venture to guess) all of those records but one were set by firearms. (Chicago is the curious exception.)

Forget Oklahoma City so soon? Or Waco?

Peter said...

My point wasn't about crime, it was about politically and socially motivated violence. I'll put it in the form of a question. Given the formative importance of your revolutionary tradition and your attachment to the "first principles" of your constitution, on what basis do or should Americans distinguish between those government actions that are so antithetical to the intent of the Founders that they justify extra-legal resistance and those that should be resolved through the established democratic political and electoral processes?

Bret seemed to be suggesting that the only glue that binds Americans is a common constitutional vision. I don't think that is true, but if it is, it's very worrisome, as there are obviously at least two visions, if not more, and they may not be reconciliable through philosophical debate about first principles.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

I never accused Krugman of abusing loopholes, I accused him of being a hypocrite and writing opinions because they suited his politics or paycheck. I did say he was in favor of a system of loopholes, which seems extremely hard to dispute given he favors our current tax system instead of a simplified one.

You still miss the point of the soup analogy - the proper equivalent would be I do that experiment without telling you until I get a positive result then show that to you and claim it must have some cause other than random chance. For life, no matter how thin the odds, we will only see a result that beats those odds, therefore no additional mechanism is implied or required. The Anthropic Principle is simply a fancy name for that.

Susan's Husband said...

I'm going to make a last common on the Internet, which is that pointing to the "pre-cursor" is always going to be a bar argument, not something that can be objectively resolved. The cause is that all of its development occurred in a wide open and highly communicative community. The people who show up in the histories as the key people were far more lucky than key - if not them there would have been someone else because everyone (in the technical community) was talking about such things and ideas were shared with abandon. This also mean any potential precursor had other precursors which had other precursors... You'd probably have to all all the way back to Babbage to get a clear start. The key point, which our Big Gov types have been avoiding with this argument, is that the development of the Internet happened in an anarchy with effectively no regulation or government control and it was and is a spectacular success. It remains a classic example of how a libertarian economy can work and work extremely well.

It also serves to answer Peter's earlier question, why don't we compromise and work together anymore? We do, just no where government gets involved.

Harry Eagar said...

A spectacular success for thieves.

Also for some people who were/are not thieves, but to ignore the thievery seems strange.

I am one of millions who lost more from the Internet than I gained.

erp said...

Or Waco? Indeed.

The big government of that day used tanks to kill innocents and their children, now that government is infinitely bigger, police departments are armed with tanks and federal agencies like the PO and the IRS are also armed and ready to take their places as part of the revolution against We, the People.

Wonder how long it'll be before Jews are forced to register in the new and improved U.S. of A.

Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Eagar;

Does that mean the government created that system of theft, or was it really all private sector, or did Big Gov only create the good parts of the Internet?

Harry Eagar said...

AFAIK, all the thievery was entirely private.

The closest I personally ever came to the heart of the beast was to attend a speech by the guy who was leading Napster, who explained how he was going to get rich by making it easy to steal stuff.

There were a couple hundred people in the room, all except me applauding like a claque of Italian operagoers. I guess I was the only content creator in thew room.

Government was not much help for us creators although it did stop Napster.

The Internet has for sure been a great sheep/goat separator. We learned who REALLY believes in property rights, and it was not, for the most part. the people who blather the most about them.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
I never accused Krugman of abusing loopholes [...]
---

You posted in this same thread:

"I don't know Princeton professors in general are abusing loopholes, but Krugman almost certainly is."

Now, if you can't behave like an adult and stand up to your own statements, we ought to finish this argument.

Hey Skipper said...

We learned who REALLY believes in property rights, and it was not, for the most part. the people who blather the most about them.

And you know that how?

Hey Skipper said...

[Peter:] ... on what basis do or should Americans distinguish between those government actions that are so antithetical to the intent of the Founders that they justify extra-legal resistance and those that should be resolved through the established democratic political and electoral processes?

That question is a lot harder to answer than ask.

I don't share erp's or Bret's bleak opinion on the current state of play. Particularly if I cast my mind back to the 1970's in just about any regard, or the mid 1990s with respect to the seemingly inexorable increase in crime.

Short answer: so long as we can regularly vote the bastards out of office, and the President is limited to two terms, I don't think we will ever get to that point.

As over-centralized as the federal government has become, it isn't as if there aren't any countervailing forces. The interwebthingy has, thankfully, destroyed the MSM's strangle hold on information, analysis, and opinion.

[Clovis:] Using results obtained through NASA's Kepler mission (take notice, AOG: govt. funded), we have now a reasonable estimate for the number of habitable planets in our Via Lactea: 40 billions of them.

That would amount to one in ten, which sounds way high just on the face of it. Depending upon the source something between a third and 85% of stars are in multiple systems. That would seem to drastically reduce the odds of stable orbits, which are essential to life.

Also, I remember reading in Scientific American, back before it became the worthless POS that it is now, that star density in the outer third of the Milky Way is too low to provide enough heavy elements to form life sustaining planets. In the central third, the density of stars is so high that no planet would go long enough without getting blasted by super nova radiation to form life.

So, taking multiple star systems out, and including only the stars in the Goldilocks zone, 40 billion really does seem like a sensationalist estimate.

But, and I'm not going out on any great limb here, I'll bet you know way more about that than I.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

Hmmm, I must have been typing too fast on that. I'll retract it.

erp said...

Skipper:

... the mid 1990s with respect to the seemingly inexorable increase in crime.

Crime reporting has, like every other part of our lives, become political and if what goes on around here in this backwater of Florida is going on all over the country, crimes committed by protected minorities or in areas where re- or new development is being financed by local lefties are more often than not , not reported. So much for lower crime rates.

Short answer: so long as we can regularly vote the bastards out of office, and the President is limited to two terms, I don't think we will ever get to that point.

The next few years will be crucial as far as following the electoral laws. The elites have already broken and bent laws to suit themselves with impunity, so I am not as sanguine as you are that Obama (or whatever stooge replaces him) will step down at the end this term.

erp said...

This is merely an early advance foray to test the resistance.

erp said...

Here's another reason I don't think there's a chance we'll ever get our country back.

Harry Eagar said...

'And you know that how?'

Reading Volokh Conspiracy was one way.

erp said...

The Supremes ruled on property rights. What else is necessary?

Harry Eagar said...

'The interwebthingy has, thankfully, destroyed the MSM's strangle hold on information, analysis, and opinion'

You mean like how it was all over the interwbthingy that 7 women had been raped and murdered in Maui?

The actual total (for the relevant period) was 0.

I suppose erp imagines that the leftists are hiding all the corpses from the unreported murders in a warehouse somewhere in Newark or something.

Sheesh.

As RtO often says, you have to disaggregate the aggregates. I used to do that even before there was an Internet.

For example, for a while there was (still is, in different form) a rightwing cottage industry whipping up alarm about abducted children. One of the monsters shopping this canard came through town with a story that 150,000 children a year were being disappeared.

At the time, the county I lived in happened to make the math easy by having just about 1% of 1% of the nation's acreage and population.

So it was an simple matter to determine what our share of any national aggregate should be.

I spent a lot of hours in the old paper newsroom 'morgue' running down the actual total of disappeared children. For the entire state for the previous decade the real total was: 2.

(This sort of analysis, though harder to do, works just as well with the claims of gun nuts.)

Harry Eagar said...

'so I am not as sanguine as you are that Obama (or whatever stooge replaces him) will step down at the end this term.'

erp, I plead with you, hie thee to your local historical society and enter your political sources in their oral history program. The future awaits.

Those poor, deluded Hillaryites, planning for the next election that isn't going to happen. Guess not all leftists are on the important mail distributions lists, eh?

Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Eagar;

They were just following in the footsteps of Old Media reporting on Hurrican Katrina. So, yeah, now it's not just the lefist news sources that can troll via sensationalism.

erp said...

Harry, I didn't say the crimes or bodies were hidden, only that reports about them slide under the radar and aren't reported in the papers or local news. Local folks know about them, but they disappear from view quick.

Zimmerman is a case in point. People in Sanford don't want the world to know that it's become a Section 8 Community, so when Obama's could-be son, a local druggie, was killed while trying to mug someone and it didn't even make the evening news. It was only when months later someone on Team-Racial-Rabble-Rousing ran across it somewhere did it become a cause celebre.

Brush up on your reading skills. It's likely Hillary will be the stooge of the moment.

What difference does it make now?

erp said...

aol is right. You should perform a service and do the same analysis on the fraud that was Katrina.

In fact you could make your fortune writing a book about what really happened and how many people were deliberately killed by gross negligence of lefties, but then your life wouldn't be worth much, would it?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
That would amount to one in ten, which sounds way high just on the face of it.
---

You do well if you take those numbers with a grain of salt, they are the first estimates we have. The rule of thumb in astrophysics is that any first result is right up to an order of magnitude, so don't worry if the estimates change a bit afterwards :-)

More seriously, you can check yourself the original paper here:

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/48/19273

They look at 42.000 stars (a subset from the 140.000 Kepler was watching), where they find 603 planets, of which 10 are Earth-like (in size and radiation received).

The Kepler satellite went broke before it could gather more data, and it made them to restrict the data they could use here. Also, Kepler's method to detect planets presents a lot of systematic bias for bigger and more distant (from the star) planets, and they also need to account for that. After making some other statistical heavy-lifting, they arrive at conclusions that translate to the numbers I gave here.

I don't think you can point to any gross mistake, but even if they are wrong by a factor of ten, that still would give us 4 billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone.

Even if I am wrong in my extrapolation for the rest of the universe by a factor 1000, that's still mind-boggling 10^20 earth-like planets!

If we do not learn anyhing else in our lifetime, one thing is clear: that picture of treacherous aliens invading other planets to get their resources is condemned to the annals of wrong SciFi. There are tons of planets with resouces like ours out there, no need for all that alien bad blood.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

If you are wondering about what all that implies for the Fermi paradox, let me give you one bit more of information.

If you look at the stars in our galaxy that are (i) in the habitable zone (far away from supernovas), (ii) have reasonable levels of metalicity and heavy elements to allow for complex life and (iii) are at least 4 billion years old (so we can not be accused of overestimating Darwinian evolution), you'll find that 75% of the starts attending the above requirements are older than our Sun.

Tipically 1 billion years older than us. Reference:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/303/5654/59

Which means that, in the many, many millions of Earth-like planets we now know to exist around those stars, not one civilization got interested in dominating the galaxy, or at least not interested enough to come over here as far as we know.

Probably most people will keep betting this is proof that civilizations don't endure much, but I am more inclined to believe our picture for life formation is more incomplete than we thought. It must be harder to assemble those first replicating proto-cells than we thought.

Harry Eagar said...

'It must be harder to assemble those first replicating proto-cells than we thought.'

Maybe not. We have two data points.

1. It appears that those first cells arrived soon after the cooling.

2. It then took more than a billion years for the eukaryotes: in other words how many jillions of interactions among prokaryotes before one engulfed the other without destroying it.

My bet is that life is easy; it's whatever comes above bacteria that is hard.

Hey Skipper said...

As RtO often says, you have to disaggregate the aggregates.

I'll bet you think Piketty a savant.

And you know what he doesn't do?

Disaggregate aggregates.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] If you are wondering about what all that implies for the Fermi paradox, let me give you one bit more of information.

Which means that, in the many, many millions of Earth-like planets we now know to exist around those stars, not one civilization got interested in dominating the galaxy, or at least not interested enough to come over here as far as we know.


It might mean that. Or, it might mean something entirely different: you can't get there from here.

Implicit in your assertion is that the tyrannies of mass and distance can be overcome by technological advances.

However, I don't see from where that certainty comes.

No one knows what the density of habitable planets is (obviously, our detection methods must bias the count of all planetary systems well below what the actual number must be).

And I have no idea what the theoretical limit is for detecting planets by whatever means are possible.

But, it is entirely possible that the former is both low, and random, enough that any space traveling civilization will reach a point where it cannot detect where the next "there" might be. And, so long as we are limiting ourselves to some notion of relativity, there may be hundreds, or thousands, of stellar archipelagoes that have found themselves surrounded on all sides by impassable, uninhabitable distance.

The fact that we haven't so far detected any is also easily explainable. Earth went through a very brief period of radio brightness that will probably end within well within my lifetime.

Finally, somehow gaining enough velocity to get somewhere worth being in less than an incomprehensibly long amount of time requires stopping once getting to the destination.

Which means there might well not even be isolated archipelagoes.

And also that there could be thousands, or millions of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way, all wondering if they are the only ones.

erp said...

Early on I learned that the light we see in the sky took a very long time to get here, in fact, an astrologically long time, so what you observe has come and gone and changed ...

It's fun to think about and speculate maybe, but I don't see how any conclusions can be drawn when what can be known is unknowable.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

All of your points are relevant, a few more than others, and as the discussion of subtleties in Fermi's paradox can tend to infinite, I will spare you guys from that. I will only tackle two points:

---
Implicit in your assertion is that the tyrannies of mass and distance can be overcome by technological advances.
---
Of all the hypothesis behind the Fermi paradox, that is among the least speculative ones. Because
we already have the technology to send satellites to nearby stars, it is quite reasonable to think any civilization a little bit more advanced can do even better. Basically, the origin of the Fermi paradox is the fact that distances whitin a galaxy are not all that insurmountable.

---
The fact that we haven't so far detected any is also easily explainable. Earth went through a very brief period of radio brightness that will probably end within well within my lifetime.
---
The technology for life detection already is beyond that radio spectrum dependence now, and will only get better in future. It comprises detection of all other gases and tell-tale signs that must come with a planet displaying life in levels comparable to ours.

If life is anyhow a robust emergent phenomena, it will be detected eventually in our own galaxy.

If it is not, our loneliness in this galaxy is the only easy and trivial solution for the Fermi paradox.

Harry Eagar said...

'I'll bet you think Piketty a savant.'

You lose.

He might be; all I know of his thinking is a brief interview in the Times. My impression from that is that he does not understand what the New Deal was about. Not many people do.

My comment to that was one of the highest-approved by readers, but it is possible they were reacting more to my proposal to tax labor and capital equally. In any case, that's a no-brainer and gets some way back toward greater income equality.

I agree with Piketty that that is a crucial goal.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
It's fun to think about and speculate maybe, but I don't see how any conclusions can be drawn when what can be known is unknowable.
---
The evolution of science is marked by bringing unknowns to the realm of knowables.

Once upon a time we had no idea what were all those stars up in the sky made of. That was a truly unknowable.

One guy, named Robert Bunsen (a german who lived in XIX century), was once trying to study how gases burn and shine so beautifully. In order for the fire burning the gases not to meddle with the whole thing, he invented a controlled way to burn them, the Bunsen burner which you may have even operated in some chemistry class of your school days.

His pal, one guy named Gustav Kirchoff (yes, the same of the circuit laws), came up with the idea of using a prism to analyze that light, and they sudden realized every pure chemical element had their own signatures when their beautiful lights passed trhough that piece of glass.

It took them not too much thought to reason that it looked like a lot with a discovery done decades before by another guy named Fraunhofer, who realized that those same strange signatures appear when you decompose the light from stars with a prism too. Hey, suddenly that was not an unknowable any more!

What is happening right now, while your heart still beats Erp, is an unknowable becoming a little more knowable. Welcome to a new age of planet hunting. We can only dream where it will lead us.

erp said...

Clovis:

I know that, but things that have been "discovered" here on earth on in nearby space have been there in real time waiting for someone with imagination to "discover" it.

What you guys are looking for may have been dead and gone many gazillions of years ago and been replaced with who knows what other fantastic formations.

BTW - I see no difficulty with modern creation mythology fitting in multiple planets.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I get your point. But try to see it in other light: even if we spot forms of life that are no longer alive, the point remains that life would be confirmed in other planets, hence rendering the phenomena of life creation one more thing under scientific scrutiny.

For all we talk about Darwin, evolution and so on, we still don't really know how life starts, only tids and bits about how it evolves afterwards.

Also, being a little too optimistic, who knows we spot life forms only a few dozen light years away. Then our picture of them would be only a little bit late compared to what you call "now" (to define what is that "now" is actually non trivial, but I won't enter in the topic of synchronization of time in astrophysical settings here).

---
BTW - I see no difficulty with modern creation mythology fitting in multiple planets.
---
It is not that I see any problem with it either - it is just that it may be, under not so speculative hypothesis, contradictory with the fact that we have not been visited yet, i.e. the Fermi paradox.

erp said...

the fact that we have not been visited yet, i.e. the Fermi paradox.

You're sure of that, are you?

Olympian hubris my boy.

What you should say is, “... that we recognize as such."

Hey Skipper said...

... my proposal to tax labor and capital equally. In any case, that's a no-brainer ...

So, in other words, tax capital more than labor.

Of all the hypothesis behind the Fermi paradox, that is among the least speculative ones. Because we already have the technology to send satellites to nearby stars, it is quite reasonable to think any civilization a little bit more advanced can do even better.

Not meaningfully we can't. Heck, we don't have the technology to send even a small satellite to Pluto and put it into orbit. (OK, not quite true, we could, perhaps, but the extreme difficulty of launching something the size of a Mini to Pluto and stop renders the thought of getting one to the nearest star a flight of mere fancy.)

Any satellite we could send now would have long since become an inert lump, too small to be noticed, and would continue hurtling through space until the very unlikely event it hit something.

In any technological realm involving moving mass, speeds fairly quickly plateau. Ground transportation isn't hardly any faster now than 50 years ago. Ships go no faster than even further back, and aircraft speeds stopped increasing with the B707.

I don't mean to suggest that no invention or discovery is out there that will conquer the tyranny of time and distance, but the fact that there are a lot of planets, and a fair chunk of them are habitable by life forms such as us, and that some of them must be far older, yet we have no sign of them must at admit the possibility of the simplest resolution to Fermi's paradox: can't get there from here.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

When I say we have the technology, I do not mean you can buy it in the closest Walmart.

It is like someone in the 50's saying we had the technology to go to the Moon. We really hadn't it, but we understood enough to know we could probably do it after much effort. Sure, it presently surpasses any effort we are willing to do, but it is foremost a problem of motivation, not technology.

I also would ask you to take a look in what we accomplished as a 200.000 years old species. In particular, take a look at the last 10.000 years. There are so many things we do today that would look like magic just a few hundred years ago. I am more optimistic than you with future prospects. I feel it is a recurrent thing how I am more optimistic on anything. I hope I won't age into a pessimistic old guy like you people ;-)

Susan's Husband said...

We had a long discussion about this a while back. I disagreed with Skipper and pointed out several technologies, any one of which in my view would permit interstellar colonization. Just for two, true artificial intelligence and near-indefinite life extension. If people lived for 10,000 years, going to another star would be far more feasible.

I also disagree that regions without Earth type planets are uninhabitable. As there is mass and energy, you can make a habitable place.

Of course, perhaps there are ways to do interstellar travel without really leaving home.

Peter said...

I have a question for SH, Clovis and Skipper. The conviction that there "must" be extraterrestrial life out there is generally associated in the popular mind with belief in a non-teleogical, random universe. As I understand it, the argument is that there is nothing special about us and that therefore the odds favour life elsewhere. By contrast, the belief we are alone is associated with design. Isn't that topsy-turvy? Given that we now know the odds against the spontaneous generation of life are astronomical, doesn't the fact it only happened once support the materialists? As long as we are unique and alone guys like SH can hide behind their weak anthropic principle (a fancy way of saying sh-t happens) no matter how fantastic the statistical odds, but if it happened elsewhere too, surely that supports the argument that the fix was in, no? Or have I just been blogging for too long?

Susan's Husband said...

Peter;

My point with the Anthropic Principle is a variant of Skipper's Dunnoism. The real point is that because of the self-referential nature of the problem, neither situations favors the theists or the materialists. I've read theist arguments that depend on us being alone in the Universe, but God made it so big because that's just how big it has to be for everything else to work.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Your points are valid, but they are steps ahead in technological terms and I tried to keep the discussion with Skipper focused on things we already can achieve, in order to counter his skepticism.



Peter,

Strictly speaking, none of that really proves God or otherwise, we are just wondering about it all.

I believe Dirac made a reasonable point, but it depends on things we don't know yet.

Furthermore, the difficulty on accepting God as the ultimate answer is not really about odds of life or the universe fine-tuned appearance. I guess most agnostic/atheists can concede those are very interesting points.

The problem is how to embed it into our standard Judeo-Christian baggage, which asks for things that blatanly collide with our standard scientific knowledge. When you read so many of those miracles and one-to-one chats with God himself, described in the Bible, and compare with what we see around us today, it asks for more than a leap of faith. It asks for explicit disregard for so many of Nature laws. Yes, an Almoghty God could surely provide for that, bit it still rings so contrived.

I identify myself as agnotisc in my brain, Christian in my heart, so I am usually keenly aware of the walking contradiction every human being is. Most, if not all, believers I know are in many implicit ways as atheistic as any declared atheist out there. And I am not talking about hypocrisy: even the ones very sincere in their faith have tremendous difficulty to live according to it to the most basic level. Think about it: if you are absolutely sure of God and the after-life, how come you dedicate 99,999% of your time to behave, acts and thoughts that have so little to do with this astounding knowledge?

A similar thing happens to agnostic/atheists too. Most of them behave, in implicit ways, in contrary form to what they supposedly should do. Were they to take their philosophy to ultimate consequences, I don't think most would be alive, there are so many situations where to keep going on is illogical, even irrational. Why do they keep following that breath of life within themselves? Every reason they can possibly give is an elaborated farce.

It feels like a trap, we are all ultimately failed by reason, but dazed by faith. May God save us.

Harry Eagar said...

'Every reason they can possibly give is an elaborated farce.'

You are, for sure, an unusual kind of optimist.

As I see it, we (and every other species) is evolved to do one thing: reproduce. Humans can only do that by living a fairly long time, because of the necessity to socialize infants.

There are 3 steps to colonizing te galaxy: microbes, multicellular and, apparently, disregard for religion. It wasn't until, by a very odd historical accident, a society evolved that set ideas of a deity to one side that the scientific revolution began.

Dunno if any kind of intelligent life will suffer the god delusion, but our own experience suggests that step 3 is no way inevitable.

Hey Skipper said...

[Peter:] The conviction that there "must" be extraterrestrial life out there is generally associated in the popular mind with belief in a non-teleogical, random universe. As I understand it, the argument is that there is nothing special about us and that therefore the odds favour life elsewhere. By contrast, the belief we are alone is associated with design. Isn't that topsy-turvy? Given that we now know the odds against the spontaneous generation of life are astronomical, doesn't the fact it only happened once support the materialists?

I don't think you can use the word "odds" meaningfully with any data set that consists only of one member. From the information available, it is impossible to "know" whether the "odds" against the spontaneous generation of life are astronomical, merely high, 50:50 or zero. Indeed, from the information available, the odds of life existing wherever liquid water is present for a sufficient period is 100%: no matter how apparently unlikely, liquid water on earth always has life, whether it is at the bottom of the ocean, or in hot springs.

For my part, learning the objective truth about the frequency of life throughout the universe would certainly be amazing to us, no matter what it is. But I don't see any reason why it should affect the world view of anyone who isn't already rigidly convinced of possessing absolute truth. (Islam is the only religion I can think of, off hand, with that as a pillar of belief.)

Even if it turns out that we a) can find enough otherwise habitable worlds that are b) completely devoid of life in order to c) have enough data points to then meaningfully say the odds against life are extremely high, that no more points towards a designer than it does enough monkeys banging away on enough typewriters for long enough.

I happen to fall on the monkeys side — that even if the odds against life appearing in a suitable environment are a billion to one, there must still be thousands of planets with some form of life in our galaxy alone.

Maybe whatever designer there is set up the universe that way. Or maybe set up the universe to have lots of galaxies, and life occasionally happens. Either way, the question still boils down to the question of existence, to which Dunnoism is the only rational answer.

Which, in turn, is the problem revealed religions and progressives (I repeat myself) face: the more we know, the more we know we don't know.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] There are 3 steps to colonizing the galaxy: microbes, multicellular and, apparently, disregard for religion. It wasn't until, by a very odd historical accident, a society evolved that set ideas of a deity to one side that the scientific revolution began.

That it happened someplace first doesn't make it odd. To make that claim, you must know that it wouldn't have happened somewhere else eventually.

You don't, because you can't.

And you also ignore that the particular society that did ultimately sideline its deity did so, in no small part, because the adherents of that deity insisted upon discovering the natural bases for that deity.

So your assertion is also self contradicting.

[Clovis:] I tried to keep the discussion with Skipper focused on things we already can achieve, in order to counter his skepticism.

In countering my skepticism, you have, in effect, just waved it away.

We are the only intelligent life we know of. Presuming life, given the appropriate conditions, isn't unusual, then the odds of us being first are nil. Presuming interstellar travel is possible, then the odds of us being the only intelligent life we know of are nil.

Hence Fermi's paradox. But for the paradox to be exist requires accepting, as a matter of quasi-religious belief, that interstellar travel is possible. Dispense with that belief and the paradox disappears. Just because we can imagine doing so doesn't make it inevitable.

Which means asserting there are thousands of mutually solitary civilizations throughout the Milky Way requires accepting nothing more than the evidence at hand.

I bet — with the payoff being $1,000 each to Clovis's, AOG's, and Bret's favorite charities — that humans will not again go even so far as the moon in my lifetime, never mind Mars.

That, in turn raises something of an existential question: can humans both continue to learn more about the universe and live with the certainty of being stuck on Earth forever?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,


---
In countering my skepticism, you have, in effect, just waved it away.
---
As I am not going to build a spacecraft to prove you wrong, that't the best I can do: to point out that none of your doubts about the feasibility of sending a satellite to Alfa Centauri are based on principles. Not one problem you cited is that hard to solve, provided infinite money and will. The real problem is: how much money and will anyone is going to dedicate to that?

BTW, when you commented that aircraft speeds stopped increasing with the B707, I forgot to mention the Concorde for you. It is not that technology stopped, it is cost/benefits that stopped increasing, maybe you are mixing those things without noticing.


---
I bet — with the payoff being $1,000 each to Clovis's, AOG's, and Bret's favorite charities — that humans will not again go even so far as the moon in my lifetime, never mind Mars.
---
And why to send people if we can send robots?

erp said...

Clovis:

According to Wikipedia, the first supersonic flight was well before the B707 which was roughly contemporaneous with the Concorde.

FTA ... the first recognized flight exceeding the speed of sound for the first time by a manned aircraft in controlled level flight was on October 14, 1947 in an American research project, using the experimental Bell X-1 research rocket plane, piloted by Charles "Chuck" Yeager.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,


---
Even if it turns out that we a) can find enough otherwise habitable worlds that are b) completely devoid of life in order to c) have enough data points to then meaningfully say the odds against life are extremely high, that no more points towards a designer than it does enough monkeys banging away on enough typewriters for long enough.
---
Actually, it does point to something that must be different from typing monkeys.

If you pay attention to Bret's last post, you'll see that such Monkeys' work asks for far more time than we have in our universe. If life is anything like a journal typed by Monkeys, you better start thinking about some other way to explain us being here.

It is all very nice to find it a great delusion the notion we could have some sort of creator as origin, but anywhere a bogus argument dealing with ill-defined concepts and probabilities can fit, hey, that's fine. I guess only delusions disguised in pseudo-rational talk are fashionable these days.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

And the velocities the B707 achieved were obtained way before that. When Skipper referenced the B707, he was talking about commercial airplanes. So am I when citing the Concorde.

erp said...


... which, as I said, was roughly contemporaneous with the B707.

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

Aieeeee. The curse of the double comment is back.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Were that his meaning, he should have said "stopped increasing by the time of the B707", but I believe the term "stopped increasing with the B707" pretty much points to that airplane itself as the mark.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] As I am not going to build a spacecraft to prove you wrong, that't the best I can do: to point out that none of your doubts about the feasibility of sending a satellite to Alfa Centauri are based on principles.

Agreed. Now, what will it take to send a satellite to Alfa Centauri and — this is the Fermi Paradox sine qua non — stop at Alfa Centauri.

We were just as capable of sending a satellite to Pluto in 2006 as we were 1977 years ago. Thirty-nine years of technological advancement, so astonishing in other realms, amounted to the square root of heckall when it comes to shoving mass around. New Horizons is going to do a flyby, because there was no way to get the thing to Pluto and then stick around once it got there.

And it only weighs 1,000 lbs.

Which is the start of the vicious circle.

The total launch mass was over 1,200 times the vehicle mass. To put NH into orbit around Pluto would have required a launch vehicle roughly 2,400 times the launch mass. Except it would have been far more, because the launch vehicle would have also had to accelerate the propellant mass required to bring the NH to a stop at the other end.

And that is for a vehicle mass that is comparable to that required to get that skydiver to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere via balloon.

BTW, NH, if pointed at Alfa Centauri, would take nearly 10,000 years to get there. (And would keep right on going.)


BTW, when you commented that aircraft speeds stopped increasing with the B707, I forgot to mention the Concorde to you.

That would only have reinforced my point.

Back in the day, I flew the F-111. It was designed a decade earlier than the Concorde. And the SR-71 was designed a decade before the F-111.

With quibbling exceptions, Concorde included no design features that the F-111 — probably the fastest airplane the world will ever see, taken over the entirety of the operational envelope — or the SR-71 hadn't already taken on board.

Yet in order to carry anything like enough people to make Concorde a viable proposition, and that only after every dime of design, test, development and construction costs was dumped upon Europe's serfs, ummm, victims, ummm, taxpayers, that piece of crap was a time bomb disguised as a flying soda straw.

(Harry, pay attention here.) That tribute to socialist gigantism fell prey to mere, simple, run of the mill, garden variety, common, every day, ho hum, tire failure.

And it wasn't the first time. Concorde's demise was baked into the design. Takeoff speeds were right at the limit of main landing gear tire design limits. Tire failure at that rotational velocity amounts to setting a bomb off directly under the fuel tanks.

Concorde was an epic failure.

Today, the fastest airliner cruises a whole 10 knots faster than the B707.

And I will bet (same terms as for going to the Moon or Mars) that, within my lifetime, air travel will not get even 10 knots faster than it is today.

Hence my skepticism that in any endeavor involving shifting mass around the playground, in any realm within which it might be shifted, the ultimate speed for shifting it comes very, very soon.

And why send people if we can send robots?

Indeed. Given what robotic spacecraft can do, there is precisely zero reason for sending humans anywhere in space.

Do robots solve Fermi's paradox?

If you pay attention to Bret's last post, you'll see that such Monkeys' work asks for far more time than we have in our universe. If life is anything like a journal typed by Monkeys, you better start thinking about some other way to explain us being here.

You, like the rest of us, know neither the premise or the consequent. You are right if life's spark requires Hamlet.

Not so much if a haiku suffices.

erp said...

Skipper:

Adding to the Concorde's commercial failure is that residents of the planet object to sonic booms, so I think they only used supersonic speed over the ocean.

When we lived in Vermont, we frequently had sonic booms overhead during training missions, etc. from an air force base a couple of hundred miles away.

I liked it because it reminded me that our boys were watching over us, but most people went ballistic about it.

Won't sending robots instead of humans into space add to the virtual reality that many of today's kids use instead personal experiences?

Will we eventually end up being pure intellect as so many old-time sci-fi writers predicted during the heyday of science fiction decades ago.

Roddenberry solved the problem by inventing warp drive, worm holes ... You think there's any chance things like that might exist?

Harry Eagar said...

'Socialist gigantism' that only plutocrats ever got to ride? Er, um, OK.

As for odd historical accidents, there have been quite a few (not just one) civilizations, and none evaded deism sufficiently to reach tech takeoff.

It is worth remarking how very fast the acceleration was: start in 1648, when Europe decided it was no longer worth murdering each other over fine points of religious dogma, and end around 1900 -- a bare 10 generations.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Sorry but you oversimplify history too much here. Religion played both hands in history, both advancing a society capacity to pursue knowledge in some cases, or holding it back in others.

The same European period you cite presents a good comparative example: science advanced faster in the reformed nations, compared to the catholic ones. And the reason was not faith becoming weaker in the reformed nations - in a lot of senses, it was quite the contrary.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
We were just as capable of sending a satellite to Pluto in 2006 as we were 1977 years ago.
---
Do you really want to make an argument based on mere 29 years?

If you do, let me tell you about at least one thing that changed from the 2000's to now: mini-satellites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniaturized_satellite

Worrying about mass? In future we'll make satellites of few kilograms, and with further nanotechnology improvements, maybe only a few grams.

To which I point to Erp's wisdom in pointing out above my olympian hubris upon declaring we have not been ever visited. If alien micro-satellites are flying around, I doubt we would detect them too soon.

And do you know an easy way to decelerate a very small satellite sent from here to Alfa Centauri? It only needs to fly through the target planet atmosphere in the right ways.

Not to mention other possibilities, like using tidal forces to decelerate a satellite to a lower orbit. We have both Newtonian and Relativistic ways of doing that. I wrote a paper differentiating the physics of both situations a few years ago:

http://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.73.024020


---
Back in the day, I flew the F-111.
---
I can't really express to you how envious I am that you ever flew a supersonic jet.

Yet, I must express to you how your argument above does not compute. You first complained that technology stopped improving velocities. I showed one clear contrary example. As much as you may argue such new technology is not better or safer, it surely is *faster*.

I also disagree Concorde was such epic failure. It flew for many years, more than a lot of other commercial planes around. The technology sure could improve and get more reliable, but it was always constrained by that eternal judge of survinging ideas in our capitalist world, the cost/benefit relationship.


---
Do robots solve Fermi's paradox?
---
Absolutely. It would prove sentient life elsewhere, and we could conclude we were indeed visited, which was how Fermi himself phrased his paradox in 1950.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Roddenberry solved the problem by inventing warp drive, worm holes ... You think there's any chance things like that might exist?
---
A very good question, Erp.

I did not want to go there, since my point was more focused on arguing about things we can almost surely reach within our present technological horizon.

Now, if you ask what our most advanced theories of nature tell us, they clearly make room for the possibility of warpdrives and wormholes. We are far from understanding all details here, but we can not exclude that possibility.

Imagine if right after Newton announced his laws, some time-traveler materialized right in front of him and told him: one day, people will get to the moon using nothing but the laws you've just written.

Newton would never be able to figure out from that information alone how to build the Apollo 13. Yet, he would surely be able to calculate how a big piece of mass could be transported from here to the moon, e.g. the velocity it would need accelerate to, and so on. He would know how it was possible within his laws, but he wouldn't know how to do the trick, notwithstanding his colossal intelligence.

We are in an analogue situation. If a time-traveler ever tell us it will be done in future, I can tell you how that's possible within Einstein's equations mixed up with quantum fields in exotic states. I can even tell you how to set up a quantum field in such exotic states, obtaining tiny amounts of negative energy densities. But I, nor anyone else, know much about how to assemble and control such exotic matter in the scale needed to create wardrive and wormhole spacetimes.

In some far, far future, maybe we will have spacetime engineers setting up bridges between galaxies, maybe using for that the most mysterious and abundant form of exotic matter in the universe, the Dark Energy - which makes up for 68% of the Universe as far as we know. For comparison, all matter we see around us, in those hundreds of billions of galaxies, still sums up to less than 5% of our Universe composition. And they will be using not much more than Einstein's Laws for that.

It is an exciting Universe this one we have, full of possibilities. We may end up stuck here on Earth for eternity (or until the Sun dies), like our pessimistic Skipper here prefers, but that is not the only option by far.

Susan's Husband said...

To add to Clovis' comments one technique would be to use solar sails, which let you use the target star for propulsion when you arriv, and possibly coupl that with sling shot or tidal effects as Clovis noted. If people live long enough this becomes feasible (or we use robots).

I disagree with Skipper because for his view to be correct, multiple likely long term technological advances must *all* fail to pan out.

As for not being any closer to sending a probe to Pluto, I am not sure I agree with that either. Consider the Lunar X Prize which has 5 teams working on privately built and funded lunar probes. That's certainly something that wasn't even close to feasible 30 years ago, but is now.

erp said...

Clovis: There could be invisible-to-the-naked-eye flying saucers in the air, certainly that would explain the exquisite precision of the "no-see-um," but I was thinking more of alien visitors in prehistoric times who deliberately or just in passing gave us a little nudge. Who knows, maybe there was a little hanky panky involved as well.

If Skipper says the Concorde was a time bomb, I believe him, so the reason it failed isn't the costs of supersonic travel, but because of design problems. There are more than enough people with available funds who'd like to be able to get to Australia or Hawaii in a couple of hours and are willing and able to pay whatever it costs.

IIRC, every Concorde flight was booked well in advance.

Harry Eagar said...

Clovis, I did not say religion was abandoned only that it was set aside when it came to the natural sciences. In the Catholic countries, it was not set aside.

There is no good reason (I can see) that the tech revolution did not happen much earlier or elsewhere.

I am skeptical that humans can travel long distances or times in space. We were not evolved for it and I am an evolutionary determinist to that extent. There is a history of tiny, isolated human 'societies,' and it is not pretty.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Your focus in religion's role here tells me you think that a lack of environment allowing for scientific inquiry was the only problem.

But if that's all you need, you ought to explain why Aristoteles did not discover Newton's Laws. He could question as much as he wanted, yet he came up with a few quite wrong physical theories.

There are a few good reasons for the tech revolution not to happen before. Most of them are related to critical mass of people, intensity of the flux of information and stability of the societies. And that's not enough yet, it still matters the time for the loop of discoveries -> technological improvement -> further discoveries to evolve.

Religion played mostly indirect roles in the above processes for most of the time, with notable exceptions.

Peter said...

Sorry but you oversimplify history too much here

Lots of people oversimplify history, Clovis, but only our Harry has the ability to bring it to a dead halt.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, something has to account for the fact -- and it is a fact -- that all the tech societeis were about equal at around 1400, but one leaped ahead shortly thereafter.

What happened in that one tech society: 125 years of religious war followed by religious tolerance.

Hmmm.

Anything else? Yes, discovery of America, influx of silver.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

The tech societies were not about equal. You may have this impression because the differences back then look like small compared to our present standards, but there were noticeable differences.

Between 800 and 1400 there was a period when the Arabs were ahead. Another when China was ahead. Right there in 1400, Europe was coming to terms and getting to the point the other two got first.

Then came the Age of Discovery with the great navigations, for which my acestors, the Portuguese, deserve a lot of credit.

I told you before that intensity of the flux of information was an important thing to explain tech revolutions. There you have it.

Maybe China could have pulled it out first, but for strange reasons they didn't. You'll be hard pressed to find fault in religion in China's case.

Susan's Husband said...

Why couldn't it just be luck the the Europeans went first?

Or you could take Jared Diamond's thesis that it was basically geographical factors. Or the rise of empiricism which was relatively unprecedented (although Diamond would say that happened as a consequence of other factors). Maybe it was the Magna Carta, starting the trend toward more limited government, easing government oppression and conformity. Maybe it was the recovery from the Dark Ages combined with the newly dominant influence of Christianity.

erp said...

Harry, you continue to make our case for us.

You correctly discern that a powerful central entity like the church/monarchy which controls all aspects of people's and leaves them dependent and in bondage, was a detriment to advances in science, etc., but fail to see that a powerful central government does exactly the same thing.

Clovis e Adri said...

There goes Erp turning everything into politics, as she always does.

Except science advanced throughout all that period under much more central governments than we have today. But never to bother with facts is Erp's usual too.

By the way, Erp, it was exactly a very centralized government that transformed the US in our present powerhouse in science. Except it was not the US govt. that did the trick, but the German one during the 30's. You guys own a lot to Hitler.

erp said...

Clovis:

Please elaborate on the absurd statement above. Yes everything is politics. Gravity works in the same way no matter who is president if that's what you mean.

Whether it is the church, a monarchy or a leftwing despot, strong powerful central entities dictating everything in people's lives do not lead to progress.

People need to be free to create and dream.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

My absurd statement was meant to open your eyes on how the dynamics of scientific and technological development is so much more complex than a Big X Small govt issue. But why to bother? I give up.

Clovis e Adri said...

BTW, maybe the statement got more absurd due to a mistyping. I've meant:

"You guys owe a lot..."

erp said...


Not to worry, I got it.

erp said...

My eyes are wide open.

Scientific research in our academic institutions has been given over to the grant writers. Data are fudged. Academic freedom has become thought control.

As Bret notes elsewhere, Toyota is moving to Texas. It looks like Pfizer is moving the U.K. The impact will be monumental.

California, the Golden State, has been turned into lead. You guys have reversed alchemy.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] 'Socialist gigantism' that only plutocrats ever got to ride? Er, um, OK.

Socialism that doesn't exist to benefit the nomenklatura? Er, um, OK. (See also, TU-144, an even more epic failure than Concorde.)

Concorde was a socialist debacle — a government instigated project, funded by taxpayers, without a viable business case, and allowed to continue for decades with a known, and amply demonstrated, fatal flaw. (The tire failure rate for Concorde was 30 times that for subsonic airliners. And when a Concorde tire failed, it frequently did a lot of damage.)

The only reason Concorde survived as long as it did is that the taxpayers' development dollars — £1.1B (not inflation adjusted) — were completely written off. Only 14 entered commercial service. British Airways bought their seven from the government for around £115M.

That is not the formula for success.

Or, to put it another way, taxpayers who could never afford a seat were coerced into funding a conveyance for the nomenklatura.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Adding to the Concorde's commercial failure is that residents of the planet object to sonic booms, so I think they only used supersonic speed over the ocean.

That is true. But it's problems are more inherent than that. It hoovered fuel so fast that its range wasn't particularly good, and its payload was worse. Concorde would have to stop twice to cover the same distance that a B777 can comfortably cover non-stop. Even if it could have operated completely unrestricted, it still would have been a losing proposition.

One of the justifications for Concorde was that its speed, about 2.5 times a conventional airliner, would mean that far fewer aircraft would have to be built to provide the same service frequency.

Yeah, but what about that whole payload thing?

Sine qua non for socialism: innumeracy.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] You first complained that technology stopped improving velocities. I showed one clear contrary [Concorde] example.

Except it is the exception that proves the rule. It wasn't any faster than anything that had gone well before. It kept flying only by fleecing taxpayers. It didn't generate enough profit for life-cycle improvements. It yielded less profit per seat-mile for first class than conventional airliners, and that gap would be even larger today.

That is why no one is thinking about replacing the damn thing, and why the fastest airliners today go only about 10 knots faster than the B707.

However, that probably isn't really your point. After all, what we can do may well exceed what we choose to do.

Even so, my argument remains intact: even if SSTs were flying today, air travel wouldn't be going a jot faster than forty years ago, which, in turn, wasn't any faster than a good decade prior to that.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] As for odd historical accidents, there have been quite a few (not just one) civilizations, and none evaded deism sufficiently to reach tech takeoff.

I'm not sure which deserves the greatest suspicion — single factor explanations, or progressivism's inherent anti-humanity.

You rather failed to list the other pre-technological civilizations. The pre-eminent one would have to be China. But it thoroughly failed to take advantage of its several centuries head start for reasons having much to do with earthly despotism, and a fair amount to do with lexicographical accident.

You also failed to note accidents of climate, geography, and history. Which means you placed far too much weight on an explanation utterly devoid of explanatory power. Let's assume that Europe in the 1400s had fully cast aside its clerical yoke. How much sooner, and why, do subsequent scientific discoveries happen?

Which leads to the anti-humanity that pervades progressivism. You, like the rest, place blame at the feet of deism which, mystifyingly, exists as some entity utterly outside believers; in your world, the object somehow has nothing to do with its creator.

Only progressives could wish away religion's humanity.

About which I should not be surprised, since progressivism does not exist without the blank slate.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] Not to mention other possibilities, like using tidal forces to decelerate a satellite to a lower orbit. We have both Newtonian and Relativistic ways of doing that.

Now I know how my dog felt when I tried explaining logarithms to the poor thing.

[Hey Skipper:] Do robots solve Fermi's paradox?
---
[Clovis:] Absolutely. It would prove sentient life elsewhere, and we could conclude we were indeed visited, which was how Fermi himself phrased his paradox in 1950.


From Wikipedia: The Fermi paradox (or Fermi's paradox) is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.

In order for Fermi's paradox to even exist really requires more than just satellites. Unless civilizations themselves escape from their home worlds, they cannot propagate. (The second cornerstone of the Fermi paradox is a rejoinder to the argument by scale: given intelligent life's ability to overcome scarcity, and its tendency to colonize new habitats, it seems likely that at least some civilizations would be technologically advanced, seek out new resources in space and then colonize first their own star system and subsequently the surrounding star systems.)

There is no paradox if the tyrannies of mass and distance are inescapable.

Hey Skipper said...

[AOG:] As for not being any closer to sending a probe to Pluto, I am not sure I agree with that either. Consider the Lunar X Prize which has 5 teams working on privately built and funded lunar probes.

Space-X (I'm not trying to engender envy or anything — really — but I got a tour of the factory a year and a half ago.) has proven it is possible to do the same thing cheaper. I will not be the least surprised if the Lunar X Prize allows landing robotic probes on the moon far cheaper than we have done, too.

But it won't be any faster, or more worthwhile

[Clovis:] But if that's all you [Harry] need, you ought to explain why Aristotle did not discover Newton's Laws. He could question as much as he wanted, yet he came up with a few quite wrong physical theories.

There are a few good reasons for the tech revolution not to happen before …


Exactly.

Oh, and Guetenberg. (Just adding to your list.)

[erp:] You correctly discern that a powerful central entity like the church/monarchy which controls all aspects of people's [lives] …

[Clovis:] There goes Erp turning everything into politics, as she always does.


You used China as an example of a society that failed to advance for non-religious reasons.

True.

They were political.

Susan's Husband said...

Skipper;

But it won't be any faster, or more worthwhile

Wasn't the basis of your argument against the Concorde about the expense and hence its economic non-viability? I think Space-X (and other similar efforts) are very significant precisely for the reasons you dismissed Concorde as an actual advance.

After all, "worthwhile" is benefit/cost and if you reduce the cost, it's inevitably more worthwhile since the benefits remain the same.

Harry Eagar said...

'You'll be hard pressed to find fault in religion in China's case.'

Not religion but ethics. You are right about information flows, which is why China and Islam fell behind. Both chose (Islam in 1268, China around 1420) to shut themselves off from information flows.

The Chinese decision was based not on Taoism (the religion) but on Confucianism (state ethics).

That's the flip side of my argument that it took religion getting out of the way to unleash tech.

erp said...

I'm not following you Harry. Islam and China fell behind because they shut themselves off from information flows because ... ?

Here's a hint: Those in charge, emperor, imam, whatever wanted complete and total control of every aspect of people's lives and that couldn't be maintained if people were free.

BTW - Confucianism is state ethics? Who knew.

Harry Eagar said...

Who knew?

Everybody who knows anything about China, but since you don't even know anything about America, I guess that would be asking a lot.

I bet you never went to visit the Rad Lab (before my brother had it torn down), which I call the greatest single source of scientific/technological advance outside of Isaac Newton's rooms at Cambridge, but it was conceived, built, paid for and run by big gummint.

Bet you never even knew it existed although you lived quite close to it.

Skipper, whatever you say about the Concorde can be multiplied by 10 for the Shuttle -- more dangerous, more expensive, less effective.

At least the Concorde kept to its planned schedule.

erp said...

... state ethics like the Soviet, "what isn't forbidden is required."

The Chinese had a very advanced civilized society which they didn't want tarnished by barbarians, not state ethics.

Like much of what you say, rad lab is a non-sequitur and I've lived in Queens, NY, suburban CT, rural VT and small town FL, not Cambridge MA where rad lab was housed at MIT.

Clovis e Adri said...

If that's not asking too much, Erp, what were you doing in a rural place?

You and your husband were farmers or something alike at some point?

erp said...

Working.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
[On Concorde] However, that probably isn't really your point. After all, what we can do may well exceed what we choose to do.
---
Right, all your arguments were about cost/benefit, which I recognized up front was not good.

---
Even so, my argument remains intact: even if SSTs were flying today, air travel wouldn't be going a jot faster than forty years ago, which, in turn, wasn't any faster than a good decade prior to that.
---
No, it doesn't, for our previous argument were not about setting up mass transportation systems for galaxy travelers in business class.

In analogy, you are one of those guys telling Columbus in 1492 that he was nuts, even if there was anything in the other side of the sea, it was too expensive and far away to go there. Not worth at all! Look at such an expensive and slow ship, it is ridiculous!

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
[Clovis:] Not to mention other possibilities, like using tidal forces to decelerate a satellite to a lower orbit. We have both Newtonian and Relativistic ways of doing that.

[Skipper] Now I know how my dog felt when I tried explaining logarithms to the poor thing.
---
Ops, that was not my intent at all, I don't like to hide behind technical jargon.

You can change the orbit of an extended body by contracting and expanding it in the right places. For example, if it is in eliptical orbit around a planet, by contracting itself in the closest point and expanding it in the furthest one, you can achieve higher orbits. By doing the contrary process, you can achieve lower ones. All of it without the need to expel mass at all. You change your orbit by doing work against tidal forces.

In past, there were NASA projects in which they thought about ejecting a heavy body attached to a strong rope out of a satellite, and use this contraction/expansion cycle to correct its orbit over time, instead of using a thruster. If the energy used in the process is obtained through solar power, for example, you have unlimited fuel, while the standard thrusters used to correct orbits eventually run out of gas.

The only catch here is that you can only do the tricks above if in a bounded orbit around a planet. So if we send something to some Alfa Centauri planet, it will need first to lose momentum to achieve a bounded orbit, in order to use the process above afterwards. Hence my suggestion of a flyby through its atmosphere.

Now, the relativistic process, which we call "swimming in spacetime", works in different ways than the picture above. Instead of trying to explain it here, I'll do better by sending you to a description a co-author made for the Scientific American, based in our paper:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/surprises-from-general-relativity/


Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
From Wikipedia: The Fermi paradox (or Fermi's paradox) is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.

In order for Fermi's paradox to even exist really requires more than just satellites.
---

Not really, dear Skipper, a satellite would do well to solve the paradox.

Let me quote you something better than Wikipedia, let's see what Fermi himself proposed.

It all starts with him making a summer visit in 1950 to his old pals of the Manhattan project. He was walking to the restaurant in Los Alamos with Edward Teller, Emil Konopinski and Herbert York, when Konopinski pulls out this New Yorker cartoon:

http://home.fnal.gov/~carrigan/pillars/New_Yorker_aliens.png

It was a proposal to solve the disappearance of public trash bins in New York, a banality in discussion in the newspapers back then. Maybe Erp was behind it, who knows she was making sure another public thing would fail in order to advance her small govt. agenda.

Anyway, the cartoon made those guys to start a conversation about UFOs and so on. After the talk went to other subjects, Fermi took a few minutes thinking, and in his legendary capacity for estimatives, blankly asked them all: where are they?

York, years later, had the memory that Fermi... “followed
up with a series of calculations on the probability of earthlike planets, the probability
of life given an earth, the probability of humans given life, the likely rise and duration
of high technology, and so on. He concluded on the basis of such calculations that we
ought to have been visited long ago and many times over. As I recall, he went on to
conclude that the reason we hadn’t been visited might be that interstellar flight is
impossible, or, if it is possible, always judged to be not worth the effort, or
technological civilization doesn’t last long enough for it to happen.”

You see, your point of interstellar travel being not possible was the first thing he explored, yet he was in 1950, before Sputnik or Apollo.

Anyway, he would be satisfied enough with evidence of outer civilizations if he was visited at that moment by a robotic flying saucer, that I can assure you.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
Space-X (I'm not trying to engender envy or anything — really — but I got a tour of the factory a year and a half ago.)
---

Wow. I may have envied you before, but now I hate you. I really do.

It is so unfair, some have so much - flying supersonic jets, having inside views of new space shuttles - and others have so little (basically, only boring books).

Not fair, not fair at all.

erp said...

Clovis:

... One man's banality = another man's carrying his trash in his pockets until he gets home.

Since you know all about the issue, why not tell us what the discussion was about instead of opining on its value as a life lesson.

erp said...

Clovis: yes it is unfair and the only way to make it fair, is for all of us to be equally bereft of extraordinary experiences.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

Let me dispel a bit of a myth about the Columbus nay-sayers - they said he was nuts because, in fact, he was. The nay-sayers knew (1) the Earth is round and (2) quite accurately how big it is. Columbus' plans depended on vastly underestimating the size of the planet. He wasn't smarter or better informed than his critics, he was just lucky.

erp said...

SH - as Yogi Berra famously said: "I'd rather be lucky than smart."

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] That's the flip side of my argument that it took religion getting out of the way to unleash tech.

You continue to prove that your argument is both deeply anti-human — unsurprising, considering you are a collectivist — and underdetermined.

The "tech" societies of the 13th century were, roughly speaking, China and Europe. Only one was religious in any meaningful sense of the term. Yet it was the one that took off first. You have no idea, beyond self-serving guesswork, how much religion retarded technological change in Europe. The reasons for that are many, but suffice to say that you can't possibly disentangle religion from geography, typography, climate, and non-religious history.

I bet [erp] never went to visit the Rad Lab (before my brother had it torn down), which I call the greatest single source of scientific/technological advance outside of Isaac Newton's rooms at Cambridge …

Given how often your sweeping assertions are objectively wrong, forgive me for not genuflecting to this one.

And, two words: Bell Labs

(Besides, Clovis has already — 29 Apr/1051 — nailed it.)



Skipper, whatever you say about the Concorde can be multiplied by 10 for the Shuttle -- more dangerous, more expensive, less effective.

Correct — the Shuttle is yet another example of socialist gigantism.

[AOG:] Wasn't the basis of your argument against the Concorde about the expense and hence its economic non-viability? I think Space-X (and other similar efforts) are very significant precisely for the reasons you dismissed Concorde as an actual advance.

There are two major differences. First, Concorde made grotesquely more expensive and faster what was already being done far more economically, but slower. The time difference simply couldn't justify the expense, even before subsequent advances in subsonic air transport — the most significant of which are out of bounds to supersonic speeds — brought costs down even further.

Second, even if Space-X meets all its cost goals, the problem of cost is still insurmountable. There is darn little worth doing in space, and we are already doing it. Sure, it would be wonderful if access costs dropped by an order of magnitude, if only to send more robots to Saturn's moons. It still won't be worth sending humans even as far as the moon.

[Clovis:] No, it doesn't, for our previous argument were not about setting up mass transportation systems for galaxy travelers in business class.

My argument wasn't about travelers in whatever class, but rather that, when it comes to shifting mass around the playground, the maximum velocity for doing so is reached very quickly; improvements after that come only in terms of lower cost.

That goes for trains, cars, ships, and planes. I can't see any reason why it will not also apply to space. So long as we are talking about moving any significant mass — merely 1,000 pounds counts — then velocity will never get enough greater than it already is to overcome interstellar distance.

Ops, that was not my intent at all, I don't like to hide behind technical jargon.

Thanks for taking the time to provide an explanation comprehensible to a glorified heavy equipment operator.

(Unfortunately, the SciAm link is paywalled.)

Anyway, he would be satisfied enough with evidence of outer civilizations if he was visited at that moment by a robotic flying saucer, that I can assure you.

As would I. However, that just about requires a civilization that colonizes other star systems, and those civilizations in turn expand to create others elsewhere. But if step one doesn't happen, then the rest doesn't.

It is so unfair, some have so much …

Absolutely, and I am walking proof that it is far easier to be lucky than good.

erp said...

Skipper, I'm confused. Harry's reference to rad lab means Bell Lab, not MIT as the link to Wikipedia says?

erp said...

...the Shuttle is yet another example of socialist gigantism.

Yes, and IIRC and I do, its purpose was to maintain the fallacy that the Soviets were our equals in space.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,


---
Since you know all about the issue, why not tell us what the discussion was about instead of opining on its value as a life lesson.
---

Actually, I don't know anything about the issue other than it was about trash bins disappearing.

I'll be thrilled if you actually remember the discussion back then (you were what, 15 years old?) and can give me your memories about it.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[On Columbus] He wasn't smarter or better informed than his critics, he was just lucky.
---

Actually, we don't really know about that.

He spent a few years in the most advanced nagivation center of the times (Portugal).There were, and still are, rumors that a few secrets circulated among the bright captains there, about those lands we call today America.

It is very speculative, but I don't think we can discard that Columbus was smarter and better informed than his critics. His deeds certainly points to that.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,


---
Correct — the Shuttle is yet another example of socialist gigantism.
---

I can't tire of the nutsy side you guys keep displaying.

You turn one of the tools to defeat socialism in a socialist thing by itself. I am never bored at this blog.

erp said...

Clovis:

a: I'll let Harry give you the real skinny of how the mistreated sanitation workers were being whipped by their overseers, but thanks to St. Michael of Quinn were saved from a fate worse than death ... and I do remember it because the issue wasn't limited to trash bins. That's why you didn't get the cartoon.

b: If Columbus was informed by the greatest navigators in the world, he was in deep trouble, because he miscalculated by about half the circumference of the earth and declared he had reached the (east) Indies half a world away.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,


---
That's why you didn't get the cartoon.
---
I keep not getting it. Your answer, full of sarcasm, only let me more in the dark. I have no idea what you are talking about. People got whipped and paid back by stealing trash bins?!?

erp said...

Not exactly.

I'm sure Harry will clarify it as soon as he gets a free moment. Here's a hint: In Harry's world workers were routinely whipped and even killed by their employers and the only way to avoid that sad fate was for workers to bring in union thugs, but I don't want to spoil the end of the story for him.

As for the cartoon, think scabs.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 204   Newer› Newest»