Monday, September 18, 2017

AI


Steven Cave has an article in Aeon on the history of intelligence and why we should be scared witless. Interestingly, "intelligence" does not appear much in philosophical writing nor does it translate well into Greek or German. It is perhaps best seen as "reason or rationality."
Plato emerged from a world steeped in myth and mysticism to claim something new: that the truth about reality could be established through reason, or what we might consider today to be the application of intelligence. This led him to conclude, in The Republic, that the ideal ruler is ‘the philosopher king’, as only a philosopher can work out the proper order of things. And so he launched the idea that the cleverest should rule over the rest – an intellectual meritocracy. This was opposed to the obvious in history--that the powerful should rule--and the less obvious--that rulers had been chosen by God.

In his book The Politics, Aristotle explains: ‘[T]hat some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.’ What marks the ruler is their possession of ‘the rational element’. Educated men have this the most, and should therefore naturally rule over women – and also those men ‘whose business is to use their body’ and who therefore ‘are by nature slaves’. Lower down the ladder still are non-human animals, who are so witless as to be ‘better off when they are ruled by man’.

So one generation after Plato's revolutionary declaration,  Aristotle presents the rule of the thinking man as obvious and natural.

The idea that intelligence defines humanity persisted into the Enlightenment. It was enthusiastically embraced by Immanuel Kant, probably the most influential moral philosopher since the ancients. For Kant, only reasoning creatures had moral standing. Rational beings were to be called ‘persons’ and were ‘ends in themselves’. Beings that were not rational, on the other hand, had ‘only a relative value as means, and are therefore called things’.

Cave sees this as the beginning of all sorts of oppression and injustice, particularly the goofy eugenics movement and slavery. His anxiety is Artificial Intelligence: How will we adapt to the creation of intelligent machines--perhaps our equals or even our superiors. My bet is such a worry is misplaced; the confident leaders and trailblazers might create such a threat but only by accident. No thought or political leader would create an opponent or rival on purpose. But they certainly would create an inferior to dominate.
My bet is the real threat with AI is the creation of beings inferior to humans, "humans" with missing parts like ambition, competitiveness and creativity, a diminished--and diminishing--subset of us.

That will cause some real theological anxiety.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday/Oedipus

In classical Greek tragedy, the chorus, whose metrical variety is believed to derive from its lost  musical accompaniment, alternates with the spoken dialogue of the play’s heroic characters and provides both context and commentary for the developing psychological narrative. And it was with the psychological truth of the Oedipus Rex Trilogy (published in 1985) – Stephen Spender’s single-play version of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone – that the theatre critic Michael Billington was most impressed. Spender’s great achievement, in Billington’s view, had been to unify the three plays – which were originally written thirty-five years apart – by focussing on the fact that the characters are “not simply playthings of the gods but victims of their own moral blindness”. For all its mythological trappings, the chorus’ “O thrilling voice of Zeus”, one of six from the play that Spender collected as poems in their own right, is the Theban citizens’ terrified plea to the powers above not to let the mistakes of their rulers fall on their heads: “O Delian healer hear my prayer / star of hope in my night of despair”. (tls)

A Chorus From Oedipus Rex

O thrilling voice of Zeus           sent from Apollo’s golden shrine           with what intent toward us?

                    I tremble I faint I fail                    terror racks my soul

O Delian healer to whom my criesfrom this my abyss of despair arise
           what fate unknown until now           or lost in the past and renewed

drawn from the revolving years                     will you make ours?

O speak o tell us immortal voice
           To Athena daughter of Zeus    and her sister Artemis           and Apollo of burning arrows    triple guardians of Thebes

                                                   I call
If ever before in time pastyou saved us from plague and defeat
            come back to us now and save

                    The plague invades                    no knowledge saves                    birth pangs of women                    bear dead their children                    life on life sped                    to the land of the dead                    birds wing on wing                    struck down from their flying                    to the parched earth                    by the marksman death

O Delian healer hear my prayerstar of hope in my night of despair

Grant that this god who without clash of sword on shieldfills with cries of our dying Thebes he makes his battlefield

            turn back in flight from us                                               be made to yield

          driven by great gales favouring our side
to the far Thracian waters wave on wavewhere none found haven ever but his grave

            O Zeus come with thy lightning to us                                                                    save
            And come back Bacchushair gold-bound and cheeks flame-red         whom the Bacchantae worship and the maenids led         by his bright torch held high

revelling again among us Bacchus and make death  the god whom gods and men most hate lie dead
                                        
STEPHEN SPENDER (1984)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Reverie

The first step towards such restoration...[of classical liberalism]... requires us to recognize that our basic institutions are the heritage of a public philosophy clearly articulated by our eighteenth-century forebears, notably by Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment as well as by the American Founders.  It was they who refined a set of norms, rules, procedures, and practices that we now simply take for granted: the rule of law with its universal and nondiscriminatory application; separation of powers; and universal and open franchise.  This means guaranteed protection of person, property, and contract, with periodic elections, open entry into competition for political office, and constitutional limits on the extent of governmental action.  That is the institutional heritage of classical liberalism, which we must zealously protect.--Buchanan



Synoptic: adjective:
1. Relating to a summary or general view of something.
2. Covering a wide area (as weather conditions).
3. Taking a similar view (as the first three Gospels of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek synopsis (general view), from syn- (together) + opsis (view). Earliest documented use: 1764.





The Owl Service by Alan Garner released in 1967 broke new ground in fantasy literature. It is tightly structured around the last episode of the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, one of the earliest tales of the medieval Welsh mythological compilation known as the Mabinogion. The young protagonists become caught up in the myth which begins to run their lives.  Its haunting quality was unlike anything seen before in a young adult novel. Its focus on class conflict and ethnic and cultural identities (Welsh vs. English) linked its mythological past yet made it currently relevant. The novel’s writing style, which relied heavily on dialogue (exploiting Garner’s earlier experience as a freelance television reporter), gave it a feverish energy. The Owl Service won both the prestigious Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

One big danger with modern-day presidents has been that they are too eager to improve the nation’s moral health. They either hector the country to atone for its past sins (Barack Obama). Or they aggressively push it to the promised land of moral perfection (Teddy Roosevelt who declared that he would do “battle for the Lord” to improve mankind during his term). (dalmia) Enter Trump......



Who is.... Antifa?


From a recent editorial on the style and rhetoric of the U.S. and China:
"We're at economic war with China," Mr. Bannon said. "One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it's gonna be them if we go down this path.
China's foreign ministry responded by saying that the China-US economic relationship was "mutually beneficial" and there could be "no winner from a trade war". It added: "We hope that people will not use 19th- and 20th-century perspectives and measures to address 21st-century problems."


A Christopher Columbus monument was destroyed in Baltimore and a YouTube video was made of it. This was the declaration of one of the vandals:
“Racist monuments to slave owners and murderers have always bothered me,” a narrator identified as Tye says in his YouTube video. “Baltimore’s poverty is concentrated in African-American households, and these statues are just an extra slap in the face. They were built in the 20th century in response to a movement for African Americans’ human dignity. What kind of a culture goes to such lengths to build such hate-filled monuments? What kind of a culture clings to those monuments in 2017? The culture of white supremacy preceded the United States. It’s at the foundation of U.S. culture, business, bureaucracies and psychology.”

President Trump said he would expand the U.S. mission in Afghanistan but take a different approach from his predecessors by being tougher on Pakistan and refraining from telegraphing troop levels. (wsj)


Sometimes it is difficult to figure out which teapot-seeking tempest one should pay attention to.
Antifa is a Left group with a diffuse identity. The Philadelphia branch defines itself this way on its website, as if these qualities were in some way compatible: "Philly Antifa is a Antifascist division operating in Philadelphia, PA and the surrounding area.  We are in direct conflict with Racism, Homophobia, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Transphobia, and all the various other flavors of Fascism."
From The Atlantic by Peter Beinart: "But for all of antifa’s supposed anti-authoritarianism, there’s something fundamentally authoritarian about its claim that its activists—who no one elected—can decide whose views are too odious to be publicly expressed. That kind of undemocratic, illegitimate power corrupts. It leads to what happened this April in Portland, Oregon, where antifa activists threatened to disrupt the city’s Rose Festival parade if people wearing 'red maga hats''—you know, the "Make America Great Again" hats—"marched alongside the local Republican Party. Because of antifa, Republican officials in Portland claim they can't even conduct voter registration in the city without being physically threatened or harassed. So, yes, antifa is not a figment of the conservative imagination. It’s a moral problem that liberals need to confront

Golden oldie:
http://steeleydock.blogspot.com/2013/08/sunday-sermon-81813.html

steeleydock.blogspot.com
What is the nature of truth and falsehood?  This seems to be the question Christ is asking today when he says, " Think ye, that I am come ...







Plato’s epitaph for Socrates in the Phaedo: “Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.”


It will be interesting to see if the recent sanctimonious epidemic has any effect upon the Che statues, college posters and t-shirts that memorialize the ideological serial killer. But the new Pure-of-Heart may see their purity in him.


In 79, the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed when Vesuvius erupted. Of the 20,000 residents of Pompey, 2,000 were killed. Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice, and the nearby seacoast was drastically changed. Herculaneum was buried under more than 60 feet of mud and volcanic material.


The finale episode of Game of Thrones' penultimate season, called "The Dragon and the Wolf", will be a record-breaking 79 minutes and 43 seconds long. I will miss it when it finishes.


According to Politico, tax reform is actually moving forward, include capping the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners; scrapping people's ability to deduct state and local taxes; and eliminating businesses' ability to deduct interest, while also phasing in so-called full expensing for small businesses that allows them to immediately deduct investments like new equipment or facilities.


There were “nearly 1.3 million hospitalizations involving opioids...in the United States in 2014,” representing “a 64 percent increase in inpatient stays and a doubling” in opioid-related emergency room visits since 2005, according to data “published this year” by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).


ESPN confirmed Tuesday night that it had decided to pull an announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee. This Robert Lee is Asian.
“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties,” reads the ESPN statement posted at the popular Fox Sports college-football blog Outkick the Coverage.
They exiled him to bland old Pittsburgh to do the Youngstown State game.
Pittsburgh is the "Panthers" and Youngstown State, for some reason, the "Penguins" (Pete and Penny), so maybe there is an animal activist opportunity there.


In his new book, Dennis Rasmussen suggests that, in some important instances, Adam Smith’s views diverge from, and indeed are more sophisticated than, his friend David Hume’s. Smith states, for example, that a true moral judgment must contemplate not merely the effects of an action, as Hume maintained, but also the circumstances in which it transpired. Nor did Smith take as dim a view of religion as Hume. He adopted the more conventional view that religion, with its emphasis on punishment or reward in the afterlife, tends to buttress rather than subvert traditional morality.





Hume met Rousseau in Paris and invited him to England. Baron d’Holbach warned Hume that “you are warming a viper in your bosom.” Rousseau  soon turned on Hume, accusing him of spearheading an international conspiracy to traduce his reputation. In a thirty-eight-page epistle, Rousseau said, among other things, that Hume’s charitable acts on his behalf were simply a ruse to win control over him. Adam Smith, Hume's friend,  warned Hume not to respond: “To write against him, is, you may depend upon it, the very thing he wishes you to do.” Hume ignored this sage advice and wrote a pamphlet that sought to vindicate his name. After Rousseau departed England for Calais, Smith asked, “What has become of Rousseau? Has he gone abroad, because he cannot continue to get himself sufficiently persecuted in Great Britain?”





A tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones. The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals.
However unlike today’s trigonometry, Babylonian mathematics used a base 60, or sexagesimal system, rather than the 10 which is used today. Because 60 is far easier to divide by three, experts studying the tablet, found that the calculations are far more accurate.
The tablet, which is thought to have come from the ancient Sumerian city of Larsa, has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC.



The Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who lived around 120BC, has long been regarded as the father of trigonometry, with his ‘table of chords’ on a circle considered the oldest trigonometric table.
A trigonometric table allows a user to determine two unknown ratios of a right-angled triangle using just one known ratio. But the tablet is far older than Hipparchus, demonstrating that the Babylonians were already well advanced in complex mathematics far earlier.



AAAAaaaaaaannnnnndddddd.....a chart:


Friday, September 15, 2017

The Magnetic Field


The Magnetic Field

The Earth is blanketed by a magnetic field. It’s what makes compasses point north, and protects our atmosphere from continual bombardment from space by charged particles such as protons. Without a magnetic field, our atmosphere would slowly be stripped away by harmful radiation, and life would almost certainly not exist as it does today.


The strength of Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing for the last 160 years at an alarming rate. This collapse is centered in a huge expanse of the Southern Hemisphere, extending from Zimbabwe to Chile, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. The magnetic field strength is so weak there that it’s a hazard for satellites that orbit above the region — the field no longer protects them from radiation which interferes with satellite electronics.
And the field is continuing to grow weaker, potentially portending even more dramatic events, including a global reversal of the magnetic poles. Such a major change would affect our navigation systems, as well as the transmission of electricity. The spectacle of the northern lights might appear at different latitudes. And because more radiation would reach Earth’s surface under very low field strengths during a global reversal.

There’s a patch of reversed polarity beneath southern Africa at the core-mantle boundary where the liquid iron outer core meets the slightly stiffer part of the Earth’s interior. In this area, the polarity of the field is opposite to the average global magnetic field. If we were able to use a compass deep under southern Africa, we would see that in this unusual patch north actually points south.
This patch is the main culprit creating the South Atlantic Anomaly. In numerical simulations, unusual patches similar to the one beneath southern Africa appear immediately prior to geomagnetic reversals.
The poles have reversed frequently over the history of the planet, but the last reversal is in the distant past, some 780,000 years ago.
Analysis of clay in African Iron Age structures show several changes 700 years ago where the strength of the magnetic field declined, then returned. It is theorized this area of instability might initiate polar reversal.

(From a Yahoo article)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fable/child

Another stolen parable:
A two year old is playing in a sandbox in a public park while his parents watch. An older boy the parents do not know, about six or seven, wanders up with his mother and, before anyone can do anything, the older boy grabs the two year old and throws him to the ground. The two year old hits his head on the side of the sandbox and screams; there is no obvious injury but the child continues to cry.

The mother of the older boy, the perpetrator, rushes to him and says, "Oh, honey, what is upsetting you?"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Reverie

"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer





Less than 40 percent of ancient Greek vocabulary has a recognizable Indo-European etymology; 8 percent of ancient Greek vocabulary is definitely of non-Greek origin; and the remaining 52 percent of ancient Greek vocabulary has no known etymology.



The modern economist may reject [Adam] Smith’s central notion that capital accumulation in a setting of natural liberty protected by law provides the key to economic development, or even that such development is, in itself, a desirable objective.  What the modern economist cannot do, at least consistently, is to propose further interference with natural liberty for the avowed purpose of stimulating capital investment while at the same time continuing to ignore the stifling effects of public sector expansion.  As Gordon Tullock has remarked, government should take its foot off the brake before it hits the accelerator.  Adam Smith would surely have agreed.--Buchanan


Two rising temperature trends appear in the last 2000 tears: the first peaks about 1200 AD and corresponds with a period known as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), while the second peaks in 1980 and then shows decline. In between, is the Little Ice Age (LIA), which according to the Northern Hemisphere composite bottomed-out in 1650 AD.


Who is...Paul Allen?

The gospel of the Canaanite woman: She is a Hellenistic Syro-Phoenician woman, a descendant of the ancient Canaanites, the bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry. It is always presented as a victory of faith and how faith can include the gentiles in salvation. But there is more and it is unsettling. The woman is begging for mercy for her sick daughter. "But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her." Christ does not answer her. Then He says, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He then compares non-Jews to dogs. There is no mercy here and no inclusiveness. He eventually yields to her faith but it is a bitter scene; how can one read it? Is Christ setting the scene so He can reverse it to make His larger point? Is He testing her? Can man make God change His mind?

Hyundai  is planning to launch an electric sedan under its high-end Genesis brand in 2021 with a range of 500 km (310 miles) per charge. It will also introduce an electric version of its Kona small sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a range of 390 km in the first half of next year.


In Japan, the number of children has dropped to less than 10% of the population. The government is converting elementary schools into hospices, providing care for the elderly in a country where 40% of the people are 65 or older. In Japan, the world's oldest and most sterile nation,  there is a popular expression: "ghost civilization".


Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sunk cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the ship's wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday -- more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean's surface. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, led a search team, assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., to accomplish what past searches had failed to do -- find Indianapolis, considered the last great naval tragedy of World War II. 

 
Maine has given each high school student laptop computers. After a decade and a half, and at a cost of about $12 million annually (around one percent of the state's education budget), Maine has yet to see any measurable increases on statewide standardized test scores.


Somehow the Rube-publicans, the party of Lincoln, have been successfully portrayed as the party of secession and racism and the Democrats of the racist and secessionist South, the party of liberation, unity and tolerance.


Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. A recent study has connected them to male infertility.

Since 1975, the number of practicing physicians older than 65 years in the United States has increased by more than 374%, and in 2015, 23% of practicing physicians were 65 years or older.

During the French Revolution, statues of saints were actually guillotined. Stay tuned.

Golden oldie:
http://steeleydock.blogspot.com/2013/08/cab-thoughts-82813.html

steeleydock.blogspot.com
"You cannot wake up someone who is only pretending to be asleep”--political proverb Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 on a mission to ...


A Free Speech Rally in Boston fell apart when thousands of counter-protesters showed up and drowned it out.  Journalists at the Boston Common, a downtown park, tweeted about an hour into the planned rally that many, if not all, of the attendees left the bandstand where they were due to hear speeches from several prominent conservative figures.
The Free Speech Rally organizers had permits to hold their event from noon to 2 p.m. local time on Saturday. But as of about 1:30 p.m., police on scene were dealing mostly with counter-protesters. The free speech group had left.
And the lesson here is.....?



"We're at economic war with China," Mr. Bannon said. "One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it's gonna be them if we go down this path.
China's foreign ministry responded by saying that the China-US economic relationship was "mutually beneficial" and there could be "no winner from a trade war". It added: "We hope that people will not use 19th- and 20th-century perspectives and measures to address 21st-century problems."



AAAAAAaaaannnnnddddddd....a map:

 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

OFA

A guy named Sperry writes in the N.Y. Post that Obama is going back to his roots; he has been organizing a resistance movement through his old Organizing for Action group.
Since Donald Trump’s election, this  well-funded protesting arm has beefed up staff and ramped up recruitment of young liberal activists, declaring on its website, “We’re not backing down.” Determined to salvage Obama’s legacy, it’s drawing battle lines on immigration, ObamaCare, race relations and climate change.
Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account.
According to him, this group is responsible for a lot of the demonstrations recently. It has more than 250 offices across the country.
I don't know if this is true but it is very unusual if it is. Nor am I keen on the technique of social and economic disruption.



More on Organizing for Action, Obama's community activist organization, as reported in the WashPo:
'Unlike parties, in the post-Citizen’s United era, 501(c)(4) groups like OFA can accept unlimited contributions. And they can advocate for policies in ways unregulated by campaign finance laws. Although such groups must spend more than half of their funds toward “social welfare” (read: not overtly political) purposes to be eligible for tax-exempt status, enforcing this provision is daunting. Just as parties once exploited the soft money loophole, 501(c)(4) groups like OFA can now take advantage of ambiguity over exactly what counts as a campaign-related expenditure.
In addition to advocating on issues and policies, OFA has taken on some of the campaign-related roles traditionally played by national party committees. In addition to maintaining and updating the databases and other digital assets that have been so critical to Obama’s campaign and policy successes, OFA has held numerous “community organizer workshops” and an annual Spring Fellows Program. Through these efforts, OFA mints new community organizers and trains a workforce for Democratic candidates and other progressive nonprofits.

Organizing for Action trained more than 10,000 organizers during its first two years, many of whom worked on the 2014 midterm elections and have joined 2016 presidential campaigns. These campaign and advocacy laboratories suggest how OFA – a pioneering presidential organization – might endure beyond 2016, seeking, as a recent organization e-mail trumpeted, to secure the “future of the Progressive movement.”'


So it's a takeoff on the old "soft money" contribution. Looks like the only potential fly in the ointment is the refusal of the Clintons to demur.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Speech/Civics


University Speech and Civics

University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax argued in an editorial that many of the problems plaguing American society—opioid abuse, unemployment, inner-city violence—can be traced to "the breakdown of the country's bourgeois culture."
Wax and her co-author suggested the "re-embrace" of cultural norms such as education, marriage before children, and respect for authority by Americans would "significantly reduce society's pathologies."
The firestorm that followed the editorial's publication culminated in 33 members of the Penn Law faculty publicly denouncing Wax in an open letter published in The Daily Pennsylvanian. The professors did not engage Wax's arguments on the merits, but instead spoke of their concern for an ideal educational experience in which people "respect one another without bias or stereotype."

....in the wake of the open letter, Penn Law students have been discussing "establishing their own complaint committee to which students can tattle when a professor or fellow student says something they don't like"—an institution one student called the "Stasi Committee."

Sadly, this kind of committee is par for the course on campus nowadays—while Penn does not currently have a formal bias reporting system, a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) found that hundreds of colleges and universities around the country maintain formal bias reporting systems, most of which actively solicit reports of offensive but protected speech from students and faculty.
...

There has been one silver lining for Wax: support has poured in from people around the country. She has received quiet whispers of support at Penn, but the real show of support "has come from ordinary citizens, from the forgotten man, and many have been quite thoughtful and intelligent. I have learned—although I already knew—the progressive professoriat (sic) really is despised by a good part of the citizenry. People believe that the elite academy is destroying our country, and what's good about it."
(from an editorial in "Reason" by S. Harris)

"People believe that the elite academy is destroying our country.." Wow.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday/\Chorus

Chorus from Oedipus Rex

In classical Greek tragedy, the chorus, whose metrical variety is believed to derive from its lost  musical accompaniment, alternates with the spoken dialogue of the play’s heroic characters and provides both context and commentary for the developing psychological narrative. And it was with the psychological truth of the Oedipus Rex Trilogy (published in 1985) – Stephen Spender’s single-play version of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone – that the theatre critic Michael Billington was most impressed. Spender’s great achievement, in Billington’s view, had been to unify the three plays – which were originally written thirty-five years apart – by focussing on the fact that the characters are “not simply playthings of the gods but victims of their own moral blindness”. For all its mythological trappings, the chorus’ “O thrilling voice of Zeus”, one of six from the play that Spender collected as poems in their own right, is the Theban citizens’ terrified plea to the powers above not to let the mistakes of their rulers fall on their heads: “O Delian healer hear my prayer / star of hope in my night of despair”. (tls)

A Chorus From Oedipus Rex


O thrilling voice of Zeus
           sent from Apollo’s golden shrine
           with what intent toward us?



                    I tremble I faint I fail
                    terror racks my soul



O Delian healer to whom my cries
from this my abyss of despair arise

           what fate unknown until now
           or lost in the past and renewed


drawn from the revolving years
                     will you make ours?



O speak o tell us immortal voice
           To Athena daughter of Zeus
    and her sister Artemis
           and Apollo of burning arrows
    triple guardians of Thebes


                                                   I call

If ever before in time past
you saved us from plague and defeat
            come back to us now and save



                    The plague invades
                    no knowledge saves
                    birth pangs of women
                    bear dead their children
                    life on life sped
                    to the land of the dead
                    birds wing on wing
                    struck down from their flying
                    to the parched earth
                    by the marksman death



O Delian healer hear my prayer
star of hope in my night of despair



Grant that this god who without clash of sword on shield
fills with cries of our dying Thebes he makes his battlefield



            turn back in flight from us
                                               be made to yield


          driven by great gales favouring our side

to the far Thracian waters wave on wave
where none found haven ever but his grave



            O Zeus come with thy lightning to us
                                                                    save

            And come back Bacchus
hair gold-bound and cheeks flame-red
         whom the Bacchantae worship and the maenids led
         by his bright torch held high



revelling again among us Bacchus and make death
  the god whom gods and men most hate lie dead

                                        
STEPHEN SPENDER (1984)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reverie

“Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is trying to destroy it” --François Revel 




The Zeigarnik effect is the tendency for us to hold on to information that we are processing and to discard that information from our memory when we have completed the task. So some people may have better success interrupting their projects and keeping them on the back burner while their mind works on the project. Apparently authors do this to prevent writer's block; they stop writing when they have a good idea what they want to write next.


China forces foreign businesses to share private business information—like software source code—with Chinese joint venture partners. That confidential information often finds its way into the wrong hands, subsequently appearing in counterfeit products.

Daymare is formed on the analogy of the much earlier noun nightmare (which dates from the 14th century). The element -mare in both words has nothing to do with mares, stallions, or horses: it comes from the Germanic noun marō “elf, goblin, incubus, succubus, nightmare,” appearing as mare, mære in Old English and Mahr and Nachtmahr “nightmare” in German. Daymare entered English in the 18th century.





Who is....Edwin Hubble?



President Trump, in the wake of the weekend violence at a white-supremacy rally in Virginia, is facing pressure to break decisively with such nationalist groups that largely backed his campaign and presidency. This is from the WSJ. Does the country really need the president to take a public position of leadership against loonies?  


What part of the neo-Nazi guys do people hate? Is it the racist part, the centralized one-leader part, or the national socialism part?


The Taliban-like erasing the past of a country can get really messy. Should we tear down the Jefferson Monument? What about the statue of the militarist and religious fanatic Jeanne d'Arc?
(Jeanne d'Arc in the Rue de Rivoli)
What about the countless Napoleon statues and memorials?
How about Forbes Avenue, named for a British General?
Purity is its own reward.

The rapper Macklemore had a fan tweet: “Macklemore hair seems to be the chosen haircut of the racists now. I call on @macklemore to get online and denounce his own haircut.” So he did. He denounced his haircut.
And in North Carolina someone pulled a statue of a confederate soldier down and beat it. He beat a statue.


Golden oldie:
http://steeleydock.blogspot.com/2013/08/cab-thoughts-83113.html
steeleydock.blogspot.com
A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.--de Tocqueville



The Left measures social progress in the number of people receiving government assistance. Those struggling to pay their own way evoke little sympathy.


Achilles was the ultimate Greek hero. Yet the Greeks did not teach by showing qualities but rather flaws. Achilles' failure is the result of anger, pride induced in the beginning and fury at Hector in the end. He drags Hector around the gate of Troy, abusing the dead body and keeping it from a proper burial. In the eyes of the Greeks, certain qualities united men. An enemy could be a hero. Great human qualities superseded circumstance. Hector, the enemy's greatest champion, deserved respect.
Theirs was not the simple, Manichean, puritanical world of black and white. The world was, and is, more complex than that. Fortunately we now have the wherewithal to dumb life down for us and make it all understandable.


Nicolaus Copernicus taught us in the 16th century that we human beings are nothing special, in the sense that the Earth on which we live is not at the center of the solar system. This realization has become known as the Copernican principle.
Harlow Shapley showed that the solar system is not at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A few years later, the astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that galaxies other than the Milky Way exist—some two trillion of them, by current estimates.
Every step along the way in extending the Copernican principle represents a major human discovery. That is, each decrease in the sense of our own physical significance was accompanied by a huge increase in our knowledge.
Which is to say, we are how the universe examines itself.

New research suggests DNA testing for disease risks, offered by companies such as 23andMe and Helix, may not influence those who use them to alter their health habits, despite receiving data that predict future illnesses or diseases. According to recent studies, “Getting the DNA information produced no significant effect on diet, physical activity, drinking alcohol, quitting smoking, sun protection or attendance at disease-screening programs” among participants who took DNA tests. Researchers wrote the presence of the data “has little if any impact on changing routine or habitual behaviors.”




Funny line: "First they came for the statues...."



The Husbands of Washington, D.C. continues. It seems that people think the current administration is different in quality from previous administrations when it is more likely they are just more gauche.



I had the good fortune of being able to watch the midday news yesterday. All were filled with righteous indignation against Trump and his too even-handed criticism of the rioters in Charlottesville. Then Bannon left and the news people went wild. The general belief was Trump was losing the neo-Nazi and the KKK people that the news felt was Trump's voter base. His base? How many are there? Do they vote? This all seems so crazy.
Data from the Southern Poverty Law Center suggests the number of hate groups is currently near the country’s all-time recorded high, in 2011. The SPLC reports that as of 2016, there are 917 active groups. (That’s 100 fewer than the 1,108 groups reported in 2011.) Prominent neo-Nazi groups include the National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America.
In a speech given in Kentucky, Vanguard America leader Dillon Irizarry said he counted at least 200 members in 20 different states. The KKK itself claims it has “between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide.”
Not much of a base. But the press seems to believe it. The solution would be to expand your definition, I suppose.

Whilst the electric vehicles and lithium batteries manufactured by these two companies do indeed help to reduce direct CO2 emissions from vehicles, electricity is needed to power them.  The carbon emissions generated by the electricity required for electric vehicles are greater than those saved by cutting out direct vehicle emissions."--a Morgan Stanley report


There is an interesting notion that arose with the CEOs abandoning Trump's business council. After Frazier quit, Trump tweeted this: "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" The stock response? Merck went up. Up. The take is that this could happen only if Trump was beginning to be seen as a guy who could not do anything. And the obvious next question is, what happens when the bad guys figure that out?


I never heard this: On Nov. 13, 1994, football star Rosey Grier — acting in the capacity of spiritual adviser — visited Simpson at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail. Separated by a plexiglass partition, the two men had a phone conversation in which Simpson became very emotional and possibly admitted his guilt to Grier, who classified the dialogue as religious council when called to testify. 
And...In the final installment of the ESPN documentary OJ: Made In America, Mike Gilbert claimed that Simpson told him he had not planned to kill his wife when he went to her home on June 12, 1994, and that she might still be alive if she had not answered the door with a knife in her hand.
Gilbert later said he did not even believe this, and is convinced Simpson went to Nicole's home with the intention of murdering her over the fact that she had left him and was seeing his friend and protege Marcus Allen.


The legislative neither must nor can transfer the power of making laws
to any body else, or place it any where, but where the people have...-Locke on legislative power




University of California, Irvine, economist David Neumark examined more than 100 credible minimum wage studies of the past two decades and found that 85% of them “found consistent evidence of job loss effects on low-skilled workers” — including lost jobs, reduced hours and closed businesses.

A small font for a pretty big story:
  Golden Seeds, one of ACA’s most active angel groups, with chapters across the country, among the founding members of ACA, has reached the impressive milestone of more than $100 million invested in women-led businesses ― 143 businesses to be exact.  Notes Managing Partner Loretta McCarthy, “Women angel investors are now an integral part of our industry, using their capital, skills and networks to contribute to the success of start-up companies.”










AAAAAaaaannnnnddddd.....a few graphs:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Clinton/Book

What Happened


The WashPo has an article on some of the pages leaked from Clinton's new apologia, What Happened, and some of it about Sanders is interesting. "Clinton attacks some of Sanders's supporters for being “sexist” and suggests the Vermont senator doesn't have the Democratic Party's true interests at heart. Most notably, she also intimates that he may not have even cared that his underhanded (in her opinion) attacks on her helped Donald Trump become president." according to the writer, Aaron Blake. "But inside the measured language are some pretty harsh judgments of Sanders. She's not just suggesting he's not a Democrat; she's suggesting he doesn't truly care about the party or that he may have played a hand in electing Trump. She's suggesting he doesn't appreciate the party. She claims his attacks were out-of-bounds and unprincipled."
All this despite structuring the primary specifically against him, aided and abetted by the DNC.


Here is the section that was leaked:


Because we agreed on so much, Bernie couldn’t make an argument against me in this area on policy, so he had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character. Some of his supporters, the so-called Bernie Bros, took to harassing my supporters online. It got ugly and more than a little sexist. When I finally challenged Bernie during a debate to name a single time I changed a position or a vote because of a financial contribution, he couldn’t come up with anything. Nonetheless, his attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” campaign.
I don’t know if that bothered Bernie or not. He certainly shared my horror at the thought of Donald Trump becoming President, and I appreciate that he campaigned for me in the general election. But he isn’t a Democrat — that’s not a smear, that’s what he says. He didn’t get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party. He was right that Democrats needed to strengthen our focus on working families and that there’s always a danger of spending too much time courting donors because of our insane campaign finance system. He also engaged a lot of young people in the political process for the first time, which is extremely important. But I think he was fundamentally wrong about the Democratic Party — the party that brought us Social Security under Roosevelt; Medicare and Medicaid under Johnson; peace between Israel and Egypt under Carter; broad-based prosperity and a balanced budget under Clinton; and rescued the auto industry, passed health care reform, and imposed tough new rules on Wall Street under Obama. I am proud to be a Democrat and I wish Bernie were, too.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

War

The Broken Body Fallacy


This is really worth some thought:
Ian Morris from Stanford, in his recent book War: What Is It Good For? has argued for the utility of war. The bigger the war, the better things become in the long run. War gives the state the power to make their citizens’ lives safer and richer. This is strange stuff that could come only from a university. "The utility of massive, random death."
 
Scheidel has a book called The Great Leveler which is pleased to inform us that income inequality is attainable only through war, savage revolution, disease periods and the implosion of the State. I guess once you start writing, you just can't stop. But you can stop. Look at this: “Whether communism’s sacrifice,” Scheidel writes, “of a hundred million lives bought anything of value is well beyond the scope of this study to contemplate.” Apparently, what you stop at is judgment.

Scheidel is also from Stanford; maybe there is something in the water.

“Whether communism’s sacrifice of a hundred million lives bought anything of value is well beyond the scope of this study to contemplate.” It is hard to believe someone wrote that--and got it past an editor. As an indicator of a political mindset, it should be memorized by everyone and never forgotten.