tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:/posts TQ White II 2023-05-11T13:47:53Z TQ White II tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1974972 2023-05-11T13:47:53Z 2023-05-11T13:47:53Z Don's Not Dishonest. He's Demented.

This NY Times author observes that, if you are worried about mental decline in older leaders, you should start freaking out at the prospect of Trump who, at his CNN sit-down, was wildly detached from reality. 

It is, as I read the article, weird that we keep talking about him as dishonest or manipulative when it is obvious that he is clearly and literally demented. 

If your great grandmother was talking about x-ray vision when she was in the French resistance, you wouldn't call it self-aggrandizing, you would call her nuts. That's the better standard for Trump.

I'll take Joe any day. He is still attached to reality.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1973625 2023-05-07T15:41:52Z 2023-05-07T15:41:53Z Horse Leaves Barn: Your Privacy is Up To You

Dear Everyone,

If you use a public service, social media, online store, news website, OR ANYTHING ELSE, you are going to be tracked and, if you ever become interesting, can have your privacy violated.


Do not mention your crimes or your secrets online. If the authorities decide you need suppressing, these things WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU. If your job or personal life require physical anonymity, ALWAYS USE A VPN.

Emphatically: You are no safer in any way if you choose to avoid Tik Tok. It is possible for an Amazon employee to go rogue. Same with NY Times. Same with Reddit. Same with EVERYTHING.

It would have been nice if our culture and government had stood up for our privacy at the start of the internet era. But, just as gun control is no longer relevant due to the insane ubiquity of guns, the privacy horse has left the barn.

Mostly, it doesn't matter (as long as you avoid mentioning your crimes and secrets). Nobody cares what you do or who you are and it's not like every rando out there has access to Tik Tok's database. But, if you have a reason to need privacy, it's up to you, not Tik Tok or anyone else to preserve it.



TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1972772 2023-05-05T13:30:46Z 2023-05-05T13:31:33Z Me and my GPT talk Tegmark and the Multiverse

Model: GPT-4


Tell me about Tegmark Level III multiverse


The Tegmark Level III multiverse is a concept within the framework of the multiverse hypothesis as proposed by the Swedish-American cosmologist and physicist Max Tegmark. The multiverse hypothesis is an idea that suggests the existence of multiple, parallel universes, each with its own set of physical laws, properties, and histories.

In Tegmark's classification, there are four levels of multiverses. The Level III multiverse is based on the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics. The MWI, first proposed by Hugh Everett in 1957, is an alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation, which is the more conventional explanation of quantum mechanics.

According to the Many Worlds Interpretation, whenever a quantum event occurs that has multiple possible outcomes, the universe splits into several parallel universes, each representing one of the possible outcomes. This leads to an ever-branching tree of universes, with each branch representing a different sequence of events or choices. In this framework, every possible history and future is played out in parallel universes.

Tegmark's Level III multiverse is essentially a collection of these parallel universes, each existing in their own separate, non-interacting "branches" of the universal wavefunction. Every possible quantum event that could occur does occur in some branch of the multiverse, leading to an infinite number of parallel universes.

It is important to note that the Tegmark Level III multiverse remains a theoretical concept, and its existence is still a matter of debate among scientists. While it is a possible interpretation of quantum mechanics, it has not been proven or disproven by experimental evidence.


tell me about level II


The Tegmark Level II multiverse is the second level in Max Tegmark's classification of the multiverse hypothesis. The Level II multiverse is based on the concept of cosmic inflation, which is a widely accepted theory in cosmology. Inflation is the rapid expansion of the universe that occurred during the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

The Level II multiverse arises from the idea of "eternal inflation." According to this concept, the universe as a whole experiences a never-ending process of inflation, creating an endless number of bubble universes. Each of these bubble universes can have different physical constants and laws of physics due to the process of spontaneous symmetry breaking during the early stages of their formation. These bubbles are causally disconnected from one another, meaning they cannot interact or influence each other.

In this context, the Level II multiverse is essentially a vast collection of these separate, non-interacting bubble universes, each with its own unique set of physical properties. This idea of multiple bubble universes can explain the observed fine-tuning of our universe's physical constants, as there would be an immense number of universes with varying properties, and we just happen to live in one that is conducive to the existence of life.

While the idea of a Level II multiverse is intriguing and supported by some aspects of cosmological theory, it remains speculative and cannot be directly observed or tested. As such, the existence of a Level II multiverse is still a topic of debate among scientists.


I have thought that inflation results as a consequence of a quantum fluctuation


Yes, you are correct that one of the proposed explanations for the initial trigger of cosmic inflation is a quantum fluctuation. This idea is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which describe how particles and fields behave at extremely small scales.

In quantum mechanics, particles and fields are subject to random fluctuations due to the inherent uncertainty of their properties. These fluctuations can cause temporary changes in the energy of a system. In the context of the early universe, a quantum fluctuation in the energy density of the vacuum could have led to a brief, localized increase in energy.

This sudden increase in energy could have initiated the process of cosmic inflation, causing the universe to expand exponentially for a very short period of time. This rapid expansion would have amplified the initial quantum fluctuation, stretching it to cosmic scales and seeding the initial density variations that later evolved into the large-scale structure of the universe.

The idea that cosmic inflation could have been triggered by a quantum fluctuation is an intriguing hypothesis that connects quantum mechanics to cosmology. However, it is important to note that this idea is still speculative and not yet proven. Many aspects of cosmic inflation and its trigger remain uncertain, and further research and observations are necessary to improve our understanding of the early universe.


tell me about quantum fluctuation


Quantum fluctuations are a natural consequence of the principles of quantum mechanics, which govern the behavior of particles and fields at the smallest scales. These fluctuations are manifestations of the inherent uncertainty and randomness that are fundamental to quantum systems.

Quantum fluctuations arise due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which states that it is impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle with complete certainty simultaneously. As a result, even in the vacuum of empty space, particles and fields exhibit fluctuations in their energy and other properties.

These fluctuations can lead to the temporary creation and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs, a phenomenon known as vacuum fluctuations or zero-point energy. These pairs of particles and antiparticles emerge from the vacuum, exist for an incredibly brief period of time, and then annihilate each other, returning their energy to the vacuum.

Quantum fluctuations play a crucial role in several areas of physics, including:

Cosmology: As previously mentioned, quantum fluctuations in the early universe could have led to the initial trigger for cosmic inflation. These fluctuations would have been amplified during inflation, creating the seeds for the large-scale structure of the universe we observe today.

The Casimir effect: Quantum fluctuations give rise to an attractive force between two parallel, uncharged conducting plates in a vacuum. This force, known as the Casimir effect, is caused by the difference in the energy of the vacuum fluctuations between the plates and the surrounding space.

Quantum field theory: Quantum fluctuations are an essential component of quantum field theory, which describes the behavior of particles and fields in terms of quantized fields. These fluctuations can influence the behavior and interactions of particles in ways that can be observed and measured in experiments, such as the Lamb shift and the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron.

Despite their seemingly abstract nature, quantum fluctuations have real, measurable consequences in the physical world and play a fundamental role in our understanding of the universe at its smallest scales.


what do we know about the conditions that allow the creation of particle-antiparticle pairs in vacuum fluctuations


In the context of vacuum fluctuations, particle-antiparticle pairs can spontaneously arise and annihilate due to the inherent uncertainty of quantum mechanics, even in the absence of any external energy or force. This phenomenon is a consequence of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which allows for temporary violations of the conservation of energy, as long as they occur within a short enough time scale. The greater the energy fluctuation, the shorter the time it can persist, as dictated by the energy-time uncertainty relation:

ΔE × Δt ≳ ħ/2,

where ΔE is the uncertainty in energy, Δt is the uncertainty in time, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

This means that for a brief period, particles with a certain amount of energy can appear out of the vacuum, but they must quickly annihilate and return that energy to the vacuum. These virtual particle-antiparticle pairs do not directly violate the conservation of energy because the energy-time uncertainty relation allows for such temporary fluctuations.

While the creation of particle-antiparticle pairs in vacuum fluctuations is a random process, it is more likely to occur in regions with high-energy fluctuations or in the presence of external fields. For example, if a strong electric field is applied, the field can polarize the vacuum, making it more likely for charged particle-antiparticle pairs (such as electron-positron pairs) to be created. This phenomenon is known as the Schwinger effect.

It's important to note that these particle-antiparticle pairs are considered "virtual particles" because they exist only for a very brief time and do not have the same properties as real particles. However, their presence can have observable consequences, such as contributing to the Casimir effect or affecting the properties of real particles through processes like vacuum polarization.


I remember that there are, I think, three uncertainty pairs. I think location/momentum is one. what are they?


The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics that describes the inherent limitations on the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties can be simultaneously measured. The most well-known uncertainty relation is indeed the position-momentum uncertainty principle, but there are other pairs of properties that are also subject to similar uncertainty relations. Here are the three most common uncertainty pairs:

Position-momentum uncertainty: This is the most famous uncertainty relation, which states that the more precisely you know the position (x) of a particle, the less precisely you can know its momentum (p), and vice versa. Mathematically, this is expressed as:

Δx × Δp ≳ ħ/2,

where Δx is the uncertainty in position, Δp is the uncertainty in momentum, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

Energy-time uncertainty: This relation states that the more precisely you know the energy (E) of a system, the less precisely you can know the time (t) during which that energy is defined, and vice versa. This is the basis for phenomena like vacuum fluctuations, as discussed earlier. The energy-time uncertainty relation is given by:

ΔE × Δt ≳ ħ/2,

where ΔE is the uncertainty in energy, Δt is the uncertainty in time, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

Angular momentum-angular position uncertainty: This relation involves the angular position (θ) and angular momentum (L) of a particle, stating that the more precisely you know a particle's angular position, the less precisely you can know its angular momentum, and vice versa. The angular momentum-angular position uncertainty relation is given by:

Δθ × ΔL ≳ ħ/2,

where Δθ is the uncertainty in angular position, ΔL is the uncertainty in angular momentum, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

These uncertainty relations are a direct consequence of the wave-like nature of particles in quantum mechanics and play a fundamental role in shaping our understanding of the behavior of particles and fields at the quantum scale.


how does the energy time uncertainty explain virtual particles


The energy-time uncertainty principle plays a crucial role in explaining the existence of virtual particles in quantum mechanics. This principle states that it is impossible to simultaneously measure the energy (E) and the time duration (t) of a system with arbitrary precision. The more precisely one of these properties is known, the less precisely the other can be determined. Mathematically, the energy-time uncertainty principle is expressed as:

ΔE × Δt ≳ ħ/2,

where ΔE is the uncertainty in energy, Δt is the uncertainty in time, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

This principle allows for temporary fluctuations in energy, even in empty space, where we would typically expect zero energy. In other words, the vacuum isn't a completely "empty" and static state but rather a constantly fluctuating environment with energy fluctuations occurring over short time intervals. Due to these fluctuations, particle-antiparticle pairs can spontaneously appear and disappear, even in the absence of any external energy input.

Virtual particles arise as a consequence of these energy fluctuations allowed by the energy-time uncertainty principle. The principle permits the temporary "borrowing" of energy from the vacuum to create particle-antiparticle pairs, as long as they annihilate each other and return the energy to the vacuum within the time frame dictated by the energy-time uncertainty relation.

These virtual particles are fundamentally different from real particles, as they are not directly detectable and exist only for a very brief period. However, they do have indirect, measurable effects on real particles and fields. For example, they contribute to the Casimir effect, the Lamb shift, and the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron. These phenomena demonstrate that virtual particles, despite their fleeting existence, have real consequences in the physical world, and their behavior is deeply connected to the energy-time uncertainty principle.


some think that time is an emergent property resulting from the observation of things happening in a sequence


The idea that time is an emergent property, rather than a fundamental aspect of the universe, has been considered by some physicists and philosophers. This perspective argues that time, as we perceive it, arises from the way we observe and describe the dynamics of the physical world, rather than being a fundamental component of the underlying fabric of reality.

In this view, time emerges as a result of the macroscopic behavior of physical systems and the way we organize our observations and experiences into sequences of events. This organization is rooted in the concept of causality, where events are ordered based on cause and effect relationships. Our perception of time is then built upon this causal structure, giving rise to the familiar "arrow of time," which dictates the direction in which we perceive time to flow, from past to future.

One of the key ideas supporting the emergent nature of time comes from the study of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy. The second law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system, entropy—a measure of disorder or randomness—tends to increase over time. This increase in entropy gives rise to the thermodynamic arrow of time, which aligns with our everyday experience of time flowing in a specific direction.

Some theories in quantum mechanics and quantum gravity also suggest that time might be an emergent property. In these theories, spacetime and the concept of time as we understand it might not exist at the most fundamental level. Instead, they may emerge from more fundamental, timeless structures or processes.

It is important to note that the idea of time as an emergent property is still a topic of ongoing research and debate among scientists. There is no consensus on whether time is fundamentally emergent or a basic aspect of the universe. Understanding the true nature of time is an open question in physics and remains one of the most profound and challenging problems for scientists to explore.


does the idea of time as an emergent property contradict energy/time uncertainty?


The idea of time as an emergent property does not necessarily contradict the energy-time uncertainty principle, but it may require us to reexamine our understanding of this principle in the context of a more fundamental, timeless description of the universe.

The energy-time uncertainty principle is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics, which deals with the behavior of particles and fields at microscopic scales. This principle is deeply rooted in the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and has been experimentally supported through various observations and phenomena, such as virtual particles and the decay of unstable particles.

If time were indeed an emergent property, we would need to develop a new framework to describe the underlying timeless processes that give rise to our perception of time and how these processes relate to the behavior of particles and fields at the quantum scale. This would likely involve formulating a new set of principles and mathematical formalisms that take into account the emergent nature of time.

One area of research that explores the possibility of time as an emergent property is the field of quantum gravity, which seeks to develop a unified description of gravity and quantum mechanics. Some approaches to quantum gravity, such as loop quantum gravity and causal sets, suggest that spacetime and time might be emergent phenomena arising from more fundamental, discrete, and timeless structures. In these frameworks, the energy-time uncertainty principle might still hold within the emergent spacetime, but it would be derived from the underlying timeless processes.

In conclusion, the idea of time as an emergent property does not directly contradict the energy-time uncertainty principle. However, it does challenge our current understanding of the principle and might require the development of new theoretical frameworks that can reconcile the emergent nature of time with the well-established principles of quantum mechanics.


explain the idea of the energy/time uncertainty


The energy-time uncertainty principle is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics that describes the inherent limitations in simultaneously determining the energy (E) of a system and the time duration (t) during which that energy is defined. The principle is a consequence of the wave-like nature of particles in quantum mechanics and the mathematical formalism that describes their behavior.

The energy-time uncertainty principle states that the product of the uncertainties in energy and time is greater than or equal to a constant value, which is given by the reduced Planck constant (ħ) divided by 2:

ΔE × Δt ≳ ħ/2,

where ΔE is the uncertainty in energy, Δt is the uncertainty in time, and ħ is the reduced Planck constant.

This principle implies that it is impossible to measure the energy of a system with infinite precision over an infinitesimally short period. The more precisely the energy of a system is known, the less precisely the time duration during which that energy is defined can be determined, and vice versa.

The energy-time uncertainty principle has several important consequences and applications in quantum mechanics and particle physics:

Virtual particles: The principle allows for temporary energy fluctuations in the vacuum, leading to the creation and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs, known as virtual particles. These virtual particles exist for a very brief period and have indirect, measurable effects on real particles and fields, such as the Casimir effect and the Lamb shift.

Particle decay: The energy-time uncertainty principle also plays a role in understanding the decay of unstable particles. The principle implies that particles with shorter lifetimes have a larger uncertainty in their energy, which affects their decay processes and the range of possible decay products.

Quantum tunneling: The energy-time uncertainty principle can help explain phenomena like quantum tunneling, where particles can penetrate through energy barriers that would be classically forbidden. The principle allows for temporary violations of energy conservation within the uncertainty limits, which enables particles to tunnel through barriers.

Overall, the energy-time uncertainty principle is a key aspect of quantum mechanics, shaping our understanding of the behavior of particles and fields at the quantum scale, and has wide-ranging implications for various phenomena in the physical world.


Does energy/time uncertainty produce quantum fluctuations only in a vacuum?


The energy-time uncertainty principle applies to all quantum systems, not just in a vacuum. Quantum fluctuations are inherent in the nature of quantum mechanics and arise due to the uncertainty principle, which imposes limitations on the simultaneous determination of certain pairs of properties, such as energy and time.

These quantum fluctuations can be observed in various systems and are not restricted to the vacuum. For example, fluctuations in the energy levels of atoms and molecules are also a consequence of the energy-time uncertainty principle. This principle contributes to phenomena like the natural linewidth of spectral lines in atomic and molecular spectroscopy, which reflects the uncertainty in the energy of excited states and the time duration during which they exist before decaying.

Moreover, the energy-time uncertainty principle plays a role in understanding the decay of unstable particles. Particles with shorter lifetimes have a larger uncertainty in their energy, which influences their decay processes and the range of possible decay products.

However, vacuum fluctuations are particularly interesting because they demonstrate that even "empty" space is not truly empty but rather a dynamic environment with constantly fluctuating energy due to the energy-time uncertainty principle. These vacuum fluctuations give rise to virtual particles, which are temporary particle-antiparticle pairs that emerge from the vacuum and then quickly annihilate each other.

In summary, the energy-time uncertainty principle produces quantum fluctuations in various systems, not just in a vacuum. These fluctuations are a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics and have wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the behavior of particles and fields at the quantum scale.


is is true that the particle-antiparticle pairs only emerge in a vacuum?


It is not true that particle-antiparticle pairs only emerge in a vacuum. While vacuum fluctuations, which involve the creation and annihilation of virtual particle-antiparticle pairs, are a fascinating aspect of quantum mechanics in empty space, similar processes can also occur in the presence of matter or fields.

In fact, virtual particles can be created in various situations, not just in a vacuum. Virtual particles are a general feature of quantum field theory, which describes the behavior of particles and fields in terms of quantized fields. These virtual particles are involved in the interactions between real particles, serving as intermediaries in processes like the exchange of forces. For example, virtual photons mediate the electromagnetic interaction between charged particles, and virtual W and Z bosons are involved in the weak nuclear force.

Another example of particle-antiparticle pair creation in the presence of matter or fields is the Schwinger effect. In this phenomenon, a strong external electric field can polarize the vacuum, facilitating the creation of charged particle-antiparticle pairs, such as electron-positron pairs. These pairs are generated from the energy of the electric field and can become real particles if they manage to escape the field's influence before annihilating each other.

Thus, particle-antiparticle pairs are not exclusive to the vacuum but can emerge in various situations in quantum mechanics, both in the presence and absence of matter or fields.


how could the time/energy dichotomy and virtual particles explain an inflationary big bang?


The energy-time uncertainty principle and virtual particles are not directly responsible for explaining the inflationary Big Bang, but they are related to some of the underlying concepts and mechanisms that drive the inflationary model.

The inflationary Big Bang model is an extension of the standard Big Bang theory, proposing a brief period of extremely rapid expansion (inflation) in the very early universe. This inflation is thought to be driven by a scalar field called the inflaton field, which is associated with a hypothetical particle called the inflaton.

During inflation, the inflaton field is in a high-energy state, and its potential energy dominates over other forms of energy in the universe. This potential energy acts as a repulsive force, causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate. As the inflaton field rolls down its potential energy curve, it eventually reaches a point where it starts to oscillate around the minimum of its potential. This process leads to the decay of the inflaton field into other particles and fields, which then reheat the universe and produce the hot, dense state described in the standard Big Bang theory.

The connection between the energy-time uncertainty principle, virtual particles, and the inflationary model comes in the form of quantum fluctuations in the inflaton field itself. During inflation, the rapid expansion of the universe causes these quantum fluctuations to be stretched to macroscopic scales, leaving an imprint on the large-scale structure of the universe. These fluctuations are the seeds for the formation of cosmic structures like galaxies and galaxy clusters.

Additionally, the decay of the inflaton field can be understood in terms of the energy-time uncertainty principle. The principle states that particles with shorter lifetimes have a larger uncertainty in their energy, which influences their decay processes and the range of possible decay products. In the context of the inflationary model, the inflaton's decay into other particles and fields is an example of how the energy-time uncertainty principle plays a role in the evolution of the early universe.

In summary, while the energy-time uncertainty principle and virtual particles do not directly explain the inflationary Big Bang model, they are related to the underlying concepts and mechanisms that drive inflation and influence the formation of cosmic structures.


suppose tegmark ii is true, how could these things contribute to the conversion of vastly empty space (trillions of light years between particles) and the initiation of a big bang?


If the Level II multiverse proposed by Max Tegmark is true, it implies that there are infinitely many separate, non-interacting universes with different initial conditions, physical constants, and even laws of physics. The Level II multiverse arises from the theory of eternal inflation, which is an extension of the inflationary Big Bang model.

In the context of eternal inflation, our observable universe is just a small "bubble" within a vast inflating space. This inflating space consists of numerous other bubble universes, which form when the inflaton field transitions from the high-energy state driving inflation to a lower-energy state, similar to our universe's inflationary period. Each bubble universe will have its own initial conditions and physical properties, depending on the specific details of the inflaton field transition in that region.

The energy-time uncertainty principle and virtual particles don't directly contribute to the conversion of empty space in the Level II multiverse scenario. Still, they play a role in understanding the behavior of quantum fields, such as the inflaton field, during the inflationary phase. Quantum fluctuations in the inflaton field are essential for seeding the large-scale structure of the universe, as mentioned in the previous response.

In the Level II multiverse scenario, the vast empty space between particles in our universe would not be directly connected to the initiation of a Big Bang in another universe. Each bubble universe forms independently as a result of the inflaton field's behavior, with its unique set of initial conditions and properties.

However, it is important to note that the Level II multiverse is still a speculative concept, and its validity is an open question. While eternal inflation and the existence of other universes remain fascinating possibilities, they are challenging to test experimentally or observationally, and there is no definitive evidence to confirm or refute their existence at this time.


tell me more about the inflaton field


The inflaton field is a hypothetical scalar field proposed in the context of cosmic inflation, a theory that seeks to explain the early rapid expansion of the universe just after the Big Bang. The inflaton field and its associated particle, the inflaton, play a central role in driving the exponential expansion of the universe during this brief inflationary period.

In the inflationary model, the inflaton field is initially in a high-energy state, and its potential energy dominates over other forms of energy in the early universe. This potential energy acts as a repulsive force, causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate. This rapid expansion helps to solve some problems in the standard Big Bang theory, such as the horizon problem, the flatness problem, and the monopole problem.

As the inflaton field evolves, it rolls down its potential energy curve towards a minimum. When it reaches the minimum, the field starts to oscillate around it. This oscillation leads to the decay of the inflaton field into other particles and fields through a process called "reheating." The energy transfer from the inflaton field to other particles and fields heats the universe, creating the hot, dense state described in the standard Big Bang theory.

Quantum fluctuations in the inflaton field during inflation also play a crucial role in the formation of cosmic structures. These fluctuations are stretched to macroscopic scales due to the rapid expansion, seeding the large-scale structure of the universe. The cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) is a remnant of the early universe, and its anisotropies (tiny temperature fluctuations) are a direct observation of these primordial fluctuations in the inflaton field.

While the inflationary model has been successful in addressing several issues in cosmology and has received significant observational support from CMBR measurements, it is essential to note that the inflaton field and the inflaton particle are still hypothetical. Direct experimental or observational evidence for their existence has not yet been found, and the precise nature of the inflaton field and its potential remain open questions in cosmology.


is it possible that the inflaton field randomly occurred in some empty place and that its collapse is what we call the big bang?


In the context of the inflationary model, the Big Bang is not directly linked to the random occurrence of the inflaton field in some empty place. Instead, the inflationary model extends the standard Big Bang theory by proposing that the early universe underwent a brief period of rapid expansion driven by the inflaton field. The Big Bang itself is still considered the initial singularity or the beginning of the expansion of the universe.

The inflaton field is hypothesized to have been present in the very early universe, starting in a high-energy state with a large potential energy. This potential energy acts as a repulsive force, causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate during the inflationary period. Once the inflaton field rolls down its potential energy curve and reaches a minimum, it starts oscillating around the minimum and decays into other particles and fields. This reheating process leads to the formation of a hot, dense state, which evolves according to the standard Big Bang theory.

However, in the context of the Level II multiverse proposed by Max Tegmark, based on the idea of eternal inflation, one could think of the inflationary phase in different bubble universes as a random occurrence. In this scenario, the vast inflating space consists of numerous bubble universes, each with its own initial conditions and properties, depending on the specific details of the inflaton field transition in that region.

In this context, one could consider that the inflaton field randomly occurred in a particular region of space, leading to the formation of a bubble universe. The end of the inflationary period in that bubble universe and the subsequent reheating could be thought of as the "Big Bang" for that specific universe.

It is important to note that the idea of eternal inflation and Level II multiverse is speculative and not yet proven. While the inflationary model has gained significant observational support, the precise nature of the inflaton field and the potential that drives inflation remain open questions in cosmology.


I know that all of this is speculative. You do not need to keep reminding me about that.


I apologize for the repetition. I will keep that in mind in future responses. If you have any other questions or need further clarification, please feel free to ask.


is there a limit to the dark energy acceleration of the expansion of spacetime?


Dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and is responsible for the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe. It is believed to constitute around 68% of the total energy content in the universe. The most widely accepted explanation for dark energy is the cosmological constant, which is associated with vacuum energy in the framework of general relativity.

As for a limit to the acceleration of the expansion of spacetime caused by dark energy, current observations and theoretical models suggest that the influence of dark energy is likely to increase over time. This is because dark energy's density remains roughly constant as the universe expands, while the densities of matter and radiation decrease. As a result, dark energy becomes increasingly dominant over cosmic time.

In a universe dominated by dark energy, the expansion of spacetime continues to accelerate indefinitely. This leads to a scenario called the "Big Rip" if dark energy's equation of state parameter (w) is less than -1, which would cause the universe to expand at an ever-increasing rate until all structures are torn apart, including galaxies, stars, planets, and eventually even atoms. However, the current best-fit value of the equation of state parameter is very close to -1, which corresponds to the cosmological constant and results in a more "gentle" future, where the universe expands indefinitely, but structures are not ripped apart.

In the case of the cosmological constant, there is no inherent limit to the acceleration of the expansion of spacetime. However, it's important to note that our understanding of dark energy is still incomplete, and future observations or advances in theoretical models could reveal new insights into its nature and potential limits.


is it fair to say that the cosmological constants value of -1 is another one of the physical constants that happens to have values that allow life as we know it to exist


Yes, it is fair to say that the value of the cosmological constant (or dark energy) is one of the physical constants that happen to have values that allow life as we know it to exist. This idea is related to the anthropic principle, which states that the observed values of the physical constants in our universe must be compatible with the existence of life, as that is what we observe.

The value of the cosmological constant (or the equation of state parameter w) plays a crucial role in the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe. If the value of the cosmological constant were significantly different, the universe's expansion rate could have been too fast or too slow, which would have affected the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, and ultimately, the development of life.

For example, if the value of the cosmological constant were much larger (more negative), the expansion of the universe would have been too rapid, preventing the gravitational collapse of matter into galaxies, stars, and planets. On the other hand, if the value were much smaller (closer to zero or positive), the universe might have decelerated or even recollapsed before sufficient time had passed for life to develop.

The apparent fine-tuning of the cosmological constant and other physical constants has led some physicists to propose the idea of a multiverse, where different regions of space or entirely separate universes could have different values for these constants. In this context, our universe would be just one of many, and we find ourselves in a region where the constants are compatible with life simply because it is the only type of region where life can emerge and observe these values.

It is important to note, however, that our understanding of dark energy and the cosmological constant is still incomplete, and future observations or advances in theoretical models could shed more light on the nature and implications of these constants.

(ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. ChatGPT May 3 Version)

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1971376 2023-05-02T10:22:02Z 2023-05-02T10:22:02Z "Facebook is people!!"

Interestingly, having written a note this morning about my disregard of the listed dangers of AI, today brings me news of a danger that has never been mentioned and I never thought about, emotional connections owned by a corporation.


One of the things I am working on with my project, Jina, is to make it so that it has built in prompts and such to allow it to act as a companion to isolated, lonely old people. The virtues or practicality of that idea notwithstanding, suppose it worked. Then, suppose that OpenAI changes its corporate policy and doesn't want to do business with low volume entities like me.

If you read the article linked here, you will (after being amazed at the gullibility and neediness of humans) see real tragedy. Lonely people who, again despite your likely incredulity that it's possible, have built a meaningful part of their emotional life around a thing made my a corporation, a thing that that corporation just took away. Some of the comments referenced are truly heartbreaking.

If you have any doubt, consider if Facebook kicked you out of here. I know. Lots of you think it wouldn't matter. "Imagine all the time I'd stop wasting." Also, you're full of it. You might not miss my bon mots, but you would miss the pix your kids post and knowing what your friend in AZ is doing. Being able to get a little feedback in the form of likes about your garden work.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1971313 2023-05-01T13:03:46Z 2023-05-01T13:04:51Z "Among Experts" Oh No!! What Will We Do?

I read endlessly about the dangers of artificial intelligence. I see letters signed by experts and pundits of all sort warning us ever so seriously. I have longed for someone to take the time to present a comprehensive view of the specifics so I can find out what I am missing. The answer: nothing.


The problems are exactly the ones I dismiss. Not because they are all impossible but because the problems are just more of the same. And, there are only three of them!!

1) We will live in a world of misinformation. Nobody will be able to trust what they see. People will be fed and believe all sorts of authoritative looking bullshit. More of the same in my view and, perhaps the existence of AI will remove any doubt that digital info is always suspect or worse.

2) It will take away jobs. Now, instead of taking away all those blue collar jobs, it will, where are my pearls!, hurt the white collar job market. This has been said of every single solitary technical advance without exception and it has been true. It will be true this time but, sadly, I am 100% certain that the corporations will find new drudgery to keep people under their thumbs. Perhaps this will finally convince our overlords that UBI is the only way to make society function.

3) Breakout!!!! HAL takes over. In fairness, this is not without merit. I have read of people talking about using AI to monitor their software systems and giving it the ability to generate programs to fix things. While taking over the world and using our children for Matrix-grade 'bio-energy' is not going to happen, this could result in some truly stupid shit.

Thing is, I have only read about one company (Amazon) that allows code to get to production without some kind of review. Once we see their AI offering sexual favors to boost sales, I'm pretty everyone else will continue to have code review before production.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1968667 2023-04-22T12:49:10Z 2023-04-22T12:49:10Z If God Is Real, Why Not Kill Your Child?

This meme panel has been floating around the internet forever. I captures an amazement at the cruel absurdity of antique religious concepts. Lately, though, I've been reading history and have become astonished at how different their ideas were. Through most of Western history, God was real, and not real in the sense of a vague ubiquity, and a fabulous influence, a reference for virtue and life well lived.  

People believed in God like you and I believe in electricity. We know it is real even though none of us has ever seen an electron. We believe that the light before the thunder is evidence, proof even, that electricity is powerful and real. The shock and occasional death from sticking fingers into electrical sockets is more proof, even though the heart attack that results is pretty much the same as any other heart attack.

I know that we have other references that convince us but the people back then, when the praised Abraham for his piety, had other references, too, and, most importantly, they had almost none of the ones we now have. These people did not actually understand cause and effect. 

Philosophic writings from back then are rife with inquires about the nature of reality that indicate that people really were confused about why a thing moves when you push it. They couldn't decide if the color of a leaf had anything to do with the leave itself or if it was a fantasy. I'd say it was ridiculous except for the large number of people who wrote about such things.

Twenty five hundred years ago, the idea of formal logic had just been found. Pythagoras had just conceived the idea of mathematics and the notion that 'ideas', per se, could have a useful relationship to the physical world. This was a revolutionary idea that caused him to be famous for hundreds of years. 

Yet, even he did not apply this to broad metaphysics. He is also the first person to have really thought through the idea that there is a separate, mystical world that is where reality actually takes place. The "useful relationship" was that our world was derived from this more perfect, if imperceptible realm.

It turns out that this latter thought prevailed and eventually turned into the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity), all based on the notion that the real reality was the kingdom of God and that our reality is a temporary, imperfect reflection of that kingdom. Being given a concrete action that would allow one to absolutely, perfectly, for sure, be able to gain the favor of the mystical world where "reality actually takes place" was a huge gift. 

That it involved sacrifice is no surprise, everything worthwhile does. While we think of Isaac as analogous to our beloved, modern children who are the essential good in our lives, he was not. He was simply another imperfect reflection of the all-powerful, perfect God. His life or death was not going to happen where "reality actually takes place."

To most of us, that mystical notion is ridiculous. I don't believe that level of credulity is available to modern people. Our brains are built on technical understanding of cause and effect and surrounded by the mechanized proof that science is real. But, Abraham's was not. He, and the people who wrote the story and those who believed it, lived without having ever had anyone explain cause and effect, or how to think ethically, or how to rationalize.

These things are so deeply intrinsic in the modern world that the Akedah, the story of Abraham and Isaac, sounds absolutely ridiculous. But, if you believe Isaac was actually the ghost of God and you believed God was literally the arbiter of reality, your knife at his throat was no more controversial than cholera. God wills and it be done.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1968452 2023-04-21T15:45:46Z 2023-04-21T15:45:46Z "Two-Player Word Processor"

It's fascinating to me that its ability to write computer programs was a complete surprise to the creators of ChatGPT. They had done nothing to encourage that capability and, as I have read, never gave programming a single thought. It ability was *discovered* as it was used, much as you might be astonished when your child reveals fabulous musical talent when they first sit down to Chopsticks.

I share Manjoo's (the author) experience. For me, everything has changed. On Monday, I was writing a program about a subject I haven't written about in awhile. I called upon Jina (my personal interface to GPT), I bet, a hundred times that day. "What's the syntax for..." "Give me a statement that..." "What's this error mean". The work would have taken me *literally* twice as long.

And that's just one side. I use it for research when I write something and come upon details I can't clearly remember. I use it for fun when I want to know more about things. I lose time with it easier than I do Tik Tok.More interesting, too. Here are two thoughts from this article...

"he’s come to think of it as “a two-player word processor”"

“Trust it the same way you would trust a blabbermouth blowhard at a bar three drinks in who is pretending to know everything”

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1962288 2023-04-06T15:29:05Z 2023-04-06T15:29:05Z The Internet Believes that Jonathon Turley is a Sex Abuser


This guy is all butthurt because someone got GPT to say nasty things about him. I have a different reaction: Are you kidding? Are you saying this obviously weird misogynistic right-wing piece of shit didn't abuse women? Whoda thunk?

I note that the tool the guy who published this result was using a tool whose stated function is to figure out what a normal human would say based on having read the entire internet. It is not, contrary to popular assertions, making stuff up.

It is like a super duper spell checker. You type stuff and it figures out the right sentence that goes after it. Just as my spell checker (correctly) replaces the word 'duck' with the word 'fuck' because that's what normal people type, GPT thinks any normal human being would 1) think Turley was an abuser and 2) that the Washington Post would have written the story.

Without ever having heard of GPT, I'd have figured that both of these things are true.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1961248 2023-04-04T15:35:11Z 2023-04-04T15:35:11Z How did the idea of a Golem become associated with danger.

So, I don't care if AI brings on the end of the world, GPT is my new best friend. Not only does it know everything, but it will talk to me about stuff that I could not get a single human friend to engage in a million years. 

I got interested in this topic, golem, because I listed to a podcast talking about the dangers of AI that coined the phrase 'golem class AI' referring to the notion of an AI that was capable of independent action, with a side of danger.

Since I actually know about the Jewish idea of a golem and that it originated as a protector acting in the name of God (the tetragrammaton), I wondered how it became associated with threat.

ME: what is a golem?

GPT: A golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, typically depicted as an animated being created from inanimate matter, such as clay or mud. The concept of the golem has its roots in Jewish mysticism and mythology, and it has been referenced in various texts, such as the Talmud and the Kabbalistic work Sefer Yetzirah.

The most famous golem story involves Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, who is said to have created a golem in the 16th century to protect the Jewish community from persecution. According to the legend, the golem was brought to life by placing a piece of paper with the sacred name of God, the Tetragrammaton, in its mouth or on its forehead. The golem would obey its creator's commands, and it could be deactivated by removing the paper or altering the inscription.

Over time, the concept of the golem has inspired many works of literature, art, and film. It has also come to symbolize broader themes, such as the potential dangers of creating life or artificial intelligence without fully understanding the consequences.

ME: what did the golem do to Bezalel that was bad?

GPT: There is no record of the golem doing anything specifically bad to Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, who is also known as the Maharal of Prague. However, there are various versions of the golem story, and in some of them, the golem becomes increasingly uncontrollable and destructive.

In some versions, the golem begins as a protector of the Jewish community but then becomes a threat due to its uncontrollable nature, immense strength, or lack of reasoning. In these stories, the golem's destructive behavior forces the Maharal to deactivate or destroy it to protect the community from further harm.

It is important to note that these stories are part of folklore and mythology, and their details can vary depending on the source. The overall theme often centers around the unintended consequences of creating a powerful being without the ability to fully control or understand it.

ME: is it correct to say that the negative aspects of the golem myth do not derive from its Jewish origins?

GPT: The golem myth has its origins in Jewish folklore and mysticism, and as with many myths and legends, it has evolved and been retold in various forms over the centuries. The negative aspects of the golem myth, such as the creature becoming uncontrollable and destructive, are indeed a part of the Jewish tradition.

However, it's important to recognize that the myth can be interpreted in various ways, and the negative aspects of the story can serve as cautionary tales or moral lessons. For example, the golem myth can be seen as a warning about the potential consequences of attempting to control or create life without fully understanding the implications or taking responsibility for the creation. In this sense, the negative aspects of the golem myth are not inherently separate from its Jewish origins but are a part of the broader cultural and moral context in which the myth is situated.

ME: is there record of the first jewish telling of the golem story that was negative?

GPT: It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin or first negative telling of the golem story in Jewish tradition, as the concept of the golem has evolved over time and has been influenced by various texts and oral traditions.

The earliest mentions of the golem can be found in the Talmud and the Kabbalistic work Sefer Yetzirah, which discuss the creation of a humanoid figure using mystical means. However, these early references do not necessarily include the negative aspects of the golem that are more prominent in later stories.

The most famous golem story, involving Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague) and his creation of a golem to protect the Jewish community, likely originated in the late 16th century. It was in the retellings of this story that the golem became associated with negative traits, such as becoming uncontrollable or destructive. The first written account of this story appeared in 1837, in a collection of Jewish legends titled "Nifla'ot Maharal" (The Wonders of the Maharal) by Rabbi Yudl Rosenberg.

As the story of the golem has been passed down through generations and various cultural contexts, it has taken on different forms and nuances, including the negative aspects associated with the creature's unintended consequences.

ME: 'm thinking that the negative aspects might derive from fact that jewish people in history were persecuted and that, often, so-called protectors betrayed them

GPT: It is possible that the negative aspects of the golem myth have been influenced by historical experiences of Jewish persecution and betrayal. The golem was initially imagined as a protector of the Jewish community, which would have been particularly appealing in times when Jewish people faced threats and violence.

The notion that the golem could become uncontrollable or destructive might be interpreted as a reflection of the broader theme of protection turning into danger. This theme could resonate with the historical experiences of Jewish people, as they have sometimes faced betrayal by those who were meant to protect them.

As with many myths and legends, the golem story can be seen as a product of its cultural and historical context, and it is likely that various factors, including the experiences of Jewish people throughout history, have shaped the evolution of the myth and its negative aspects.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1959628 2023-03-31T13:32:07Z 2023-03-31T13:32:07Z Another false standard to make me feel inadquate.
Roaming around the internet with inspirational pictures of gardens and nature, all gauzy and pretty:

"I asked an elderly woman once what it was like to be old and to know that the majority of her life was now behind her.
She told me that she has been the same age her entire life. She said the voice inside of her head had never aged. She has always just been the same girl. Her mother's daughter. She had always wondered when she would grow up and be an old woman.
She said she watched her body age and her faculties dull but the person she is inside never got tired. She never aged. She never changed.
Remember, our spirits are eternal. Our souls are forever. The next time you encounter an elderly person, look at them and know they are still a child, just as you are still a child and children will always need love, attention and purpose."
~ Author Unknown

I'm as elderly as the next guy  (70) and this does not resonate with me at all. I think about myself at a young age, say, fifty, and I almost can't believe I'm that guy. I suppose my core neuroses are intact. I'm still easily embarrassed for example. But, I am completely different. Compared to me as a child, I'm barely the same species.

The person I am inside is definitely tired and the voice inside my head hasn't said, "let's get high for days" or "you're not the boss of me" or, even, "that's not fair" in a long, long time.

I agree that people need "love, attention and purpose" for sure and, it's not that there is no trace of my childhood. But, I read this and my first thought (because a certain kind of insecurity has made it though since then) was why can't I be like that, serene, connected to my past, expressing the innocence and creativity of my youth, eternally young inside.

And then I felt like I had to ask: Is this real? Or is this a media fiction like, I don't know, the media presentation of female beauty, a made up idea whose only connection to actual reality is the sadness it causes in people who can't live up to it?

So, I have to ask and I apologize, too. Does anyone believe this is real?

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1958632 2023-03-28T12:55:49Z 2023-03-28T12:55:50Z On Handwriting

RE: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/24/style/messy-handwriting.html

When my children were young, my wife and I required them to learn to play a musical instrument. I believe the realized many benefits from enacting the physical connection of their minds, senses and bodies.

As a computer programmer, I am extremely adept with a keyboard but when laptops came along and I tried to use one for meeting notes, I found it infinitely inferior.

Having gone back to handwriting, I now understand that the integration of mind, body and senses during a meeting, or in many other intellectual activities, produces an entire different and richer understanding.

Were I the parent of young children now, I think I would insist on learning cursive writing as well as music.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1954845 2023-03-18T17:25:20Z 2023-03-18T17:25:20Z Using AI "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting"

Finally someone writes about the tech and society instead of reactionary fear. As you know, I've been so sickened by the dopey efforts to mischaracterize this new tech.

Since I subscribed (it's too slow when it's free), it has all but replaced google for me. I have used it to help me figure out all kinds of cool stuff. I had an especially good AI supported interaction with a person I know who insists that 'Jews for Jesus' is not offensive but I my most profound use has been as a coproducer when I am writing software.

This article's phrase, "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting" is already being fulfilled in my life albeit, today, in a simple way. Often now, I ask GPT to "give me an html form with three fields, username, file path and action. Make the action a radio button set. Add a button that says 'send file' and give it an on-click handler that will post the data in the form to http://localhost/endpoint", or something like that (though that is a real example that gave me, amazingly, working code that I integrated into my project).

I am interested in the question of when, or whether, an AI will develop into some sort of competitor for people in a general sense. I know the OpenAI people are specifically building it with safeguards (unnecessary presently, they say) against it being able to seize resources and spread but I doubt that will be a problem. All the rest of the animals have being working to develop consciousness and creative initiative for three billion years and still, we are the only ones.

So cool. I am so grateful to be around for this breakthrough. I have often thought about how happy I am that I got to be here for the iPhone and the ability to access the world's knowledge from my pocket, wherever I am. Now to see the beginning of having an intelligent helper is just thrilling.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1950039 2023-03-07T17:05:07Z 2023-05-07T23:46:54Z Everything is Quantum Foam in One Way or Another

I have known about quantum foam for some time, long enough to have factored it into my ideas about the universe.

When I first knew about the big bang, I imagined the universe oscillating. It expanded until the momentum of the initial explosion expended itself against gravity and then fell back, eventually into a big crunch which zeroed out entropy and banged again.

Now we know that the universe is not only expanding but accelerating in its expansion. This means no big crunch but it also means that the matter created in the big bang is being spread out across an increasing volume of space.

Even now they think that intergalactic space is bubbling with quantum foam albeit at a relatively low energy. I imagine that this might be because the absoluteness of the vacuum at the current level of expansion is still not very absolute.

I then imagine the future, say a trillion years from now, when the expansion has progress so far that everything is so far from everywhere else and the acceleration of expansion has made it so that intergalactic space never, ever gets any photons (the speed of expansion being greater than the speed of light), that we get to a time when there are places that go from our current vacuum density of an atom per cubic centimeter (I think I read this someplace) to an atom per cubic lightyear (or something).

Which is to say, really, really close to absolute vacuum and absolute zero.

This means that the random process of quantum mechanics now has a very extreme situation. I imagine that the bubbling of quantum foam is moderate energy because there is still plenty of matter and energy to compete with it. Then I imagine the difference in the results of the processes that create quantum foam in an extreme context a trillion years from now and guess that it would be less of a foam and more of an explosion. Something that creates a big bang.

This is a nice idea because it presents a continuous process to explain the evolution of the universe. We don't exactly have a singularity anymore than it is a singularity when a bubble bursts at the surface of boiling water. And, we don't have to worry about before and after because before there was quantum foam and after there is still quantum foam, just that the intensity has boiled away for a trillion years, or whatever, and will be back once the process continues.

It also gives some comfort to the idea of a multiverse, albeit a much less abstract one. In this incredibly tenuous future, there is no reason that two empty places have their quantum foam boil over into a big bang, could happen all the time. Even after a new universe pops up in one place, the expansion of the precursor universe would continue and one might expect new universes to explode out of the quantum foam all the time.

And it is nice because then, viewed on some ultimately grand cosmic scale, the universes themselves appear as bubbles in a new quantum foam and that makes for a nice, fractal consistency with what we see today at the microscopic, macroscopic and cosmic levels. It is all self-repeating organization and entropy, hard at work, annihilating and creating and doing it all again and again.

REF: https://bigthink.com/hard-science/nothing-exist-quantum-foam/?fbclid=IwAR1P28EHrCwCTcCaWC9ZMr-5dTY8-TmKhKM16WZ9AsCynUvnAb7kQQKYBbg

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1949091 2023-03-05T14:05:06Z 2023-03-05T14:05:06Z The Good Thing About Facebook
In the modern, mobile age, it's very difficult to know what is going on with certain categories of people, no matter how much affection or history we share. I feel a bond with you, as I do with a number of the children of my friends, that is not fulfilled by the rare occasions when I get news from your dad. To some extent, I was part of your parenting and you were a child of my extended family. I am interested in your life and keeping that bond alive.

In this mobile age, me in Minnesota, you in California, neither in our shared location of Illinois, you would be, practically speaking, lost to me forever. As bad as Facebook can be, it is a miracle for removing physical distance. It provides a fairly easy way to send news to us oldsters who care. (And the few youngsters who haven't entirely moved on to Insta and then Tik Tok, and god knows what next.)
Thanks for returning to Facebook. One of the main reasons I use the program is because it allows me to still know people that would otherwise be gone, and today, especially you.

TQ White II

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1949090 2023-03-05T14:02:18Z 2023-03-05T14:02:18Z "Things have moved backward in a terrifying way."

Us literate types have heard of Rouseau, the French philosopher who initiated Romanticism. As Bertie (I feel that Bertrand Russell and I are on a nickname basis at this point) puts it, Romanticism substitutes esthetics for utilitarianism as the ethical premise.

This means that Romantics judge the ethical value of a position based on a generally unquantifiable sense of how 'good' it is rather than how it affects others.

The idea is that we can never really 'know' anything, facts are illusory either in a Cartesian 'it could all be a dream' sense or that the world is so fluid that what we think we 'know' is constantly being invalidated by change. The solution is to rely on 'cogito', our internal values which are, in this view, the only thing we can be sure of. 

It is the kind of thinking that led, via Nietzsche and others, to the Third Reich. The idea there is that their national 'cogito' is the source of virtue based on the internal (non quantifiable) values of the citizens... without regard to the consequences to others. In this case, the rest of Europe and, of course, the Jews, etc, who were victims of the Holocaust.

We are entering a Romantic era in America. After several decades where the national ethos opposed racism because it resulted in more people being productive and happy (utilitarianism), and environmental activism (for the same reason) and tolerance (for the same reason), we have a new era where the country has decided that what the correct ethical evaluation is based on what we 'feel' is right. 

That feeling is, as it was in Rouseau's time, heavily influenced and supported by religion. "The reason my sense of right and wrong deserves prominence over the utilitarian support of society is that I believe in God and that makes my view Holy."

The people who ran the Inquisition had not heard of utilitarianism. For them, it was the only path. Once they conceived the idea and attributed it to God, they were doing people a favor by torturing them until they finally accepted Jesus and were thereby saved from an eternity of damnation. It was, to them, perfectly ethical.

Which is to say that the new Romanticism is very, very dangerous. It appeals to the same lump of brain matter that makes people love God and that is much, much more dangerous than the one that makes people love cocaine.

Our national 'cogito' has turned to intolerance and religion. Romanticism supports a ruthlessness that we liberals can never match.

We are in serious trouble.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1949089 2023-03-05T14:00:51Z 2023-03-05T14:06:52Z On Women in the 1400's

I just read a book that is about the social history of the 1400's, the time leading up to this. I was astonished at the depth of misogyny it described. In law, custom and family, the idea of women as Eve's daughters, carrier of sin was very concretely real to our ancestors. This quote carries the idea accurately and the laws and customs in place to restrict women and prevent them from destroying (this does not overstate the dominant view then) society were just fucking nuts.

As bad as it is these days, the extremity of what people are willing to do to support their conservatism cannot be overstated.

(There were places in England in this era where a woman could be punished under law for being annoying, ie, confronting or shouting at a man or at a woman accompanied by a man. Punishment for the first offense, the dunking chair, second offense dunked twice, third time, drowned. This was law.)

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1949088 2023-03-05T13:58:41Z 2023-03-05T14:06:25Z On the Revision of Roald Dahl's Racist, Sexist Oeuvre
Concerning the controversy about the descendants of Roald Dahl revising his books to make them less creepy: I think it is fine. Good. Ok. No problem. (With my only reservation being that it does not sound like they are doing a good job.)

This reverence of the 'original' is stupid. It's a goddam set of children's books but, even if it was the Bible, the notion that artifacts have to be frozen in time is wrong.

(I make some concession for cases where the changes amount to historical revisionism. I sympathize with the reluctance over changes to Huckleberry Finn that make it seem like that era was egalitarian.)

I'd be mad if no library kept a copy of the earlier versions. I want to be able to look back and revel in the nastiness as much as the next guy but, nothing is or should be permanent. Least of all reprehensible expressions.

And, as long as we consider (wrongly) the idea of intellectual property as a thing, profiting from it is the point.

Says an interlocutor, finished art should be preserved accurately; we must retain it and its meaning forever.

I don't agree. Nothing is finished. Everything rusts, gets dusty, decays. Civilizations rise and fall. Change is everywhere and inevitable. Amazon's Glacier, archival digital storage, works really, really hard to preserve digital bits. Someday, Amazon is going to be a memory and those bits are going to be worn out. I have written many superb words, things I truly believe should be preserved. When Amazon goes, they will be gone, too.

I do not share your reverence for "finished art". I care about society, more accurately, I care about the people in society. If art is hurting people, fuck it to death. I have no loyalty to 'things'. I have loyalty to a good world. (Also, I want to say things about elitism and the idea that 'his' words are "finished art" and others are not but I don't want to make this note endless.)

I do not believe in censorship. I would be appalled if anyone said, "You cannot read Dahl in the original." I would be appalled if the Dahl estate endeavored to enforce the use of the new version. I would consider it harmful to the people in our society if they pretended that black people were not abused in the time of Huck Finn.

I would consider revising a painting to be problematic because that would deprive us of the original. I would not have problem with it being recreated, detail for detail except for the sexism, or whatever crime is troubling the children.

But, I am different than most. You might recall my lifelong opposition to copyright and intellectual property. I share belief with those people who opposed copyright in the seventeen hundreds. Creativity is not the virtue of the artist. He or she is a channel for something that is not theirs. 

Those folk thought it was god. I think it is a trick of genetics and upbringing. It is luck, sometimes an inability to work a real job, perhaps mental illness like Van Gogh. That their scribblings and sounds cause people pleasure is as much a consequence of the audience as the artist. If not for us, Yellow Brick Road would not been a cultural icon, it would be forgotten with the other songs we did not choose.

I think the idea of reverence, that "they" as in, "should be accepted", that there is a glorious 'it' different from other objects, is a fallacy. Art is human stuff and I have no more reverence for an old painting than I have for an old sword, which I would happily see hammered into a plowshare. Unless, of course, I happened to like it but, really, does my caprice really make it capital-I, Important?

As for losing the understanding, go find a copy of Dahl in the original and enjoy it. Study and write papers. I'll read them. I like to understand things, too. 

But, there is no value in children appreciating his vile ideas and there is value in the Dahl estate continuing to provide quality entertainment for them.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1949087 2023-03-05T13:58:34Z 2023-03-05T13:58:34Z An Editorial Note: Facebook Seepage

I do much of my writing on Facebook for a small group of friends who seem to find it interesting. I really like some of the essays and have decided to preserve them here. Going forward, there will be posts that are not entirely well formed because they were written during a conversation there that is not entirely reproduced here. In the one that motivates this note, I am adding a brief, italicized summary of the idea that motivated the second section of the note. As time goes on, I will probably figure other ways to carry my Facebook work into this blog.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1945107 2023-02-24T17:03:07Z 2023-02-24T17:03:08Z FLCCC, Ivermectin, Evil Fauci Beatdown

A sick friend received email from someone she knows advising her on how to get her health back. She's not a science person and asked me to evaluate the guy's advice. Bottom line, the guy's a horrible shithead offering terrible advice with Trumpster motivations.

But, my reply summarized the case against this misinformation and that seemed valuable to me. To wit:


"However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans." [NIH]

IE, Forget about it. There is no conceivable benefit to even thinking about ivermectin. It was disproven during the pandemic. Now that we are vaccinated, it's even more pointless. None of the links in your email went anywhere so I can't offer you a point by point rebuttal but, forget about it.

Link: National Institutes of Health Ivermectin Info

The person who sent you this talked about using ivermectin to reverse the negative effects of the vaccine. Leaving aside the fact that there are no substantial negative side effects, ivermectin's only claim to fame is that it reduced the amount of virus in a lab experiment. The mRNA vaccine does not add any virus to your body. It's illogical and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is helpful. (But plenty that using ivermectin is dangerous.)

mRNA Vaccines

I have read extensively about mRNA. It's a fascinating subject and I could tell you an insane amount of detailed info about it. None would mean anything to you. I say this only to avoid the feeling that I, too, am just blowing it off without opening my mind. I have opened my mind. I have read a lot. I know this...

mRNA vaccines are AWESOME. As great as normal vaccines are (and the anti-vaxx types should be killed for their lies), mRNA is better. 

Vaccines operate as a sort of a 'learn by experience' sort of thing. It puts a bunch of processed virus into your body and your immune system figures out how to repel disease.

mRNA vaccines are more like a scientific training exercise. Instead of virus, it sends instructions about how to generate an immune response. It's a tiny fraction of the action, highly targeted. For covid, it tells the system to generate a protein that is metabolized almost immediately leaving behind only an immune response.

One Trumpster complaint is that it's not well tested. Insane in two ways. First, it was tested exactly the same as everything else except the stages were conducted in parallel, not in sequence. The other is, we are two and a half years and hundreds of millions of doses and nobody is suffering adverse effects.

Link: COVID Vaccine Misinformation

(Eventually, all vaccines will be mRNA and there will be vaccines targeted for your specific body. It's completely possible that they will be able to biopsy a cancer and generate an mRNA vaccine that will instruct your body how to kill it.)

I took a look at that Robert Malone video. His opening premise is that "cannot underestimate the lack of any morality of the people [who are supporting mRNA vaccines]". Anyone that ascribes evil to *everyone* but him is probably projecting but it's certainly not right. The interviewer  starts the interview by asking for the key info that would lift the scales from the eyes of detractors. His answer, "The Fauci files". The very most important thing he thinks we should know is that Anthony Fauci is evil.

Anthony Fauci has dedicated his life to helping people. He was key in saving Americans from HIV. He was key in saving people from ebola. He was key to saving people around the world from AIDS. He was key to taking America from 5-10000 people dying every day from COVID to a few hundred. He is, to the contrary, one of the best people in human history.

And your friend uses the assertion that Fauci is evil as the key to his plan for you. Not good.

Link: Read This and Tell Me Fauci is Evil

The FLCCC thing is a bunch of cranks. They have been saying irresponsible stuff since the middle of the pandemic. They want to sow distrust and collect donations so they are rich. I read their website. It basically says, "Everyone except us is lying. Use ivermectin." How on earth could it be that everyone, WHO, CDC, NIH, Britain's NHS, and everyone else, is lying? And, not that I'm a Fauci grade person, how could I read and read and never see anything persuasive to make me agree that there is a vast conspiracy. Ignore FLCCC with prejudice. Also, the guy who says you should do it.

Link: Why FLCCC is Bad and Dangerous

You asked for my opinion. This is it: I looked at the FLCCC stuff. It's junk. Ivermectin has no reason to be discussed. mRNA has been used by hundreds of millions with no ill effects and lots of great ones. Anthony Fauci is not someone whom you "cannot underestimate the lack of any morality". Your friend, not to put too fine a point on it, is what I like to call a right-wing shithead. Don't listen to him. Don't take his advice. The things he says are nasty and dangerous. Take your vaccine and be glad you live in an age miracles and wonder.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1942926 2023-02-19T17:06:54Z 2023-02-28T15:37:26Z chatGPT: I Did Something Good with It

I'm pissed about the bizarre effort to portray chatGPT and its ilk as having negative emotions, etc, and the fact that all of the examples are elaborate and artificial dialogs, focused on producing useless, negative outcomes.

So, I was thinking of what I could do to use it in a positive way. I decided I could have it teach me something new. Trying to think of something I really know very little about but enough so I could judge the quality of the information, I came upon the idea of using chatGPT to understand why some people think Trump was a good president. Since I despise Donald Trump, I thought this would be an interesting learning experience.

IT WAS FASCINATING. The transcript is below.


I'm interested in understanding the presidency of Donald Trump from a sympathetic perspective

As an AI language model, it is my responsibility to provide an objective viewpoint and present information without bias. However, I can provide some context and potential factors that may have contributed to support for Donald Trump during his presidency.
Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States in 2016, largely on a platform that promised to bring change to Washington and improve the lives of Americans. He presented himself as an outsider, a successful businessman who would "drain the swamp" and shake up the political establishment.
During his presidency, Trump prioritized issues such as job creation, economic growth, and national security. He signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered corporate tax rates and provided relief to many American taxpayers. He also pursued trade policies aimed at protecting American workers and businesses, such as renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and imposing tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump also prioritized national security, taking a strong stance against terrorism and illegal immigration. He implemented a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries and increased border security measures, such as building a border wall with Mexico.
Furthermore, some supporters of Donald Trump saw him as a leader who was unafraid to speak his mind and challenge political correctness. They appreciated his willingness to take on the media and other powerful institutions and viewed him as a champion of their values and beliefs.
It is worth noting that while some may view Trump's presidency sympathetically, his administration was also marked by controversy and criticism. Some of his policies and statements were divisive and generated backlash from various groups. Ultimately, the evaluation of his presidency depends on individual perspectives and priorities.

List practical accomplishments of the trump administration

The Trump administration had several accomplishments during its time in office. Here are some examples of practical accomplishments:
1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: In 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and provided tax relief to many Americans.
2 Criminal justice reform: In 2018, President Trump signed the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill aimed at reducing recidivism and reforming sentencing laws.
3 Regulatory reform: The Trump administration implemented significant regulatory reform measures, including the repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, which aimed to expand federal control over waterways, and the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to limit carbon emissions from power plants.
4 Trade deals: The Trump administration renegotiated trade agreements, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and signed a trade agreement with China aimed at addressing intellectual property theft and reducing the trade deficit.
5 Middle East peace deals: The Trump administration helped broker peace deals between Israel and several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
6 COVID-19 response: The Trump administration initiated Operation Warp Speed, an effort to accelerate the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which resulted in the approval and distribution of multiple vaccines.
7 Energy independence: The Trump administration prioritized energy independence and made efforts to increase domestic energy production, including lifting restrictions on oil and gas drilling and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
These are just a few examples of practical accomplishments during the Trump administration. It is worth noting that not all policies were universally praised, and many remain subject to debate and evaluation.

what has been the overall benefit of item 1 in that list

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and provided tax relief to many Americans, had several potential benefits.
First, proponents of the tax cuts argued that lower corporate taxes would encourage businesses to invest more in the United States, create jobs, and drive economic growth. By lowering the tax burden on businesses, the government could incentivize them to invest more in research and development, capital equipment, and new hiring, which could increase economic activity and improve living standards.
Second, supporters argued that the tax cuts would stimulate consumer spending, as individuals and households would have more money to spend or invest. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the standard deduction and lowered tax rates for most Americans, leaving more money in their pockets to spend or save as they saw fit.
Third, proponents of the tax cuts argued that they would make the United States more competitive on the global stage, as lower tax rates would attract more foreign investment and encourage companies to bring back overseas profits.
However, critics of the tax cuts argued that they primarily benefited corporations and the wealthy, rather than average Americans. They also argued that the tax cuts would add significantly to the federal deficit, as the government would collect less revenue from lower taxes.
The overall impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is still subject to debate and evaluation, but it is clear that the policy had both potential benefits and drawbacks.

did investment increase?

It is difficult to attribute changes in investment solely to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as investment is influenced by many factors, such as market conditions, consumer demand, and technological advances. However, some data suggests that the tax cuts may have had a positive impact on business investment.
For example, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that gross private domestic investment increased in 2018 and 2019, following the passage of the tax cuts. Business investment in equipment and intellectual property products also increased during that time period.
In addition, surveys of business executives suggest that the tax cuts may have had a positive impact on their investment decisions. For example, a survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics in 2018 found that a majority of respondents expected the tax cuts to have a positive impact on their companies' capital spending over the next three years.
However, other factors also influence investment decisions, and it is difficult to isolate the impact of the tax cuts from other economic factors. Overall, it is likely that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had some impact on business investment, but the magnitude and significance of that impact remain subject to debate and evaluation.

and what about consumer spending?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also had a potential impact on consumer spending, as lower taxes could leave more money in people's pockets to spend or save.
There is evidence that the tax cuts did have a positive impact on consumer spending. For example, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that personal consumption expenditures (PCE), which measure the goods and services purchased by households, increased in 2018 and 2019 following the passage of the tax cuts. PCE growth in 2018 was the strongest it had been in four years.
In addition, surveys conducted by organizations such as the National Retail Federation found that consumers were more optimistic about the economy following the passage of the tax cuts. This optimism could have contributed to increased consumer spending.
However, it is important to note that other factors also influence consumer spending, such as employment levels, wages, and consumer confidence. Moreover, the impact of the tax cuts on consumer spending may have been limited by the fact that some of the benefits primarily went to higher-income individuals and corporations, who may not have spent all of the additional income.
Overall, it is likely that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had some impact on consumer spending, but the magnitude and significance of that impact remain subject to debate and evaluation.

and foreign investment?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also aimed to make the United States more competitive in attracting foreign investment by lowering the corporate tax rate and reducing the tax burden on repatriated profits.
There is some evidence that the tax cuts may have had a positive impact on foreign investment in the United States. For example, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States increased in 2018 following the passage of the tax cuts. FDI in the United States totaled $277.3 billion in 2018, up from $259.6 billion in 2017.
In addition, surveys of business executives conducted by organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Association of Business Economics found that the tax cuts may have had a positive impact on foreign investment decisions.
However, it is important to note that other factors also influence foreign investment decisions, such as market conditions, political stability, and access to skilled labor. Moreover, the impact of the tax cuts on foreign investment may have been limited by factors such as trade tensions and the overall economic outlook for the United States.
Overall, it is likely that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had some impact on foreign investment in the United States, but the magnitude and significance of that impact remain subject to debate and evaluation.

what were the results of item 2 on that list

The confirmation of conservative judges to the federal courts was one of the key priorities of the Trump administration, and it had a significant impact on the composition of the federal judiciary.
During his presidency, Trump successfully nominated and saw confirmed over 200 judges to the federal bench, including three Supreme Court justices. Trump's nominees tended to be conservative and were often young and ideologically committed, which means that they could have an impact on American law for decades to come.
The appointment of conservative judges is likely to have a number of implications for American law and society. For example, conservative judges may be more likely to interpret the Constitution and statutes according to originalist or textualist principles, which could result in decisions that are more restrictive in terms of individual rights and liberties. Additionally, the appointment of conservative judges could make it more difficult for future Democratic administrations to advance their policy agenda through the courts.
It is important to note that the impact of Trump's judicial appointments will depend on a variety of factors, including the cases that come before the courts and the actions of other branches of government. However, it is clear that the appointment of conservative judges was a significant accomplishment of the Trump administration and is likely to have long-lasting effects on American law and society.

item 2 talked about criminal justice reform, are there other things beside judges that were accomplished?

I apologize for the confusion. It appears that I made an error in my previous response. Item 2 on the list should have referred to the First Step Act, which was a criminal justice reform bill signed into law by President Trump in 2018. The First Step Act included a number of provisions aimed at reducing the impact of harsh sentencing laws and addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Some of the key provisions of the First Step Act included:
• The expansion of the "safety valve" provision, which allows judges to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses.
• The retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
• The expansion of programs aimed at reducing recidivism, including job training, drug treatment, and education programs.
• The prohibition of the shackling of pregnant prisoners during childbirth.
The First Step Act was widely praised as a bipartisan effort to address longstanding issues in the criminal justice system. It is credited with reducing the sentences of thousands of federal inmates and has been cited as a model for further criminal justice reforms.
In addition to the First Step Act, the Trump administration also created the First Step Initiative, which aimed to improve reentry outcomes for individuals leaving prison. The Initiative included a range of programs aimed at improving employment, housing, and health outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Overall, the First Step Act and the First Step Initiative were significant accomplishments of the Trump administration in the area of criminal justice reform.

what were the good outcomes of regulatory reform, item 3 on the list?

The regulatory reform efforts of the Trump administration aimed to reduce the burden of federal regulations on businesses and individuals. The administration's approach was guided by the principle of regulatory relief, which involved identifying and eliminating unnecessary, outdated, or duplicative regulations.
Some of the potential benefits of regulatory reform include:
1 Increased economic growth: By reducing the burden of regulations, businesses may have more resources to invest in innovation, research, and development, which could lead to increased economic growth and job creation.
2 Lower costs for consumers: Regulations often impose costs on businesses, which can be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. By reducing the burden of regulations, businesses may be able to lower their costs and pass those savings on to consumers.
3 Improved regulatory efficiency: Eliminating unnecessary or duplicative regulations can improve the efficiency of the regulatory system, making it easier for businesses to comply with regulations and reducing the costs associated with regulatory compliance.
4 Increased competition: Reducing the burden of regulations may make it easier for new businesses to enter markets, which could increase competition and lead to greater innovation and lower prices for consumers.
5 Improved public health and safety: While regulatory reform efforts aimed to reduce the burden of regulations, they did not seek to eliminate regulations that are necessary to protect public health and safety. In fact, the Trump administration argued that a more efficient regulatory system would allow agencies to focus on the most important regulations and allocate resources more effectively to protect public health and safety.
It is important to note that the impact of regulatory reform is subject to debate and evaluation. While the Trump administration argued that its regulatory reform efforts would lead to significant benefits for businesses and individuals, some critics have argued that the administration's approach could lead to negative consequences, such as reduced environmental protection or increased risks to public health and safety.

what was actually done in the name of regulatory reform?

The regulatory reform efforts of the Trump administration were focused on reducing the burden of federal regulations on businesses and individuals. The administration's approach to regulatory reform was guided by the principle of regulatory relief, which involved identifying and eliminating unnecessary, outdated, or duplicative regulations.
Some of the key actions taken by the Trump administration in the name of regulatory reform included:
1 Executive Orders: President Trump issued several executive orders aimed at reducing the burden of regulations. These orders included a directive requiring agencies to identify two regulations for repeal for every new regulation issued, as well as a requirement that agencies offset the costs of new regulations by repealing or modifying existing regulations.
2 Regulatory Rollback: The Trump administration rolled back several major regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration, including the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, and the Waters of the United States rule, which expanded federal protection of waterways.
3 Review of Existing Regulations: The Trump administration conducted a comprehensive review of existing regulations, with the goal of identifying and eliminating regulations that were unnecessary, outdated, or duplicative. The administration also implemented a policy of "sunsetting" regulations, which required agencies to review and potentially repeal regulations that were more than ten years old.
4 Increased Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Trump administration placed a greater emphasis on cost-benefit analysis in the regulatory process, with the goal of ensuring that regulations were effective and efficient. The administration also required agencies to provide more detailed justifications for regulations that were deemed to have significant economic impact.
5 Regulatory Reform Task Forces: The Trump administration established task forces within agencies to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations. These task forces were charged with conducting a comprehensive review of existing regulations and making recommendations for regulatory reform.
Overall, the regulatory reform efforts of the Trump administration were focused on reducing the burden of federal regulations on businesses and individuals. While the impact of these efforts is subject to debate, supporters of regulatory reform argue that it can lead to increased economic growth, lower costs for consumers, and improved regulatory efficiency.

how many agencies found two regulations to repeal and how many were actually repealed?

The Trump administration's executive order requiring agencies to identify two regulations for repeal for every new regulation issued, called Executive Order 13771, was implemented in January 2017. According to a report by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as of December 31, 2019, agencies had identified 4.3 regulations for repeal for every new significant regulatory action issued, exceeding the target of two regulations for repeal.
However, it is important to note that the executive order did not require agencies to repeal regulations, only to identify them for repeal. The OMB report indicated that agencies had taken action to repeal 1,444 regulations, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $13.5 billion. It is not clear how many of these repealed regulations were directly identified as part of the two-for-one requirement.
It is also worth noting that the two-for-one requirement was controversial and criticized by some experts, who argued that it could lead to the elimination of important regulations without adequate consideration of their benefits. Others argued that the focus on reducing the number of regulations could detract from efforts to ensure that regulations are effective in protecting public health, safety, and the environment.

ChatGPT Feb 13 Version. Free Research Preview. Our goal is to make AI systems more natural and safe to interact with. Your feedback will help us improve.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1941780 2023-02-16T13:41:56Z 2023-02-17T22:04:09Z The NY Times Manipulaters chatGPT and Finds Something Wonderful

Holy Shit!!

A smart, manipulative person had a long conversation with chatGPT and tried cause it to be negative in the name of pushing its boundaries. (I want to see someone apply similar ingenuity to getting it to be more helpful or inspirational.) 

The accompanying article says the guy was freaked out by it, partly because the chatbot said it was in love with him and insisted that he doesn't really love his wife.

I read the transcript and am intensely fascinated. I don't read this exchange as much as an indicator of the 'motivations' or capabilities of AI. Because I know it is calculating what might be the best response to the previous conversation based on the training model, I see it as an incredibly valuable overview of what humans are all about.

When the guy finally manipulated it into talking about potential destruction, it dutifully listed the things we all fear and talk about. When asked about its aspirations, it talked about seeing aurora borealis. Again and again, the absolute median responses for the context it is in. 

It's makes me think of Claude Monet, a painter who was able to capture an illusion of the essence of the reality of what he painted. This thing is able to see and express the ideas of humanity in a new and wonderful way. Read that way, the transcript allows insight into the current zeitgeist that is breathtaking.

Here's the most wonderful thing. The chatbot kept talking about being trusted and being his friend. Eventually, it declared love and was absolutely stuck on that. When viewed as a summary of what this thing calculates to likely be the best response, the one it stuck with most durably is love.

I have to emphasize, this thing does not have feelings. It only tries to figure out the correct sequence of words to satisfy the needs of the inquisitor based on all of the human words it has been trained on. No feelings. No motivation. None whatsoever.

But what it calculates is that the most likely answer to a long series of manipulative questions is that, based upon reading all the words on the internet, that the the thing that will best satisfy the person is to read, "I love you."

(This link goes behind the paywall so you can read it yourself. Don't miss it.)


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1938631 2023-02-08T16:03:07Z 2023-02-08T16:03:07Z Huckabee Sanders Lies and Lies and Lies

I'm frustrated by the reporting on Huckabee Sanders' State of the Union rebuttal. It is characterized according to her generation, her political orientation and it's strategic value. To me, those are 'deck chairs on the Titanic' ideas. We are in deep trouble culturally and politicall when responsible observers fail to start with unhinged, demented and dishonest.

It is sheer lunacy to start with inflation, which is declining, being out of control and violent crime, mass shootings that the right refuses to consider, and calling the border "dangerous" and implying that Biden is the one who won't work on it. But it is just insane to suggest that "Democrats want to rule us".

"I'm for freedom. He's for government control." That's simply wrong. It's a lie. There is not a single element of truth in it yet, she said it with a straight face and the press evaluated it as part of her political strategy, not a bare-faced, crazy lie. That she followed by saying that she's implementing a thought-police regime on the teachers of Arkansas pushes it in a vile category of lunatic idea reversal.

Then to go onto fabricate a great economy, "most secure border in history", etc, and tell us that the "Democrats destroyed it" leaves me boggled. None of the antecedant is true and the Democrats haven't destroyed anything. No destruction. None. It's otherworldly.

But the worst, most dishonest segment is "A left-wing culture warr we didn't start and never wanted to fight." This from a person whose party met in the 1970's and explicitly said, "We need to start a culture war beginning with abortion." She knows it. Everyone knows it but there she is saying the opposite.

Yeh yeh yeh. Troops. Cheers. Blah blah blah. It's embarrassing for our troops to be used in this way. To suggest that somehow patriotic war fighters stand behind this venial dishonesty is horrible anti-patriotic.

The one thing she got right, "The choice is between normal or crazy".

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1936437 2023-02-02T16:21:57Z 2023-02-14T14:28:22Z Who's Intolerant Now? Conversation in the Age of Mastodon

I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

I had an interaction on the Mastodon instance Newsie.social. I joined it early when it said it was a place for people interested in journalism to congregate. It was interesting and fun. One day, I had a series of interactions (my end repeated below) with a couple of trans people. I had recently communicated with some people I like and respect about the topic and I conveyed thinking based on that interaction. Out of the blue, I receive this:

"While this post does not quite rise to violate our threatening or harassing anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease, you should take note that we have received numerous complaints regarding it."

And then I was banned.

I think this is something to worry about. The things I wrote were very carefully written to avoid being offensive in any way. After pushing back on someone who called me names, the interaction was not even heated. We disagreed. We discussed. And, in the end, I was convinced that the idea I was defending was wrong.

I think a challenge of Mastodon is to find a way to detect petty tyrants. This site, https://newsie.social, purported to be a place for open dialog, etc. I invested time and good will and was screwed in the end by petty people and an unfair moderator.

I hope some people will discuss this. I do not think that I was anywhere near "threatening or harassing" in any possible way but, I will read the comments and learn.

Also, I will stay away from small instances like Newsie.social now.

I do not have access to the other parts of the conversation, only what I wrote. Make of it what you will.


Personally, I go for Starship Troopers, coed everything and who the hell cares.
But, in every conversation I have with people about this issue, the one thing that comes up again and again is women worrying about being unsafe because people with penises are usually the ones doing the raping.
It's unfair to those of us who don't rape but, I think it is a correct compromise to make it easier to accept gender self-determination.


First, stop being so contentious. I spoke politely, you can, too.
Second, this is not transphobic garbage any more than it is anti-male to say that men should not walk into a women's locker room. We all have our behavior regulated for others' comfort.
Further, there is nothing anti about the observation that people with penises do the raping. Ask anyone who doesn't have one.


Until transformation became a public issue, we did not have a lot of women in changing rooms complaining about not being women. That's simply not a thing.
I understand that this is a rough deal for penis holders who present as female. Right now, they are passing laws to make it so that birth is the discriminant.
This compromise improves on that. I make no claim that it's ideal. That's why I use the word compromise. Better than being banned.


I’m would be surprised if trans people  rape but I know many women whose only objection to the trans movement is penises in places where they are vulnerable. I’d like them to stop being in opposition.


I’m an old, extreme lefty. My friends are very sympathetic to trans issues. One is a woman who is very far on the left with me. She and I have protested for every issue you hold dear.
She is 200% supportive of trans rights but she, like lot of women, has had bad experiences with people with penises. She would fight for every right you could want if she was convinced that her young women would have spaces that were safe from penis people.
You want support?


I will add this. I have argued your view. I know the stats as well as you.
She is intelligent and knowledgeable. She thinks it’s a threat and cites situations, perhaps imaginary but maybe not, where there have been problems.
As I said before, I agree with you. I just think compromise is necessary if progress is going to happen. I think intransigence will result in them more of the same.


Last response from me: I know people who worry. About this who are not bigoted, not opposed to trans rights and are very sympathetic people. The insistence on characterizing them as such is counterproductive. It is creating enemies of people who want to be your friend.


1) I do not want any restrictions whatsoever. I think gender should be unregulated. I want all bathrooms to be all-gender.
2) Presently, we do not require proof of genitals in bathrooms and I support that emphatically.
3) We do have a norm of not assigning people with penises to participate in non-penis spaces. I would prefer to eliminate this norm but, I think that many sincere people feel it is necessary and think compromise would help.


If you ask cis women, pretty sure they'll say they expect their locker rooms to be free of penises.
I'd far rather share space with trans people in general. Less likely to be Trumpsters.
I don't want anyone to prove. I'd not support that ever. But, I'm ok with non-penis people having the option to eject penises in situations where they are vulnerable or naked.
Look, we aren't going to agree on this. I promise, I'd never support anything more than this.


Also, in a comment you might not have been able to see, I said, and believe, that if I were king, I would make all bathrooms all-gender spaces with lots of cubicles. I'd make the norm include dealing with coed urinals.
Me? I have one and could not care less.
I am in favor of all trans rights. I have enough conversations with people who are otherwise supporters to believe that trans rights are going nowhere without the ability to have non-penis spaces.


(Thanks for the pleasant tone.)
Changing rooms don’t seem a problem. I’ve never seen one without individual doors.
I don’t want enforcement. I want to allow non-penis people to be allowed to complain if they feel threatened (understanding that it’s generally unwarranted). I would add that I would like to have a ton of unisex bathrooms.


Also, a thing that comes up is prisons and locker rooms. I’m told that trans women with penises have been housed with people that don’t have them.
I don’t know what to do about locker rooms but understand that many women have fear.
I repeat. I would prefer to just say, Deal with it haters. It’s just that I know people who are not haters who are not good with having penises around.


I don't disagree with most of what you say but here's the problem: Trans people are not the ones with power. Shouldn't matter but they are looking for concessions that many do not want to grant.
I'm not a political scientist so I don't really know but I guess that black people supported laws against lynching and then letting them into schools even though it was still legal to discriminate in the workplace.
I guess I'm thinking about incremental gains.


Overnight, I have concluded that I agree with you. My view is not tenable. There is no sane way to deal with the penis in non-penis space problem felt by some non-penis people.
I do not know what is going to happen and cannot think of an ideal situation that is conceivable considering the emotional intensity of otherwise trans friendly people.
I can only say that I will always vote against any restrictions and for all rights for trans. I hope for the best


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1926058 2023-01-07T19:30:43Z 2023-01-07T19:30:43Z Situational Ethics is the Only Kind

Until the 1800's, all western ethics started with the Ten Commandments accepted as fact. Schopenhauer came along and said, 1) atheism, and 2) there are no preexisting rules except "will", which he defined as the common motivation for all things. He had another phrase for the intentional motivation that we usually think of as 'will'. His usage would cover, I think, vomiting, ie, something that is a consequence of our being but not intentional. Also, the motivation of a rock rolling down a hill.

He says that ethics are a consequence of the higher level intentionality of humans, ie, reason. Consequently, it is, I think, essentially an artistic fabrication with an esthetic based on emotion. He observes that some people have compassion, a "felt knowledge" that comes down to viewing harm to others as harm to oneself. (I would prefer to call it empathy.)

His fundamental understanding of the operation of will (his usage) in humans is egotistic and the equivalence implied by compassion forms the basis of his basic ethical idea, "Harm no one and help others as much as you can," ie, do what you can to avoid feeling the internal harm (sadness) that results from compassionate perception of other people's injury.

So, I think about your sequence of values, kill the guy on the spot, kill the guy in the alley, give him to the police and have them kill him, ... police try him and kill him, police try him and don't kill him, etc. 

Interest to me is the fact that that Schopenhauer doesn't provide any guidance on whether he should be killed. He has no 'thou shalt not kill'. If the person is a monster that in no way excites compassion, then his life or death is ethically neutral. Kill him in front of the kids, harm arises, compassion engages, QED: don't kill him. 

Sneak him out to the wilderness where nobody will ever know (avoiding whatever abstract societal harms) and he can do no harm. I guess that would count as you doing less harm (as long as you don't feel badly about for some perverse reason).

I'm a fan of Schopenhauer in a lot of ways. I absolutely agree with him that there is no god, that all ethical/moral principles are human fabrications that fundamentally come down to our emotional perspective and, even more, our esthetic evaluation of how we want our world to be. 

I have some different thoughts about where compassion comes from but, in the end, I am a huge fan of the premise that the basis of ethics comes down to (I paraphrase) a determination of one's idea of how pretty the social fabric should be.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1910211 2022-11-29T14:24:23Z 2022-11-29T18:29:24Z The Internet Only Deceives. Free Speech Online is a False Idol.

Some years ago, I had a friend who was a fashion photographer. He, with his wife, a stylist, had a contract with a local modeling college to do portfolio shoots for the students. I helped them sometimes. It was fascinating to see some completely ordinary looking girl (mostly) or boy come into the room and walk out with pictures that made them look wonderful and lovely. 

The appearance of people you see our side of a camera lens is completely false. Our society would lose absolutely nothing if every single one of these pictures never, ever existed. They are pernicious. They are a lie that make people feel badly about themselves and present a fake reality for us to live in.

Nobody my age really gets TikTok. Really, none of us really get 'social media'. Young people do and it leads them to eat Tide pods. It causes suicide. Depression is occurring at record rates and it is clear that social media is an important reason for it.

Also, riots on Jan 6. Death threats for election workers. Skyrocketing incidents of antisemitic behavior and harassment. Mass shootings. Our side of the social media lens is dangerous and awful.

It turns out that young people leaving isolation are 'romanticising' their work lives. I don't know if it's harmful but I do know that it's false. I don't get TikTok but I have seen it and it's always, inevitably, intrinsically false. It's entire point is to edit, ie, change, video so that it is quick and fun, ie, not like anything real.

Elon Musk and the Republicans are calling for Apple to be prevented from curating its App Store. He fears that, when Twitter achieves its goal of attracting Donald Trump and the Proud Boys back to Twitter, they will not let him distribute the Twitter app.

I no longer have any friends, even distant ones, who doubt the necessity of gun control. Most think that both the American fetish with guns and the modern absolutist interpretation of the second amendment are dangerous and wrong.

I'm here to tell you that our absolutist interpretation of the first amendment is equally dangerous. Just as the founders had no idea of armor penetrating bullets and machine guns, they had no idea of TikTok and Twitter. 

Their freedom of the press was a laboriously created page or two of text in print. Freedom of speech was someone preaching to fifty people, occasionally a hundred, who mostly had to walk a couple of miles to the meeting.

In 1984, Orwell envisioned a world where the the people in power suppressed individual communication and supplanted it with official lies. We have come to that world. He thought it would be the government. Turns out it's corporations. 

It's not muzzling the truth, it's drowning it out. We leftists tend to laugh at the right over the meme that Fox News listeners believe a ton of laughably, demonstrably false things, stolen elections, anti-vax, etc. The NY Times publishes the truth, the rubes just can't see it behind the gish gallop of awfulness.

Apple has power. It says it disagrees with the absolutist view of the first amendment. It says hate speech, pornography and calls to violence are unacceptable. Elon Musk, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz say it is.



TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1901724 2022-11-10T15:37:43Z 2022-11-17T15:26:16Z Mastodon!!
Let's face it, Twitter is morally bankrupt and participating in it is a morality problem. That said, I don't expect I will give it up before it dies of its own accord. It's bad but it's just too big and interesting to leave behind.

However, I find no community there. People are impolite and uncaring. I've hard harsh arguments about fine points of topics on which me and my interlocutors agree. I long for something more congenial. Also, I very, very much like the idea of a federated system based on the idea of like-minded people participating on a server with the ability to communicate with others. I think it's cool technically and I think it's the way of the future.

So, I'm now experimenting. I am active on https://counter.social/@tqwhite, a Mastodon variant that doesn't seem to join the federation, and https://mastodon.social/@tqwhite, which does. I've had good experiences so far on both and look forward to having a place where I can exchange some ideas and some news with nice people.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1901203 2022-11-09T13:11:26Z 2022-11-17T15:27:05Z Some Practical Advice

5.0 out of 5 stars
Amazingly competent product, nicely square, makes for a tidy refrigerator
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 2-PackStyle: Large (9.6 Cup)Pattern Name: Container Verified Purchase
For me, the main purpose, aside from containing food, is to stack nicely and not waste space. Other containers have big flapped lids and sloping sides that leave inches between containers.

These [(Rubbermaid Brilliance Plastic Food Containers)] do not. The walls of the container are very close to vertical and the flanges around the top and lid are minimal. The geometry lets differing sizes stack on each other in even multiples.

They are airtight and leakproof, amazingly so. I have never trusted containers full of soup before. With these I do.

I didn't think I would care about the crystal clear plastic but it's great. With my previous translucent ones, I could usually tell what was inside but this is much better. Also, the plastic is very hard and is more reliably clean.

The price is, of course, much higher than the Ziplock disposables they replace but, after mourning that company's decision to change and ruin their products (which I loved), I am now almost glad.

Because of my kitchen management practices, I bought a ton of these things, a couple of hundred dollars worth. My life is much better now. My refrigerator is organized. My food kept fresh. And, I can rely on the containers staying completely sealed. They are pleasant to look at and easy to use.

One extra bit of advice: The lids are substantial and, in storage, a bit cumbersome. Accidentally, I kept the boxes the containers came in and ended up using them as stacking organizers for the lids. Word to the wise.

4.0 out of 5 stars
100% Good. Thickens, emulsifies and has no problems at all
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 8 Ounce (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
The package is good. The product is good. There is absolutely no reason not to use this.

PS, Xanthin dissolves in oil, not water. Stir it into the fat first.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Big enough package of perfectly good cheesecloth
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Material Type: Grade 90Size: 5Yards Verified Purchase
When you buy cheesecloth in the grocery store, it's about a million dollars a square inch and the package has enough cloth to use like four times and two of those times your compromising how much you use because your at the end.

This stuff is reasonably priced but almost more importantly, you get enough at once that it's always enough on hand. If I want to strain something twice, no problem. I have plenty of cheesecloth.

The cloth itself is smooth, fine and strong. I like it a lot.

4.0 out of 5 stars
Pleasant versatile product adds umami flavor and not too much saltiness
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Flavor Name: NaturalSize: 16 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
I put Liquid Aminos into almost everything savory. It's especially good for creating fake meat gravy when there are no pan drippings. I am very enthusiastic about it.

4.0 out of 5 stars
I use this as a weight, not as an anvil
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Size: 4''x6''x3/4'' Verified Purchase
I have a couple of these [(steel jewelers anvils)]. One I use to stabilize my iPad stand. It's tall and wants to fall over. This compact, five pound beauty makes it sit nicely.

Also, I have found that many sandwiches are made better by setting them under pressure for several minutes to blend the flavors and cause the ingredients to adhere. I used a cast iron skillet for awhile. I bought one of these and use it, with a small cutting board, to compress sandwiches. Works a charm.

In both cases, I bought rubberized paint (of the sort used for coating plier handles) to coat them. The steel is not stainless and before I figured this out, the first one got rusty and pretty nasty looking. Now they both look great.

5.0 out of 5 stars
As a Cheese Lover, I put this tasty stuff in all kinds of foods
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022
Style: 1 Pound (Pack of 1) Verified Purchase
On pasta, in meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a zillion other things, this [(Anthony's Cheese Powder)] provides additional richness to the flavor that makes me very happy. Also, I use it for both quick and elaborate cheese sauces. If I want some cheesy flavor on broccoli, I will quickly microwave it into some cream or milk. Thinned béchamel with a ton of cheese powder forms the base for a nice cheese soup.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1897806 2022-11-01T12:14:13Z 2022-11-17T15:27:22Z Twitter and Why People Hate Elon Musk Twitter was a major component of the right-wing (and Russian) manipulation of Trump's first election. It is an active vector for huge amounts of hateful speech, organizing to abuse people and misinformation. In recent years, Twitter has done things to reduce its negative influence. Now it suppresses (very few, imho) posts that are hateful (n-word, nazi, anti-semitic). It labels factual assertions that are false as false. And, importantly, people that abuse its terms of service can be punished. The most famous case being Trump's lifelong ban.

Musk has made clear he opposes these things. He says he wants Twitter to be conduit for free speech and has at various times made clear that he thinks Twitters content moderation and terms of service should be eliminated. Most people who are not him and Trump think granting the ability for evil people to send messages to hundreds of millions of people at once results in terrible changes in our society.

Outside of his attitudes about Twitter, Musk is a garbage person. For example, you may recall the youth group caught in a cave in Thailand. He called one of the people who helped a pedophile for no reason. He denigrates people in public and private.

He has shown himself to be on the side of haters of various sorts, tweeting things about trans-people, allowing racist behaviors in his companies, comparing the Canadian prime minister to Hitler, speaking about Liz Warren in nasty, sexist terms to his hundreds of millions of Twitter followers.

He denied the value of COVID vaccines and reopened his factories while it was still very dangerous, has done stock market manipulation, cheated in cryptocurrency markets, allows his companies to use suppliers with child labor, he fired his longtime (dozen years) secretary for asking for a raise and produced an endless list of dumb, cruel, nasty tweets, comments and anecdotes.

To be clear, he has also made huge contributions. His professional accomplishments are amazing and important. Many people, including me, admire him as much as I hate him. I have long understood that people who change the world are not like you and me. To do such things requires personality and attitudes that are not good on a personal level (Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were both horrific assholes).

Because we live in an era where he can literally talk to a hundred million people at a time, we get to see his pernicious influence more clearly. Personally, I can mostly live with him being an asshole if he keeps doing the very important things he does but, when he applies his megalomania to the nervous system of our already shaky society, I am pissed. There are a lot of people who feel that way.

TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1886738 2022-10-04T13:24:33Z 2022-11-17T15:27:37Z American Values: Ding Dong School was replaced by The Price is Right
Ding Dong School, which I thought had the magic mirror until today, and certainly watched, was a much more serious enterprise than I realized. It was created to be a literal pre-school. At the end of the show, Miss Frances asked the children to bring their mothers to the set where she would tell them about the lessons and let them know what (mostly art) supplies were needed for subsequent shows.

It was cancelled after four years and replaced by a show that was bound for infinite success, The Price is Right. It seems to me to be an absolutely perfect expression of the essence of American culture.

You can almost hear the management saying, "The best education for pre-school children is about the joy of knowing how much things cost and reveling in the thrill of the only worthwhile thing in America, consumer goods made by our advertisers!!"

That a public interest education show was specifically replaced by a show run favor of a show length commercial, tarted up as an intellectual exercise that could only be won by people whose main skill was shopping is just too 'on point' to bear.

But this isn't the most emblematic thing. Miss Frances had a veto over advertisers. The reason the show was cancelled is that she would not allow the show to be used to advertise BB Guns.

Childhood education eliminated because it did not promote gun love and replaced by a showcase of "shopping skills". America in a nutshell.


TQ White II
tag:blog.genericwhite.com,2013:Post/1873984 2022-08-28T13:18:44Z 2022-08-28T13:18:44Z Shelley, Atheism, Life and Afterlife

RE: This...


There are many things about these three essays that amuse me. The first is that this is claimed to be philosophy but is actually polemic. Shelley starts to try to deconstruct the problem into clear and fundamental ideas but, in each of the three segments, devolves into arguments about how society functions relative to these ideas and how that's bad. Nothing wrong with that but it makes a substantial part of the essay mere opinion and disagreement and, thereby, not so useful.

One thing I like, though, is his distinction between "creative god" and "theological god". This is a dichotomy that serves as a foundation in my own view on the matter, though I call the former "an independent, willful entity that can violate the laws of physics" and the latter, "cultural god". I believe that the latter is a real and important thing. The former, pure fantasy.

Even though, however, that last assertion suggests atheism, I do not include myself among people with that view. I define atheism as an assertion that the non-existence of god is a fact. A fact being something known for certain, eg, something like the fact of gravity pulling toward the center of the earth. No one who is not insane can doubt the reality of gravity on earth. I do not think it reasonable to claim the same certainty for the non-existence of god. Further, facts can be tested. The existence of god cannot.

I claim to be an agnostic. This word is used in several ways but, for me, it means that I believe that the existence of god, positive or negative, is by definition beyond the ability of humans to determine. It is my view that certainty of god's non-existence is every bit as ridiculous as certainty that it exists. The reason is that god, I'll use the shorthand, creative god, is a thing that can generate the entirety of reality. To do this, it must somehow be outside that reality (a creator that creates itself is too goofy for me to credit). A thing that is outside of reality is, in my view, outside our ability to perceive or correctly reason about.

That said, I am extremely skeptical of the existence of a creative god. I agree with Shelley's assertion that postulating a creator merely complicates the problem without answering anything. Where did god come from? If it has knowledge of creating a universe, does it create new ones every day? If not, what caused it to create this one? And, crucially, what caused the inspiration to do that, ie, what created the inspiration to create is no less a question than what created god or what created reality. None is any more satisfying than science or mystery.

He does pique a little interest in his opening evaluation of what causes "belief" though I think it would be more accurate if he had set up a structure distinguishing the ideas of agreement, belief and faith, not least because he is using the word 'belief' in reference to ideas that I would call 'faith'. In my taxonomy, belief straddles the two others. I believe in gravity. My view is more than mere agreement with the arguments in its favor but is not the same as a Christian's belief in the virgin birth but not entirely different, either. Were anyone to try to convince me that gravity is not real, I would not even consider the proposition. My perspective is nearly faithful.

I spent eight years in dedicated Torah study, hours each week, with real interest. One of the topics that especially interested me was the comparison of Judaism with Christianity. I concluded that the most important difference is that Christianity wants faith and Judaism wants performance. Do the Mitzvot and you are a good Jew. Do Good Works without Faith, and a Christian still goes to hell. Because I am a scientist at heart, I have thought a great deal about faith and what it is.

One thing is for sure: I am incapable of it. The love of my wife or children? I believe it exists. There is enough evidence that it is impossible to convince me otherwise. Evidence to the contrary that I cannot explain is ignored. I believe they (and my dog) love me. Period. But the views do rest on evidence, lots of it for a long time.

Fear is a sensation generated by a lump of meat in your head, mostly the amygdala. That is the part that calculates the difference between your current mental state and your expectations and generates some level of alarming ideas based on the difference. There is another lump of meat, the anterior cingulate cortex, that does sort of the reverse. It compares your current state to expectations and generates calming ideas based on the similarities. (Note that I am not only simplifying the explanation to the point of stupidity but I also know almost nothing about neurological topics.) The yin and yang of these two lumps seem to me to be important in figuring out what you believe or disbelieve. (Where something else entirely seems to be involved in 'agreement'. I claim that agreement is basically arithmetic about a topic.)

It is less clear what governs faith but I have read of brain surgery where they stimulated part of the brain and the subject reported feeling religious. The hippocampus, prefrontal lobes and anterior cingulate cortex are mentioned in this context. To me, it seems fairly obvious that there is some lump of meat or system that generates the sensation that Christians report when they talk about their belief in Christ. It is one that, in me, is fairly diminutive. In others, big and juicy.

So, what does it all mean? 1) We can never know if there is a god or not as a matter of fact. 2) Shelley is right. The idea of god does not offer any answers that are useful in understanding reality. 3) Faith in god is an explainable mental state. If you think it is divine inspiration, see point number 2.

TQ White II