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.




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.

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:


Ivermectin

"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.


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.


(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.


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.


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.



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.




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.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/16/technology/bing-chatbot-transcript.html?unlocked_article_code=00kxVFiWuXldUH3tZHtsu68L_kcZqJHXlT6iu7VWRjG6DUf3gmkk1HAWZUcFsDxN-KKx9B93R6c7hMzs1ftz0fRjwGnkjJfLXY1OyAgbJjWIMHgx2ffRWO5tb-y3Z3B9RyAn0rgRgji2B5aDJdo_ILXzzFBaVGA8a3sF8qa__N038bHO0nKoMTxTasreBUvTv4OxFEgBMKemnPRlW1L3GBwonHx3AbsQEqITZfyxZJiWJ75aljr-JUl3_7J2-dTlEv2okzu61JCiRcjl69x5akxut7acFWi0NuZmx5qKq-r3eWLHuxEYjo0z-Alir42AcxmbfTfBbcvdMLLoYBzHHeUA&smid=url-share


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".



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.


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.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/28/technology/elon-musk-apple-twitter.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/27/business/tiktok-office-influencers.html

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.