Oderint, dum metuant

In Nablus, a young man is kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists — who then set him free on learning he is an American because they don’t want to end up like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi so recently did.

I am irresistibly reminded of a piece of cynical wisdom from the mouth of the mad Roman emperor Caligula, born of experience in dealing with the barbarians of his day: Oderint, dum metuant: “Let them hate, so long as they fear”.

It is best of all to be loved, of course. But Islamists will never love the khufr; not even the most self-abasing of the postmodern Left’s bootlickers can make that happen. The next best thing is that jihadis should crap their pants when they think about the death-from-above consequences of molesting Americans.

I would actually prefer to have them fear molesting “all civilized people”, rather than just “Americans”. Unfortunately, I don’t see the will to instill the required level of fear anywhere but in the U.S., and I don’t consistently see it here. Not a single Democrat is willing to talk about making the active enemies of our civilization fear its wrath, which is one of several reasons I can no longer consider voting Democrat.

Then there are the practicalities. The U.S. military is implicitly defending all civilized people whenever it waxes a jihadi, but in our world of nation-states it would be a bit much to require it to explicitly retaliate for the death of (say) a Frenchman.

Still…having even bush-league terrorists fear harming Americans is a good start, and as neat a vindication of George Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq as anyone could ask for. The war is not, after all, breeding terrorists; it’s killing the leaders and frightening the small fry into letting go their victims.

Caligula may have been a mad bastard, but understood the barbarian mind and the stringency necessary to deal with it better than most of today’s politicians. Since they will not love us, let them be afraid. Very, very afraid.

1,981 thoughts on “Oderint, dum metuant


  1. for muslim in mideast do
    if muslim=terrorist; then KILL
    done

    And while we’re using Latin phrases, here’s one I heard at a user’s group.
    “Veni, Vidi, Venti. I came, I saw, I ordered a large coffee.”

  2. I agree with you that these thugs refuse to listen to reason and that hope for peace without war is naive. But fear of our retailiation (as opposed to Israel’s) was not exactly the motivating factor here. His kidnappers were associated with Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and they kidnapped him in order to use him as a bargaining chip to release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

    Kidnapping Americans would cause two problems besides simply “death from above.”
    1. Even Al-Aksa knows that without America’s support, Israel will never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    2. Israel would never bother trading Palestinian hostages for non-Israeli citizens, so holding an American hostage doesn’t help Al Aksa.

    Furthermore, on the face of it, fearing our retaliation more than Israel’s makes no sense whatsoever. When was the last time *we* lauched “death from above” against Palestinians? I can’t even COUNT the number of times Israel has committed military action against the Palestinians. Wasn’t attack against the Gaza beachfront less than a week ago?

  3. for muslim in mideast do
    if muslim=terrorist; then KILL
    done

    I’m impressed by your humane acknowledgement that there could be Muslim non-terrorists, but I have doubts about the ability of your code to identify them.

    I don’t think they were worried about Zarqawi’s fate – they just recognised that American goodwill (or relative lack of ill will, let’s not get too ambitious here) is worth more than anything they could have got for him. They wanted an Israeli, and the IDF aren’t exactly notorious for delicacy in such circumstances, although they could probably muster the finesse to deal with the situation without using five-hundred-pound bombs.

  4. P.S. I didn’t mean to write “Palestinian hostages”. I meant “Palestinian prisoners”. I re-worded that sentence several times. I do not consider the Palestinians imprisoned by Israel to be hostages by ANY stretch of the imagination. While I am under no illusions that probably some are regular people caught up in a tragic situation, I do believe that the vast majority are indeed criminals and terrorists.

  5. David, an IDF officer on the case said “Their decision to release him was because they didn’t want to deal with the hot potato otherwise known as the US.” The behavioral evidence says they feared American retaliation more than Israeli. That sure sounds like fear of consequences to me, especially two days after Zarqawi got waxed.

  6. Adrian10, if you had a brother who was serving in Iraq, you would probably want those bastards gone, too. I never said I was being humane.

  7. When I read that, I interpreted the U.S. “hot potato” as the Palestinians’ political inability to enlist America’s cooperation in encouraging Israel to go along with a Palestinian state. I’m not convinced the IDF officer was referring to physical consequences.

  8. Adrian10, if you had a brother who was serving in Iraq, you would probably want those bastards gone, too.

    I’d probably want him home.

    I never said I was being humane.

    I never say when I’m being sarcastic, either. But people are gradually picking up on it.

  9. David makes an interesting point. Yes it is better to be feared than loved, assuming you must choose, but not all fear is equally convenient.

    If you threaten to do something bad to those who harm you, your enemies could still get away with harming you if they struck at a time or in a manner to which you could not retaliate.

    But if you were in a position to simply do nothing, and allow an enemy to be destroyed by not interfering, this is true power. A friend you can whup is a good friend, but a friend who NEEDS you is a friend beyond reckoning.

    The British used to be masters at this. When they first landed in India, there were about 20 different kingdoms vying for supremacy. One hundred and fifty years later there were over 600, each dependent upon British military strength for their very existence.

    So effective were the British at their divide and rule strategy, that it is my understanding that there used to be a saying in the Middle East: “If two fish fight in the water, the British are behind it.”

    Other than our intellectual fifth column, America’s single greatest disadvantage in the Middle East is our lack of that kind of Imperial savvy. We lack it because we never really were an imperial power, and thus never picked up the knack for ruling large numbers of subject peoples with a minimum of troops or fuss.

    If the Palestinians let their American prisoner go because they needed our support to wrest a state from the Israelis, this is a model we might want to try and follow in the future. What else can we get them to need us for? And in perpetuity?

    Much of our weakness in the Middle East stems from the perception that we need, say… the House of Saud, or the Egyptian government, or Iranian “moderates,” a damn sight more than they need us. How can we alter that equation?

  10. On my blog (glenmarshall.livejournal.com), I posted my thoughts…

    The US is doing a shitty job at fighting terrorism. We also need to reduce structural deficits in the US budget. So I offer these modest proposals…

    1. Get rid of the TSA. Make it clear that airline employees and passengers are expected to respond to terrorism directly. Let people bring concealed firearms onto planes. That would make terrorists think a lot more before they tried to act, and would cost the US a lot less.

    2. Send all the prisoners to France. They have an opinion about what should be done, so let them put it into action.

    3. Take the oil. Don’t buy it. This will reduce energy prices and destroy an economic engine that funds terrorism.

    4. Be terrible. Respond a hundredfold to all terrorists acts, bringing painful death and destruction to their family, associates, supporters, neighbors, etc. Make it clear that the consequent costs of terrorism are very high for any gains for their agenda.

    5. Destroy the infrastructure. Scorched earth is a Good Thing. General Sherman set a fine example.

    6. Sow the desert with salt to make sure it won’t grow anything, even if irrigated. Make people dependent on importing US food.

    7. Crusade. Invite Christians and Jews who want to exterminate Islam, and let them bring it on. This will allow the US to bring home troops and save a lot of money.

    8. Rape. Make sure the next generation in the Middle East has a new genetic heritage.

    9. Genocide. The United Nations won’t do anything about it, so let’s use the chemicals and biologicals in our stockpile. That will also save the US the expense of having to destroy the stuff. It’s a real win-win: we win twice.

    10. Nuke them into submission.

    Extreme, of course, but if you don’t have the balls to do all of that, you shouldn’t be fighting the war in the first place.

  11. David, an IDF officer on the case said “Their decision to release him was because they didn’t want to deal with the hot potato otherwise known as the US.”

    It would politically complicate things more than the administration probably wants to have US forces trying to pull off search-and-destroy (or worse, *rescue*) operations in Palestinian areas, even if the technical means exist and the notion of being feared gives you an abiding hard-on.

  12. Another reason, besides cultural and historical temperament, why we don’t seek to emulate the British imperialists, is that the Empire collapsed within living memory. In particular, the British retreat from Africa and India has left a racist stain on the whole imperialist method and enterprise.

    In addition, Chamberlain’s ‘Peace in our time’ debacle was, in part an attempt to delay fighting long enough to let Hitler and Stalin destroy each other. This, too works to discredit the historically VERY effective methods the British used to keep subject peoples dependent on British goodwill.

    Another problem is that we are unable to duplicate the frankly awesome educational system that the British used to create linguistic and cultural experts able to operate effectively as British agents in foreign countries. Sadly, I don’t think the United States could, at present, produce a T. E. Lawrence, or anyone like him, to save our lives.

    Linguists we have, but not enough and none as could join Al Qaeda and make a convincing Jihadi. Pluswise, too many of our Middle East studies graduate students are anti-American Leftists. They are part of the fifth column.

  13. They didn’t fear US retaliation, they discovered that the prize in their hands wasn’t going to get them what they sought, and was screwing what their leader was trying to accomplish on the political stage.

    They couldn’t trade their US hostage for Palastinian prisoners, (Isreal wouldn’t do it) and continuing to hold him would unbalance the tripod (US, Isreal, Palastine) of control of the middle east. Far from fearing violence, the “management” over the group of kidnappers understood that they had a prize of zero value, and that the best way to repair the situation (before they lost US support) was to immediately give him back. “Our mistake, committed by underlings, who will be punished, sorry!”

    Its just that simple.

    Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the group who kidnapped Bright-Fishbein is associated with Mahamoud Abbas, and Mahmoud Abbas is openly challenging Hamas, and needs the US to back him. Abbas last weekend scheduled the referendum on a plan calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, implicitly recognizing the Jewish state. Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, opposes the referendum vote.

    If you’ll read the rest of the story, its plain that the group who kidnapped him was ordered to surrender him back (indirectly, via the Protective Service (aligned with Abbas) to the IDF:

    “In the end, I got the impression that they were in over their heads and they were going crazy talking on the phone. They clearly had no idea what they were doing. They were not organized,”

    You have to know that this translates to, “You fuck-slime, he’s American. Give him back, or we won’t be getting any more money from the Americans.”

    Moreover, any US rescue effort would have involved the IDF, who would have killed everything that moved that looked even remotely Arab.

  14. >Moreover, any US rescue effort would have involved the IDF, who would have killed everything that moved that looked even remotely Arab.

    That’s not even remotely true. The IDF is so restrained in its use of force that Palestinian children pelt troops with rocks in the sublime confidence that they will survive the experience.

  15. Adrian10,
    Energy Independence.

    Can I have a side order of cancer cure, sprinkled with those little perpetual motion machines?

    We could be a lot closer to energy independence if we could build a few more nuclear power plants. But American Leftists haven’t let any be built since the 1970’s.

    Remember my earlier post about how they demand we solve a problem they help make insoluble?

  16. Palestinian children throwing rocks is hardly a threat to life or limb. The IDF Code of Conduct requres Purity of Arms

    “The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property”

    But in a live-ammo firefight, at night, in some dark neighborhood…

  17. We could be a lot closer to energy independence if we could build a few more nuclear power plants. But American Leftists haven’t let any be built since the 1970’s.

    Could it be instead that nuclear power is a money-loosing proposition?

    Building a new nuclear plat costs a lot of money, and the roughly five-year construction period imposes additional large finance costs, delaying any potential ROI. Once the plant in constructed, the operator is saddled with a deadly coctail of high maintenance costs, high costs for “security”, and the reality that nuclear power stations are not “forever”, and thus the costs for decomissioning the plant must be accrued (and paid for out of profits once the investment capital has been paid back.)

    The path toward “energy independence” is conservation, but few in America want to hear that.

  18. Nuclear plants seem to work everywhere else…

    Here in the NW, they just *demolished* a perfectly good nuclear plant, for no reasot that I can tell.

  19. “1. Get rid of the TSA. Make it clear that airline employees and passengers are expected to respond to terrorism directly. Let people bring concealed firearms onto planes. That would make terrorists think a lot more before they tried to act, and would cost the US a lot less.”

    An interesting thought. Make the cockpit area a self-contained impenetrable fortress, and people in the back can do what they like – short of bringing explosives on board. It has a certain elegant simplicity about it.

    As for energy independance, how did Brazil accomplish it? They drew a line in the sand and said from now on make it happen. It took a decade, but they now have it. That 10 years of hard work and learning from mistakes is gone. Forever, theoretically. Now they have their goal, and need only concern themselves with tweaking it. It’s all about drawing that line in the sand and saying, “Ok, we start now.”

  20. There is a really good (one among many) here: http://www.atimes.com/front/DA26Aa04.html

    It begins: “Fifteen years ago, the United States was short vol. Now it’s long vol,” observed an acquaintance who trades options. By this he meant that the United States stood to lose from instability during the Cold War, and stands to gain from it now.

    It seems to me that one of the great strategic foreign policy goals of any nation ought to be to attain ‘long vol’ status. If you can manage affairs so that if things stay the same, your position stays the same, but if things change, you profit, you are in a good position indeed.

    Perhaps, if there is a God, then He could preserve the status quo in amber. But for those of us lacking in Divine Power, entropy always increases.

    If Bush has made one great mistake in the Iraq debacle, it is in placing us in a position where if:
    Iraq turns into a stable, free, secular, pro-America Western style democracy – we win
    Otherwise – we look like shit

    A lesson for future foreign-policy-activist Presidents: Don’t be like W. Set things up so that if all goes well, fine. But if the shit hits the fan, America comes out smelling like a rose.

    If Bush had had the presence of mind to engineer that kind of outcome in Iraq, his poll numbers, and that of Republicans generally, would be MUCH better. Future Republican hopefuls should take note. Idealism in the service of freedom and democracy is a good thing. But it does not trump the need to be able to show the electorate some success for your expensive foreign policy adventures.

    And if the world going to hell makes your policy a success, you need have little fear of failure.

  21. For every $0.10 spent to buy a single new nuclear kilowatt-hour (roughly its delivered cost, including its 2004 subsidies, according to the authoritative 2003 MIT study’s findings expressed in 2004 $) could instead have bought 1.2 to 1.7 kWh of windpower (“firmed” to be available whenever desired), 0.9 to 1.7+ kWh of gas-fired industrial or ~2.2–6.5+ kWh of building-scale cogeneration, and an infinite number of kWh from waste-heat cogeneration (since its economic cost is typically negative), or at least several, perhaps upwards of ten, kWh of electrical savings from more efficient use and conservation.

    Its also about the slowest option to deploy (in capacity or annual output added per year).

    Adding 700 nuclear GWe worldwide (roughly twice today’s nuclear capacity) and running them during 2050–2100 would:

    * add ~1,200 nuclear plants (if each lasted 40 years);
    * require 15 new enrichment plants (each 8 million SWU/y);
    * create 0.97 million tons of spent fuel, requiring 14 Yucca Mountain like areas, and containing ~1 million kg (hundreds of thousands of bombs’ worth) of plutonium…
    or
    * require 50 new reprocessing plants (each 800 TSF/y with a 40-y operating life) to extract that plutonium under, one hopes, stringent international safeguards;

    * require ~$1–2 trillion of investment

    Here in the NW, they just *demolished* a perfectly good nuclear plant, for no reasot that I can tell.

    If you’re speaking in reference to the Trojan plant in Oregon (they demoed the cooling tower in May), then it was hardly “perfectly good”.

    Trojan has been offline since 1992, when the steam turbine failed. NRC scientists produced internal documents (subseqently leaked) that declared that the plant was unsafe to operate. PG&E subsequently announced (in 1993) that they would not restart the plant.

    Trojan’s original license would have expired in 2011 anyway, likely requring decommisioning and demolition then anyway.

  22. My historical ignorance is showing here, I’m sure, but is there a good example of an instance where highly escalated retaliation against a hard-to-pin-down insurgent movement had the desired effect? Aside from sating one’s bloodlust, that is. I’m thinking of the Nazis’ razing of two Czech towns after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Churchill wanted to up the ante by murdering a greater number of German civilians, but the allied response was to stop similar assassination plans against the Nazis.

    I take it that the consensus here is that Churchill’s position should have been taken, that the Allies should have, as Hitler ordered his troops to, “wade[d] in in blood” through the captured German countryside?

    It seems axiomatic in this day and age that civilized societies don’t engage in Mongol Horde-style massacres in order to instill terror. (If they do and it’s covered up, it’s clearly not instilling terror.) My question is, has this worked in modern times? And what are the consequences for a civilization that bloodies itself in this way?

  23. “Let them hate, so long as they fear”.

    So the plan for America should be to deprive our enemies of power by instilling them with terror? There’s a word for people who do that, but it escapes me right now…

    OK, so maybe that’s a little simplistic. But it’s close enough to the truth that we need to be careful: we need to make sure that people only fear America if they have done something or plan to do something terrible to America. I think a significant amount of people living in the Middle East isn’t getting that right now – they think if you don’t agree with America, or if you don’t bow to them, eventually they will get you. Those people view us as bullies, and they may cower – or they may think like you do, Eric, and want to fight back. Next stop, terrorist training ground.

    So in the end, the short-term strategy is to neutralize the terrorist groups – but the long-term strategy has to be to convince Mr. J. Random Muslim that “ok, maybe I hate their culture, but the Americans aren’t going to interfere with me/my life/my country/my religion.” You are right in the sense that there should be a deterrent to fucking with America (fear), but that deterrent will not be enough if they percieve a threat. We can’t give them a reason to feel threatened. Declaring Islam to be evil, attacking the religion as a whole, and acknowledging a War with Islam is not the right way to go about that – but that’s just what this blog seems to advocate. But maybe I’ve gotten the wrong impression.

  24. std,
    >to convince Mr. J. Random Muslim that “ok, maybe I hate their culture, but the Americans aren’t going to interfere with me/my life/my country/my religion.”

    Dude, it gets so much worse than that. The best person to read on this is Spengler at Asia Times Online. He explains this FAR better than I can. Nonetheless, here goes.

    Islamic society is inherently fragile. It relies on Muslim women to have about 15 babies apiece (I may exaggerate a little bit) because so many of them die young because Arab medicine is a joke. Part of the reason why Arab medicine is a joke is:
    1) Only female medical personnel can treat female patients
    2) Providing education to girls is frowned upon
    3) Can you say clitorectomy?

    So basically you need for Arab women to remain illiterate because just as soon as they can read the directions on a box of birth control pills, the whole equation starts to fall apart.

    With the spread of everything from pop music, to TV, to the internet we pose a profound, existential threat to the traditional Muslim society. All of the cultural change that the Christian religion has had to endure over the last 500 years, Islam will have to endure over the next 50.

    And this would remain true even if:
    1) The West never bought one more barrel of oil
    2) The West never dropped one more bomb or set one more combat boot on Muslim land.

    There are about 6000 spoken languages in the world, mostly small aboriginal tongues in Africa, South America, or central Asia. Every week, one or two of them vanish as the last native speaker dies. There has not been a Great Extinction of the Peoples like this since the Fall of Rome.

    The English, Spanish and to a lesser extent Chinese languages are marching across the Earth, sweeping all before them. You’ll notice I didn’t include Arabic in that short list.

    If we claimed we posed no threat to them, which we have, many times, they’d have to be fucking idiots not to see through that transparent lie. And they aren’t fucking idiots.

  25. One can loathe many aspects of traditional Muslim society and still feel considerable pity for denizens of that culture.

    They are well and truly fucked. They are fucked because of us. They wish we could be destroyed because they know this and they do not want to see their culture die. I wouldn’t want to see my culture die, either. And neither would you.

    But, even if we wanted to (and I don’t), we have no capacity to unfuck them. The are not doomed because of something we can stop doing to them. The natural processes of our society unfolding, processes which we cannot stop and remain ourselves, are terminally corrosive to the traditional Muslim way of life.

    They must destroy us or die.

    I can simultaneously want for them to NOT destroy us, and still feel very, very sorry for them.

  26. If we claimed we posed no threat to them, which we have, many times, they’d have to be fucking idiots not to see through that transparent lie. And they aren’t fucking idiots.

    I mean a threat as a soverign nation, not a threat as a foreign culture. You’re absolutely right that our culture does present a threat to them – but there’s zero solution for this beyond wiping out one or the other. The problem is that not only does our culture threaten them, but so do our soldiers and bombs. Add these two together, and it looks like America is actively trying to force its culture the same way esr and others on this blog percieve all of Islam (not just the radicals, who are). If our culture spreads, it should be because some of their own kind have taken it in, rather than it being forced upon them. The ideal situation (of course impossible to reach) is one where when an extreme Islamist commits an act of violence against the United States, and cannot point to self-defense because we were invited in. That’s the key – we need to be like vampires! We should at least be invited in before we sink our oil drills right into their petroleum juglar.

    This is all about politics in a foreign country – and we ain’t gonna get no votes if our platform is “Destroy Islam.”

  27. Whether they invite us in or whether they don’t, in the long run they are going to vanish like tears in rain and they know it.

    I don’t think we will have too much success getting them to vote for us, no matter what we say or do.

  28. Energy Independance.

    Two things will do this for us.

    The first is solar power satellites, assuming we can make that first step towards cheap launch capacity.

    The second is using superconductors for power transmission lines, which we could actually do now (albeit at a stupendous up front cost). Roughtly 60-75% of the total electricity generated in the US is lost due to power line impedance heating. (This is what makes cogeneration so appealing.)

    One interesting concept for superconducting lines is to embed them in the pipes needed to move liquid hydrogen around as a fuel for vehicular transport…

    While this is (in many ways) “pie in the sky”, I’ve worked on enough patents for exactly these two technologies to say that it’s possible – it won’t be cheap, but it’s possible.

    I want to be in a situation where we’ve shot the bottom out of the oil market, because we’re exporting liquid hydrogen to the rest of the world, using solar power satellite generated power to desalinate and crack seawater.

    And, hey, as long as I’m dreaming, can we also shift to the alternate universe where Kirsten Dunst is a cute redheaded math geek into game designers? :)

  29. I don’t think we will have too much success getting them to vote for us, no matter what we say or do.

    But if our culture truly is that powerful, it will be because people over there adopt it. Those people that do adopt it will be voting for us. But as it stands now, they are wary of our intentions.

    I think the basic idea is this: it’s a lot harder to lash out at Americans when they are miles and miles away, and your own kids are the ones bringing their culture in. You can try and blow up a big American momument, but that’s not going to get your kids to stop thinking about American music, or crazy ideas like letting women read. All the Americans are doing is existing, and you need a much larger amount of insanity, much higher than I think most terrorists possess, to think that you can stop that. On the other hand, if America is getting in your/your country’s face, it is much more rational to think that a terrorist strike will get them out of it.

  30. The first is solar power satellites, assuming we can make that first step towards cheap launch capacity.

    Given that all the current electricity needs for the US could be met with a 100 mile x 100 mile solar array (at today’s commodity panel efficiencies), why do we need to move the panels into space?

    There is also the “small” problem of getting the power back to where its needed. Solvable, but problematic.

    The second is using superconductors for power transmission lines, which we could actually do now (albeit at a stupendous up front cost). Roughtly 60-75% of the total electricity generated in the US is lost due to power line impedance heating. (This is what makes cogeneration so appealing.)

    Its also what makes distributed PV/wind generate so appealing. Want to reduce transmisison losses? Get rid of the transmission lines, locate smaller plants in each neighborhood or on each rooftop.

    One interesting concept for superconducting lines is to embed them in the pipes needed to move liquid hydrogen around as a fuel for vehicular transport…

    You’ll need to explain how you’ve solved the problem of the liquid hydrogen boiling. (BP −423.188 °F @ standard atmospheric pressure). I suppose you can try to keep it under extreme pressure and insulate the lines, but that seems critically hard.

    Also, in order to cool the hydrogen down, energy equalling 30-40% of that in the fuel is required, subject to some new process being discovered.

    Kirsten Dunst is a cute redheaded math geek into game designers

    Keep dreaming… :-)

  31. Jim Thompson,

    Dude, if you want to be a downer on techno-power, that’s one thing. But don’t try to take away a man’s Kirsten Dunst fantasies. That’s just not cool.

    Not cool at all.

  32. Trojan has been offline since 1992, when the steam turbine failed. NRC scientists produced internal documents (subseqently leaked) that declared that the plant was unsafe to operate. PG&E subsequently announced (in 1993) that they would not restart the plant.

    I said ‘that I can tell’. None of this was in the papers, then or now, and I couldn’t find any info on it when I looked.

  33. Can I have a side order of cancer cure, sprinkled with those little perpetual motion machines?

    Did say it was going to be a long road. The alternative is the enjoyment of continuing to mix it up with Islam.

    We could be a lot closer to energy independence if we could build a few more nuclear power plants. But American Leftists haven’t let any be built since the 1970’s.

    Are you *still* blaming the hippies for this? Since Carter (oddly, a qualified nuclear engineer) my calculations show *four and a half* Republican administrations (not to mention Gingrich’s not-very-eco-friendly tenure under Clinton), one might think enough time for suitable legislation to be put in place, or removed, or whatever. But NOOOooo, the hippies have POISONED THE WELL, and we are POWERLESS IN THE FACE OF THEIR MIGHT.

    Please. What it is. The corporations who are supposed to build the things are leery of the risks involved versus the profits to be made, and are waiting for the government to basically say OK, the taxpayer will underwrite EVERYTHING, PLEASE build some! Also, nobody wants to live anywhere near them, which might admittedly be traceable to hippy dissembling. But there are some cool new designs which look promising.

  34. Dean: The article on Hama says that “never again have Muslim extremists threatened the Syrian government”, according to Thomas Friedman. So, yeah. Huh; I’d always thought Hama was something for Arabs to try as hard as possible to ignore while throwing rocks at the Israelis for each dead terrorist…

  35. I said ‘that I can tell’. None of this was in the papers, then or now, and I couldn’t find any info on it when I looked.

    Here are a few links for you to read.

    http://egov.oregon.gov/ENERGY/SITING/trojan.shtml
    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/decommissioning.html
    http://www.nucleartourist.com/systems/rv_trip.htm
    http://www.nucleartourist.com/us/pnw_plants.htm

    But there are some cool new designs which look promising.

    Such as Carlo Ruben’s ‘energy amplifier’? (Nearly all Thorium reactors are based on the same principle.)

    Oh yeah, ESR once called “peak oil collapse” bullshit.

    The peak-oil collapse scenario is not credible for five minutes to anybody who understands market economics.

    There are so many mutually-reinforcing idiocies here that it’s hard to know where to start. As I was thinking of writing about this, one of my commenters pointed out that above $32 per barrel it becomes economical to build Fischer-Tropsch plants and make your oil out of coal. This is old tech; the Germans did it during WWI. At slightly higher price points, MHD generators to burn garbage start to look good.

    If we were (as a society) determined to switch from crude oil to syngas via coal indirect-liquefaction plants, each with an output of 100,000 barrels of synthetic crude oil per day, it would take us approximately 4-5 years (per plant) to build out the necessary plants (and infrastructure for getting the coal to the plants). Current projected prices for building such plants are above $33,000 per bbl per day.

    It would also mean that were the U.S. to replace all its current net crude oil imports of 9.65 million b/d with synthetic crude produced from coal liquefaction it would require about 97 such facilities.

    For those of you following, thats 320 billion USD of capital that has to be paid back to the investors, and they’re not going to want to wait very long, since they’re waiting 4-5 years before the first drop of product is sold.

    Note also that we have to endure price rises in the petroleum market for more than the 4-5 years for construction, unless all the plants are built simultaneously. It may be worthwhile to remember that until the March 28, 2000 adoption of the $22-$28 price band for the OPEC basket of crude, oil prices only exceeded $23.00 per barrel (in adjusted 2005 dollars) in response to war or conflict in the Middle East. You may wish to explore the ‘why’ implicit in this statement.

    More damning, recent work by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that full fuel cycle greenhouse gas emissions for coal-based synfuels are nearly twice as high as their petroleum-based equivalent. Until we have an effective carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and sequestration process, building and operating these plants will not only violate treaties, but will do immense harm to the environment.

    MHD generators have the potential to be even more toxic.

    Anyway, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says different on the subject of “peak oil”.

    Petroleum reserves are limited. Petroleum is not a renewable resource and production cannot continue to increase indefinitely. A day of reckoning will come sometime in the future. The point at which production can no longer keep up with increasing demand will mean a radical and painful readjustment globally to everyday life.

    In spite of that indisputable fact, people behave as if the global petroleum supply is unending. Predictions of the exhaustion of oil reserves seem to have lost all credibility. The public assumes that inexpensive oil will be available essentially forever. The idea that petroleum resources are finite and that petroleum production might peak in the near future seems to have vanished from all discussions of energy policy in Congress, in the press, and even among public interest groups.

    This surreal situation is due to several factors. One, certainly, is that pessimists have cried wolf too often. Forecasts of imminent shortages of oil, food, and other natural resources are confounded by the enormous display of material goods that envelops consumers in the West. For most people, the market price of any commodity is what signals shortage or plenty. Time and again, collapsing oil prices have succeeded rising oil prices, leading to the belief that oil will always become cheap again. That oil supplies are currently abundant and inexpensive and have been for nearly 20 years, and that the models used to predict peak oil production are not easy to understand, appear to ignore economic factors, and are based on proprietary data, explain to some degree the present feeling of permanent abundance.

    In reality, the differential between petroleum production cost and market price is so large that market price cannot be used as a measure of resource depletion. For example, the variation in the average price of oil between 1998 ($10 per barrel) and 2000 ($24 per barrel) had nothing to do with depletion of reserves and everything to do with an attempt to exercise “market discipline” by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

    But the most important reason there seems to be an unending supply of oil is the activity of non-OPEC producers. Oil production is immensely lucrative. Large amounts of petroleum have been and will continue to be produced outside the Middle East at costs that are very low, $5-$10 per barrel, compared to the desired OPEC price range of $22-$28 per barrel. The opportunity to realize extraordinary profits provides irresistible pressure to produce as much oil as possible, as soon as possible.

    Yet oil is a finite resource, and there are only so many places to look for it. Sooner or later petroleum production will decline, so sooner or later the prophets of depletion will be correct. The question then becomes: Can a peak oil forecast be made that is useful to the petroleum industry and to consumers, one that will alert them to the problems and allow for a redeployment of resources?

  36. Reading the post, which is so full of hatred for Muslims, and full of self-pride of being I-am-a-non-Muslim-and-only-non-Muslims-are-allowed-to-live, and also half of the comments suggesting things like “Nuke them”, “take oil” and blah blah, the only thing that comes to my mind is that it is totally useless to expect peace from you guys(hmmm, I must say there are a few sane people too, though). The only way Muslims have is to rise again, gain technological supremacy, and make the cruel fear, again (as they used to do in the caliphate age).

  37. 100 mile x 100 mile solar arrays and desalination plants are:

    1. Too, too tempting terrorist targets, and

    2. Massively centralised single points of failure.

    If the government wants to piss money up against the wall, have them install – free of charge – solar collectors on every single residence with a net surplus capacity, and sufficient underground residential rainwater tanks to eliminate the need for mains water. Now instead of having a handful of electricity production points with the potential to affect millions if they fail or are sabotaged, you have millions of electricity production points scattered uniformly across the country.

    Unfortunately, politicians seem to be uncontrollably attracted to large, shiny white elephants.

  38. 100 mile x 100 mile solar arrays and desalination plants are:

    1. Too, too tempting terrorist targets, and

    No way. Desalination plants are a lot less flammable than oil refineries, and those haven’t proved too vulnerable yet. And you’d need (a bunch of) nukes to make any impression on something 100 miles by 100 miles. No, for true terrorist temptation nothing beats a space elevator.

  39. “Desalination plants are a lot less flammable than oil refineries, and those haven’t proved too vulnerable yet. And you’d need (a bunch of) nukes to make any impression on something 100 miles by 100 miles.”

    That’s the difference between terrorists/guerillas and Americans. All you need to disable these are three guys and some wirecutters. They walk along going snip, snip snip until the security guards take them down. Then it takes technicians a week to work out what the hell they cut. Technology is our achilles heel.

    But I can take a very good guess at why refineries haven’t been targeted. If the terrorists blow up refineries in the west, the west has less refining capacity and buys less oil from the Saudis. And if the Saudis have less money, the terrorists don’t get paid.

  40. “I wasn’t proposing that a 100 mile x 100 mile solar array be built. You would certainly want to distribute it.”

    And the reason you couldn’t distribute it over residential roofspace is…?

  41. BTW, there was an article in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune about how many planned wind farms in Minnesota are being indefinitely delayed because of a controversy over one back East – and some may be rendered economically infeasible because of it.

    As for nuclear power, how much fo the cost is due to artifical regulations that seem designed to do nothing so much as make it too expensive to run nuclear plants? As others poited out, they work elsewhere in the world…

  42. Robert Godwin has a review of Shelby Steele’s book “White Guilt.” I just started reading it and am only 1/4 the way through so can’t particularly offer a review as yet, but Godwin’s review prompted me to buy the book. He writes:

    Steele notes that the exploitation of white guilt leads to a perversion of character, wherein the victim can elevate himself above the guilty oppressor, thus creating “an empowering feeling of license.”

    I think Steele’s ideas can to some extent be applied to understanding the issue of Islam vs the World. I would say, in this context, the effects from four decades of politically correct indoctrination have had a greater hand in the “perversion of character” of how the West, America in particular, perceives itself on the global stage. Terrorists step on us because 1) they realize they can and 2) a sizable portion of society actually wants them to step on us.

  43. Pre-claimer: I’m more outspoken on Islamic terror and fundamentalism than will one day be good for me (I have to suspect, I live in Europe).

    Still, given how much more the US meddle in middle-eastern affairs, and for how much longer, than terrorists have ever meddled with the US – especially on US soil! – I really miss proper capitalisation in the unintentionally hilarious phrase “bush-league terrorist”. In the end, you assign different intrinsic value to different innocent civilians based on cultural origin, and that’s deeply collectivist.

    To clarify: As much as I support the vilification of one side on part of ESR (they truly are vile), he simply is objectively un-libertarian, given how much he supports foreign intervention and the necessary increase of the national security and warfare state.

    So, dear ESR, state whatever you want, but give your intelligence the honour it deserves and stop both sailing under false flag as a “libertarian” and thinking with all the cool neutrality of a talking-head style pundit. Note that I didn’t call for “moral relativism” or “neutrality in action”, but a certain neutrality in observation and description would serve you well. This is plain punditry.

  44. GPE,
    Shelby Steele is one of the most important intellectuals we have in the West, precisely because of his work in this area.

    And yes, I am aware that for all of my bashing of intellectuals, to a degree we depend on intellectuals like Steele to clean up the messes that other intellectuals have made.

    This simply doesn’t seem to be something the ordinary schmucks can do for themselves. The dumbfucks out in flyover land can make the machinery work. But they can’t create an overall philosophical framework for deciding whether or not the machinery is GOOD.

    Last night I suggested we do more to make the Muslim world dependent on us. Today, I note morbidly that we, the land of the schmucks, are in some ways dependent on the goodwill of an educated elite to some degree inherently hostile to our interests.

    This is not a good position to be in, and when I suggested we try to put the Arabs in it, I was not being kind.

  45. Er, last I checked, our glorious Republican leaders were not exactly talking like Roman Emperors. For a while they were, up until about Afghanistan, where we cold-bloodedly did the right thing for our country’s interests. And then somehow we got bogged down in Iraq, and now all of a sudden we care about building freedom and democracy in other countries. (Somehow I think I missed the memo about *why* we care about this.)

    In terms of creating and dissuading terrorists, a bunch of points have already been made about why Palestinians are in a very different situation than Iraqis. But also, it almost has to go both ways. When we blow Zarqawi away, some people probably watched and said, “DAMN THE INFIDELS, LETS GET THEM!” while others said (probably to themselves) “Shit, man, I don’t want to end up like THAT.” It’s not like an either-or proposition.

  46. “The natural processes of our society unfolding, processes which we cannot stop and remain ourselves, are terminally corrosive to the traditional Muslim way of life.”

    I can’t accept this. See, there are people all over the world who think something called new American culture – however undefined it is – is destroying their traditional way of living. There are even some of this type in America, like Buchanan or Perot. Still, what we generally see is that most people don’t give a damn about it, others do give, but battle the influence in normal, humane, democratic ways, like the law in France that one day of the week all TV stations must broadcast only national films. Being afraid of a cultural influence is no excuse to blow people up, simply because nobody else is doing it.

    Furthermore, artificially preserving a culture is rarely successful. A great example is what happening in Bhutan. It’s a small, feudal Buddhist country, where the king really tries to preserve the traditions with banning radios and Western clothes and so on. The only thing he achieved is that the traditions lost their content there and are only a rigid outer frame now, without any meaning. Meanwhile, we have an amazingly lively Buddhist culture here in Central, Northern and Western Europes, when five thousands attend to course and are all clever and understanding what’s going on, they are chatting about Nagarjuna’s philosophy with the same familiarity as others chat about Kant, while most Bhutanese have completely no idea who Nagarjuna was. And now what’s happening is that we send teachers from Germany to help people rediscover that content, that meaning that disapperad from their culture, and put the flesh back to the rigid bones.
    Meanwhile, for every Buddhist in Europe there are a hundred new-born Christians in India, it seems the Church is surprisingly successful there. So what’s actually happening is cultures exchanging in a free competition typically find their right places. Artificial preservation never worked.

    I think a lot of Arabs would like to live the way you do. Others will grudgingly accept that the previous ones must have their right to choose, as soon as the militant ones are taken down. Still others will preserve their way of living because they choose to, as we did in Transylvanian villages, and will learn to mind their own business.

  47. GPE & Dean,

    it’s interesting how we have similar problems half a planet away: replace “black” with “gypsy”, and you got an exact replica of what’s goin’ on in America here in Eastern Europe: the situation, the problems, the racist’s ideas, the liberal’s ideas, and the clever guys ideas like this Shelby, and so on. Moreover, you could substitute it with “arab” and you would get Western Europe, you could substitute “bedouin” and you would get Arab countries, and so on.

    The basic pattern is the following. There is a school, where the strong schoolboys terrorize the weak ones: beat’em up, take away their food, humiliate them and so on. Later on, the school gets some strong liberal teachers who put things in order: punish the most aggressive strong boys, therefore the other strong boys learn to behave and everything seems to be in order. For a while. But later on, some weak boys get the idea that it’s their time to strike back, and besides, to profit from the situation, and tell the strong boys “Now, YOU give me your food or I’l tell the teacher you bullied me! And clean my shoes. You don’t want to be punished by the teacher, do you?” And then we have the problem we generally have now with racism, anti-racism and liberalism.

    Sadly, I don’t think there is an easy solution. Maybe it sound weirds, but the best idea I could come up with is to allow the strong boys to slightly oppress the weak boys, only punish those who go over the line too much. Not a very good idea, but I have no better.

    Have you read The Redneck Manifesto? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684838648/sr=8-1/qid=1150239678/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-7961509-3747122?%5Fencoding=UTF8

  48. Shenpen,
    >I think a lot of Arabs would like to live the way you do.

    Observe that Mohammed Atta and the other 911 hijackers, Richard Reid, the attempted shoe bomber, as well as Osama himself are not ignorant people. They are not angry with or frightened of a West they do not understand. They are all very familiar with our way of life, it charms, pleasures and benefits.

    But the young Muslim man is in an odd position in Europe or the States. He is in the West but not of it. None of his people ever invented the microwave oven, or the polio vaccine, or the transistor, or anything like that.

    Islam is supposed to be the final revelation of the Abrahamic tradition, God’s ultimate plan for the universe. And Muslims are supposed to be God’s new chosen people, elevated above all others, clearly superior. But them Jews in Israel got themselves a lively and profitable programming industry, and when’s the last time you heard of any Arab software that wasn’t just a copycat of the West?

    It is one thing to come to the West from animist or Christian Africa, realize that you are the bumpkin in the big city, that you have a steep learning curve to climb, and you’d best get after it.

    But as a Muslim, you aren’t supposed to have to learn anything from the Infidel, he is supposed to be inferior to you. If the Infidel had maybe one or two tricks up his sleeve that you could stand to pick up on, that would be one thing. But the God-damned Infidel has created an entire world of wizardry and original thought which your Islamic culture not only did not create, but COULD NOT have.

    That is one very bitter pill to swallow. And many a young Muslim man has felt compelled to vomit it back up. Not all of them become terrorists, but there is one other profound observation to consider.

    Explanations. You can find Western Infidels like me, who attempt to describe the psychology of the Jihadi as well as we can. But looking into Islam itself you will observe a curious thing. Virtually every Muslim intellectual who has attempted to write an apologia or explanation of the Jihadi grievances against the West has subsequently been indicted for helping the terrorists in some way. It is apparently not possible (or at least very difficult) for any Muslim to consider the Jihadi argument closely, but with dispassion.

    I don’t think Islam is like Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity. Those other religious traditions can bend in the face of the winds of change. Islam will probably break.

    I say this not to excuse terrorist murderers. I have no sympathy for Jihadis, and I want them all to die. But there are reasons for their murderous passions. Reasons we cannot simply explain away.

  49. And yes, I am aware that for all of my bashing of intellectuals, to a degree we depend on intellectuals like Steele to clean up the messes that other intellectuals have made.

    So basically you are for intellectuals that you agree with, and think we should boot those out that you don’t agree with.

    I’m confused as to what you mean by machinery. Are you saying that non-costal institutions have a poor method of research and academic discussion? What area are you even talking about? Your comment seems to be very out of context, or maybe I am behind in the conversation.

    Secondly, I’m interested in knowing what areas you think we are and are not dependent upon the “educated elite” (or in my mind, the people specializing in certain fields).

  50. Islam gave us the mathematical concept of zero, which constitutes half of the binary code on which our society’s technical wizardry is built. Algorithms are also an islamic invention. Any software engineer will testify to the importance of algorithms in western society.

    What more do they want? A medal? If muslims want to be superior to the west, they might want to stop banning our books and perhaps consider picking one up and reading it. Know thy enemy, I believe is the phrase.

  51. std,
    >Your comment seems to be very out of context, or maybe I am behind in the conversation.

    So sorry. In Eric’s post before last named Massive Intelligence Raids Follow Zarqawi’s Death I yammered a lot in
    the comment section about, as you say, the eeeeevil of pointy-heads I don’t like. I do that a lot. I clearly have issues. Once again, mia culpa.

  52. And the reason you couldn’t distribute it over residential roofspace is…?

    None offered. Its the semi-obvious optimal solution.

    There are 27,878,400,000 ft^2 in a 100 mile^2 array.

    HUD says there are over 60 million single-family homes in the US (using data from the 2000 census.) You obviously come up a little short if you only use single-family homes (you need an average of 4646 ft^2 of solar array on each home, and this exceeds the roof area of your average house.)

    If you include MDUs (apartments, condos, etc) you can probably reach the goal. Including commercial real-estate roofs, then you definitely can reach the goal.

    If we stick with commodity solar panels (like the BP-SX170B) then each has a surface area of approximately 13.5 ft^2, so you’ll need 205 million of them to build out a distributed residential array. These panels are approximately $1,000 each (at retail), so, assuming that the government selected 1 million “solar roofs”, and provided an array for each, (paying 50% of retail (still high) for the panels, and the other 50% for the inverter(s), wiring and installation, the total investment, we’d see a total investment of $205 billion.

    This is $115 billion less than the direct costs (to the US alone) of the Iraq war thusfar.

    Our engagement in Afghanistan has cost another $66 billion (thus far).

    In reality, the direct costs of a million solar roofs would be much lower, since I haven’t factored out transmission line losses, “spinning losses” from all-but-idle generators, spiraling fuel costs, and the simple fact that the “owners” of these roofs might be able to sell any excess power back to the grid (though they should probably first pay back whatever program facilitated the install).

    Never mind the direct and indirect benefits to society of an abundance of very inexpensive electricity, the R&D that would undoubtedly be driven by such an endeavor, the cleaner air, etc.

    But no, we have to let hate and greed rule us.

    Peace

  53. “Never mind the direct and indirect benefits to society of an abundance of very inexpensive electricity, the R&D that would undoubtedly be driven by such an endeavor, the cleaner air, etc.”

    It’s impossible to put too high a price on R&D. A good example was when I visited my cousin in Germany and he was excitedly showing and explaining the magnificent wind turbines they have there. I asked how long it took for one of these turbines to pay for itself. His response was that this current generation of turbines would never recoup expenses over their lifespans. But what the building of them *did* allow was the experience for the scientists to make the next generation profitable.

    Would anyone dare to guess how many unintended beneficial discoveries would be made during the installation of one million residential solar arrays?

  54. Jason Posavec,
    >Islam gave us the mathematical concept of zero, which constitutes half of the binary code on which our society’s technical wizardry is built. Algorithms are also an islamic invention.

    My wife, who was born in Bombay, tells me you are mistaken. The Arabs got the zero and algebra from India. The Hindus invented that stuff.

  55. > My wife, who was born in Bombay, tells me you are mistaken.

    Then she is wrong. The Babylonians had a zero long before the Hindus.

  56. >Islam gave us the mathematical concept of zero, which constitutes half of the binary code on which our society’s technical wizardry is built.

    Jason,

    The zero is dated much eariler, have a look on wikipedia for “0 (number)”.
    from what i can glean the myans or hindus have saved us from total
    barbarity of thought around 4 B.C.

    I should read up on Algorithms Ada Lovelace is a babe!
    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace

  57. Ada Lovelace: arguably the first hacker and also hot! Too bad her doctors bled her to death. They would have gotten away with it in the 21st century without Open Source.

  58. ESR, America needs a way to fight the Islamists on an *ideological* level, not a purely military one. (Or memetic level if you prefer that term.) The history of religion is that when a religion gets attacked and persecuted, it tends to make the religion *grow* not shrink. Won’t killing terrorists just make them “martyrs” and make more terrorists? The problem as I see it is that the US, and the West in general, has no answer to Islam. We have no answer to the Islamic *belief*system* and it is the belief system that creates terrorists. If we can’t convince people to abandon Islam there will always be more terrorists, no matter how many the US kills, don’t you agree?

  59. wayne,
    >We have no answer to the Islamic *belief*system*

    Precisely which belief system are you referring to? If you mean the proposition that there is a God who makes moral demands on you and will send you to Heaven or Hell depending on the alacrity with which you meet those demands, of course we have a refutation to it. Just watch the next George Carlin comedy special on HBO. Eric also has a few choice things to say about God and religious faith, right here on this very blog.

    If you mean bin Laden’s allegation that the West has grown decadent and weak, that our wizard weapons are a thing to be feared, but that we ourselves have no stomach for war, that we are rich and comfortable and unwilling to sacrifice or risk anything that might disrupt that comfort, that we are no longer MEN, how would you go about refuting that?

    The essence of the Jihadi argument about us is that we have turned away from God in our pursuit of individual freedom and material wealth, and that the wealth and freedom has turned us into a bunch of pussies.

    Further, that God’s displeasure with us can be inferred from our cowardice as follows: If God wanted us to survive, if we were pleasing to Him, He would give us manly courage with which to identify, face and dispatch our enemies. Since He has made most of us into wimps, one can logically infer that He must want us to die. Quad erat demonstrandum.

    One cannot separate our military conflict with Islam from our ideological one. Ultimately, they are one.

  60. “The zero is dated much eariler, have a look on wikipedia for “0 (number)”.
    from what i can glean the myans or hindus have saved us from total
    barbarity of thought around 4 B.C.”

    In that case I stand corrected. Islam has given nothing to the West. (as opposed to zero). Maybe Dean is onto something, then.

  61. “I say this not to excuse terrorist murderers. I have no sympathy for Jihadis, and I want them all to die. But there are reasons for their murderous passions. Reasons we cannot simply explain away.”

    Asking “why” is the most effective – and most difficult, thus least used – methods of combating a problem. Just like the war on drugs is being waged by targetting the financiers instead of asking WHY so many youths and unemployed are taking them; the war on terror focusses entirely on targetting the financiers and other media-friendly bigwigs, instead of asking WHY an otherwise normal, average muslim would happily give his life away to harm people he’s never met.

    I wonder what the result in Iraq would have been if hot on the tails of the invasion spearhead were thousands of U.S. financed civil construction companies sealing roads, laying water pipes, building cheap modern housing, markets, and mosques. Would the average Iraqi in the street still hate the West, or would he be thinking, “Wow, that’s a fine looking Mosque they’ve built for my family to worship in. And conveniently across the street from a halal McDonalds as well! America be praised!”

  62. Actually, even though the concept of zero was invented much earlier, it was the islamic mathematicians and intellectuals that adopted it and (along with a boatload of greek knowledge the west had lost during the dark ages) brought it back with them to Europe.

    So you’re all more or less right.

  63. “Actually, even though the concept of zero was invented much earlier”

    Then what’s all this rubbish about us having a legacy of centuries starting at xx01 because Dionysius and Pope Gregory weren’t aware of the concept of zero when they invented the Gregorian calendar?

  64. Jason Posavec,
    >the result in Iraq would have been if hot on the tails of the invasion spearhead were thousands of U.S. financed civil construction companies sealing roads, laying water pipes, building cheap modern housing, markets, and mosques

    Your heart is clearly in the right place, but if you think we could ever get good results in a Muslim country by going in and building things for them that they could not build for themselves, that they would receive these things with gratitude rather than humiliation, then I have to suggest you go back to Psych 101.

    “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
    Mark Twain

  65. Beats me. There’s the legend that Columbus had his proposal rejected because people thought the earth was flat… It’s false, it was rejected because his calculations for distance and time of travel were dead wrong. If America hadn’t been where it is, they’d have had to go back halfway to the real “Indies”.

    The calendar was probably started at 1 because it’s more natural to count from 1 than to count from 0, even though it lead to the stupidity of having Jesus born before year 1.

  66. Jason wrote:

    I wonder what the result in Iraq would have been if hot on the tails of the invasion spearhead were thousands of U.S. financed civil construction companies sealing roads, laying water pipes, building cheap modern housing, markets, and mosques. Would the average Iraqi in the street still hate the West, or would he be thinking, “Wow, that’s a fine looking Mosque they’ve built for my family to worship in. And conveniently across the street from a halal McDonalds as well! America be praised!”

    Jason, much of what you describe has, in fact, happened, though it’s not US civil construction companies. It’s the US Army Corps of Engineers, financing a lot of Iraqi construction companies, often with manpower from US soldiers thrown in when the number of trained Iraqi construction workers in a region falls short.

    The number of commercial buildings with wiring, plumbing and telephony service has roughly doubled since Saddam Hussein’s reign.

    The number of elementary schools has quadrupled, and the number of “middle schools” has grown by 50%.

    The biggest problems right now in Iraqi rebuilding are terrorist attacks from Sunnis on Shia, and the problem of people dismantling things like cell phone towers for the wiring to make chicken coops in rural areas.

    Of course, this reconstruction effort never actually gets reported…just like the fact that most of the terrorist attacks in Iraq happen in areas where it’s easy to get a Western film crew to video tape it, and how most terrorist attacks happen against other Iraqis, because the American Coward Troops are too difficult to get at, and too relentless when they’re let off their leash.

    There are many Iraqis who, having seen our capabilities at Sadr City and Fallujah, wonder why we don’t just go into areas where insurgents are known to hide out, and kill every man between the ages of 13 and 40 there to “solve the problem once and for all” – it is, after all, what THEY would do with that capability.

  67. If you do something for a child, which he couldn’t do for himself, and he might well be grateful, for about 3 seconds before he goes off to play.

    But a grown man, who has religious convictions that he is supposed to be your superior in every important respect? That’s not gonna go over too well.

    If we could get the Islamic world to like us by giving them shit, then how come all the Muslims we saved from the slaughter in Bosnia don’t count for anything? Or our help pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan? Or how about the biggest gimme of all: making billionaires out of oil sheiks who could never have found, drilled, pumped, piped, and certainly not refined any of that black goop without the industrial West to, well basically, do it for them.

    Why aren’t they grateful? Dude, human nature doesn’t do that.

  68. Your heart is clearly in the right place, but if you think we could ever get good results in a Muslim country by going in and building things for them that they could not build for themselves, that they would receive these things with gratitude rather than humiliation, then I have to suggest you go back to Psych 101.

    This is more a characteristic of males than of Muslims – I remember reading about a whole bunch of aid programs in Africa which were subtly sabotaged by the guys, who found receiving it to be humiliating and girly. Directing it squarely towards women as much as possible is often a better proposition, as it doesn’t existentially piss them off nearly as much.

    The Iraqis have plenty of qualified engineers. Do you think Halliburton took pains to employ them? Some of them have been having a rather surreal time watching how much money has been just *squandered* out there.

  69. On techno-power:

    Those same solar arrays in orbit will generate twice the power per 24 hour period is one reason to put them there.

    Transmission losses on microwave beaming transmission over ground stations are at about 15-25% in some frequency bands, per patents that I was reviewing a decade ago. You just don’t want to be IN that beam path; what we don’t know (yet) is how much attenuation losses for 500 km long beam paths are.

    Making the hydrogen liquid is, indeed, a problem. On the other hand, spending 40% of the energy in the fuel to liquify it is nothing compared to the roughly 150% of the energy in the fuel needed to desalinate and crack seawater.

    The only way hydrogen as a fuel makes sense is if we’re generating so much additional electrical capacity compared to our actual use that we can afford to store it in liquified hydrogen. Replace “liquid hydrogen” with “thermally depolymerized organics” and maybe it works better.

    On the other hand, since we already have high temperature superconductors that merely need cryogenic temps, using the right of ways needed for cryogenic hydrogen lines to also run superconducting power lines…

    Well, hey, a man can dream.

    (Exuent obligatory Kirsten Dunst reference….)

  70. If we could get the Islamic world to like us by giving them shit, then how come all the Muslims we saved from the slaughter in Bosnia don’t count for anything?

    Well, *they* probably like us. Expecting every Muslim under the sun to do so as well is probably a little optimistic.

    Or our help pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan?

    ISTR we kind of lost interest in them after the Soviets left.

    Or how about the biggest gimme of all: making billionaires out of oil sheiks who could never have found, drilled, pumped, piped, and certainly not refined any of that black goop without the industrial West to, well basically, do it for them.

    They probably have ways of estimating how much of our own development was made possible by decades of cheap energy as well. Trying to pass it off as a huge act of selflessness on our part isn’t going to be hugely convincing.

  71. Ken, who’s paying for all that wonderful stuff? Because if Halliburton is going to present their bills to the Iraqi government at market prices, I don’t think it’s so altruistic after all.

  72. I very much doubt that many here will view this, but I’ll offer it up anyway.

    http://www.archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares

    Three part BBC series which explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today.

    From the introduction to Part 1:

    “Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives] were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.”

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Nightmares

  73. adrian10,
    >Directing it squarely towards women as much as possible is often a better proposition

    There is some truth to what you say. A woman’s pride is stung FAR less than a man’s upon the receipt of free shit. There is a downside to that approach, as well.

    One of the greatest home grown tragedies in my country started in the 1960s when the government decided to hand out checks, in perpetuity, to poor black women who had children, on the condition that they were not married and never got married.

    Of course, this did little for the public image of inner-city black women, but the real horror is what it did to the men. They became unnecessary in their own communities, except as sperm donors.

    They had little to do, except get high and get money, through nefarious means, to keep getting high. After all, what else were they needed for? Uncle Sam looked after their bitches and their brats.

    I have read that something like half of all black men in America between the ages of 15 and 35 are either in jail or on probation.

    Free shit always has a cost. It is frequently advocated by the well-meaning, to relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable. But after the advocates have gone home, feeling smug and self satisfied, the most vulnerable often learn whole new ways to suffer.

    Is there any fate that a man can endure that is worse than becoming superfluous?

  74. adrian10,
    >Trying to pass it off as a huge act of selflessness on our part isn’t going to be hugely convincing.

    Dude, are you being deliberately obtuse just to mess with me? Not that I probably don’t deserve it, but still.

    The issue is not whether we were engaging in perfectly selfless Christian charity. It is that they couldn’t have pulled up that oil on their own, for any motive in the human pantheon.

    What difference does it make WHY we did it? The point is that that their religion tells them that they are supposed to be able to do things that we can’t. Not the other way around.

  75. Jim Thompson,
    >Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives]…created today’s nightmare

    Yeah, yeah. People like me are just as bad as bin Laden. A pox on both our houses. Lefties like you are morally and intellectually superior. Let us all bow down before your brilliance and saintliness.

    I think I may have heard that argument before, maybe once or twice.

  76. Quite so. And I stand corrected. To paraphrase the NRA:
    Communists don’t kill people. Famines, purges and slave labor camps kill people.

  77. adrian and Jim,
    I don’t mean to insult you personally. And I’m pretty sure I have yammered on about this topic before, somewhere on Eric’s blog. But I’m too lazy to dig it out so I’ll just repeat myself like I always do.

    Do you ever think about what it must have been like to be a secular intellectual at the dawn of the 20th century? Other than a few minor peccadilloes during the French Revolution, people like us had never really killed anybody, nor had we been apologists for those who did.

    All the horrors of say, the Reformation or the Inquisition, we could blame on the priests, the religious intellectuals. Not people like us. Nosiree, bob.

    Because of our superior education and eloquence, and the common people’s willingness to ASSUME that we were good people because we talked a good game, we had the people’s respect and, in every moral question, we were given the benefit of the doubt.

    Whether you will ever admit it or not, and I strongly suspect that you won’t, you Lefties fucked us all. Now, when the common people look at us, when we start yammering at them about how they should do this or that, they see a skull and crossbones tattooed on our foreheads and, in our sweet words, they hear the screams of the murdered dead.

    And still you have the gall to insist that anyone who is not a socialist is a ghoul.

    In the name of all secular wordy types everywhere, I say to you, to paraphrase Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront:
    “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a [murderous] bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.”

  78. > Other than a few minor peccadilloes during the French Revolution, people like us had never really killed anybody, nor had we been apologists for those who did.

    That’s just because you never had the power.

  79. Jim: Islamists … Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today.

    This sounds absurd on the face of it, as it is another attempt to equivocate between murderous thugs and political idealogues. It’s just an extension of “jihad is caused by an uncaring society,” attempting to explain directed violence by pointing the finger of blame at moneyed, white guys. I’m sure it’s an excellent piece. Perhaps we can suggest another piece to compare Jeffersonian Democracy with the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century.

    Can we get past this? Jihad isn’t a reaction to political movements in America, or social policies, or lack of support for welfare. It’s a nihilistic intent to gain power by claiming theocratic authority using any means necessary. Neoconservatism doesn’t remotely claim the same authority, pedigree, or have the history of violence and terrorism.

    Moral equivalency doesn’t wash just because the august BBC does a three part series on it.

  80. >That’s just because you never had the power.

    Ok, fine. So we were never meant to rule. I don’t need power. I’d just like it if, when I start to yammer endlessly at people, they find me merely tedious and boring.

    What I hate is knowing that the sensible and imaginative ones can easily visualize me penning soulful soliloquies in praise of murderous tyrants and sadistic monsters while sipping Chablis on a terrace overlooking the salt mines.

    It’s ok if people think I’m boring. I just don’t want them to view me with murderous suspicion just because I have diarrhea of the mouth and pen.

    Do you realize that, if the human race lasts for another million years, we intellectuals will never get our good name back. When they look at us, sensible ordinary people will see Walter Duranty until the end of time.

    When I die and go to Hell, I hope I meet up with Karl Marx just so I can stick a red hot poker up his ass myself.

  81. “…Moral equivalency doesn’t wash just because the august BBC does a three part series on it…”

    But there’s nothing quite like the smugness, from watching PBS or BBCA reruns of limey guff, that fluffs up the ego of contemporary liberals…content in their Antoinette-ish conceit that the common oiks ‘just don’t get it’.

    ;-)

  82. Shenpen : I love the fellas enthusiasm, but in his dissection of ‘the monster’ he utterly fails to mention formal methods…which leaves more than a whiff of ‘half-baked shoddiness’ in the air…but I wish him luck ;-)

  83. Shenpen: LOL! The COSA project is taking us entirely in the wrong direction, since as Jaron Lanier elucidated, the notion of signals is precisely the metaphor that defines, circumscribes, and hence limits all software produced until the present day; and as such needs to be transcended if we are to make progress in software reliability.

    (Holy crap! Did I just say that? I bet I could write a scholarly paper contrasting Savain with Lanier, and get it published in Social Text. Awesome.)

  84. Can we get past this? Jihad isn’t a reaction to political movements in America, or social policies, or lack of support for welfare. It’s a nihilistic intent to gain power by claiming theocratic authority using any means necessary. Neoconservatism doesn’t remotely claim the same authority, pedigree, or have the history of violence and terrorism.

    Moral equivalency doesn’t wash just because the august BBC does a three part series on it.

    Perhaps you should first watch the programme.

    (I’m not (a) ‘leftist’, btw.)

  85. Jim,
    Dude, not to be an asshole about this, but, when you say:
    I am not a ‘leftist’
    with the quotes, it communicates loud and clear.

  86. Do you ever think about what it must have been like to be a secular intellectual at the dawn of the 20th century? Other than a few minor peccadilloes during the French Revolution, people like us had never really killed anybody, nor had we been apologists for those who did.

    So, what is it? I should be apologising for belonging to the same category of person that produced Marx and Lenin (not sure I’d accept Stalin and Mao as intellectuals, they sound like a couple of knonuffs)? Forever promising to keep my mouth shut and never express any of my naughty elitist opinions EVER AGAIN? Constantly acknowledging that people who work with ideas have NO PLACE saying what ought to happen, and devoting myself to exclaiming how the market, with its finely balanced response to every individual’s behaviour (cue distant hollow laughter), is the ultimate populist answer to every question ever asked anywhere?

    I’m more than half expecting death at some point in the first part of this century on a scale which will bring everything the Nazis and Communists did into proportion, anyway. And this time I suspect the pointy-heads will be further from the levers of power.

    And still you have the gall to insist that anyone who is not a socialist is a ghoul.

    Missed where I said that.

  87. >I’m more than half expecting death at some point in the first part of this century on a scale which will bring everything the Nazis and Communists did into proportion, anyway. And this time I suspect the pointy-heads will be further from the levers of power.

    Who do you think will fire the first missle and how many will be sent in
    response?

  88. *repost*
    >I’m more than half expecting death at some point in the first part of this century on a scale which will bring everything the Nazis and Communists did into proportion, anyway. And this time I suspect the pointy-heads will be further from the levers of power.

    Who and when do you think will fire the first missile and how many will be sent in response?

  89. adrian,
    >I’m more than half expecting death

    Yes, with all the loose nukes floating around, plus the frightening possibilities of new technologies, we could very well face Armageddon. But suppose we don’t.

    Suppose, with the pointy heads not trying to run everything, that the ordinary schmucks manage to pull our nuts out of the fire, and offer our children a decent future.

    Would you then be willing to show a little humility? In between the distant hollow laughter?

  90. > Still…having even bush-league terrorists fear harming Americans is a good start, and as neat a vindication of George Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq as anyone could ask for.

    Eric, the manner in which you manage to reconcile that statement with a supposedly anarcho-capitalist value system is beyond my comprehension.

  91. Who and when do you think will fire the first missile and how many will be sent in response?

    Peak oil, not nuclear war, though it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a bit of that as well. Too many people, not enough food. Think of that “balloon game” they used to play in school, only with seven billion in the gondola. Oh, now six point nine…

    Suppose, with the pointy heads not trying to run everything, that the ordinary schmucks manage to pull our nuts out of the fire, and offer our children a decent future.

    I need some scenarios, some parameters that would indicate the the nuts have been pulled a safe distance from the flames. I don’t know what you expect the ordinary schmucks to do in particular. Vote for Jeb in 2012? Install solar barbecues?

    Would you then be willing to show a little humility? In between the distant hollow laughter?

    Of course. I keep saying I don’t *know* what’s going to happen. We’re all balancing baskets of probabilities in our heads.

  92. The issue is not whether we were engaging in perfectly selfless Christian charity. It is that they couldn’t have pulled up that oil on their own, for any motive in the human pantheon.

    There may be historical reasons why endogenous development never kicked off in the Middle East the way it did in the West and Asia, as opposed to the “Muslims are just crap” notions you’re floating around the place. Some of Jane Jacobs’ stuff on cities was interesting – it does sound to me like the city is the natural unit of development, but if certain conditions aren’t met they don’t automatically get going. She also reckoned excessive natural resources can stunt the process.

    What difference does it make WHY we did it? The point is that that their religion tells them that they are supposed to be able to do things that we can’t. Not the other way around.

    What does the Koran say they can do that we can’t, apart from go to heaven and get more virgins than anyone needs?

  93. >the “Muslims are just crap” notions you’re floating around the place

    For the record, Islam provides ephemeral, essentially isolated human beings with a sense of community, connection to the eternal, and above all, comfort in the face of inevitable death. This is what religions are supposed to do, and its longevity is testament to the quality of religious experience that Islam provides.

    If anything, the problem with Islam is that the comfort it provides is too perfect. Observe the ease with which Western Europe has been de-Christianized in comparison to the profound difficulty Turkey has in trying to de-Islamify. Islam answers a call in the human heart, probably as perfectly as any religion ever has.

    But when you have found something which is perfect, common sense tells you not to fuck with it. The trouble with Islam is the vehemence with which it resists change.

    The rap on bin Laden is that he wants a world-wide Taliban, wherein all of humanity will, in perpetuity, continue to party like it’s 1399. It is important to realize, however, that if the vision he offers were not philosophically beautiful, however empirically ugly it might be, he would never be able to attract so many followers.

  94. Alternatively, one could consider Islam, especially the dominant sects in the Middle East, to be the most degrading form of social engineering. It thrives on violently surpressing any intellectual and scientific evolution among the people. This may go some way to explain its longevity, rather than it being ‘too perfectly comfortable’, as well as helping to explain the pathetic absence of endogenous development. ‘Mohammed Q Public’ is sickeningly enslaved in body, heart and mind.

    Where ‘western’ influence has crept into everyday life (eg. Iran), isn’t it strange how there is growing *discomfort* with the status quo…among the young, especially?

  95. Islam is just another mass movement. I couldn’t explain them better than Eric Hoffer did in The True Believer.

  96. Eric, along with many of the commenters here, seem to be mostly of the opinion that religion is, more or less, crap. I am an atheist who does not share that opinion. Religions conveys several profound advantages to the believer, along with some disadvantages. The advantages are as follows:

    1) A Moral Spine-Stiffener. The next time you go to a store, or perhaps a neighbor’s house, and you see something you want, something they would never miss, or never know that you took, why not steal it? One answer is that if things keep turning up missing whenever you are around, people will stop inviting you around. Another answer is that you would, in time, lose your self-respect if you became a thief. But these shields against temptation require imagination. If you believed in a God who was watching you all the time, and would surely punish you for any wrong that you did, that might make it easier to remain honest in situations where dishonesty would be easy, profitable and difficult to detect.

    2) A Way Back. So you have a bad day and decide to go out to the local bar (pub for you Brits) and get drunk. At closing time you get back into your car and head home. But you are to bleary-eyed to see clearly and wind up smashing into another car, killing a little boy. How do you come back from that, and go on to live a good life, ever? You would need forgiveness. Yet, even if they were of a mind to, the boy’s parents cannot forgive you. You took their son, but you took his life. And since the boy is dead, he is not around to forgive you. But God could. He created the boy in the first place, and so he has the authority to grant you forgiveness for killing him. Your only other way out of the guilt would be to hate the kid you killed. But then you’d be a horrible person.

    3) Aesthetics and Dignity. On April 14, 2004 an Italian security guard named Fabrizio Quattrocchi was killed by Islamists in Iraq. He had been captured and was to be executed to make a propaganda/snuff video for the Jihadis. According to Wikipedia:
    Quattrocchi’s kidnappers forced him to dig his own grave and kneel beside it wearing a hood as they prepared to film his death, but he defied them by pulling off the hood and shouting “Adesso (or ora) vi faccio vedere come muore un italiano.” — “Now I will show you how an Italian dies.” He was then shot in the back of the neck.

    I hope I could face death that way in a similar situation. But how can I be sure? One thing I am sure of is that it is easier to face death with courage if you believe that death is not the end. If there is life after death, then the loss of life is not so devastating, and it becomes easier to care about HOW you die, not just when.

    These are some of the advantages of religious faith. There are others, but this post is too long anyway. The most obvious disadvantage is that belief makes you vulnerable to those who might want to take advantage of you for their own ends, e.g. teenage virgin suicide bombers who have been conned into believing that Heaven is a bordello.

    I am not, never have been, and likely never will be a believer. But I cannot find any contempt for those who are. There’s a reason why 95% of the people in the world identify themselves as religious in some fashion.

  97. Dean,

    > 1) A Moral Spine-Stiffener

    Wrong. Religion is the worst source of morality. If you are honest because you fear some gods punishing you, then you are a fucked up individual.

    I won’t even touch on all the *current* and historical examples of immorality –to a rational being– that are perfectly moral things according to the religion advocating them.

    > 2) A Way Back … and so he [god] has the authority to grant you forgiveness for killing him.

    So you advocate self-deception as a way to forget about your mistakes.

    > Your only other way out of the guilt would be to hate the kid you killed. But then you’d be a horrible person.

    Wrong. You can be a man, get your act together, and work so that other people don’t make the same mistake. No need for fairy tales.

    > 3) Aesthetics and Dignity … One thing I am sure of is that it is easier to face death with courage if you believe that death is not the end. If there is life after death, then the loss of life is not so devastating, and it becomes easier to care about HOW you die, not just when.

    I agree in that it is a sufficient condition in this case, but it is definitely NOT a necesary contidion: If you are rational, and with enough testosterone in your blood-stream, you will realize that you have two options, (1) die like a pig, (2) die fighting like a man; and you’ll obviously choose (2). Again, no need for fairy tales.

  98. “…I cannot find any contempt for those who are…”
    Absolutely. My contempt is reserved for the specific [groups of] people that hold *my life* in contempt.

    “…There’s a reason why 95% of the people in the world identify themselves as religious…”
    I suspect it has something to do with having barely descended from the trees…as far as I’m concerned, dumping the need for such illusory crutches (as religion provides) is an intellectually evolutionary step forward.

    Kids feel good believing in santa claus and the tooth fairy…but if they haven’t dumped that crap by adulthood, then they’re just a bunch of burger-flipping monkeys.

  99. Dan Kane: Even adults can get teary-eyed when they see the ending to The Polar Express. And even evolutionarily advanced beings can, I’m sure, feel at times touched by His Noodly Appendage…

  100. Had to look up the “noodly appendage” reference, Jeff. Most amusing… :-)

    As for The Polar Express…never seen it…the trailers *alone* were responsible for depleting the national IQ….both points of it.

  101. Dan,

    while your examples of reasons of religious faith may clearly have real-world examples supporting it, I think this issue is a lot deeper than that.

    The basic problem is the human condition itself: the feeling of a separate “world” and “self”, which causes a deep anxiety.
    Overcoming this anxiety is the deepest, most profound human drive.

    There are different strategies to allieviate this anxiety. You can try to “internalize” as much of the world in the form of trying to get as much money, sex, political power you can, because if it’s successful, the alienation between the self and world will be smaller. You can try to blame this anxiety on someone else “he is oppressing me, without him I would be free”. You can try to dissolve the self into a community. It’s more powerful if that community is a nation, because a nation “internalizes” a significant portion of the world.

    You can try to assume the world hasa eternal, designed laws, where everything has a carefully designed place and right to exist, therefore you existence is not felt as alienating, because you have a place in the world, and someone greater than you put you there. (This is religion, and also these are statist political ideologies.)

    The common ground of these solution is that they don’t really work. One can also try to develop love and compassion and that actually works somewhat better. It does not mean one has to become soft, actually, the most compassionate people are the most macho: the firemen. However, in the long run, nothing else really helps but stopping to label the experiencer as “self” and the experience as “world” and trying to understand that both are parts of the same process. Not an easy task though.

  102. To believe or not to believe that is the question!

    I am in favor of returning to Pagan Sun Worship wherein ones god is visible and gives energy and life in return.

    The major religions give us Holy War after Holy war after Holy War,
    as history has proven…

    and something else to ponder from Bertrand Russell…

    That Man/Woman is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

  103. Shenpen,
    You said ‘Dan’ but I think you are talking to me. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

    >stopping to label the experiencer as “self” and the experience as “world” and trying to understand that both are parts of the same process. Not an easy task though.

    Actually it IS rather easy. Get a frontal lobotomy. The part of your brain that makes you human is the part that can imagine “you” as distinct from “the world.” Animals cannot. Thus they do not:
    1) go to church
    2) marry “trophy wives”
    3) join political parties or
    4) take pride in being members of a race

    People do all those things because of the anxiety you describe. But it is not a curable part of the human condition. It is with us for keeps.

  104. davidf,
    >only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

    And therein lies the rub.

    People cannot be happy living with enduring despair. When a civilization embraces that despair, two things happen:
    1) the men quit getting married
    2) the women quit having babies

    And soon there is no more despair-based civilization to build any habitation for any souls.

    Civilizational despair is a self-correcting problem. If you don’t believe me, just ask a German (1.3 live births per woman) or an Italian (1.2) or a Russian (1.1).

    But you had better ask them soon, or else you shall be interrogating ghosts.

  105. By the way, once the problem has self-corrected, then a new civilization, untroubled by enduring despair, moves into the lands where the despairers used to dwell. And the despairers are forgotten. And so it goes.

  106. If anything, the problem with Islam is that the comfort it provides is too perfect. Observe the ease with which Western Europe has been de-Christianized in comparison to the profound difficulty Turkey has in trying to de-Islamify.

    There’s a difference between letting something happen over three centuries and trying to make it happen over one. Rising prosperity seems to help corrode religion (parts of America are an exception here) as well, and the devout in Turkey tend to still be pretty poor. Saudi hypocrisy (having all kinds of medieval punishments going on while many of the princes are up to their elbows in debauchery, etc.) can be seen as an attempt to compensate for this, though being responsible for the holy cities also seems to give them a wild hair up their collective ass on the subject.

    Islam is just another mass movement. I couldn’t explain them better than Eric Hoffer did in The True Believer.

    Don’t see it. Hoffer’s all about frustration on the part of creative intellectuals, he’s always on about stuff like all the major Nazis being failed artists/architects and whatnot. Is that the problem in the Islamic world – all the madrassas are full of guys who are pissed off because they suck at graphic design or something? I mean, they *could* be, I’ve just never heard about it.

  107. adrian,
    >Hoffer’s all about frustration on the part of creative intellectuals

    Being a bit of a Hoffer-phile, I have to suggest you go back and re-read. Hoffer used the examples of failed intellectuals because they were very articulate and we have therefore heard of them. The vast majority of Nazi rank and file (or early Christian rank and file, Hoffer’s other example) weren’t all that wordy. But they were just as frustrated.

  108. But they were just as frustrated.

    Economic conditions weren’t a barrel of laughs in early thirties Germany, true. And unemployment in a lot of the Muslim world is pretty high. I remember reading how educating people but not having any jobs for them to do afterwards isn’t supposed to be the ideal recipe for social contentment, now that I think about it.

    The trouble is, instead of blaming innate Islamic retrogressiveness like they should some of them appear to have got this idea that Western support for autocratic but convenient regimes has held the whole region back. Failing to take responsibility big time, I realise, but superficially plausible nevertheless.

  109. >But you had better ask them soon, or else you shall be interrogating ghosts. ~ And so it goes.

    Dean,

    Yes,

    And one might ask if the level of despair in religious/civilization is a
    litmus test.

    Has our religion failed us or have we failed our religion?
    ‘a lot of Muslims might be asking this one!’

    Should we be religious or not?

    What is religion, what is not?

    I think Russell is giving us a starting point a ‘foundation and scaffolding’
    to build new religion and philosophy based on some very sobering facts
    about where we live in the solar system, cosmos, universe.

  110. 3) Aesthetics and Dignity. On April 14, 2004 an Italian security guard named Fabrizio Quattrocchi was killed by Islamists in Iraq. He had been captured and was to be executed to make a propaganda/snuff video for the Jihadis. According to Wikipedia:
    Quattrocchi’s kidnappers forced him to dig his own grave and kneel beside it wearing a hood as they prepared to film his death, but he defied them by pulling off the hood and shouting “Adesso (or ora) vi faccio vedere come muore un italiano.” — “Now I will show you how an Italian dies.” He was then shot in the back of the neck.

    I hope I could face death that way in a similar situation. But how can I be sure? One thing I am sure of is that it is easier to face death with courage if you believe that death is not the end. If there is life after death, then the loss of life is not so devastating, and it becomes easier to care about HOW you die, not just when.

    This may be less due to sincere Catholicism on his part than the fact that he was able to imagine (given the cameras) people remembering what he’d done, and talking admiringly about it, like we are now. Memetic life after death of a sort.

    Odd that they released the video (though Al-J refused to show it), they’re normally pretty media-aware.

  111. davidf,
    >some very sobering facts about where we live in the solar system, cosmos, universe.

    In my opinion, this is the hardest question facing a technological civilization. It’s easy to believe in God when the priests and the faith-healers are doing all the miracles. But when the scientists and technicians are doing all the miracles, religion loses metaphysical credibility.

    I know I’d have been much more likely to be religious in the 18th century, back when the argument from design still held water, before Darwin shot the shit out of it. But when science tells us that we evolved, that our species is just one of many, that our planet is just one of many, that our galaxy is just one of many, that’s a hell of a comedown from being made in the image of God.

    And when that same science goes on to tell us that, as Russell says, we are doomed, how can we maintain hope? And without hope, what is the point of going on living?

    Why would you ever bring children into a world where life had no meaning, except what we arbitrarily assign to it? And if the technophiles have no children, where will the future scientists and technicians come from?

    When bin Laden says we are the “weak horse,” superficially he is being absurd. We have the wealth, the educated population, the wizard weapons, the cultural dynamism. How can he threaten us?

    And really he can’t. But he can get out of our way while we commit cultural suicide. And maybe he can give us just a little bit of prodding in the ass as we rush toward the abyss.

    Nietzsche enjoins us to remember that “when you are staring into the abyss, the abyss is also staring into you.” The question is, in a universe apparently without God, can we withstand the gaze of the abyss?

    Because, if we can’t, then bin Laden is right.

  112. Science might be more tolerable if it stuck to doing what it was originally supposed to do: make the world intelligible to us. But lately, science (particularly physics) has taken to rubbing our noses in our limitations that much harder.

    We want to know, pace Douglas Adams, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. But we have to consider the possibility that, even if we were given the answer, we wouldn’t understand it anyway.

    You are able to read this blog because of the actions of objects governed by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. What an electron is and what it does just doesn’t make sense. This is because our brains are designed to help hairless overgrown monkeys survive on the Serengeti. No caveman ever needed to understand quarks in order to survive. And so, fundamentally, you don’t and neither do I.

    One quantum mechanical explanation for the existence of the universe is that God didn’t create it, we did. The universe existed only as a superposition of probability waves until the first man (assuming it was a man) looked at a rock and said “What the hell is that?” In that moment, the rock not only resolved itself into a rock, but it became an object that had always been a rock, complete with dinosaur fossils in it. Up until that moment, the fossils were just waves of probability, too.

    Science was conceived of by men who thought that the universe would make sense to them if they studied it enough, because God would not create something unintelligible. Today, science suggests that the universe may well be intelligible, just not to us.

  113. “Even adults can get teary-eyed when they see the ending to The Polar Express”

    This is due to something moviemakers refer to as suspension of belief. It’s something we’re happy to do when we walk into a theatre in order to be entertained.

    Religion, however, wants you keep that suspension of belief up for 24 hours a day.

  114. >Religion, however, wants you keep that suspension of belief up for 24 hours a day.

    People are religious because they WANT to maintain that suspension of disbelief, every day till they die. Because what is on the other side of death, the state of being so thoroughly forgotten that it is just as if you never were, is some major scary shit.

  115. If we did, in fact, create the universe by looking at it, then it stands to reason that any memorial we build to showcase our race’s achievements after our extinction is completely pointless. After the last man dies, the universe will not only cease to exist, it will cease to have ever existed.

    Back to the waves of probability we go.

  116. “Because what is on the other side of death, the state of being so thoroughly forgotten that it is just as if you never were, is some major scary shit.”

    Having not been there yet, I’m extremely unknowledgable about the other side of death. Are you able to quickly bring us up to speed, Dean? What aspect of it remains most vivid for you?

    To be honest, there are probably thousands – if not millions – of philosophers who would be extremely interested in this knowledge you have of the other side of death. Please share!

  117. Jason,
    >there are thousands who would be extremely interested in knowledge of the other side of death

    I haven’t been there personally, though I inevitably will. However, before rushing to flippancy, consider the guy (assuming it was a guy) who first discovered how to make fire. Do you know his name? Me neither.

    Because he lived before anyone invented writing, his name was never noted down. Yet we all owe him a huge debt, which we never can repay.

    Do you honestly think that things will be any different for you in 10,000 or 100,000 years?

    We live for a brief period. We talk; we walk. We sing; we dance. And then we stop. Then our flesh rots and the memory that others retain of us fades. Then they die and we are reduced to photographs and mementos. Then they are lost or thrown away and we come to rest in oblivion.

    Nobody has to come back from the dead in order for us to know what happens after. What happens after is: Nobody ever comes back. That’s it. Fini. The fat lady has sung.

    The Christians believe there’s an exception. Maybe they’re right, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Death contains no mystery. Have you ever owned a toaster that quit working? Well, that’s pretty much it.

  118. Because he lived before anyone invented writing, his name was never noted down. Yet we all owe him a huge debt, which we never can repay.

    Fire was probably found (a lightning strike, or whatever) before it was made, and I imagine its domestication was pretty much inevitable. The same could be said of things like relativity – there were a bunch of problems with the old paradigm, and if Einstein hadn’t come along someone else would have.

    Death contains no mystery. Have you ever owned a toaster that quit working? Well, that’s pretty much it.

    For someone who goes on about the unknowability of the implications of quantum mechanics you’re very quick to dismiss the possibilities it could offer. It’s like, “We have no scientific model for how an afterlife would work…so there isn’t one.”

    Sheer hubris.

    Why does not being immortal bother you, anyway?

  119. >Why does not being immortal bother you, anyway?

    Because, as I said, when you’ve been dead long enough, it’s like you were never alive. And there’s no escape.

    And you might reply that the guy who discovered fire is not really forgotten, because even though we don’t know his name, we know he existed, and we still use his discovery, so he is not really in oblivion.

    Fine. How’d you like to be the-guy-who-discovered-fire’s cousin Bob? There’s your oblivion.

    And, barring the existence of a God who’s just playing hide and seek with us, it is the fate that awaits us all.

  120. Because, as I said, when you’ve been dead long enough, it’s like you were never alive. And there’s no escape.

    You’re the one who’s insisting on sending his imaginative viewpoint forward in time to observe this melancholy prospect.

    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings…”

    It can be useful to try to stay in the present. A lot more gets done there, so I’m told.

  121. If we did, in fact, create the universe by looking at it, then it stands to reason that any memorial we build to showcase our race’s achievements after our extinction is completely pointless. After the last man dies, the universe will not only cease to exist, it will cease to have ever existed.

    If you’re trying to get quantum mechanics involved by using it to explain the above, you obviously don’t really understand what quantum mechanics is all about. That’s just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo amateur philosophers like to spout after hearing ideas from quantum physics. If you believe this paragraph, Dean, then congrats, because you are believing in the supernatural.

  122. >We live for a brief period. We talk; we walk. We sing; we dance. And then we stop. Then our flesh rots and the memory that others retain of us fades. Then they die and we are reduced to photographs and mementos. Then they are lost or thrown away and we come to rest in oblivion.

    Well there is some immortality to us on the atomic level now.
    We may not be immortal but the atoms we are made of are!

    Most of the atoms we are made of have been used or discarded by every living thing that has survived on this earth, even some atoms from all
    current life are within us now, a grandiose recycle of atomic joy!

    The solar system and all of its matter is said to have gone through
    two or three stellar explosions forming most of the exotic elements
    we know of.

    where will nano tech take us? to immortal vistas? space travel?

  123. davidf,
    >where will nano tech take us? to immortal vistas? space travel?

    You are absolutely right. Existential funk is a waste of time. Better to think about the possibilities. The best thing our civilization has going for it is that we (some of us, anyway) have not lost hope. We still believe in a fabulous future ahead for ourselves and our nepots.

    That is the way human beings should be. Thanks for the reminder.

  124. Dean, how can you say comments like:

    “Because what is on the other side of death, the state of being so thoroughly forgotten that it is just as if you never were, is some major scary shit.”

    Followed immediately by:

    “Nobody has to come back from the dead in order for us to know what happens after. What happens after is: Nobody ever comes back. That’s it. Fini. The fat lady has sung.”

    And expect us to be able to follow your line of thought? You’re all over the place there.

  125. Jason,
    >And expect us to be able to follow your line of thought? You’re all over the place there.

    If you want to criticize my line of thought for being morbid, I plead guilty. But impenetrable? Not so much.

    Step 1: You die.
    Step 2: You stay dead.
    Step 3: People forget about you.
    Step 4: You stay forgotten.

    People, who have not yet completed Step 1, like religion because it helps them to not think about Steps 2 thru 4.

    Any further questions?

  126. >Any further questions?

    Just one. What are two (2) examples of the major scary shit awaiting us on the other side, that you refer to in your comment:

    “Because what is on the other side of death, the state of being so thoroughly forgotten that it is just as if you never were, is some major scary shit.”

  127. Jason,
    >What are two (2) examples of the major scary shit

    If you are personally unfazed by the thought of enduring Steps 1 thru 4, and, like adrian, you are untroubled by your mortality, then congratulations. You are a stronger man than most.

    The great majority of your fellow humans, reflecting upon the inevitability of their own deaths, feel some trepidation. It is to this unease that I was referring when I used the phrase “major scary shit.”

    As to concrete examples, I am frankly at a loss. You have the advantage of me, sir. For I foolishly took it for granted that everyone occasionally endures a “long, dark night of the soul” when contemplating the vastness of eternity.

    I stand corrected.

  128. “It is to this unease that I was referring when I used the phrase “major scary shit.””

    Then the mistake may have been more one of syntax. Your sentence made it seem as though were you privvy to some less-than-savoury events that would be awaiting us in the afterdeath. Not the actual thought of death itself.

  129. There is no evidence that dying hurts. Physical damage which often precedes death is associated with pain, but the actual dying part is (as near as we can tell) painless.

    What scares people about death is the prospect of it. The dead apparently fear nothing.

    I sincerely apologize if I was unclear.

  130. where will nano tech take us? to immortal vistas? space travel?

    If you don’t get space travel, you don’t really want immortality.

  131. > If you don’t get space travel, you don’t really want immortality.

    I assume you are referring to the ‘infinite’ overcrowding of Earth. Even if we have not perfected space travel before immortality (higly unlikely since immortality has never been proven to be feasible and space travel has), eventually we would use up all the ready elements for producing new people. The matter to produce new humans does not ‘pop’ out of nowhere.

  132. Unless you sterilized nearly all humans forcibly, they would overpopulate the earth and cause environmental havoc well ahead of the time when we have to worry about raw materials to create new humans. Then you would have to worry about feeding your hypothetical Struldbruggs, there would be famine and mass dieoffs, etc. Not a pleasant picture.

    Some say that we’ve already exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity, what with our unusual longevity and numerousness. But that comes from the U.N. and so is easily dismissed.

  133. >Some say that we’ve already exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity, what with our unusual longevity and numerousness. But that comes from the U.N. and so is easily dismissed.

    The problem with environmentalism, overpopulation hand wringing, global warming and the like is that, even when it enjoys the imprimatur of science, you can’t trust it. Because there is so clearly an underlying element of political power struggle.

    If constitutional democracy and capitalism work reasonably well, then there is not a lot for an educated elite to do, in a supervisory capacity. They play a valuable supporting role, as did Shakespeare or Kipling, but there’s not a lot of opportunity for the pointy-heads to boss people around if the American system is workable.

    But, if the free market leads to bad results, and the people’s representatives cannot be trusted to arrive at a fair result most of the time, then ALL SORTS of possibilities open up.

    Why, then we need a world government, structured like the European Union, where all the important decisions are made by bureaucrats, well insulated from voters AND from the marketplace. Screw that accountability stuff. Forget about “We the people.” Our motto shall be: “We know better than the people.”

    And again, that wouldn’t be so bad if the track record of pointy-heads-with-political-power wasn’t so abysmal and macabre.

    So on the one hand, you have respected scientific establishments telling us that, say, global warming (or is it ‘climate change’ now?) is a real threat, and that the only way to avoid disaster is to scrap capitalism and democracy and put the ecology professors in charge of us all.

    On the other hand, the historically savvy ordinary schmuck trembles with APPROPRIATE terror at the thought of being ruled by professors. Those wordy types have NO MERCY when they control the police. And everybody knows it.

    I like the idea of science. I hope to live long enough to have backup copies. And I want to trust the scientists. But they are trying to sell me on a policy that is guaranteed to be disastrous, regardless of trends in temperatures, weather patterns or ocean levels. And that’s a fact, Jack.

  134. Dean,

    Funny that you should mention “climate change”. That particular buzzwordology is Republican spin, an invention of a GOP consultant named Frank Luntz, who coined it specifically for the purpose of taking the perception of danger out of the phenomenon of global warming (likely so Shrub won’t be called on his profligate energy policy):

    http://www.mediatransparency.org/personprofile.php?personID=123

    The problem with wordy people is precisely that: they’re too damn WORDY. Western civilization has crapflooded the planet with a profusion of words that refer to nothing in objective reality but for its participants stand in the place of reality. From both sides, left and right, the stream of endless words comes, with the net result being that people talk up a blue streak to themselves, convincing themselves of whatever system of *beliefs* lets them go on comfortably the way they were going, with little regard for the ecological or *human* damage necessary to support their lifestyle.

    Lifestyle = politics.

    Though I suspect that the left has nothing like the meticulously engineered, well-funded neocon apparatus for linguistic goalpost-moving, as exemplified by Mr. Luntz…

  135. >Though I suspect that the left has nothing like the meticulously engineered, well-funded neocon apparatus for linguistic goalpost-moving

    Yeah. Ok. Conservatives are the masters of words because all the best wordsmiths lean to the right and are eager to join the Republican party. Because the right is the party of the intelligentsia and that is why poets, playwrights and novelists are always so eager to sing the praises of right-wingers like me.

    Would you be interested in buying a bridge in Brooklyn? How about a beach house on the coast of Colorado? I can get you a real good deal. No checks please. Small unmarked bills are preferred.

  136. I’m not certain it requires particular eloquence; only adeptness at con-artistry and the willingness to use it because of the profit potential that results…

  137. Yeah. Ok. Conservatives are the masters of words because all the best wordsmiths lean to the right and are eager to join the Republican party. Because the right is the party of the intelligentsia and that is why poets, playwrights and novelists are always so eager to sing the praises of right-wingers like me.

    It’s more about discipline and staying on-message – it’s very hard to get a bunch of poets, playwrights and novelists singing from the same hymnsheet. Have you read The Framing Wars?

  138. Dean,

    Ironically, even though you were trying to present a contrary point of view, everything you say is in complete agreement with my point.

    > We have no answer to the Islamic *belief*system* Precisely which belief system are you referring to? If you mean the proposition that there is a God who makes moral demands on you and will send you to Heaven or Hell depending on the alacrity with which you meet those demands, of course we have a refutation to it. Just watch the next George Carlin comedy special on HBO. Eric also has a few choice things to say about God and religious faith, right here on this very blog.

    George Carlin isn’t on Al Jazeera every day. The world’s Muslims have never heard of him. Even if he *was* on Al Jazeera every day, do you think Muslims would abandon Islam when they hear him? He doesn’t even have much impact on Christianity here in the US. And besides George Carlin, to counteract the Islamic belief system, we have … who else? ESR? What percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims read ESR’s blog?

    See, you have made my point: We have no answer to the Islamic belief system. George Carlin is not doing it. ESR is not doing it. Nothing we are doing is convincing Muslims to change their beliefs.

    If you mean bin Laden’s allegation that the West has grown decadent and weak, that our wizard weapons are a thing to be feared, but that we ourselves have no stomach for war, that we are rich and comfortable and unwilling to sacrifice or risk anything that might disrupt that comfort, that we are no longer MEN, how would you go about refuting that?

    Exactly!!! How indeed?

    The essence of the Jihadi argument about us is that we have turned away from God in our pursuit of individual freedom and material wealth, and that the wealth and freedom has turned us into a bunch of pussies.

    And what do we do to counteract this belief system? What do we do to convince the Muslims that believing in Islam leads to unnecessary suffering and death? That they themselves would be more happy and prosperous if they quit Islam? That their “sacrafice and risk” is for pointlessness, and that they’d all be happier as one of the “decadent” and “rich” and “comfortable”?

    Again, you have made my point: We have no answer to the Islamic belief system.

    Further, that God’s displeasure with us can be inferred from our cowardice as follows: If God wanted us to survive, if we were pleasing to Him, He would give us manly courage with which to identify, face and dispatch our enemies. Since He has made most of us into wimps, one can logically infer that He must want us to die. Quad erat demonstrandum.

    And what do we do to counteract this belief? What do we do to counteract the belief that “God” wants “wimps” to die? That is a stupid belief — every person who won’t kill people deserves to be killed? If it weren’t part of a major world religion with 1.3 billion adherents, that belief system would be considered clinical insanity.

    Again, you have made my point. Nobody here in the West has come up with any way to respond to Islam. We have no answer to the Islamic belief system.

    At any rate, I think the *real* issue with Muslims isn’t that we are “decadent” or “rich” or “comfortable” or “wimps”. The *real* issue is that we are not Muslims. We are *infidels*. We deserve to die for being infidels. That’s the real issue. Muslims believe Infidels should stop being Infidels and become Muslims and submit to Islam.

    And that’s why killing “terrorists” won’t work. Killing Muslims will only get them hailed as “martyrs” and strengthen the resolve of all the other Muslims to fight for Islam. Killing Islamic terrorists will make more terrorists — because the *belief*system* that creates the terrorists is still there.

    Instead, the West has to convince Muslims to abandon Islam.

    And I see absolutely nothing that indicates that this is happening or will ever happen. The West has no answer to the Islamic belief system! So, like I say, I know you weren’t trying to back up my point, but everything you say supports it.

  139. Dean’s points 1-4 are not the complete list.

    Step -1: You are born
    Step 0: You live
    Step 1: You die.
    Step 2: You stay dead.
    Step 3: People forget about you.
    Step 4: You stay forgotten.

    Step 0 is the important part.

  140. Dean, existential dispair is _so_ 19th century. Come join us in the exciting 21st.

    Also, intellectual class warfare is boring. It’s not particularly hard to join the “elite,” as you call them, it just takes a lot of work, money, and time. You too can be a professor, then what will you have to say about it? I personally can’t wait until this goes the way of other types of class warfare that have propped up past political movements.

  141. >that’s why killing “terrorists” won’t work

    >nothing that indicates that this is happening or will ever happen

    So your plan is, if we can’t convince the believers to abandon their belief because of our words, to give up and die?

    I vote No.

    P. S. Recommend reading Machiavelli. “Armed prophets succeed. Unarmed prophets fail.” Of course killing terrorists will work. If we kill enough of them.

    If we can make joining al Qaeda look like a stupid, loser move, we will hamper their recruiting efforts.

  142. John,
    >existential dispair is _so_ 19th century. Come join us in the exciting 21st

    Agreed. Sorry about that. Won’t happen again.

    >intellectual class warfare is boring. It’s not particularly hard to join the “elite,”

    Please do not misunderstand me. I don’t hate intellectual elites. I flatter myself that I am one of them. But, of course, YOU will have to be the final judge of that. What I hate are the wannabe elites who wanna cheat.

    Vladimir Illyich Lenin wanted influence. He wanted to be listened to and taken seriously. He wanted to shape opinion.

    I want influence. I want to be listened to and taken seriously. I want to shape opinion. Otherwise I wouldn’t be commenting on this blog.

    The difference is that I am willing to submit myself and my pearls of wisdom to your judgment. John Locke proselytizes freedom of religion by arguing as follows:
    Even if your religion IS the one true faith, if you FORCE others to join your religion, it doesn’t count. Faith is only valid if it is freely chosen. Virtue isn’t virtue if arrived at under compulsion.

    Lenin rejects Locke. And in doing so he puts a stain on all godless windbags like me, everywhere. Because of people like him, and their apologists, we are all seen as murderers and proto-murderers, willing to waste human lives for the sake of our own egos, for RECOGNITION.

    For this reason only do I hate certain of my own kind; otherwise I quite like godless windbags. I am not filled with self-hatred. I think folks like me are pretty damn terrific, as long as we content ourselves with yammering at people, and not trying to boss them around.

  143. >Jesus wasn’t armed.

    No, but Constantine was. If the emperor had not converted, bringing the Empire with him, Christianity would have been just another cult, vying for mindshare in the late Roman religious free for all.

    To make the big time, your new religion needs more than the ethereal carrot of Heaven. It needs the Earthly stick of Hell. Not a mythical Hell, a veritable Hell, in which unbelievers can be made to suffer in THIS life.

    If you don’t believe me, just ask a Nazi, a Communist, a Muslim or any honest and historically knowledgeable adherent of any big-time religion.

  144. The sad thing about John Locke that you can argue that he is mistaken. Whether or not compelled conversion counts depends on what you mean by “count.”

    If it is sufficient to show, by all outward displays, that you have submitted to a doctrine, and to aid in the persecution of unbelievers and heretics, then compulsion works wonderfully.

    Religions and mass movements of great power and influence have achieved precisely these results by compulsion.

    If you have submitted, under duress, to a doctrine and publicly proclaimed its truthfulness, then the only way you can justify this act to yourself is to force others to do the same.

    It takes a fanatical faith to rationalize our cowardice.

    For this reason you should make no mistake, the fashionable Hollywood Lefties and PC academics who sneer at religion, particularly at Christianity, now, would nail you to a cross while singing Hallelujah! if ever it looked like a smart move.

    John Locke’s argument is only relevant if you care about the ethereal essence of belief, the “still, small voice” of true conviction, as it were.

    If all you care about is appearances, “Death to the Infidel!” is definitely the way to go.

  145. Jesus wasn’t armed.

    He effectively was with the conversion of Constantine,and even before with Augustine’s “Just War.”

  146. One could argue that by the time Constantine was born, Christianity was no longer the religion of Jesus, perhaps the most misunderstood Jewish prophet.

  147. The main reason for all the trouble that the Christians currently face in the world is their decision, made over the last few centuries, to abandon force as a means of proselytization. Instead the Christians attempt to persuade you to their point of view through sweet reasonableness. What a bunch of fucking pussies.

    The Christians used to be willing to burn you at stake for heresy. Nowadays, not so much. Maybe they might glare at you a bit. But not really. No wonder Osama has contempt for them. No wonder the Lefties have contempt for them. Say, is there anybody in the world today who is not contemptuous of the Christians? Why the Hell not?

    The irony is, as Churchill pointed out, that Christianity benefited greatly from science, which it fought tooth and nail, but unsuccessfully. As a result of science, people of Christian heritage have ruled the Earth, culturally and militarily, for the past two centuries.

    But if no one has any cause to fear you, it is ridiculous to expect the world to respect you. If a harmless gentleman like Charles Darwin could write a book calling a central tenet of Christianity into question, and live to tell about it, why should anyone fear Christians? And why not kill them if you an do so with impunity?

    Today, if you insult Islam, there are plenty of people who will stab you to death and pin a note to your chest with the knife, explaining why they did it. And Islam is taken very, very seriously.

    No one takes Christians seriously, because they are clearly not willing to do the same. But Christianity is a 2,000 year old religion. You don’t live that long without being able to adapt to the necessities of the times. It shouldn’t be too long now, before the Christians start cutting off heads. And then everyone will treat them with a lot more respect.

  148. >But if no one has any cause to fear you, it is ridiculous to expect the world to respect you.

    The Communists, of course, understood this extremely well. And they might well have conquered the world, were it not for the Lefties’ favorite imbecile, Ronald Reagan.

    Reagan defeated Communism by demonstrating that their capacity to DESERVE your fear, was ultimately hollow. No religion can long survive this kind of revelation.

    For the Christians to think they could just carry on as normal, while lacking both the will and the military capacity to hurt those who insulted them was just ahistorical foolishness.

    As such, they deserve all the pain they currently endure.

  149. The Communists, of course, understood this extremely well. And they might well have conquered the world, were it not for the Lefties’ favorite imbecile, Ronald Reagan.

  150. The Communists, of course, understood this extremely well. And they might well have conquered the world, were it not for the Lefties’ favorite imbecile, Ronald Reagan.

    (fecking tags)

    He had competent handlers, and an actor’s feel for presentation. But I don’t think the the righties give quite enough credit to the Saudis (and the Iraqis and Iranians), who kept oil prices comfortably low for most of the decade and made it possible for Ronnie to bleed the Soviets dry with arms spending. OK, he supported the muj in Afghanistan, but didn’t Carter think that up? Or Brzezinski, at least.

    Mostly he just arsed about in Central America.

  151. adrian,
    >[Reagan] had competent handlers, and an actor’s feel for presentation.

    Look, it is hardly my place to advise you because:
    1) I hate the Left, and am eager to see it go the way of Nazism. I really did mean it when I said you people fucked us all and I will never forgive you for it.
    2) Even if I wanted to give you a workable solution to your problems, I don’t have one. You fucked us and now you’re fucked.

    But for the record, this thing with Reagan symbolizes all of your current difficulties.

    What Ronald Reagan did was notice a key weakness in the Soviet arsenal, namely economic productivity, and exploit the Hell out of it. He built weapons which the Soviets had to try and match, and ultimately discovered that they just couldn’t. He did this while withstanding nonstop attacks from Soviet sympathizers in the West who proclaimed that Reagan was putting us all on the road to nuclear Armageddon.

    Reagan’s key insight was psycho-social. He concluded that, in 1980, there were no more Communists in the Soviet Union. There were plenty who talked the Commie talk, in order to keep power; but there were none who were willing to die to walk the Commie walk.

    Therefor, as long as America did not interfere with the Party leaders and functionaries looting Russia to pad their Swiss bank accounts, the vaunted USSR would go down without a fight. And it worked.

    So you Lefties proclaim that “Well, yeah, Reagan kicked our asses, but it wasn’t really HIS victory. No, it was, uh, the Saudi’s and Jimmy Carter’s and Gorby. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Reagan had nothing to do with it!”

    A serious movement, made up of serious people would:
    1) readily admit responsibility for defeat
    2) study in detail what went wrong
    3) figure out how to fix the problem permanently and
    4) try, try again.

    You do none of these things. You don’t deserve to rule the world. You tell yourselves that you can use the Muslims to break the capitalist plutocrats, and then take over from the religious raghead fuckwads.

    But those fuckwads seek to learn from their mistakes and refine their techniques EVERY GODDAMNED DAY. They will never cede their victory to you, assuming they win.

    Back in the day, you would have destroyed them in about 5 minutes. You would have spent 4 minutes laughing at their funny head-gear. And then you would have spent one minute gassing them. But that’s not who you are, anymore. Don’t kid yourselves. They may be murderous bastards, but they are serious about taking over the world.

    And you aren’t. And in your reaction to the mention of Reagan, everyone can see the reason why.

  152. Look, it is hardly my place to advise you because:
    1) I hate the Left, and am eager to see it go the way of Nazism. I really did mean it when I said you people fucked us all and I will never forgive you for it.
    2) Even if I wanted to give you a workable solution to your problems, I don’t have one. You fucked us and now you’re fucked.

    I feel like I’m looking around to try to see who you’re talking to here. I’m really borderline left – I’m a lot more concerned about energy and the environment than I am about people, of whom I suspect that there are rather too many (yes, I know, elitism again). I agree with most of what the right says about dependency, as well. Encouraging people to stand on their own feet is good. And I have no time for the Democrats – as sad a bunch of corrupt hypocrites as I’ve seen anywhere. The few with any integrity get treated like pariahs.

    You do none of these things. You don’t deserve to rule the world. You tell yourselves that you can use the Muslims to break the capitalist plutocrats, and then take over from the religious raghead fuckwads.

    I don’t want to rule the world, I just want to be able to get out of the way if it falls over. I wouldn’t be surprised if the conservatives broke themselves (and some of the furniture) striving to contain/suppress the Islamites. And I think most of the problems we’ll be having with them will be blowback from this process, as opposed to the idea that they Will Not Stop until we all convert and don the djellabi or whatever.

    He built weapons which the Soviets had to try and match, and ultimately discovered that they just couldn’t.

    Oh yes they could. It took a while, so they weren’t called Soviets any more, but what’s in a name?

    They may be murderous bastards, but they are serious about taking over the world.

    And you aren’t. And in your reaction to the mention of Reagan, everyone can see the reason why.

    I’m not all that ashamed of not being serious about taking over the world.

  153. >I’m really borderline left

    I realize that you personally are not a Stalinist, and I didn’t mean to imply that you are.

    But people like you used to be the Good Cop counterpart to hard core Lefties who demanded worldwide socialist revolution. Now you are reduced to playing Good Cop for religious nut jobs you would have spat on back in the day.

    Bill Buckley, of National Review fame, became famous back in the 1950s because he was just about the only right-wing pundit willing to go on TV and debate the Dreaded Liberal Intellectual.

    Part of the reason they were Dreaded was because the Right was in intellectual shambles back then and so defending right-wing politics required a lot of mental dexterity. But the bigger reason why moderate Lefties were feared was because they could say, in all honesty:
    “You’d better be nice to us, because if you don’t, you’ll have to deal with the Stalinists and they are MUCH scarier than we are.”

    Right now, moderate Lefties like yourself are trying to play the same game with the Jihadis. The trouble is, at least the Stalinists were theoretically on the same side as you. The bin Ladenites hate you at least as much as they hate me, and probably much, much more.

    The sad truth is, it is not to your credit that you are “borderline left.” You would be better off to either Stop Worrying and Love the Market, as it were, or try to figure out how to resurrect the intellectual respectability of the Hard Left.

    Being a soft Lefty when there are no longer any serious Hard ones for you to play Good Cop to, is frankly just pathetic. It makes you a fading reactionary legacy of the 20th century, as much as anything else.

  154. Right now, moderate Lefties like yourself are trying to play the same game with the Jihadis.

    “People like me” are saying you’d better respect us because if not you’ll have to deal with them? Presenting ourselves as potential *intermediaries* in some way?

    Where? I’m fairly sure I haven’t been.

    What I see myself as doing is looking for explanations for their behaviour, which never goes down well with people who equate explanation with justification, but there’s not much to be done about that. I think a lot of people on the right are trying to talk themselves up to the point where they can contemplate preventive genocide. I don’t *think* you could elect a candidate with such a platform, but after another successful attack who knows.

    Being a soft Lefty when there are no longer any serious Hard ones for you to play Good Cop to, is frankly just pathetic.

    Think you might have a false dichotomy or two there. Mapping politics onto a line is…topologically unsound, let’s say.

  155. >What I see myself as doing is looking for explanations for their behaviour

    Right, but your explanations all take the ‘blowback’ formula. Every atrocity they commit is simply in reaction to something we’ve done to deserve it. If we were to:
    1) Apologize for everything we ever done, for our very existence
    2) Abandon the use of military force to protect our own interests
    3) Turn all power over our foreign policy over to international institutions controlled by Leftists, third world dictators, and their apologists
    4) Pay lots and lots and lots of ‘reparations’ funneled, of course, thru aforementioned international institutions, being sure to make Kofi and his cronies very, very rich and
    5) Throw those Goddamned Israeli Jews to the wolves

    then maybe they might kill us a little bit less. And if not, we could always throw more money at them, funneled thru you, again, of course.

    And why would we do any of that? Because if we don’t, according to you, they’ll kill us even more! And according to you, we’ll deserve it, too.

    The idea that they might be trying to kill us for reasons having to do with their own internal pathologies, is RACIST and I ought to be ashamed of myself for even thinking it.

    And the idea that, maybe they’d be less eager to kill us if they respected, ney, even feared us more, is unthinkable. We must apologize, prostrate ourselves, beg for forgiveness. We must always be asking ourselves “Why do they hate us?” And assuming the answer is because we deserve to be hated. And YOU will be sure to tell us why.

    The truth is, they don’t hate us as much as they despise us. And we DO deserve their contempt. Because we listen to you.

  156. My read on Adrian is that he’s moderately apolitical; he worries about his government locally, and is worried about the impact of ours on the environment (both physical and political) that his operates in.

    Isn’t that ultimately one of the core tenets of Libertarianism?

    Tend to your local politics, keep an eye out on things that could influence your local politics long term?

    I’ll point out that the person who’s been laying on the blanket categorizations and building the attacks on the categorical rhetoric is, putatively, the person on the side of individual freedom.

    For that matter, I think that Jihadism/Islamofascism is going to burn itself out – it’s going to take about 30 years or so for, it and in doing so, it’s going to trigger some history that goes beyond merely interesting to utterly fascinating in the Chinese (or driving by a train wreck) sense.

  157. Hey, Eric – this might make a morbidly interesting blog topic:

    Write, from the perspective of 2030, what the intervening 25 years look like. Do the same competing justification for events that we see here for the ’80s.

    Invite each poster to write up one post on this, ask people to hold off until date point X to post critiques and commentary on it.

    Then, once a year, link back to it, and repeat.

  158. If we were to:
    1) Apologize for everything we ever done, for our very existence
    2) Abandon the use of military force to protect our own interests
    3) Turn all power over our foreign policy over to international institutions controlled by Leftists, third world dictators, and their apologists
    4) Pay lots and lots and lots of ‘reparations’ funneled, of course, thru aforementioned international institutions, being sure to make Kofi and his cronies very, very rich and
    5) Throw those Goddamned Israeli Jews to the wolves

    then maybe they might kill us a little bit less.

    I wouldn’t mind the use of military force to protect your interests, if the latter didn’t seem to have evolved into military domination of the ME and as much of Asia as possible. When I suggest recognising what was done in the past and eliminating interference in other countries people like you just start wailing “They want us to apologise! Munich! Appeasement!” and other silly tropes the Right have battened onto for lack of having anything substantial to say about the matter. Oh, and blaming liberals for not being enthusiastic enough about supporting the war effort, that’s always good for a giggle.

    Reparations? Turn over foreign policy to international institutions? Dunno where those came from. Start controlling your appetite for oil. At least start *trying* to.

    The idea that they might be trying to kill us for reasons having to do with their own internal pathologies, is RACIST and I ought to be ashamed of myself for even thinking it.

    I have no doubt that they have a whole bunch of internal pathologies, but the idea that we are *entirely innocent*, and these pathologies are the *sole* reasons for their attacks, is more comforting than racist.

    It’s as well to be suspicious of comforting memes. They’re just so easy to take on board.

    And the idea that, maybe they’d be less eager to kill us if they respected, ney, even feared us more, is unthinkable.

    You know, this makes an OK soundbite, but the trouble is that you’re talking about people who have *much less to lose* than Westerners. I mean, go on, vote for someone who’s promising to lay some fear about the place, see what happens.

    Let me know when you’ve killed six million, that’s always seemed to me to be a psychologically significant threshold for some reason.

  159. My read on Adrian is that he’s moderately apolitical; he worries about his government locally,

    I’d probably worry more about them if I could understand what they were saying.

    Isn’t that ultimately one of the core tenets of Libertarianism?

    Libertarianism is a fading reactionary legacy of the 20th century. What we need is something a little more up-to-date.

  160. “Jesus wasn’t armed.”

    And he got crucified. There has been no provable evidence of him accomplishing anything since then.

  161. Ken,
    >I’ll point out that the person who’s been laying on the blanket categorizations and building the attacks on the categorical rhetoric is, putatively, the person on the side of individual freedom.

    You have a point. A good one. Last night I was in a bit of a bad mood. I still believe that the things I said were true, but the tone in which I said them could have used some improvement. Maybe a lot of improvement.

    For the third time on this thread, I find myself apologizing. Oy!

  162. The hose must be kinked. Eric will un-kink it and we’ll get a whole bunch of posts at once.

    Hail Eric!

  163. Dean Says:
    >> that’s why killing “terrorists” won’t work nothing that indicates
    >> that this is happening or will ever happen
    >
    > So your plan is, if we can’t convince the believers to abandon their
    > belief because of our words, to give up and die?
    >
    > I vote No.

    Hey, it’s not my decision, but if it was, yes, I would formulate a plan for convincing Muslims to change their beliefs.

    For now, I’m just pointing out the complete lack of any such plan on the part of the West, and the dire consequences likely.

    > P. S. Recommend reading Machiavelli. “Armed prophets succeed.
    > Unarmed prophets fail.” Of course killing terrorists will work. If
    > we kill enough of them.

    There’s 1.3 billion Muslims. Good luck.

  164. Adrian10: Libertarianism is a fading reactionary legacy of the 20th century.

    Of course that really depends on what you mean by “libertarianism”. There are so many political philosophies lumped under the broad term that is really impossible to use it coherently. I’d say that true liberalism, the philosophy that originated with the early Scottish Enlightenment is not a “fading reactionary legacy”. The American Libertarian Party, however, with its rather noxious mix of 1960’s anarchy and classic liberalism, and almost obscene reverence for specific philosophers who were rather offbase on a couple of items, is definitely something I wouldn’t mind seeing fade into complete oblivion. Unfortunately, anyone that stands for very limited government is currently automatically associated with the ALP, whether they should be, or not.

  165. wayne,
    >I would formulate a plan for convincing Muslims to change their beliefs.

    While you’re at it, formulate a plan for convincing
    1) Nazis to love Jews
    2) Commies to love corporations
    3) Rednecks to love black people
    4) Muslims to love Jews
    5) WASPs to love rednecks
    6) Cats to love dogs
    7) Wives to love strippers and whores
    8) Russians and Irishmen to love sobriety
    9) Englishmen to love the French
    10) Hippies to love the military
    11) Lefties to love G. W. Bush
    12) Righties to love Hillary
    13) Goths and punks to love preppies
    14) Greeks to love Turks, and
    15) vice versa

    Unfortunately, there are things that just can’t be done with words. People invest their egos, their basic sense of identity, into their religions, their politics, their hometown sports team. You can’t talk Cubs fans into becoming Red Sox fans.

    It might be nice if you could. But there are some dreams that will just never come true. Or at least, that is my opinion. It is the opinion that makes me a Conservative.

    >There’s 1.3 billion Muslims.

    Sadly, in 100 years, there almost certainly won’t be 1.3 billion any more. One way or another, that ancient and, in some respects, admirable culture is almost certainly headed for the bone yard. The question of greatest importance (to me, anyway), is whether we will be in the bone yard with them.

  166. Me personally, I would rather see them in the bone yard and us sitting pretty. But it is very unlikely to be that easy.

    As I point out ad nauseum on this blog, Osama bin Laden makes an excellent argument for why we don’t deserve to survive. Even if al Qaeda went belly up tomorrow, it would quickly be replaced by some other group, not necessarily Islamic, to take advantage of the West’s current weakness.

    It’s like we are an aging heavyweight. We still have a right hand that can knock you into next week. But we are slowing down. We don’t bob and weave like we used to. We no longer have the hunger you need to last 15 rounds with a serious contender. And worst of all, looking into our eyes, you can see we are beginning to doubt whether victory is even worth the effort.

    Still, we remain the Baddest Man In The Whole Damn Town, and whoever can be the one to take us down, would get a HUGE credibility boost. So the new gunfighters keep coming, each hoping to be The One.

    Even supposing that the West is swept up in some Hofferian mass movement which, at the price of great evil, manages to reinvigorate us, renewing our sense of ourselves as a civilization young, hungry and on-the-make, in 500 or 1000 years we will still be right back here, wondering if it’s worth it to go on.

    The key to Western formidability is a youthful vigor and vitality that may well be impossible for ANY civilization to maintain forever. We may be reduced to hoping that our descendents in spirit can learn from our mistakes as we try to learn from the Romans and the Greeks.

  167. But make no mistake, our chances of making it into the 22nd century are about 50-50. Islam is looking at big fat goose egg.

    Our vitality is waning. But we can still change. We CAN still bob and weave, if not the nimbleness of the days of old.

    Islam is a traditional culture frozen in amber, striking out violently to ward off a modernity ever encroaching, ever threatening to turn believers into agnostics, and then apostates.

    The perfect picture of the dead end of Islam is the Palestinian suicide bomber. A culture wherein the highest honor goes to those who blow themselves up in restaurants and shopping centers hoping to kill women and children, then ascending into a heaven-as-perpetual-sex-orgy, puncturing hymens for eternity, is a hopeless case.

    The nanotech transhumanists of our society, who hope to upload their minds into computers and amass infinite wealth and satisfaction while living forever, may be kooky and weird, but they are proof that we have not lost hope. Geeks they may be, but they are our salvation. Whether or not their dream ever comes true isn’t the point. The point is we can still produce crazy dreamers.

    Islam produces only crazies. And apathetics who keep their heads down, hoping not to become a target of the crazies. Their race is run. And on the other side of the finish line is oblivion.

  168. Adrian10: Libertarianism is a fading reactionary legacy of the 20th century.

    Of course that really depends on what you mean by “libertarianism”.

    That was really aimed at Dean – he used the expression a few posts further up. Didn’t mean it particularly seriously, though I do find the idea of libertarians backing an overwhelmingly strong military kind of ironic.

  169. The perfect picture of the dead end of Islam is the Palestinian suicide bomber. A culture wherein the highest honor goes to those who blow themselves up in restaurants and shopping centers hoping to kill women and children, then ascending into a heaven-as-perpetual-sex-orgy, puncturing hymens for eternity, is a hopeless case.

    I grant you Mohammad Atta and his crew may have been vaguely motivated by such things, even if they do seem to have spent a surprising amount of time in titty bars beforehand (cultural research, perhaps), but there’s not much evidence I’ve seen that the sort of Palestinians blowing themselves up are the seriously devout Hamas regulars, they’re more ordinary young Palestinian guys (and now girls) who just don’t feel that they’ve got a lot of opportunities in front of them. Of course, far be it from me to suggest that the Israelis have anything to do with this *perception* of lack of opportunity, it’s obviously TOTALLY self-inflicted and they should just get off their lazy islamic butts, read Paul Graham’s essays and start forming new technology startups like the Jews would in their shoes.

  170. Adrian,

    I apprectiate your sarcasm, but I still miss the clear ethical perception of the issue – killing people just because one feels hopeless and despaired is considered high crime in our societies, and actually it is also considered so in Islam societies as long as the victims are also Muslim. It’s the exception Islam takes for non-Muslims is what causes the phenomena: while terrorist are of course not solely motivated by religious zeal, but rather social questions, the basic problem is that Islam does not explicitly forbid this type of behaviour.

  171. Adrian, like most Europeans addressing the problems in Israel and Palestine, you sarcastically refuse to go back far enough to see where the problems really lie.

  172. I apprectiate your sarcasm, but I still miss the clear ethical perception of the issue – killing people just because one feels hopeless and despaired is considered high crime in our societies,

    Is it? High crime sounds like something you can be punished for, and it’s a bit late in the case of suicide bombers. I suppose you could sweep up the body parts and inter them with pork, but it’s a difficult theological question as to whether it would be effective in stopping them getting into heaven.

    and actually it is also considered so in Islam societies as long as the victims are also Muslim.

    Not making much difference in Iraq ATM AFAICT. I suppose they may not consider each other to be Muslims, though.

    It’s the exception Islam takes for non-Muslims is what causes the phenomena: while terrorist are of course not solely motivated by religious zeal, but rather social questions, the basic problem is that Islam does not explicitly forbid this type of behaviour.

    So, like, what do we do? Try to persuade them to rewrite the Koran? Kill all of them?

    I’m in the “stop fucking them around” camp, but this is widely seen as the “Chamberlain option”, and gets no respect from the manly men among us. We all know how Appeasing Tyranny turned out last time, eh? They’d be making us all wear djellabis and performing public female circumcisions across Europe and America in *no* time.

  173. Adrian, like most Europeans addressing the problems in Israel and Palestine, you sarcastically refuse to go back far enough to see where the problems really lie.

    You mean I refuse to place all the blame on the Palestinians, despite the fact that the Israelis have all the power?

    What this was about was Dean’s characterisation of Palestinian suicide bombers as being motivated mainly by a sex-mad afterlife. I find this unpersuasive, especially as before Hamas got elected they were starting to get more and more girls volunteering. Do you think girls find the idea of 72 virgins useful or interesting? I don’t.

  174. > killing people just because one feels hopeless and despaired is considered high crime in our societies

    Hmm… correct me if I’m wrong, but the suggestion by several (well, at least just Dean) of the commentators here seems to be to kill all the 1.3 billion muslims. This seems to stem from a notion that we’re otherwise helpless against the onslaught of Islam.

    I’d further point out that self defense is considered a quite valid excuse for killing someone in our society, though it is certainly a stretch to equate to a suicide bomber with a man defending his home. But a stretch of similar length is made when saying that suicide bombing is simply an expression of hopelessness and despair (obviously this was adrian10’s point).

    Perhaps if we/Israel could stem the influx of money feeding the families of suicide bombers in Palestine in conjunction with convincing Israel’s leadership to be a bit less bloodthirsty, we’d have a good shot of solving the problem (untill the first Arabic or Persian country gets nukes).

  175. Perhaps if we/Israel could stem the influx of money feeding the families of suicide bombers in Palestine

    Has someone taken over Saddam’s old bonus scheme? I don’t think these families are exactly building vast commercial empires with all the money they’re getting from sinister Arab charities. Do you really want to starve them? Kind of adding insult to injury, especially as many of them won’t even have known of their kid’s decision.

    The Israelis already knock their houses down AFAIK.

  176. >(untill the first Arabic or Persian country gets nukes)

    Therein lies the problem. Before 911, we didn’t realize that there was a serious enough problem to warrant taking our eyes off of our celebrities and our political scandals to try and solve. But events brought the situation to a head.

    By the same token, events continue to march along, a little faster than we are prepared to deal with (we don’t bob and weave like we used to), until a new crisis mandates a new level of awareness. Sadly, the (in some ways) well meaning members of the “stop fucking them around” camp are the ones doing the most to enable the next crisis (whatever it turns out to be).

    Those peace-in-our-time loving souls want us to be passive as the situation in the Muslim world keeps changing, certain that if we simply withdraw and do nothing, everything will work out for the best. Because the fault is all on the Western side, and if we stopped provoking them, those reasonable, peace-loving Jihadis would beat their suicide bombs into plowshares.

    And in the aftermath of the next attack which would inevitably follow from a perception of weakness, those well-meaning sophisticates would again council inaction, and again, and again. And with each nonresponse, the follow-up attacks would grow more devastating, because, as I said, if there is no reason for anyone to fear you, the world simply doesn’t respect you. Many Europeans have forgotten this, in their brief time as an American protectorate.

    At some point, an attack would come that the peacenik’s pretty words could not reframe away, and the West would be truly “terrorized,” and the response, when it finally came, would be devastating.

    Ironically, our one hope in preventing this awful scenario comes from leaders like G. W. Bush. Not because the man is a saint or genius, but because he wants to take the fight to the enemy, to shape events in OUR direction. For this he is loathed by the Western-self-abasement crowd, but they have the opportunity to be comfortably contemptuous of him, precisely because they are not listened-to in the halls of power. Of course, all it would take would be one election to change that. For a while.

  177. Adrian,

    but _how_ to leave them alone? Leave Iraq and let Sunnites and Shi’ites wage a civil war? It might be useful as it would avert their attention from the West but not an exactly humane option – even if invading Iraq had been an error, now it’s necessary to clean up the mess before leaving it.

    And even if the troops got called back from Iraq, Israel would still be there. Withdraw support from Israel? The only thing keeps Israelis treating the situation much harder – such as executing a village after each terrorist attack or something like that – that they want to look good in the eyes of the West. If they no more got that support, there would be nothing to stop them from that. Withdrawing support would mean the conflict only became bloodier.

    Besides, current strategies seem to work – Hamas recently hinted on a fifty-years ceasefire, which is, in reality, nothing but a de facto peace offer (with saving some face).

    (A side thought. Maybe it would not be so bad if fuel prices got ten or twenty times as high as they are now. It would nicely solve by itself the ugly problems about globalization. Travel and transport would suddenly become expensive and therefore it would stop outsourcing to and importing from the Far East. Industry would move back to USA/Europe. Hypermarkets would crash and people once again went to Unlce Fred’s Drugstore because that’s closer, and they can get there by bicycle. People and business would move out of big cities. Local markets, local exchange and cooperation once again started to flourish. And so on.)

  178. >[Israelis] executing a village after each terrorist attack

    Look, the Jews are not my people, and I feel a little out of place defending their good name, but that’s just nonsense.

    Jews slaughtering whole villages? They won’t even cut off the water to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a DAY after each attack. Murdering scores of innocents? That’ll happen about the time my bald head grows back all its hair, I win the lottery, and supermodels start showing up at my house begging me for sex.

    And as for the effects of a twenty-fold increase in fuel prices? Political upheaval. The unemployment rate throughout the West would skyrocket, and the voters would all “throw the rascals out.”

    If they wanted to keep their cushy new positions, the new rascals would have to knock some OPEC heads together. And there would be repercussions from that.

    Remember that, back in the good-old-days, before globalization, when Uncle Fred’s Drugstore was a going concern, fuel was cheap. It’s technology that changed, not just the fuel costs. If fuel costs were to ascend skyward, the push for greater technological efficiency would increase, not decrease.

    Fantasy worlds are nice places to live in, until you try to build them for real.

  179. The problem with Bush is not that he’s willing to fight, it’s that he’s too damn stupid (or politically/informationally blinded/mislead) to pick fights with the right enemy. While the “axis of evil” may have reasonably chosen, why in G-d’s name did he pick the one of the three that had the least chance of getting WMD? Now that our military is engaged in two war/peacekeeping missions, NK and Iran are free to thumb their metaphorical noses at us and further accelerate their plans to build the weapons that will bring about the end of the world as we know it.

  180. Dean,

    no, they are about halway through _my_ people, I have relatives there, and I know they are hard as steel. Those I know wouldn’t hesitate to shed some blood to stop terrorism, even innocent blood, if they would not be afraid what America will think. After three generations grew up in the shadow of terrorism and war, after five Arab nations promised to destroy Israel in 1948 etc. and then three other wars, the terrorism and whatever, they have little pity left for Arabs. This is why it is important to keep up support, because as long as they count on the support, they gonna keep their anger under control.

  181. >why in G-d’s name did he pick the one of the three that had the least chance of getting WMD?

    Because we had a pretext. Saddam violated the terms of the 1991 cease fire agreement which ended the first Gulf War. Taking him out was both easier to accomplish and easier to rationalize than usurping the somewhat democratically elected government in Iran, or launching a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, which has missiles and artillery within range of Seoul and an mutual defense treaty with China.

    According to legend, vampires can be killed in a number of ways:
    1) wooden stake thru the heart
    2) decapitation
    3) exposure to sunlight

    Any one of these, if you fail to make good on it, will leave you with one very pissed off vampire. So you go with whichever method seems most likely to succeed.

    Vampires are immortal. They heal very quickly. The old ones are very smart. In some stories, they have magical powers like being able to change into wolves and bats or travel on moonbeams.

    Any time you go vampire hunting, you take a big risk of failing and being killed. The only reason anyone would engage in such a foolish endeavor is because the consequence of doing nothing, being continually preyed upon, is worse.

    Furthermore, the really clever vampires will attack your friends and family to avenge your attacks on them. Thus, you risk being hated by those you are trying to save from being food for the undead.

    In modern times, it is possible you may find some well educated souls proclaiming that the vampires are not evil, that they only suck our blood because we were mean to them, what with our crucifixes and garlic and all.

    If we were to simply embrace the vampires as our brothers and sisters, we could all be one big happy living and undead family. We would have Peace. And isn’t that what everyone really wants?

    So, risking the ire of your neighbors, you stake ‘em, behead ‘em, or sun bake ‘em as you can, knowing that if you die, the professors will say that you deserved it, for contributing to the ‘cycle of violence.’ And if you succeed, those same professors will point to the lack of recent vampire attacks as proof that your efforts were never really needed at all.

  182. …and of course, the fact that such patently obvious strategery was acted upon by such an intellectual inferior as Chimpy McShrub (being, of course, the puppet of the Evil CheneyFeld Roving Death Cult), galls our liberal saviors to apoplexy…if only the granite-jawed lurching intellectual giant Poodle had been elected, however, it would have been a stunning display of statesmanlike leadership

  183. I would just like to note, for the record, that I have alleged many times on this blog that Osama makes an excellent argument that we, Western Civilization, deserve to die. There are a number of at least somewhat Lefty Western commentators on this site, none of whom have ever:
    1) attempted to refute my allegation, or even pooh-poohed it
    2) proposed any method for combating Osama’s argument (assuming I am right to insist he makes one)
    3) attempted to defend Western Civilization against Osama’s assertions or
    4) pledged to fight for the West, in order to demonstrate that we are in fact a vigorous and united people, with a will to survive.

    I, for one, find this significant. Not surprising, but significant.

  184. I have alluded to something similar in the past…and ‘they’ do not like having their pants pulled down in such an ignoble manner…

  185. but _how_ to leave them alone? Leave Iraq and let Sunnites and Shi’ites wage a civil war? It might be useful as it would avert their attention from the West but not an exactly humane option – even if invading Iraq had been an error, now it’s necessary to clean up the mess before leaving it.

    It’s called “self-determination”. The ethnic cleansing which is probably going to happen could conceivably be done mercifully – the Greeks and the Turks managed it in the 20s.

    Maybe it would not be so bad if fuel prices got ten or twenty times as high as they are now.

    Except that not many of us could afford to eat. Agriculture is very petrochemical-dependent ATM.

    Hm. Seems images are filtered out.

    Wise, you’d just get disaffected souls posting tubgirl all over the place otherwise.

  186. I would just like to note, for the record, that I have alleged many times on this blog that Osama makes an excellent argument that we, Western Civilization, deserve to die. There are a number of at least somewhat Lefty Western commentators on this site, none of whom have ever:
    1) attempted to refute my allegation, or even pooh-poohed it
    2) proposed any method for combating Osama’s argument (assuming I am right to insist he makes one)
    3) attempted to defend Western Civilization against Osama’s assertions or
    4) pledged to fight for the West, in order to demonstrate that we are in fact a vigorous and united people, with a will to survive.

    I, for one, find this significant. Not surprising, but significant.

    It needed refuting? I haven’t seen many of the corresponding righties pledge to do much to fight for the West other than buying a gun and standing outside their house, miles from anywhere any Muslim will ever go, muttering “No pasaran!”

    Cheap energy made us a vigorous people in the past, but its days appear to be drawing to a close. You seem to think we can make ourselves vigorous again by mere assertion, and sinew-stiffening homilies delivered in blogworld.

    I have doubts, myself.

  187. adrian
    >Cheap energy made us a vigorous people in the past, but its days appear to be drawing to a close.

    Nonsense. Vigor is a spiritual matter. It springs from belief. Cheap petrochemicals were a channel thru which that vigor flowed, not the wellspring of it. (Stephen Hawking is a vigorous man and he can’t fucking move!)

    Beyond that, you do realize that the solar system is awash in cheap energy, don’t you? About 93 million miles from here is a rather large nuclear fusion reactor. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

    Other than the fact that our elites have given up hope, our main problem is finding scalable technology to inexpensively take advantage of that abundant resource. With sufficient innovation and belief on the part of those who dream big, our era of cheap energy could be just beginning.

    A century ago you Lefties dreamed of a grand future for the human race, under your tutelage and direction, of course. Turned out you were lousy bosses and now you’ve given up on the future.

    Earlier I accused the Christians of being a bunch of pussies. Well, they aren’t the only ones. If you had any balls you’d bounce back from your reversal and try to recapture your dreams.

    There’s a movie version of H. G. Wells’ “Things To Come” with Raymond Massey in it, made in 1936, back when you people still believed. Go rent it at the video store, watch it and try, once again, to be a man of faith.

    Just because Socialism is a dead end, doesn’t mean you have to be.

  188. adrian,
    >I have doubts, myself.

    I know you have doubts, adrian, but a wise man sees beyond them. I know I’m hardly the one to preach at you, given the morbid disputations I’ve been spewing around here lately, but believe me, with all my metaphysical navel-gazing and doom-saying, I still have hope. And so can you.

    Ok, so there’s no God and Socialism doesn’t work. There are still other things to live for, hope for, dream of. You just have to believe.

    P. S. I’ve been really mean to you lately. Perhaps a bit more than you deserve ;-)

    I’m sorry.

  189. >There’s a reason why these days the left calls itself the reality based community…

    For the record, the Left calls itself the reality based community because you don’t believe in God, considering it a bunch of silly, superstitious nonsense. And perhaps it is.

    But you know what else is nonsense? The Labor Theory of Value.

    And while we’re at it, the whole luscious dream of the human ant colony, wherein ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ means that to the degree that anyone is able to produce anything, he is a slave, working without payment, and without hope of manumission, for the incompetent who, because they are incompetent, are not even obliged to be grateful.

    If the Christers are fools for believing in resurrection and salvation beyond the grave, what are you for believing that human beings could be organized like hive insects and ruled by philosopher kings?

    When was there ever a decent place for people to live in, organized according to the principles of Karl Marx? That power-mad old whore sold you a utopian fantasy straight out of Gulliver’s Travels and you fell for it hook, line and sinker.

    Reality-based community, my ass.

  190. Dean, you accuse me of being a leftist and I tell you that is not the case; there’s an inbuilt assumption in your rhetoric that I hope to disabuse you of, that being that anyone who finds fault with capitalism to the point of deeming it unsustainable necessarily wants a Soviet-style managed economy.

    In the Trobriand Islands off Papua New Guinea there are matrilineal clans of subsistence farmers for whom yams are an important food crop. They are used like money: traded for goods, etc., and even put on display in large storehouses. Yams are also directly related to political influence; the chief of the clan is the one with the most yams. But you cannot simply grow your own yams and accumulate power that way. You must be given your yams as a gift, primarily by your wife’s relatives. So in order to achieve wealth, status, and power, you must cultivate good relationships with your other clan members from year to year, lest they “mod you down” by not growing any yams for you — and you thereby lose your influence.

    This “gift economy” should inspire pangs of familiarity amongst ESR and other open source nuts. Compare and contrast this with, say, the Hawaiian system of “mana”, or for a really sharp contrast, the system of corporate patronage and glib campaign lies that characterize modern-day Murka.

    The lesson of the Trobrianders’ yams is this: the goodwill of your fellow man is valuable coin. It is, in fact, perhaps the most precious commodity we have. The Trobrianders have another lesson for ya’ll: Thus far you have presented two alternatives: capitalism on the one hand and marxism on the other; both are reprehensible in about equal measure, both require the many to work for the sake of the few. There are other lifestyles, other ways of being that are equally valid, perhaps more so: for you see, our patterns of production and consumption *determine* our lifestyle, and the one you and I enjoy requires such a profusion of energy as not to be sustainable with the resources we have. Cheap energy defines the modern Western experience; cheap energy and a sincere belief that yours is the best of all possible cultures and so it is the epitome of rightness to exploit, assimilate, and/or outright destroy cultures that don’t resemble your own.

    (And if you hit me with “the yam economy doesn’t scale” my response is this: Correct.)

    So, unless a miracle occurs and some scientist somewhere comes up with a hyperefficient solar cell or tokamak reactor or something that enables us to light and air-condition our homes, power our cars and trains and factories and refineries (we’ll still need that oil to make plastics!), etc., without the need for oil, we are looking at a hardscrabble competition for the remaining mineral resources. Now, we’re dealing here with a culture that carefully engineered the notion of “race” in order to forestall a complete collapse of the tobacco economy in the New World colonies. I do not expect it to play nice when the oil dries up and the Middle Easterners, tired of having received the shaft from the West time and time again, withdraw their yams (i.e., their mineral resources).

    But that’s just me. You can keep on believing in fairies if you want to.

  191. One of the interesting assertions I see bandied about and not contested by Left, Right, Center or whatever, is this:

    Western Civilization is In Decline.

    The meme is thus:

    “We are watching the first coamers over the rails of the sinking ship of Western Civilization.

    [Leftist] It’s a sad thing that it’s going under, for it’s provided us a lot of comfort. But, perhaps, once the corpus has sunk beneath the wave, and we’re no longer distracted by its gewgaws of consumptive prosperity, we can leave within our means, not exploiting other peoples, in harmony with the world.

    [Rightist] And while the ship is going down, and the shark fins are clear against the wave, I will stand here with my rifle, shooting the sharks in the hopes of buying One More Day of Western Enlightnment, and I, the heroic invidual on the balustrade of history, will make my Noble Doomed Stand. One day I shall fall, and with me, Civilization As We Know It, but I will Hold My Watch, and try to recruit my heir.

    I contend that Western Civilization is far from doomed. It’s just adapting to circumstances….and some of its poor decisions in the past (Ponzi schemes as health care and retirement programs…) will transform it far more than any internal threat will.

    In politics, as in game design, you get the behaviors you reward. We’re starting to see the results of rewarded behavior in foreign policy (Jihadism) and domestic (Labor policies), and both sides have been grabbing the Levers of Dooom, trying to convince their constituents that they’re The Last Generation That Matters.

    It’s been going on since the ’70s, and it’s a giant mountain of bovine extrement. I think the source of the meme is that people past about the age of 40 are realizing that the world isn’t what was promised to them in their 20s, and this realization makes them think the entire kibosh is swirling down the toilet.

  192. Jeff,
    I confess I don’t really understand most of what you are saying. I get that you are saying that capitalism and Marxism are equally reprehensible. And you seem to be implying that Western Civilization is bad and you expect it to get worse in the future.

    Was there any other point I was supposed to understand? In answering, please assume that I, being a conventional bourgeois Conservative Republican, am no where near as smart as you.

  193. Ken, I’m in my late twenties and nothing was ever promised to me. I’m not even one of the intellectual types Dean repeatedly (and tiresomely) excoriates. I’m just a regular schlub who happens to know a bit more math and C++ and Lisp than the average regular schlub.

    What I impart is not leftist demagoguery, nor is it rightist paranoia. It’s simple, straight-up systems analysis. Systems which rely on overconsumption of resources are not sustainable, must either adapt or perish when those resources dwindle. Given the history the West has of resorting to violence rather than adapting, I cannot expect anything other than the same in the face of the crisis of dwindling energy and still be a reasonable person.

    The problem with contesting the idea that Western civ is in decline is that all such contestations have that nature of the Far Side cartoon wherein a mathematician is deriving a proof and writes, “…and then a miracle happens…

    Well, maybe oil is produced deep within the earth and there’s still plenty left. Well, maybe someone will build flippin’ sweet new tokamak reactors. Well, maybe we’ll perfect space travel, get off this dusty rock, and colonize the solar system and beam our energy to us via satellites. Well, maybe volcanoes or the oceans or something are responsible for the earth heating up and not our own CO2 emissions (in spite of the volumes of peer-reviewed research supporting the claim that global warming is, in fact, anthropogenic in nature and no such support for the other side, except for press releases from Big Oil-funded scientists).

    Well, maybe I’m Peter Pan and I can fly! There’s your mountain of bovine excrement. I have lost the capability to entertain such flights of fantasy; in the immortal words of Leonard Cohen:

    “Your servant here, he has been told, to say it clear, to say it cold:
    It’s over, it ain’t goin’ any further.
    And now the wheels of heaven stop, you feel the devil’s riding crop;
    Get ready for the future, it is murder.”

  194. Ken,
    >Western Civilization is In Decline.

    I don’t think we are necessarily In Decline, as it were. It’s just that we’ve got some issues we haven’t figured out how to deal with yet. Spengler at Asia Times Online argues that the West cannot survive without belief in a just and loving God in Heaven who will Make It All Make Sense one day.

    Modern science, the baby Christianity failed to strangle in its crib, has vastly increased our living standards and life expectancies, but it has undermined our faith in God. Science has thus expanded our understanding and broken our hearts. And no one knows what the answer is. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    In the 1890s, Americans and Western Europeans were convinced that the city was doomed. They argued that as cities accumulated more residents, following the factory jobs of the Industrial Revolution, more horses were needed to carry those people from place to place. Those horses would all shit in the street, sending up noxious gasses and creating all sorts of health problems. No one could see a solution, though the automobile was just around the corner.

    I think that we can find a solution for our existential woes, also, provided we don’t just give up. My problem with our intellectual elites is, as I said to adrian, they seem to think that if they can’t run things, then life is not worth living, so we should just give up.

    I am reminded of the abusive husband who decides to kill his battered wife when she tries to leave him, saying: “If I can’t have you, no one will.”

    I still want to live even if I don’t get to boss you around. Among self-conscious intellectuals, I seem to be a minority.

  195. >the intellectual types Dean repeatedly (and tiresomely) excoriates

    I know that I am tiresome. If I were not, then people in my real life would be willing to listen to me yammer about this stuff and I wouldn’t have to burden you guys with it.

    And as for all that resource depletion hand wringing, I got 3 words for you:
    Julian Lincoln Simon

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

  196. Jeff, I can’t believe this: Given the history the West has of resorting to violence rather than adapting,

    Are we still harvesting whales?
    Are we still using horses for tranportation (other than those quaint novelty carriages that hover around Central Park for use by star-crossed lovers)?
    Are we still making wheels with wooden spokes?
    Are we still making buggy whips?

    I fear that your thesis is based on a too-small sample size. Perhaps you should conclude less and discover more?

  197. I should clarify further, Dean my friend:

    I am not qualified to tell anyone but myself how to live their life. The most anyone can do is to find a group of like-minded individuals and work together to manifest their common values, dreams, etc.

    I would appreciate it if you stopped projecting your Red Scare strawman onto people like myself and adrian.

  198. Jeff, you realize that predictions that we will “Soon Run Out of Oil” are practically as old as the use of oil itself? At age 13 (1971) I dispaired of ever driving an automobile because US oil production peaked that year. All the news was about how we were running out of oil. We didn’t run out of oil. The popular press always gets these things wrong. Oil experts always get these things wrong, because they don’t understand economics. They only understand oil.

  199. Adrian10: You mean I refuse to place all the blame on the Palestinians, despite the fact that the Israelis have all the power?

    First, much of the modern day problems in the Middle East happen to trace to the really fucked up way that France and the UK dealt with the Middle East, including drawing some really stupid lines on the map, screwing over a variety of different ethnic groups and promoting one tribe at the expense of another. Or, at least by dramatically exacerbated by what was done in the region 70 to 80 years ago.

    Second, much like I found it hard to blame the Russians for being paranoid about Western invasion (given a history of it happening on a regular and consistent basis), I find it really hard to blame the Israelis considering the number of times they have been attacked by someone who declared that they intended to wipe them off the map and proceeded to try.

    Third, the Palestinians have been offered an equitable peace a number of times. If they truly wanted peace and an opportunity to restablish their own country, they could have had it any time they wanted. Of course, it’s not their fault, those damn Israelis keep retaliating after their civilians get killed in suicide bomb attacks.

    Same old crap, different day.

  200. Jeff, have you not studied the history of civilization, and the number of rabbits that have been pulled out of our collective ass? In fact, there have been more predictions of energy depletion, famine, economic catastrophe, ad nauseum than you can shake a stick at for centuries now. Every single one of them on the macro global scale has proven to be overblown, paranoia or dealt with by advances in knowledge and technology. What is it with all you doomsayers? Why aren’t you out there trying to come up with a new solution instead of insisting on neo-luddite, anti-technology, anti-market solutions that are guarunteed to make everyone poor? Why is it that you guys read Adam Smith and you get the surface, but don’t get the deeper philosophy?

    Are you that scared? What is the deal with not believing in the demonstrated capacity of humans to overcome such things?

  201. Jeff,
    >I would appreciate it if you stopped projecting your Red Scare strawman onto people like myself

    I understood you to be defending the Left as the reality based community. I mean I thought you were ENDORSING that view, not just repeating it. If I was mistaken, my apologies.

    But if I was correct in my understanding, and you really think that the Left IS the party of realism, then you don’t just get to redact the Left to mean the parts you like, leaving out the parts you don’t.

    For better or for worse, neither we nor our philosophical assumptions spring into the world, fully grown, as from the head of Zeus. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we belong to philosophical traditions which create a framework for our own ideas. Without that common framework we could not communicate, either with others or even with ourselves. We would have to specify EVERYTHING, and no one live long enough to do that.

    So, as an American Conservative I have to answer for all aspects of Conservatism, even those I don’t agree with. For instance, Liberals love to bash people like me over the head with Race. American Right-wingers once supported segregation, therefore I must bear the stigma of racism and specifically distance myself from it.

    Of course, I could abandon all this and be a Non-Conformist. Meaning I march to the beat of my own drummer down a road that goes nowhere.

    If I want to be a Conservative, I have to carry all the baggage of the Right.

    By the same token, if you are left-of-center, you don’t get to say: “But Comrade Stalin had nothing to do with me. I’m completely different!”

    If you want to be a Non-Conformist, there’s no reason anyone should listen to you, as you would be failing to take into account the ideas of all the many clever people who came before you.

    If you want to be a Lefty, then you have to put up with the Red Scare shit, because the Reds did some very Scary shit.

    You can point out that you are a non-totalitarian Lefty, just like I have to point out that I am a non-racist Righty. But you don’t get to lose the baggage and keep the relevance.

  202. The lefties seem willing to embrace certain realities, at least more so than the righties. Whether they fall flat on their face by accepting other delusions is another story. I myself try to live by values which were once called libertarian (apparently that term is falling out of vogue); and I try not to let those values be compromised by emotional identification with this or that political party, faction, or special interest group — especially when they have a hidden non-libertarian agenda (as the Republicans clearly do). There’s a difference between using point X as a starting point for your philosophical perspective and emotionally identifying with Xists.

  203. P. S. I’ve been really mean to you lately. Perhaps a bit more than you deserve ;-)

    Hadn’t noticed. Please, don’t worry about me, I practice thick skin as well as preaching it.

    Beyond that, you do realize that the solar system is awash in cheap energy, don’t you? About 93 million miles from here is a rather large nuclear fusion reactor. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

    Now you’re being silly. This has been discussed, the problem is access – specifically, Earth’s gravity well. Given a space elevator we should be able to get solar power satellites up into orbit in sufficient quantities to make a difference. If we have enough time. And it sounds like it needs to be very close to the theoretical maximum strength-to-weight ratio for carbon nanotubes to work. You can put all your eggs in that basket if you like. I don’t necessarily see the endless bounty of human ingenuity solving that one, though I’ll be the first to cheer and admit I was wrong once the first one is up and running. What I won’t do is accept that it’s my fault if it doesn’t happen.

    For the record, the Left calls itself the reality based community because you don’t believe in God, considering it a bunch of silly, superstitious nonsense.

    No it doesn’t, it’s a reference to some hubristic comment allegedly made by some Bush minion.

  204. Jeff, you realize that predictions that we will “Soon Run Out of Oil” are practically as old as the use of oil itself?

    Have I mentioned that Ehrlich has in fact turned out to have been crying wolf? But I don’t know of anyone serious who’s talking about running out. They’re talking about a peak in production, and they’re mainly basing it on the world peak in discovery (1962, I believe). Those who pooh-pooh PO tend to rely on very fishy notions like “reserve growth” (*believe* the Saudi official line, they are your friends etc.).

  205. Two rules:
    1) You have to find oil before you can produce it
    2) Production has to mirror discovery after a time lag

    US-48 discovery peaked in the 1930s, US-48 production peaked in the early 1960s. Total US discovery (including AK) peaked in the early 1960s, total US production peaked in the mid-70s. World-wide discovery peaked in the early 1980s.

    World-wide production, discounting all Middle-East oil peaked in 1997.

    While we are not about to run out of oil, the production of oil is about to reach a peak, if it has not done so already.

    When this production peak comes depends on the issue of two rates:

    First the discovery rate – we now find one barrel of conventional oil for every four we consume, and second the extraction rate which is ultimately controlled by the physics of the reservoir.

    Demand is driven by economic growth and price. Remember that price is not the same as cost. The cost of producing oil remains low, but its price has to reflect tax, scarcity and control of the main sources of supply.

  206. The world isn’t going to run out of oil, because crude is but one method of obtaining oil. While crude is relatively plentiful and cheap, we’ll use it.

    Once crude runs out, we’ll start using the alternative methods available to produce oil, ones that are too expensive to bother with today while there is cheap crude oil.

  207. OMG… it’s SNARKY AD-HOMINEM GUY… ah fuck what do I care anymore…

    We could replace all discussion that has ever occurred on the internet on the matter of politics with “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH” and we’d probably be at the exact same fucking place in the end, all said and done.

  208. Scarcity is a basic economic principle. There is only a finite amount of anything, including oil. However, the solutions proposed by “environmentalists” are anti-capitalistic vannevars. I think that by the time oil scarcity is a real problem, the fuel equivalent of the microprocessor will moot it.

  209. ” > Remember that price is not the same as cost.”
    “No dude… it is… lord man… P=V=C… it’s such a basic economic… principle…”

    Errr…Pete? Are you joking around? Price is only loosely related to cost…in that I *at least* want to break even, with hopefully some profit for my efforts.

    The costs involved in obtaining the materials to make my widget may be X, but the end price (to customers) may well be 100X…reflecting my widgets value in the marketplace. If my ingenuity and efforts transforming the materials into my widget are not valued any higher than the sum of the materials, then economically-speaking it ain’t worth my while.

    Perhaps you are thinking that costs *are* prices…which is true…but costs exist on one side of an eceonomic transformation, and prices on the other. The price of wood becomes the cost of my lumber supply to make chairs…a product the price of which becomes a cost in somebody elses kitchen furniture suit business…

  210. OMG… it’s SNARKY AD-HOMINEM GUY…

    No no, ad-hom is like this, it’s when you say X shouldn’t listen to Y’s possibly-perfectly-valid claims because of Y’s faults of character. Unfortunately, in this case Y’s principal fault of character is that he insists on saying DUMB THINGS. One example, from here, explaining why keeping people in Gitmo is great, he says that soldiers wear uniforms not only to distinguish them from civilians, but to *protect* civilians – “sanctuary”, he calls it. He then goes on to claim that this tradition goes right back to Babylon where the putative descendants of the Babylonians are violating it willy-nilly by attacking Americans and each other without being properly dressed.

    “And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable.”

    What he manages to imply here is that inter-city warfare in Babylonian times involved great concern for the rights of civilians, whereas as far as I can tell, they massacred them pretty much as they pleased – the idea of trying to spare them is fairly recent. And he does this kind of thing all the time, hence I call him a knownuff, though some of the pretensions on display in “Tribes” might merit saltier epithets.

    But please, by all means pull this apart…unless you get one of those sudden attacks of ennui…

    ah fuck what do I care anymore…

    Thought you’d been quiet. Did you get my email? OTOH, maybe I wasn’t worthy…

  211. However, the solutions proposed by “environmentalists” are anti-capitalistic vannevars.

    That’s interesting, I never knew his name had been made into a term of disparagement.

    I think that by the time oil scarcity is a real problem, the fuel equivalent of the microprocessor will moot it.

    Moore’s Law doen’t apply to energy, I’m afraid. I mean, I’m sure they’ll be able to make some really dinky fuel cells eventually, but they won’t enable the modern lifestyle all by themselves in the absence of new sources, even if they make possible some efficiency gains.

  212. They say that Islam must be rescued from extremists who selectively cite Islamic scripture to justify terrorism. Though Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir do not denounce particular scholars or schools of thought, their students say the two are challenging the influence of Islam’s more reactionary sects, like Wahhabism and Salafism, which has been spread to American mosques and schools by clerics trained in Saudi Arabia. Where Wahhabism and Salafism are often intolerant of other religions — even of other streams within Islam — Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir teach that Islam is open to a diversity of interpretations honed by centuries of scholars.

    Mr. Yusuf told the audience in Houston to beware of “fanatics” who pluck Islamic scripture out of context and say, “We’re going to tell you what God says on every single issue.”

    “That’s not Islam,” Mr. Yusuf said. “That’s psychopathy.”

    link

  213. Once crude runs out, we’ll start using the alternative methods available to produce oil, ones that are too expensive to bother with today while there is cheap crude oil.

    Well yes, but:

    1) the (cheap) crude doesn’t have to run out before costs (and therefore prices) rise. It just has to get more expensive to produce.
    As the cost of production rises, so will the prices, and as demand outstrips production, prices will also rise.

    Techniques for increasing well head product (gas and water injection) tend to accelerate the time to peak of a given field. Worse, they tend to produce production curves with a much ‘sharper’ peak, once the peak occurs, the drop off in production is rapid.

    As Kuwait has finally acknowledged the peak of the Burgan, we’re only waiting on Saudi Arabia to inform us that Ghawar has peaked. Lets look at the world’s top four oil fields:

    Ghawar (Saudit Arabia) 5 million BOPD Peak status unknown
    Canaterall (Mexico) 2.2 million BOPD In decline, 14% per year
    Bergan (Kuwait) 1.6 million BOPD In decline, rate unknown
    DaQing (China) 1 million BOPD In decline, 7% per year

    These 4 feilds produce about 10 million BOPD, or about 12.5% of the world’s 82 million BOPD production.

    A decline rate of 10% in just these 4 feilds translates to a loss of over 1 million BOPD. Per year. You’ll need to make this up somewhere.

    The North sea went into decline in 1999 at a rate of about 14%. The UK became an oil importer late last year. Indonesia also became an oil importer in 2005. Australia use to be supplied by Indoneasia and since Indonesia can no longer supply Oz, Oz also has lined up at the Straits of Hormuz, hat in hand, asking for middle east oil.

    2) We would >soalternative methods available to produce oil you propose. They’re all problematic, and not just in terms of “cost of production”.

    For instance, the Alberta “tar sands” production of approximately 1.0 MBOD in 2005 also used 0.72/bcf (billion cubic feet) of natural gas. Projections are to increase production to 3.3 MBOD in 2015 or so (with $90 billion USD invested.)

    Jim

  214. Pete, Dan: note that P = V = C is only true for commodities after time in a free market. Take any of those constraints away and prices can be above or below costs. Also, Pete, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.

  215. “…Pete, Dan: note that P = V = C is only true for commodities after time in a free market…”

    Sure Russell…I can appreciate how this *might* be the case after time…but surely this is an *incidental* truth, not a fundamental economic equivalence.

  216. Eric

    Man – did you consider the ironic implications of your invoking the ‘wisdom’ of Caligula? Who did that mad bastard hurt the worst the barbarians or the Roman citizens he was the presumptive defender of?

    I once took the time to e-mail a response – taking a left journalist to task. This journalist compared the shrub to Caligula. I haven’t noticed W pimping his sisters to the senate at fund raising time. Nor has he murdered and confiscated the wealth of prominent citizens with the help of state apparatus lately. Things could be worse, than the current ‘Pax Americana’ it’s true.

    I do question however, where this contentment to rule by fear leads us. The viral danger of the jihadist meme to the moderate and westernized Islamic public is very real. Are we making things better or worse in the long run with our interventions? Are we Harkonnen or Atreides? Victory depends not on what we think we are but what our enemies perceive us to be.

  217. To be honest, I am getting bored as hell of the topic of terrorism – all arguments and counter-arguments were heard severa dozen times now. Here’s something different. I’ve found an interesting remark about libertarianism here: http://reddit.com/goto?id=3062

    “On the libertarian side, a small group of academics affiliated with the journal Critical Review is quietly working a revolution. They forthrightly acknowledge that neither free-market economics nor moral philosophy have produced a comprehensive argument for libertarianism. Nonetheless, they argue, limited government is still preferable because it mitigates the problem of public ignorance.

    The majority of voters in a mass democracy, they reason, are stunningly ignorant of even the most basic political information. Moreover, to the extent that their voting behavior can be rationalized, they employ heuristics of the most obtuse sort: “Candidate X cares about people like me.” As for the tiny but relatively well-informed elite, they too have limited intellectual resources for understanding current politics. Hence, they rely on naïve heuristics such as “Republicans are greedy, religious fanatics” or “liberals are hypocrites who only care about making themselves feel better.”

    The reliance on such heuristics can perhaps be explained in terms of rational economic decision-making—in that there is not enough time in the day to bother to learn much about politics—but, more deeply, in terms of evolutionary psychology. The human mind is too primitive to understand the complexities of modern politics. Democratic politics thus present a choice between the ideological rigidity of the elites and the sheer incompetence of the masses. We can escape this predicament only by reducing the role of government in our lives. “

  218. Mark Steyn offers a much better defense of limited government, in my opinion. He points out that the mega-welfare states of Western Europe have some of the lowest birthrates in the world, along with lots of home-grown terrorism.

    It seems that a government big enough to give you everything you want is not big enough to convince you to give anything back. The stereotypical European attitude toward the future is: “I don’t care what happens, so long as my Check keeps coming in every month until I die. Then the world can go to Hell, for all I care.” No nation can have a future is this is a majority attitude.

    Pluswise, a young Muslim man on the dole has nothing better to do all day than go down to the mosque and listen to the Saudi sponsored Imam preach about how Western Civilization is an abomination in the eyes of Allah and should be destroyed post haste and forthwith. Thus, if you don’t want your subway car to go ‘boom,’ try to avoid putting young Muslim men on the dole. This is much easier if there are fewer persons of any sort, on the dole.

  219. I am irresistibly reminded of a piece of cynical wisdom from the mouth of the mad Roman emperor Caligula, born of experience in dealing with the barbarians of his day: Oderint, dum metuant: “Let them hate, so long as they fear.”

    A glance over Suetonius would tell you that Caligula had nothing to do with barbarians after the age of six, and when he uttered those words you mention (which he did habitually, quoting the tragic poet Lucius Accius) he was referring to the Roman people, specifically the upper classes — though he did not by any means confine his tortures and murders to any one class, or any one nationality either.

    No, if you are down to quoting Caligula as a source of pragmatic wisdom, you are heading for the Last Roundup. Don’t forget that Caligula was murdered by his own guards after a mere four years in power because as a human being, never mind as emperor, he was intolerable.

  220. Dan, no, it’s a fundamental economic equivalence. The problem is that profits exist in a commons, and are subject to the tragedy of the commons like so many other things. That’s why sophisticated investors are always looking for a franchise which manages the commons and sustains excess profits.

  221. Russell, thanks for attempting to explain this further, but it simply makes no economic sense to me…and I cannot find any texts to support this notion that there is a fundamental equivalence between price, value and cost, let alone the ‘tragedy of the commons’ relating to profits. If you can give me any pointers to credible sources to better explain this to me, I’d be most grateful :-)

  222. Scratch that Russell…I just dug up this that makes your claim (section 2), but it’ll take some chewing to digest ;-) and I don’t think he is asserting a fundamental equivalence either, but rather that in simple economic model, under perfect competition (and knowledge) it will naturally *become* incidentally true that price, value and cost will reach a point of equilibrium.

    In the real world, however…

  223. There seems to be a misunderstanding of the meaning of “price” and “cost.” In economic discussions, “cost” and “price” are two different things.
    In a perfect world, price accurately reflects actual cost. But in an imperfect world, some costs are not accurately reflected in price.

    Armchair Economist: I begin manufacturing widgets in my backyard. Safe disposal of the toxic by-products is very expensive, so I decide to dump the them into my septic tank, avoiding an expense, thereby keeping the *price* of my widgets low.
    The toxic waste then seeps into the ground-water, and from there into surrounding wells and drinking water. My neighbors, my wife, and I incur medical costs (measurable) and loss of quality of life (not easily measurable). Both are external *costs*, not reflected in the *price* of my widgets. External costs (those not included in the price) hide information from the market, preventing the market from reaching an ideal solution.
    The statist solution is to impose Byzantine regulations to prevent the external costs in the first place. Market solutions try to figure out a way to *internalize* these costs into the price of my widgets to ensure that the *price* of my widgets accurately reflects their costs; e.g. some sort of tax on the inputs, coupled with a tax-credit for safe disposal. Either solution fails if I’m unscrupulous, and willing to take personal risk by gaming the system.

    Similarly, I would derive a great deal of enjoyment from a case of 16 year old single malt Scots Whisky. However, I defer that pleasure and instead use the money to buy stock for my retirement. I have incurred a cost, a loss of quality of life (roughly quantifiable by how much I’m willing to pay for a case of single malt). If the company in which I invest earns a profit, some of that profit is returned to me in the form of dividends.
    If the company makes no profit, I will have forever lost the opportunity to enjoy that case of whisky. If my expectation of the long-term, compounded rate of return drops below the level of enjoyment I would receive from cases of whisky, I’ll either find another broker, or start drinking a case of single malt every month. The profit/dividends encourage me to forego immediate gratification, and take a risk in the hope of long-term gain.

    The price of an item must not only reflect the cost of the labor & raw materials, but also cost of attracting investment – in essence, paying me to do something more productive with my excess cash than drinking whisky.

  224. Jeff Read wrote:
    > Thus far you have presented two alternatives: capitalism on the one hand and marxism on the other; both are reprehensible in about equal measure, both require the many to work for the sake of the few.

    Utter nonsense. I think this calls for a few Mises quotes:

    The characteristic feature of capitalism that distinguishes it from pre-capitalist methods of production was its new principle of marketing. Capitalism is not simply mass production, but mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses.

    Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses. It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man. It has raised the average standard of living to a height never dreamed of in earlier ages. It has made accessible to millions of people enjoyments which a few generations ago were only within the reach of a small elite.

    Grumblers may blame Western civilization for its materialism and may assert that it gratified nobody but a small class of rugged exploiters. But their laments cannot wipe out the facts. Millions of mothers have been made happier by the drop in infant mortality. Famines have disappeared and epidemics have been curbed.

    I dare you to challenge the validity of any of those assertions.

  225. Most of the major benefits of “capitalism” described can be more directly attributed to government regulation and programs. Naturally, those programs were made possible because we have a capitalist system that generates mass amounts of wealth, but if not for minimum wage, medicare, free prenatal care programs, free vaccination shots, the masses would not (indeed, did not) find the raised standards of living. We see this play out wherever cheap labor and government unregulation are made available to capitalists. Don’t mistake my point, the broad application of Capitalism has made this possible, indeed may have been necessary, but it was not sufficient on its own.

  226. Rich,

    I think a distinction must be need between “ideal” capitalism – that might be and hopefully will be – reached in the future, and the current state of capitalism.

    Currently, the model of both the society and the economy is not the market, but the factory – hierarchical, driven from the bottom, etc.

    Look at marketing for example. For the large part of the XX. century, marketing mostly meant you produce some “one size fits all” crap and brute force it into people’s minds by massive advertisement brainwashing. The relationship is clearly hierarchical: it’s the big corps that tell people what they should like and choose, and they mostly agree. This is the factory model. The fact that nobody is holding a gun to your head is not yet freedom: media manipulation funded by $million ad campaigns playing your subtle instincts against you I consider but a subtle form of assault and oppression, and the lack of real choice choice in a convenient way – when you actually could choose a product or service which is not from the big playaz, but it would be helluva tiring to find it and go where it is available – , when your natural laziness or lack of free time is played against you I again consider a form of limiting freedom. And when the career choice of everbody who lacks strong entrepreneur spirit or exceptional talents is decided at whim by the fat asses at the top of huge megacorps is not a really free economy. There is a LOT different between theoretical and practical freedom – we have the theoretical one, but often lack the practical one,

    Clearly, the ideal form of capitalism is that of smallholders, small entrepreneurs, and artisans. Adam Smith originally based his theory on a perfectly informed market – unmanipulated by massive ad-brainwashing – and a virtually unlimited number of vendors – not some huge oligopolies dominating the market.

    This is why I agree with the general direction of libertarianism, I consider it somewhat shortsighted: the govm’t is not the only huge, inefficient, bureaucratic monstrosity: megacorps also fell into this category. OK, they don’t have access to guns but the do have access to massive brainwashing – and use it frequently.

    Luckily, there are some positive signs. I mentioned marketing as an example, so I’m gonna continue in this direction. The new hope – not so new, OK, about 15 years old – in marketing is CRM. Not the crappy software the “enterprise” assholes buy happily while it does nothing else but pissing the hell of salespeople, but CRM as a philosophy. The CRM philosophy states that you gotta collect as much information about your customer that finally, theoretically, you can do a one-to-one marketing: to each his own custom product, service, and custom way of communicating it. Some companies actually started to do it, Volvo is a good example. And this is a good direction: customers are slowly starting to get treated as individuals, not as an ad-brainwashed flock of sheep.

    To make it really clear: I don’t want to overthrow capitalism, because I believe that capitalism can correct it’s own errors by it’s natural processes. It’s a self-repairing system. What I do want to mean is capitalism has a helluva lot to self-correct, becase what we have now is the quasi-feudalism of Prince Coca-Cola and Count Pepsi, it seems the real capitalism had barely started to develop.

  227. If the company makes no profit, I will have forever lost the opportunity to enjoy that case of whisky. If my expectation of the long-term, compounded rate of return drops below the level of enjoyment I would receive from cases of whisky, I’ll either find another broker, or start drinking a case of single malt every month. The profit/dividends encourage me to forego immediate gratification, and take a risk in the hope of long-term gain.

    And if you get hit by a bus, your wife will purchase that case of whisky and share it (and herself) with the milkman.

    The price of an item must not only reflect the cost of the labor & raw materials, but also cost of attracting investment – in essence, paying me to do something more productive with my excess cash than drinking whisky.

    Tune in next week with Russell Nelson writes, “Drunks are lazy.”

  228. Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses. It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man. It has raised the average standard of living to a height never dreamed of in earlier ages. It has made accessible to millions of people enjoyments which a few generations ago were only within the reach of a small elite.

    Capitalism would never have got far on the needs of the masses alone, it’s their assiduously-cultivated, ever-changing *wants* that keep the engine turning. Good thing we’ll never run out of resources to stuff into the input end, eh?

    Grumblers may blame Western civilization for its materialism and may assert that it gratified nobody but a small class of rugged exploiters. But their laments cannot wipe out the facts. Millions of mothers have been made happier by the drop in infant mortality. Famines have disappeared and epidemics have been curbed.

    I dare you to challenge the validity of any of those assertions.

    Infant mortality was dramatically cut by government aid programs. It wasn’t very expensive – rehydration therapy and a few cheap antibiotics and vaccinations, hardly major invisible hand stuff. Epidemics have only been curbed by capitalism when doing so has made it worth the while of Big Pharma – the development of retrovirals for HIV is an example.

  229. Adrian, the Invisible Hand is a piece of religious dogma. There’s no point in trying to argue with its believers against it’s benevolent will backing all good things that have occurred under its domain.

  230. Adrian, the Invisible Hand is a piece of religious dogma.

    Dunno where I can have given the impression of thinking otherwise.

    There’s no point in trying to argue with its believers

    Sport.

  231. “the Invisible Hand is a piece of religious dogma”

    No, I’d rather call it a natural law, albeit one that works only in specific conditions. For example, if you live in a major city and there are ten Italian restaurants with similar amount of capital, and they are completely independent, and they are close to each other, the Invisible Hand will surely work. But if it’s a small city with only two, or if there are many, but too far from each other, or if one has so much capital that it can offer bargain prices at a loss, pushing the market price down, because due to it’s high capital it can survive loss for a long time, or if they can make some kind of cartel/mafia between each other, then it won’t work. The Invisible Hand is basically a statistical feature of Nature and statistics only works in big numbers – but in big numbers it surely works.

  232. Reasonable Economist story about American/European attitudes to Islam here, will retire into pay-per-view archive in due course.

  233. Adrian10 says: Infant mortality was dramatically cut by government aid programs.

    Government aid programs and infant mortality aren’t even correlated, much less causative.

  234. John blathers: minimum wage, medicare, free prenatal care programs, free vaccination shots, the masses would not (indeed, did not) find the raised standards of living.

    Interesting but wrong. Standards of living for the masses have been rising over the past 500 years. None of the programs you claim caused this change are more than 100 years old. Bzzzzzt, wrong! Thanks for playing; next contestant please.

  235. Government aid programs and infant mortality aren’t even correlated, much less causative.

    Got links? Here’s one, usual wikipedia caveats apply. Notice it does say that “the infant mortality rate correlates very strongly with and is among the best predictors of state failure”, which might indicate possible government involvement to some. Yeah, IMR falls as GDP rises, big surprise there. My point was that a lot of the reductions in IMR (and resulting increases in population growth rates, shame on whoever said no good deed goes unpunished) were easy and cheap to achieve, and hence not very profitable or interesting to capitalist entities. But if you can show me how these things were, in fact, accomplished by private companies I’m always open to new information.

  236. Adrian10, saying that government programs don’t correlate with something doesn’t mean anything more or less than that.

  237. With 4.5% of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes 25% of the world’s rapidly-dwindling energy — energy which is necessary to sustain our abundant lifestyle.

    And you expect me to believe that capitalism *doesn’t* favor the few?

  238. Except that you are saying that he implied something that he didn’t necessarily say. All that was said is that there is no correlation between the two things. That doesn’t imply that anything else is being said.

    Jeff, I love the comments about “rapidly dwindling” energy being tossed about. As far as “favoring the few”, there is nothing in the US formula for creating wealth that other nations and cultures cannot do for themselves. That they choose not to means nothing but that they chose not to.

  239. Jeff Read: I’ve heard many people condemn the US with statements in the form “with X% of the world’s population, the US consumes NX% of Y” (where N >> 1). I don’t believe any of them, because they misrepresent the situation. I say instead “with X% of the world’s population, the US produces NX% of Z, which they trade for Y”. Capitalism benefits anybody who is willing to trade.

  240. Except that you are saying that he implied something that he didn’t necessarily say. All that was said is that there is no correlation between the two things. That doesn’t imply that anything else is being said.

    Well, he doesn’t appear to have anything else to say about it in any case. But it seemed like a kneejerk reaction to the very idea that a government could have done something positive. I’d say that there *is* some correlation – infant mortality *was* reduced in many developing countries by a few cheap and easy methods which involved governments. I’m quite open to counterexamples, but I need links.

    As far as “favoring the few”, there is nothing in the US formula for creating wealth that other nations and cultures cannot do for themselves.

    There’s a certain amount of something like first mover advantage, I reckon. Though not if you don’t accept that anything is actually dwindling, I suppose.

    If you’ve got time to read it, I’d be interested to know if you’d accept any of the arguments made here – I don’t agree with the whole thing by any means, but the broad outline seems quite persuasive. It’s not exactly a level playing field in a lot of ways.

  241. Adrian10: Though not if you don’t accept that anything is actually dwindling, I suppose.

    All historical evidence about Malthusian outcomes is that the outcomes predicted by those who believe something is dwindling are wrong. All historical evidence suggests that when faced with a problem that limits growth and wealth creation, market forces and human creativity find solutions that break the paradigm. I have much more trust in those things that have proven to work than those predictions that have failed to come true.

    I started to read the article you referred me to and had to stop at the sentence that said Americans consume far more than they produce. At least he could be economically accurate, don’t you think? By the way, I don’t disagree with the premise that the American government and corporations try to rig things in America’s favor. I have a basic understanding of economics, though, and much prefer to read articles which are reasonably correct economically.

    P.S. about government solving problems. In general, government cannot solve problems or do things. The cheap and easy methods used in developing countries:

    1. would not exist if left solely to the devices of government.
    2. would be far more effective if implemented within a market framework.

    Most “developing countries” are horribly hampered by their government in being able to develop further. Much of that hampering is caused by the insistence of the G8 on continuing to give government aid, which props up corrupt governments and denies the market any ability to be effective.

  242. Russell Nelson,
    “with X% of the world’s population, the US produces NX% of Z, which they trade for Y”.
    Maybe I’m not trying hard enough, but the only legitimate values of Z I could think of are “military might”, “corporate management expertise”, and “Hollywood movies”. That doesn’t exactly make the picture any prettier.

  243. Really Jeff? You can’t, for example, think of computer software and operating systems, cars, trucks, ships, planes, agricultural produce, computer hardware, calculators, phones, paper, books ……… maybe you should try getting out more often.

  244. Oh, that list of products and services could go on for a really long time, I just got bored typing it after a little while.

  245. Right. Software. I forgot about software.

    As for the rest, does the U.S. really produce crucial amounts of these, to the point where it justifies our enormous trade deficit? The best analyses I’ve seen indicated that the dollar was kept strong by our military force holding back the tide of communism, allowing other countries to be more willing to accept American money. That’s how we were able to import all the stuff we have to import to sustain our lifestyle.

  246. Jeff, a trade deficit is a bugaboo to scare you with. There is no such thing as a “trade deficit”. We don’t owe anything to anyone, which is what a trade deficit implies. We are not producing less than we are consuming. Simply put, that’s not possible.

    And yes, we really do produce large quantities of a tremendous amount of widely varied products. Not to mention services. Really, try to be a bit more imaginative. I don’t mean to be intentionally rude, but your list of three items is bogus. You either know it’s bogus and you’re trying to score points or you don’t know it’s bogus and should get out and discover reality. While the CIA, generally, is off base on the level of capability and threat posed by other countries, they are pretty accurate on the types and amounts of economic production. Check out the CIA’s World Fact Book for better details.

    The analyses you’ve seen, I would suggest, have a political orientation and intention. Your best bet is to understand economics and science and then base your political beliefs in their reality, rather than the approach that most folks take, which is to try and twist economics and science to support their political beliefs. Also, population alone is not enough to determine the reasonable level of economic activity for a given nation. You also need to consider available natural resources, productive land, education levels, physical and legal infrastructure, government stability and more. Paul Kennedy, certainly not a conservative or libertarian, suggested that the USA naturally should account for 20% +/- of the world’s economic activity, consumption and production in his book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers“.

    The question that should be asked is how other countries and cultures can enable growth and development, rather than taking anyone to task for such things. Unless, of course, you like a world where everyone lives in poverty and depends on paternal governments. If you want to return to such a life, keep on focusing on how to stop such things. I would suggest reading economists in general, rather than reading political economics, which appears to be what you’re doing. Tim Harford’s “The Undercover Economist” would be a good start. Find out why a cup of coffee costs $3.00 and you’re off to a good start.

  247. One more set of thoughts. Go ahead and remove the agricultural production of the USA and see how most of the rest of the world fares. In case you don’t think we are crucial to the production of the rest of the world. Or, take away 25% of the world’s automobile manufacturing and some even larger percentage of truck production, based on carrying capacity. Remove Boeing and DeHavilland from the airplane market. Take away the US steel production. Remove the books that come from US producers. Shut down the US universities. See how any of those things impacts the global market. What percentage of the total production in that global market is coming out of the US, and how will it affect the market if there is suddenly a void.

    At least get the basic facts.

  248. I also have to find it interesting that the Left wants the US to produce more than it consumes, since that is mercantilist economics used to justify the creation of the French, Spanish and English empires. Hmmmmmm, interesting to think about that. Why do you suppose that is?

  249. Capitalism collapses to Monopoly in the same way that Anarchy collapses to Dictatorships. This is the second law of markets and one to be considered before enjoining an anarcho-capitalist philosophy.

  250. “…This is the second law of markets…”
    LOL…are these ‘laws’ in the appendix of your little red book?

  251. Excuse me, corporations in the marketplace collapse to monopolies. This was argued by none other than Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations.

  252. “…This was argued by none other than Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations…”
    True (sort of), and in several chapters…he was actually talking about monopolistic tendencies, rather than some natural law of corporate degradation…poorly, I might add…and he never establishes any ‘laws’ either…what’s number 1? Number 3?

    Your reverence for Adam Smith is cute, but try to remember his other stunning gems, such as suggesting that there exists a ‘natural price’ for goods that the ‘market price’ can exceed…wonderful stuff ;-)

  253. John: let’s play the Name the Monopoly Game. You name a market monopoly and I’ll name a government monopoly (one which is propped up by government laws). Last person to name a monopoly wins.

  254. wealth is a better predictor of IMR than is government aid

    Unsuprisingly, Russell Nelson believes that money is more important than people.

    Capitalism benefits anybody who is willing to trade.

    In the simplistic world of Eric and Russell, trade conquers all and “the market” is a God which must be worshiped.

    What Nelson leaves out, obviously, is that while “free trade” conquers all (at least, in the way that its practiced in the world today), it does not “benefit anybody who is wiling to trade equally.

    I’ve summarized Nelson’s weak-minded economics here.

  255. I know who I will place a wager upon in that game, Russell… ;-) In fact, outside countries with various violent ‘cartels’, such as those sadly present in much of South America, I think you’d be hard pushed to name *any* corporate ‘monopolies’ that exist absent *government* intervention. It seems that (here) monopolies exist due to various agencies essentially forming corporate/professional ‘cartels’ (FCC, AMA, FDA, ABA …)

    Even our favorite pinata, Microsoft, isn’t a monopoly in any meaningful sense…it’s big, dominant & successful…yes…but that alone is not sufficient to qualify it as a monopoly, as (unless I am missing something) it has no special power to *exclude* competition. That comes along when you press the right palms in DC.

    PS. I only just read your “Blacks are lazy?” [most refences to it seem to omit the question mark] post (thanks to Jim’s snide link)…and the whole OSI debacle…shocking…you have my sympathy & support, FWIW :-)

  256. JT: Of course, this war is most famous for having effected a mighty change in the management paradigm from a central-owner hierarchical model to a much more decentralized, fluid model

    This is wrong. The Federalist model for government won out – significantly – over the “de-centralized, fluid model” of government advocated by the Southern statesas well as the Northern states of Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusets.

    Related: Jim, I’m not sure if anyone is even bothering to post about your screeds, or if anyone can get a word in edge-wise around here with your let’s-hate-eric-and-russell printing press churning out post after post. FWIW, I find it incredibly boring and sad that you can’t embolden yourself to engage in any other discussion and just let this blog be what it is.

  257. This is wrong.

    Its parody, and the winners write the history books, remember?

    FWIW, I find it incredibly boring and sad that you can’t embolden yourself to engage in any other discussion and just let this blog be what it is.

    What, like this, this, this or this?

    And those are just a few of the ones on this thread.

  258. Yes Russell, insulting people (yes, even those you think are trolls) and using faulty logic (no, a fool doing it doesn’t prove only fools would do it) will _undoubtably_ make your point right. Sure.

  259. While I concede Eric Cowperthwaite’s point that people should make their politics fit science and economics… I cannot help but think that if more people did that, global warming and the energy crisis would be taken a bit more seriously hereabouts.

  260. And, just to bring this thread to a close

    Not so fast.

    I started to read the article you referred me to and had to stop at the sentence that said Americans consume far more than they produce. At least he could be economically accurate, don’t you think?

    Hmm, four paragraphs, doesn’t say much for your stamina. Especially as that bit starts “To appreciate how this works, imagine you are a modern-day Roman emperor…”. A bit of suspension of disbelief can be useful now and then.

    So what’s this idea that it’s impossible to consume more than you produce? There seem to be quite a few economists out there who haven’t been seduced by it, though they’re saying a fairly wide range of things about how it’ll play out. Individuals can do the unsustainable lifestyle thing if they get a good enough line of credit for some reason – why not nations?

    By the way, I don’t disagree with the premise that the American government and corporations try to rig things in America’s favor. I have a basic understanding of economics, though, and much prefer to read articles which are reasonably correct economically.

    I’m afraid I’m unable to treat economics as a science, dismal or otherwise. Psychological component’s too big, possibility of doing repeatable experiments too negligible, though I can see there’s a lot of data and a lot of people happily beavering away at curve-fitting. And they have computer models, which is always impressive.

    They do give good hindsight, I admit.

    P.S. about government solving problems. In general, government cannot solve problems or do things.

    What about during wartime, eg WW2?

    The cheap and easy methods used in developing countries:

    1. would not exist if left solely to the devices of government.

    I didn’t claim they would, though I think sugar, salt and penicillin might have been doable even by communists. Governments normally use private companies for things which private companies are better at, like supplying goods. This is a sensible division of labour as far as I can see. Leaving the decision about *whether* to supply the goods up to the private companies is a nice ideal, but you can hardly blame people in government for not being able to imagine life without government.

    2. would be far more effective if implemented within a market framework.

    Has a pure market framework ever existed? I suspect we’re in the realm of Faith on this one.

    Most “developing countries” are horribly hampered by their government in being able to develop further. Much of that hampering is caused by the insistence of the G8 on continuing to give government aid, which props up corrupt governments and denies the market any ability to be effective.

    I think there might be one or two other things holding them back as well, but you didn’t want to read the rest of the article.

  261. Adriano: did I insult a person? I’m starting to think that the status of membership in homo sapiens should be reserved for the sapients. So, no, I’m not sure that I insulted a person. If somebody is too dumb to think his way out of a bootfull of piss with the instructions stamped on the heel, then I have to wonder why he should have any human rights. After all, chimps are 90-some-odd percent genetically identical to humans, but we don’t give human rights to them. Plus, they’re not stupid enough to ever be found IN a bootfull of piss.

    You’re right about the logic, of course. How about this: “Only
    ignorant fools think that.”

  262. How are you supposed to read the instructions on the heel if you’re in the boot? Chimpanzees wouldn’t be seen dead coming up with a metaphor like that.

  263. Standard argument against markets, as opposed to governments: Has a pure market framework ever existed? I suspect we’re in the realm of Faith on this one.

    Of course it doesn’t matter that I said nothing about “pure markets”, “perfect markets”, etc.

  264. Adrian, Jeff, etc. when we are talking about “consuming more than we produce”, please explain how that happens? I’m interested, since it seems that I can’t actually consume something without purchasing it, in some fashion. I can’t purchase something without having come up with “money” from somewhere, and to get the money from somewhere, I had to produce something of value originally.

    I’m trying to figure it out and spinning my wheels. So, I’m hoping you can help.

  265. And, just to bring this thread to a close: http://geekz.co.uk/lovesraymond/archive/highbrow-my-culus

    Really, the on-topic portion of this thread was closed by this comment:

    A glance over Suetonius would tell you that Caligula had nothing to do with barbarians after the age of six, and when he uttered those words you mention (which he did habitually, quoting the tragic poet Lucius Accius) he was referring to the Roman people, specifically the upper classes — though he did not by any means confine his tortures and murders to any one class, or any one nationality either.

    No, if you are down to quoting Caligula as a source of pragmatic wisdom, you are heading for the Last Roundup. Don’t forget that Caligula was murdered by his own guards after a mere four years in power because as a human being, never mind as emperor, he was intolerable.

    which seems to have gotten lost in the chaff, unfortunately.

  266. std, if no one else did, I remembered that post, which really betrays the monstrosity of hitching your wagon to the neocon agenda.

  267. John: Eric: you may be on welfare, in which case you produce nothing.

    The point being made is one of macro, not micro, economics. The contention is that the USA consumes more than it produces. I’m asking that Jeff and/or Adrian show me how that works since I don’t understand. I don’t understand because, according to all I have read, it’s not possible.

  268. By the way, John, someone on welfare does not, necessarily, produce nothing. They, for example, produce jobs for bureaucrats.

  269. Eric, maybe I’m talking out of my ass, but you can consume more than you produce by “sustaining” it with deficit or by printing money, can’t you? Of course, it shouldn’t last long.

  270. I’m trying to figure it out and spinning my wheels. So, I’m hoping you can help.

    What’s the problem? You borrow the money from someone, quite likely in my neck of the woods, and use it to live beyond your means (not you personally, I’m talking in aggregates here) until such time as the aforesaid central banks start to get unsustainably nervous about all the paper they’re carrying, after which…something happens.

    Don’t you recognise borrowing as an economic activity?

  271. But, you have to produce something of value to repay the loan. Aside from that, the “loans” between the US and various Asian countries are really, at a macro level, part of the exchange of goods and services.

  272. Eric Cowperthwaite, no you don’t. You simply borrow more to repay the loan you already have outstanding.

  273. But, you have to produce something of value to repay the loan.

    Sure, but the question is whether America’s producing enough.

    Aside from that, the “loans” between the US and various Asian countries are really, at a macro level, part of the exchange of goods and services.

    They still have to be either repaid, defaulted on or inflated away (I think that’s the full set of options), any of which will have some kind of knock-on effect on the value of the dollar, among other possibilities.

  274. adrian10 writes “Has a pure market framework ever existed? I suspect we’re in the realm of Faith on this one.”

    We *always* have had a pure market framework. It’s very simple: you just model government as a gang of thieves. Everything a government does can be predicted from this model, as can the victims response to them.

  275. A pure market framework requires rational actors. People are not rational, therefore pure markets can never exist as long as people are involved.

    Prepare to welcome the robotic market overlords.

  276. adrian10: Irony killed God, but God shot back with his last breath; they’re both dead now.

    I’m sorry, you’ve gone *right* over my head with that one. But perhaps you’re being ironic.

  277. Jeff, a trade deficit is a bugaboo to scare you with. There is no such thing as a “trade deficit”. We don’t owe anything to anyone, which is what a trade deficit implies.Simply put, that’s not possible.

    A trade deficit doesn’t imply that we owe anything, it literally means that we’re importing more than we’re exporting. How is it impossible to consume more than we produce? Hypothetically, we could import everything and produce nothing if sufficient imports were available.

  278. Almost a month without a post… ESR’s big secret project which he blogged about in the Cheescake factory blog post must be really up to something in the near future :)

  279. I have heard an interesting conspiracy theory. I type it here without approving or disapproving it simply because I cannot – or too lazy to – check the relevant facts.

    The theory says that on all two oil exchanges of the world (New York and London if I remember the theory correctly) oil can only be bought for USD. This give the USA significant economic advantage – as the rate of the USD was on gold standard in the past, it’s now kinda on oil standard. And one of the reasons of the current tensions with Iran is that Tehran wants to set up an oil exchange where oil is bought and sold in EUR.

    What do you think?

  280. Nobody seems to really know how fragile the dollar is at the moment, with so may people trying to talk it in different directions. But I think it’s not so much what oil is traded in as where the resulting profits are invested, and at the moment they’re heading into the US, though there are a lot of rumours that some people are feeling a little overexposed should there be a sudden rush for the exits.

  281. Shenpen, same with Saddam just before Shrub invaded. Funny old world isn’t it? Next on the list is Hugo Chavez, I’d wager.

  282. Irony killed God, but God shot back with his last breath; they’re both dead now.

    Wow, apracticing Quaker who believes God is dead?

    Given that one of the fundamental beliefs of Quakers is that God is within us (the “Light” within us) all, it makes no sense for people to fight one another. This is known as “The Peace Testimony”.

    “If God does not exist, everything is lawful.” Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky

    Explains Nixon (who was also a Quaker) perfectly, eh?

  283. Wow, ESR has not written anything for a month and a half. I wonder when he will post another entry to fan the flamewars among Jim, adrian10, Shenpen, Russell, Jeff, John, Dean, et al.

  284. This blog/forum is starting to fall asleep… let’s wake it up – an interesting article:

    http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_07_31/cover.html

    “The Democrats’ fundamental weakness is that even after four decades of their strenuously celebrating the moral supremacy of every organized minority, our political system remains, more or less, one of majority rule. It’s hard to win a majority if you don’t personally want to be part of the majority because your ego centers around visualizing yourself as better than the average American. If you don’t like the American majority, either in principle or in person, the majority won’t like you.”

  285. Indeed, Shenpen…and understanding this helps explain why the Democrats’ ‘minority rights’ battle-lines are drawn where they are…

  286. The dry spell on Armed and Dangerous has made me wonder if ESR is all right. On the gripping hand, if he had gone to the great bit bucket in the sky it would have been all over the tech press. If you’re reading this, Eric, consider this posting a ping. It’s hard to imagine you being quiet given the turn of events in the Middle East!

    Hail Eric! :-)

  287. He’s probably stuck in some bizarre druidic poly-penetrative sexual position and needs the jaws of life to extricate him…

  288. shenpen,

    I heard that one* from a pundit, not a caller, on some talk radio show like six months ago… only it was being touted as the reason why Saddam had to be removed.

    * the ol’ “price of oil being based on us dollars rather than the euro” one

    This makes twice. Pretty anecdotal still if you ask me.

  289. Something different. I remember that a few months ago, here in Hungary, hundreds of folks whose houses were washed away by river floods complained on the TV and demanded the goverment to pay for their damages. Some smart reporter found out that these folks built their homes on the floodplains, which is against the law and they even got fined for it by the police… how dumb. Now, what do you think: should the goverment try to protect people from their own stupidity by laws like this? Should the goverment pay for damages caused by stupidity? Of course the obvious answer seems to be a big fat NO but actually… if we say no to such questions, won’t our societies become cold and heartless? One possible answer I managed to find is that the goverment paying for such damages is actually nothing but an enforced charity from taxpayers. And I think such charities should be optional, not enforced. But if we leave all such things to private charity, I think not many people will donate and then not helping people to rebuild houses these dumb folks worked for 20 years destroyed by only one bad decision of theirs looks quite heartless. So I think one could find a middle ground: the goverment not paying, but in some way, advancing, supporting, marketing private charities, private donations. What do you think?

  290. Shenpen,

    This is an excellent question.

    It is similar to the Welfare issue in the United States. Getting pregnant and having a baby with a man not your husband when you are 16 years old and then dropping out of high school is a really stupid thing to do. If you do this stupid thing, should the government then pay you money on a regular basis so that you and your baby don’t starve?

    If your answer is No, then you must expect SOME number of children reduced to begging in the streets. There will be private charity, and people can be quite generous, but it will not be as comprehensive as what the state can provide. But if you subsidize bad decision-making, you will inevitably get more of it. And in a decade and a half, you will have large numbers of fatherless teenaged boys running around committing petty (and not so petty) crimes and making the streets unsafe for decent people.

    What to do?

    I don’t see a sustainable answer other than the Victorian model of widespread belief in a stern Father-God who hates sinful sexual behavior and has no problem visiting the sins of the mothers unto the daughters and sons. But kind-hearted compassionate people recoil from such sternness, especially when it causes innocent little children to suffer.

    One way in which Aristotle defined wisdom was the faculty of knowing what to do when two or more virtues come into conflict. On the one hand, there is the virtue of social responsibility, which demands that anti-social behavior be punished. On the other hand, there is the virtue of compassion, which demands that you relieve the suffering of the innocent.

    There doesn’t seem to be a simple way out of this, which is why being wise is hard.

  291. ESR’s probably coming around from his outrageous viewpoint. He’s going to be posting pinko peacnik position statements in due course.

  292. How much money did Eric have at last count? Maybe he’s just gone “Fuck it”

    Small island, no electricity, no Internet. I know I would.

  293. Small island, maybe, but ESR would probably bring photovoltaic cells and a satellite dish.
    Hail Eric!

    P.S. I wrote a story for my newswriting class on GPLv3, and the prof didn’t know what the “G” in GNU stood for, despite spelling out the acronym in my artcile. I still got an “A” on it though. :-)

  294. Another thing. I think Libertarianism ideally could be closer to a sane Liberalism then to Conservativism. As nowadays Libertarians and Conservatives are incomfortable allies, but allies nevertheless, it can a proof in itself that current Liberalism is insane. For example:

    Question: after you became an expert in some technical field, should you help others for free by writing FAQ’s, blogging, and answering questions at mailing lists?

    Liberal answer: yes, because you learned much from others also for free, so it’s an ethical duty for you to do so.

    Libertarian answer: yes, because you often gain much by sharing than by keeping. People you help for free often find you with well-paying consultancy contract offers or good job offers – or you can just put links to your FAQ’s in your CV and many employers are impressed by that.

    Conservative answer: no. My knowledge is my asset, and I only give it away if I can charge for it.

    See how the Liberal answer is closer to the Libertarian one?

  295. I think most coders would probably share for your libertarian reason rather than your “liberal” one – I don’t know if there are real people who think about their technical skills in that idealistic way, it sounds like a caricature. Dunno if you could extend the metaphor much beyond the programming world without the wheels coming off, either.

    Hey, why don’t we start an argumenta discussion about Lebanon in this thread? Eric’s obviously busy, and I don’t think he’d mind.

  296. Shenpen,
    >Question: after you became an expert in some technical field, should you help others for free by writing FAQ’s, blogging, and answering questions at mailing lists?

    >Liberal answer: yes, because you learned much from others also for free, so it’s an ethical duty for you to do so.

    I don’t think so. As I understand it:

    Progressive Liberal answer: No. You personally don’t have to do a damn thing. You should support government programs to dispense knowledge and pay high taxes toward the same. You should also denounce those who don’t want to pay all those taxes as racist/fascist/misogynist/homophobes.

    Classical Liberal answer: See Conservative answer.

    It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the Libertarians would find the Conservatives somewhat easier to stomach. ESR has stated repeatedly that he thinks Conservatives are villains, but he doesn’t seem to find people like me as distasteful as the Stalinist memebots he rages against.

  297. >Hey, why don’t we start an argument a discussion about Lebanon in this thread?

    I’m up for it, assuming there is something to argue about. Do we disagree on Lebanon?

    Let’s see. I think Hezbollah is a bunch of vicious murderers who use civilians as human shields and who want to see an end to democracy in Lebanon as well as kill all the Jews. I think they are funded by Iran and supplied by Syria, both of whom, from the Lebanese perspective, are up to no good. I think that if the Lebanese government and army had any sense or any balls, they’d attack Hezbollah from the north as Israel attacks from the south and wipe them out. Because if they don’t, and Hezbollah survives, becoming Middle Eastern Jew-killing heroes in the process, Hez will put take over Lebanon with the aid of Syria and Iran.

    And I hope that:
    1. Israel has the balls to and that
    2. Bush will let Israel kill every last fucking one of them.

    Unfortunately I doubt both 1 and 2 very seriously.

    So Adrian, where exactly do we disagree? Let the flame wars begin!

  298. I think Hezbollah is a bunch of vicious murderers who use civilians as human shields and who want to see an end to democracy in Lebanon as well as kill all the Jews.

    They’ve participated in Lebanon’s democracy happily enough until now. I think they mainly want the Israelis out of Lebanon, which includes the Shaba Farms, apparently. The real reasons for the capture (or “kidnapping”, if you want to emphasize Hizbollah’s criminal nature) of a couple of Israeli soldiers which triggered all this (and surely even you must admit that the scale of it means the Israelis were just waiting for an excuse) still aren’t clear, though it seems to have *played* as trying to take pressure off the Palestinians, a Shia-to-Sunni act of altruism which has interesting resonances whether it’s had that effect or not. I mean, Al-Q aren’t exactly fond of Shi’ism, but even they’re starting to make admiring comments.

    Because if they don’t, and Hezbollah survives, becoming Middle Eastern Jew-killing heroes in the process, Hez will put take over Lebanon with the aid of Syria and Iran.

    Well, the Israelis *seem* to be girding their loins for an effort which will preclude any possibility of such an outcome (and the loss of face it would entail), though Jehovah alone knows how far they’ll have to take it to get that result. Have Hizbollah been going around killing Jews in general? I thought they were concentrating on Zionists, within the limits of accuracy of the weapons they have available. They’re not much of a World Terror group, they tend to stay in Lebanon, apart from that one raid which started all this.

    I think that if the Lebanese government and army had any sense or any balls, they’d attack Hezbollah from the north as Israel attacks from the south and wipe them out.

    Turn themselves into a US/Israeli client, IOW? Trouble is, the main current marketing operation for how much pleasure that sort of thing can bring is Iraq, and…there may be scepticism out there, y’know? They’ve already had one civil war, and people can lose their appetite for such things. I also get the impression they suspect, probably rightly, that Hizbollah are so much tougher than them that they (the Lebanese Army) would only get in the Israelis’ way, and have to be embarrassingly rescued or something. Better to leave it to the professionals. Knowing your own limitations is a virtue, I reckon.

    And I hope that:
    1. Israel has the balls to and that
    2. Bush will let Israel kill every last fucking one of them.

    Hey now, it seems like only weeks ago you were telling me how innate Jewish compassion and decency would restrain them from such excesses until the sun grew cold and dim.

  299. About Lebanon: I think Israel exactly is the situation London was in WW2 with the V2 rockets: a large number of cheap, low-tech, highly inaccurate rockets are fired on them. Their real damage is not the actual destruction they do, but the psychological effect: that people can never feel safe for a moment. And just like in WW2, the technology is still missing to defend from these rockets (because they are low-altitude ones). It seems the have the only option that was there in WW2 – go where the missiles are fired and kick butt. I think they have no other choice.

  300. The missiles weren’t being fired until they started bombing everything in response to having their guys captured. They’d been waiting for the opportunity to put Hizbollah in their place ever since they left Lebanon, in what was widely perceived as an ignominious retreat. It’s a grudge match.

  301. >The missiles weren’t being fired until they started bombing everything in response to having their guys captured.
    >(and surely even you must admit that the scale of it means the Israelis were just waiting for an excuse)

    Numerous Hezbollah spokesmen, as well as the Iranian officials who fund them, have stated that their ultimate goal is to wipe Israel off the map. Al Qaeda’s publicly stated ultimate goal is a global Caliphate imposing Islamic domination over the whole of mankind.

    In pursuit of their goals, is their anything that the Jihadis could do to Israel, the US, or any Western nation (including your own), which would break through that insouciant moral equivalence of yours and make you ANGRY? I don’t mean angry at people like me, for contributing to the ‘cycle of violence.’ I mean angry at those who seek to destroy our entire civilization.

    If they nuked Tel Aviv, would you then switch over from the language of tit-for-tat to the language of outrage? What if they nuked Manhattan? London?

    I believe you once mentioned that you were living in Japan (please correct me if I’m wrong). If they attacked the city where you and your family live, threatening their lives, would that be enough to break through your shell of detachment?

    Are you capable of being outraged by any atrocity committed by anyone who is not a Westerner?

  302. “The missiles weren’t being fired until they started bombing…”

    Huh? I’m pretty sure there’s no ‘nuance’ or ‘context’ that can construe that sentence as anything other than utter bollocks. This isn’t even debatable. Homes over there are designed with *bomb shelters* in the basements or elsewhere on the property. There are communal bomb shelters. Public orders are issued to bear arms in preparation for terrorist threats. It is a sad truth that the state of *normalcy* over there is one punctuated by the thud of bombs. What a thoroughly asinine thing to say, even by your standards…

    “…the scale of it means the Israelis were just waiting for an excuse…”

    The ‘straw that broke the camel-jockeys back’ you mean? (OK…bad pun) The scale of it means that Israel is fucking sick to death of Hezbollah’s war of attrition, and the loser bullshit from the ‘international community’. They’re determined to try very hard to stamp out a big source of their problems…I’m not sure they’ve got their entire strategy right, but they’re certainly in the right ballpark, and I applaud them for that. Wipe ’em out.

    “…an ignominious retreat…”

    I thought so too, or at least utterly pointless…but now I’m beginning to wonder if it wasn’t a stroke of brilliance.

    “…It’s a grudge match…”

    Reality != WWF

  303. I feel ridiculous saying something so obvious, but you do realize, do you not, that you can go right on in your blithe detachment and wry mockery of both sides right up until one side cuts off your head with a sword. And, if that happens, we both know which side that will be.

    I understand the sense of moral and intellectual superiority that comes from looking down on both sides of this conflict. If both sides are equally wrong from your perspective, then you can bask in a warm glow of ascended righteousness. For a while.

    But ultimately, neither the Zionist Jews, nor the goddamned Yanks are going to force you to convert or die. The Jihadis, if they win enough victories, surely will.

    Is it your plan to remain contemptuous of both sides until either the Westerners you despise come to your rescue, or the Jihadis you despise exterminate you?

  304. Adrian,
    There were a number of Brits in the 1930s who refused to take the threat of Hitler seriously until he invaded Poland. By that time Germany had the most powerful military machine in Europe and England was in for the fight of her life.

    And we goddamned Yanks had to come to your fucking rescue.

    And your country has never been the same. Your history since 1945 has been one of implacable decline. What, if anything, do you want your future to be?

    I don’t think that there is any more important question for any Westerner to ask himself right now.

  305. I think I have made my position relatively clear. I am a fellow traveler of the TranHumanist NanoTechnoGeek crowd. I hope to live long enough to have backup copies, upload my consciousness onto a silicon chip and live to see the heat death of the universe.

    Is it silly? Of course it is. Am I ridiculous for cleaving to it? Of course I am. But, since I:

    1. Don’t believe in God, angels, heaven or any of that and
    2. I have never, for one second, aspired to live in the Socialist Utopia, then

    Here I stand: There is no god but the Singularity and K. Eric Drexler is its Prophet.

    Of course it is all nonsense (unless, of course, it comes true ;-). But it is something to believe in. A future to hope for. What the fuck have you got?

    And if, as I suspect, the answer is Nothing, then What Are You Going To Do? Is it your plan to stand there and sneer until they kill you? From what you have said earlier, I understand you have a wife and baby. Are you insouciant to their survival prospects as well?

    What’s it gonna take to get your ass in gear?

  306. Dan Kane,
    I’m not looking for a clever riposte. These are questions that vex the shit out of me. I ask them not so much to attack Adrian as to make clear the price we all pay for the blasé moral disengagement that seems so popular today on both the Left and the isolationist Right.

    I am not looking to make anyone feel bad, so much as pointing out the consequences of seeking ONLY to feel good about yourself. There has to be more to life than an elevated self esteem, or else very soon you won’t have a life to feel good about.

  307. It vexes me also…but for my money I turn to John Stuart Mill –

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself”

    ’nuff said ;-)

  308. Perhaps it is more relevant in full (written in opposition to the Confederacy) :

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth war is much worse.
    When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people.
    A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, is often the means of their regeneration.
    A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
    As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other”

  309. Dean,

    it’s interesting how people can arrive at similar conclusions from completely different reasons. While I more or less agree on your views on these wars, the reason I do is that I totally don’t believe in any kind of bright future [1], a common goal to strive for, because I think suffering is inherently hardcoded in human beings, and the cycles of violence, suffering, greed and hate can never be broken. (Maybe I’m too buddhist.) And one thing is sure, whenever one tries to repair the world, it only causes more suffering. If people are left alone and not forced into artificial ideologies, I think they cause less suffering to each other, and therefore the only thing about politics worths paying attention to is opposing any ideologies that would try to repair the world. Currently, both sides of the conflict do have such ideologies – prez Bush trying to export democracy at gunpoint, and militant islamists trying to install Sha’ria as worldy law. (It’s been said a thousand times but worth repeating that the biggest problem about Islam is that it is a political system as well, as it is one of it’s basic principles that secular goverment cannot be accepted.) Of these two sides, I consider the islamists as the way more dangerous ones, mostly because they cannot be put down by voting. Therefore I have to be on Bush’s side, even though I consider the global democracy exporting views of his pet neocons also a dangerous world repairing ideology, but currently they are the less dangerous ones, mostly because they are controlled by democratic votes. Should the militant islamist disappear in a cloud, I think neocons voted out very fast as there would be no more need of them. Currently, these hawks are necessary “bumpers” – they are antigens the immune system of the body of the West developed to combat disease. So I think it’s hard to find things to stand for, but pretty easy to find things to stand against and say no to. Maybe it’s a bit pessimistic, but at least realistic. Also I think this war will never be won. They will always find more recruits and as long as we keep buying oil from them, they will always find more funds. I think Adrian this is something Adrian gets right: the really effective way to combat terrorism would be to change our economies so that we stop buying oil from them and then they could find no finances for their activities. So I think this war will last for decades or centuries. But that’s normal. Most of human history was one of constant small-scale skirmishes. So it’s completely normal that it continues so more or less forever.

    Sorry for my terrible English today – I have a hell of a hangover and half of my brain is desperately trying to operate through a thick haze of last night’s beer, ale, jagermeister, becherovka, tequila, and all the other stuff I don’t remember… :)

    Footnotes:

    [1] Actually there is a future I hope for: some kind of “artisan’s republic” as big companies competed out of existence by small, human-scale ones as technology can give more and more leverage to small, smart teams. I hope for a future when words like “company policy” and “company procedure” do not exist. But I don’t believe in it. Somebody will surely mess it up. It’s the nature of things.

  310. About Europe’s decline – I hope Europe is just rather taking a nap to gather strength before a great leap. Despite all the faults of the bureaucrats, the basic idea of the EU – unity in diversity, not from diversity like in the US – is still a great one. After a millenia of holding each others throats, in historical scale we just recently started to hold each other’s hands instead. I mean just 25 years ago the joint Soviet-Hungarian military doctrine was that in the event of WWIII, we are supposed to attack the Alps to provide distraction to cover the main Soviet offensive on Germany… Seriously. ( I should make an SPMBT game scenario out of it to show how ridiculous it was. ) So this unity is quite a new thing and therefore it’s hard to tell what will become of the EU. I hope for the best.

  311. Shenpen,
    Sadly, the EU is just another attempt to fix the world. And to fix it by a very historically common means. “We’ll just put the smart people in charge and everything will be wonderful.” The problem being that the demonstrably smart people, which is to say those with superior educations, make the worst possible ruling class.

    Bush’s attempt to export democracy to Araby is probably doomed to failure. But it must be considered in the light of the alternatives. Of course we could just surrender to the Jihadis and their plans to form a global Taliban. Or we could just drop a lot of bombs on Arab cities every time there was a 9/11-style terrorist attack on the idea that “rubble doesn’t make trouble.” But that would mean slaughtering innocent women and children in perpetuity and with no commitment to any outcome other than death and suffering.

    And, of course, there is the alternative of genocide. Spreading democracy is the DECENT thing to do, considering our other options. That it will probably fail simply reflects the tragic imperfection of the world that, as you say, probably isn’t fixable.

    But at their best, the common people, ruling through democratic institutions, are an enormously better ruling class than any of their competitors. In the modern world, the workable alternatives to democracy are landed aristocracy(medieval Europe), theocracy(Iran), and a secular theocracy empowering the rule of the educated(Soviet Union).

    At their very best, neither princes nor priests nor pointy heads make as good a ruling class as ordinary schmucks exercising sovereign power through lawful democratic institutions. Of course if the character of the people is such that the lawful institutions cannot be made to work (the late Roman Republic), then the people must be ruled by one of the alternatives.

    The EU is an attempt to create a watered-down Soviet Union. It lacks the military power of the original, as well as the ruthlessness. It will inevitably fail. You are correct that this is unfortunate. But the people of Europe need to believe in SOMETHING, and the wars of the 20th century have left them unable to maintain any illusions about their own nation-states, at least among the educated classes. They also no longer believe in the transcendent Kingdom of Christ. The Soviet Union failed, so they can no longer believe in the Socialist Utopia. There is nothing left for the European literati except a pathetic bureaucratic EUtopia of unaccountable regulators, bossing everyone around in perpetuity.

    And incidentally, Yes, attempts to repair the world do cause more suffering. But so does doing nothing. I suppose minding your own business is relatively harmless, but the world gets smaller and more crowded every day, so there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to just go your way. Pluswise, as the sexual liberation in the West shows, letting everyone ‘do their own thing’ increases the burdens on society in the form of welfare dependency and other problems.

    The world, as you say, isn’t fixable. Even by those who are not trying to fix it.

    P. S. Your English is fine.

  312. The question in Iraq is whether the Arabs are good enough, in terms of their moral character as a people, to be successful democrats. And sadly, the answer is probably not.

    Which, in terms of dealing with Islamic terrorism, leaves us with one or more of the alternatives I mentioned in the last post:

    1. Surrender
    2. Indiscriminate slaughter
    3. Genocide.

    Does anybody have a serious option No. 4?

  313. Dean, I think that I could substitute Germany or Japan in 1944 for Iraq in your statements above and everyone would nod their heads sagely and agree that we must destroy these enemies, because the alternative is unending cycles of war with them. In fact, we created the circumstances needed to reshape their societies by reducing their society to a survival level and then freely sharing our wealth to rebuild their society.

    That’s option 4. Unfortunately, it is not the path we have followed in Iraq. We have tried to skip over the smashing of society portion of the option and go straight to rebuilding society. This makes the situation very difficult, to say the least. However, if we look at the ultimate outcomes in Korea (and even Vietnam, as bloody as the mess was for 2 decades), there is hope that the rebuilding can be moderately successful over the long haul.

  314. Dean,

    Yeah, the EU has some sovietic features like centrally planned agricultural quotas and so on. But there are also a great many right things like the disappearance of borders, the free movement of people, goods, and capital, a common currency and so on. I think the faults of the current practice can be separted from the long-term goals: dropping the faulty modern concept of states created on the basis of ethnicity – I think the concept of the ethnical nation-state was only a temporal bug in the Matrix – and returning to the federal state concept of that was in existence throughout the major part of the history (Holy German-Roman Empire, Frank Empire, Roman Empire and so on). I think throughout most of the history supra-ethnical federal states (or “empires”, in the old terminology) created the most advanced civiliazations. (Like, the one you are living in.) I think this is the important part of the concept and centrally planned nature of the EU will – because it should – disappear. I think it was just a coincidence, that both the political successes of the social democrats and the founding of the EU happened together and therefore the EU became somewhat social democrat in practice. But I think the long-term goal is not this.

    As for exporting democracy. Why is it so sure that democracy is the best possible way of goverment for everybody, regardless of their level of development and historical customs? Quite a lot of the cases democracy just creates the informal rule of mafia leaders (Ukraine) or warlords (Afghanistan). I think democracy only works when people are mature enough, and in many other cases some kind of enlightened authoritarianism works better for a while – f.e. Chile was much better under Pinochet than Ukraine is now, when in Ukraine it lately turned out that the opposition is but a different wing of the same mafia. People’s need time to learn democracy. There are two very good novels of Lawrence Saunders: The Tangent Factor and The Tangent Objective. These are fictional stories about founding a new federal state in Africa. And the constitution of this state says, like, unlimited presidential power for 5 years, parliamentarism with presidential veto for another 10 years and then fully democratic parliamentarism. I think it was a perfect idea: implementing democracy gradually, allowing people time to get used to it. Or look what Putin is doing in Russia. He is not very democratic, almost like a dictator, but that’s necessary for combating the mafia leader who literally own everything and due to corruption, are above to normal law.

  315. Shenpen,
    Do you think that we should have replaced Saddam with another dictator, one who would hopefully have been more pro-American, as a stepping stone to democracy?

    This is a purely rhetorical question. The United States cannot invade a country to overthrow an anti-American dictator, just to replace him with something more pliable. Though it might be nice, for a while, if we could.

    For a long time, the Romans had this sort of power politics down pat. They crushed one barbarian kingdom after another. After awhile, however, the quality of men they could find to be Emperor fell precipitously, and so did Rome.

    In the martial aspects of foreign policy, the trick is to crush vice in foreigners without becoming too badly infected with it yourself. This is a profound challenge. And even when you meet it, there are other problems.

    Eric Cowperthwaite mentions the Germany of 1944. The Allies did indeed purge the German people of their war-like tendencies. And now they have 1.3 babies per woman. Last year, the population of Japan declined for the first time on record. Losing WWII broke both of their hearts, and likely they will never recover.

    George W. Bush, love him or hate him, attempted to replace Saddam Hussein with an Iraqi democracy because he believed it was the right thing to do. Sadly, in the imperfect world in which we live, doing the right thing is difficult because there are so many ways it can go wrong.

  316. Of course just installing an America-friendly dictator would have enraged public opinion. But installing a semi-authoritarian system which is better to their own people, because is able to keep the mafias and local warlords down, I think the public opionon would have gutted it after a while. This is why I mentioned that novel before: a well-defined, planned, gradual schedule for implementing democracy instead of going right at it. “Change management”, I think this is the keyword. Just like implementing an ERP system at a company: better not go live with all modules overnight, but gradually. Every organizational change works much painlessly, if it’s gradual, if it’s organic, if grows rather than bangin’ in. I think people need to learn civilian and consumer self-awareness, consciousness, before they can be trusted that they can govern themselve. See, we here in Hungary haven’t really learned it in 16 years. Weeks ago I was at a rock festival besides a lake, it’s the typical camping in tents & having a couple of gigs in big stages. The organization was badly blown, therefore people stood in the blistering sun from 12AM to 4PM before they opened the gates, because the armband-tickets did not arrive in time and so on. And the most amazing thing it was that they did not dare to complain. And when I went to the security guards at the gates to object, I was hushed by the others, to not “make trouble” because who knows what might happen. And I was just amazed. I mean they fucking paid for the tickets and therefore had every right to complain and object as much as they want and they just did not dare. Why? Because their consumer self-consciousness is not yet fully developed. People still not understand that as customers, they are the bosses and they can expect to be served. They still felt they need to bow down to “power”. Still having this fucking “don’t speak up to not get into trouble” underdog mentality 16 years after communism. Similarly, when people have not yet developed civilian self-consciousness, they will bow down to mafia leaders, warlords and other local bullies. It takes a lot of time to learn not to be afraid. Especially when one’s defeated in war, people are naturally quite afraid. Therefore they can’t be trusted to govern themselves, but temporarily better be governed by others who have the guts to challenge the local bullies. Being a conscious democratic citizen is a learned ability, and not an easily learned one.

  317. I agree with every word, except for one problem: where in the Arab world would you find a man worthy of being trusted with all that authoritarian power? What Arab could you trust not to become another Saddam? African democracy is “One man, one vote, one time.” How would you keep an Arab-American viceroy in Iraq from becoming another El-Presidente-for-life?

    The hope is that an Iraqi parliamentary system will be able to sustain itself through all the ethnic strife. And maybe it can, though that’s not where the smart money is.

    But if you are going to try to get to democracy step-by-step, who are you going to put in charge during the interim stages?

    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

    James Madison

  318. Well, that’s a hard question indeed. Maybe the Saudi royal family – although calling them enlighted rulers would be quite an overstatement.

    There is a strange thing in the history of the last 50 years. Before that, state borders always changed a lot, every minor war between states meant the redrawing of borders like annexing or giving up territories. And nowadays it never happens. Yugoslavia split up alongside the old borders, not moving them an inch, Afghanistan, Iraq staying within the old borders, ETA, IRA achieving considerable autonomy but the redrawing of borders is out of question, Israel never officially annexing any occupied territory after 1948 and so on. It seems the powers that be – I guess the UN – are scared from the idea of redrawing borders, for what reason I do not know. This stuff occured to me just because in Iraq the biggest problem is the danger of civil war and Sunni territories annexed by Saudi Arabia and installing Kurdistan in the north could have been prevented that. After all, Iraq’s borders are completely artifical, drawn by the retreating colonists.People rarely draw completely straight lines in the sand by themselves ;-)

  319. [attempting to post from father-in-law’s computer in Nara]

    There were a number of Brits in the 1930s who refused to take the threat of Hitler seriously until he invaded Poland. By that time Germany had the most powerful military machine in Europe and England was in for the fight of her life.

    Germany was a modern industrial state, whereas your current contenders for a place in this analogy aren’t. They don’t threaten us, not even with a few nukes, though admittedly it would make pushing them around a higher-risk proposition.

    And we goddamned Yanks had to come to your fucking rescue.

    You sound a little young to be one of the Greatest Generation.

    And your country has never been the same. Your history since 1945 has been one of implacable decline. What, if anything, do you want your future to be?

    In this life, many people emigrate, and not only to America. Frankly, I think your nationality constitutes rather more of your identity than I’d personally be happy with. But each to his own.

    I don’t think that there is any more important question for any Westerner to ask himself right now.

    Oh, I’m asking it, have no fear.

  320. [again from Nara – Happy Hiroshima Day!]

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself”

    This would be more persuasive if you’d served, as opposed to just, well, being a gun owner and fantasising about having the chance to blow away some mentally ill person who’s managed to tool up. There are things I’d be willing to fight for, they’re just not the ones you think I should be willing to. Get over yourself ffs.

  321. [last one – will resume once (if?) Eric comes back and whitelists my home computer – don’t worry Dean, I haven’t forgotten you]

    “The missiles weren’t being fired until they started bombing…”

    Huh? I’m pretty sure there’s no ‘nuance’ or ‘context’ that can construe that sentence as anything other than utter bollocks. This isn’t even debatable. Homes over there are designed with *bomb shelters* in the basements or elsewhere on the property. There are communal bomb shelters. Public orders are issued to bear arms in preparation for terrorist threats. It is a sad truth that the state of *normalcy* over there is one punctuated by the thud of bombs. What a thoroughly asinine thing to say, even by your standards…

    I’ve been making a special attempt to be civil to you lately, and this is the thanks I get. Of course they have bomb shelters, but they hadn’t been needing to *use* them lately – not until Hizbollah captured the two soldiers and the IDF decided the whole of Lebanon had to be clobbered in return, while the American media sagely intoned how proportionate it was.

  322. Adrian,
    >There are things I’d be willing to fight for, they’re just not the ones you think I should be willing to.

    Who would you be willing to fight, and for what?

  323. Dean, it may be that Germany and Japan will never be the same. But, you asked for an alternative to genocide, surrender, etc. I gave you one. It seems to me that if we truly want to defeat this enemy, we have to be as ruthless as we were in WWII. If not, then we need to go home.

  324. It gets much worse than that. We can’t just go home. When we pulled out of Vietnam, the Viet-cong did not follow us back to the States. The Jihadis will.

    Whether we admit it or not, and far too many of us will not, our situation is win or die.

    One thing that troubles me is that even if the Right manages to pull Western civilization’s nuts out of the fire this time, the Left could still wind up victorious in the aftermath. Winston Churchill defeated Germany for Britain and the Brits tossed him out of office and built a massive welfare-state.

    Sheep are rarely grateful to sheepdogs for protecting them from wolves. Sheep want to forget that there even ARE wolves. And the presence of sheepdogs reminds sheep of something they’d rather not think about. And thus do sheep resent sheepdogs.

    As Shenpen says, the world cannot be fixed.

  325. As I reflect on it, I come to admire Ronald Reagan now, more than I did when he was alive. You need a special kind of heart to be a hopeful Conservative. Eric Hoffer said

    ‘In human affairs every solution serves only to sharpen the problem, to show us more clearly what we are up against. There are no final solutions.’

    If you are some hippy drippy utopian Pollyanna, then it is easy to be optimistic about the future. But the more clearly you see the profound and fundamental paradoxes of our existence, the harder it is to maintain a sunny outlook. Particularly if you don’t believe in a God who will one day violate the Law of Identity on behalf of humankind.

    I said earlier that I would no longer be morbid, at least on this thread. I am embarrassed at how difficult it is to keep that pledge.

  326. The question I often ask myself is if the current batch of left wing, anti-war meme spouters would have the stones to be ruthless if they were faced with Hitler and the Third Reich. 99 times out of 100, the answer I come up with is no. They are a far cry from the Left of FDR’s day.

  327. Of course, if we were fighting WWII now, we’d lose.

    The only thing I can think of is Thank God for Abortion.

    The stereotypical Conservative woman has three kids. The stereotypical Liberal woman has one kid and two abortions. Since the political apple usually doesn’t fall too far from the tree, every baby that gets scraped out of a Liberal womb is one more adult who won’t vote Democrat twenty years later.

    That is the single most horrific thing I have ever heard anyone say about abortion. And, sadly, it is my opinion.

  328. Dean says “our situation is win or die.” Not really. We could laugh at terrorists rather than be scared by them. After all, we kill 20X as many people on our highways, and 10X as many people with guns — and no reasonable person proposes that we ban automobiles or guns.

  329. Remember, kiddos, that the same people currently prosecuting, and giving justification for, the War on Terra are also engaged in covert psyops like this:

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2273111&page=1

    With so much oil money going into the national-scale project of weaving a web of lies in order to discredit discomfiting truths which hurt the oil industry, what makes you think there’s ANYTHING the Repubs have to say about the Middle East worth believing?

    Remember the three E’s: Energy, Economics, Empire. The threat of dwindling oil reserves and the collapse of the petro-dollar; and the mutually supportive agendas of PNAC and reclamation of Eretz Israel add up to a plan for even more US-Israeli perfidy as time goes on.

    As for Dean’s fourth option the only one I can see — and to me, currently, the only viable option full-stop — is to recognize that Western civilization in its current form will not exist in the very near-term future; and to implement the technological and social structures necessary for humane, sustainable survival of the coming collapse of order. Not a lot of geeks seem terribly interested in this (except perhaps those involved in that Free State Project Eric mentioned a while back; although the situation does get better right around where I am now (Portland, OR).)

  330. “This would be more persuasive if you’d served…”
    In case of failure, resort to fallacy. Good job.

    “…being a gun owner and fantasising…”
    blah blah blah yawn

    “…hadn’t been needing to *use* them lately…”
    That’s right. It was all peaceful until the IDF did their thang. Damn those Jews for starting trouble. The fictional reports of regular shelling were simply to establish Jewish victimhood.

    “…American media sagely intoned how proportionate it was”
    Actually, I recall the term “disproportionate” being thrown around by many, albeit half-heartedly at times…which made me wonder exactly *where* the correct formula for determining a ‘proportionate’ response was defined, and who had signed up to the convention. Then I remembered that all this talk of ‘disproportionality’ was horse crap.

    “…every baby that gets scraped out of a Liberal womb…”
    This may be the most compelling argument for abortion I have heard yet ;-) Last call for the one-way stagecoach to hell…

    “…We could laugh at terrorists rather than be scared by them…”
    I’m more furious, not scared…and I think I’ll be shooting, not laughing ;-) Not that I seriously expect to encounter any…

    “…and no reasonable person proposes that we ban automobiles or guns”
    Quite so, and it would be a truly stupid suggestion were someone to make it. I also propose we don’t ask the ‘international community’ to ‘ban’ terrorism…just kill ’em wherever they are found.

    “…recognize that Western civilization in its current form will not exist in the very near-term future…”
    Isn’t this more-or-less true about *any* civilization, not just Western, at *any* point in time?

    “…humane, sustainable survival…”
    What does this mean? How can survival *not* be sustainable? Since you also qualify this with the term “humane”, I assume you’re not amenable to the idea of taking a global view of the states of civilization, and culling the more medievally-handicapped populations with a bunch of nukes…?

    “…coming collapse of order”
    Oh. I see. You’ve bought into *that* religion…write some sci-fi and get it out of your system ;-)

    “…Free State Project…”
    Y’know, although I am profoundly libertarian, and celebrate this concept…I have to admit that I believe this will turn out to be an embarrassing, laughable failure that will be used as ammo by neo-Liberal pundits for years. I *sincerely* wish to be proved wrong, but my opinion merely reflects the lack of faith I have in peoples’ willpower, conviction and integrity when it comes to accepting the burden of liberty.

  331. So, I said our situation is win or die, and Jeff Read proposes we die. Sadly, he is not alone. If

    1. there is no God and no heaven,
    2. we are never going to live in the Socialist Utopia,
    3. no one can even imagine what life might be like after the Singularity, or if we will survive it,

    Then how is any Westerner to have hope for the future, except for some vague ‘humane, sustainable’ intellectually incoherent nonentity?

    On the other hand, we all know exactly what death looks like: often bloody, but peaceful. Tranquil. Free from responsibility.

    Osama poses that we are the weak horse because deep down we really WANT to die. He therefore supposes that he can make a lot of mistakes (and he has) and still emerge victorious because it is hard not to win a fight to the death with someone who wants to lose.

    As a civilization we have to find something in the future to want, other than an abdication of the burden of responsibility. If we cannot look ahead to anything good, then dying is the most comprehensive way to avoid anything bad. If you are dead when the world goes to hell, then not only need you not suffer through it, but by any reasonable standard It’s Not Your Fault. No one can blame you if you’re dead.

    As a people, what else do we really want, other than to be:
    1. Pain-free and
    2. Blameless

    Do we want to be rich? We are rich. Do we want to be free? We are free. Do we want to be important? We are important. And STILL we are not happy all the time. What else is there for us to dream of? Immortality? What, so we can continue like this forever?

    If we are to survive, there has to be something more. But what?

  332. In case of failure, resort to fallacy. Good job.

    So…where and when, you coy little bugger you, hiding your light under a bushel like that?

    That’s right. It was all peaceful until the IDF did their thang. Damn those Jews for starting trouble. The fictional reports of regular shelling were simply to establish Jewish victimhood.

    Got links to these fictional reports? Hadn’t heard about them, may well have been an oversight on my part.

  333. I think that your “win or die” assertion is *somewhat* a false dichotomy, in the appreciable future at least. I take some comfort in the certainty of the phenomenal magnitude of the effort required to subjugate us into dhimmitude, or whatever it’s called.

    Think about it. How the *hell* can a bunch of backward thugs ever hope to dominate such a vast land mass and population? Especially one so well armed? The logistics are boggling. They can barely control their own territories without butchery…what kind of a platform is that to launch a crusade for world domination?

    There are extremely wealthy sponsors of such regimes, and terrorists, but even these funds are chump change for such a crusade. What amount of wealth, and how many resource suppliers, would it take to effectively rule the world? Or at least the west…far more than they could possibly amass, I suspect.

    What I *do* see as being perfectly possible, is the continued terroristic activities they are engaged in now. It seems that sheeple have a suicidal tendency to roll over at the least sign of danger and surrender their liberties willingly. 9/11 was bad enough, but the self-evisceration that followed was far worse, IMHO. We are our own worst enemy, when ‘the end comes’ it will be a mess of our own design…not merciless slaughter at the hands of mighty camel-mounted jihadis. Not even the spectre of nuclear doom is plausible…sure, a dookie in your backyard is gonna smart…but the reality of nuclear war is not *that* terrifying…and is eminently survivable.

    Nukes and Islamofascists and economically illiterate doom’n’gloom and ‘peak oil’ and ‘climate change’ don’t scare me one tiny bit…*we* scare me…and I sure don’t have enough bullets… ;-)

  334. Adrian wrote:

    n case of failure, resort to fallacy. Good job.

    So…where and when, you coy little bugger you, hiding your light under a bushel like that?

    The fallacy he is referring to is the “chickenhawk” one. The position that one can’t comment on a war unless one is willing to serve in the military and put their life on the line themselves. It’s akin to claiming that only parents can comment on parenting techniques and only women can have any input on abortion.

    You specifically said:

    This would be more persuasive if you’d served, as opposed to just, well, being a gun owner and fantasising about having the chance to blow away some mentally ill person who’s managed to tool up.

    Although it isn’t the full chickenhawk position, it is a partial one. I didn’t comment on it personally because I see no need to tackle your logical fallacy myself.

  335. >Nukes and Islamofascists…don’t scare me one tiny bit…
    >*we* scare me…and I sure don’t have enough bullets

    Amen to that, brother.

  336. The fallacy he is referring to is the “chickenhawk” one. The position that one can’t comment on a war unless one is willing to serve in the military and put their life on the line themselves.

    He can comment all he likes, as do I – wasn’t talking syllogisms. Allow me to revisit what he quoted:
    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself”

    If he’s going to cast me as such a person unwilling to fight, he’s *implying* (to me, at any rate) that he’s casting himself as one of the “better men” making exertions. And I’m saying his exertions consist of brandishing a piece in his backyard miles from anywhere any jihadi will ever be, and I find them *unpersuasive*. That you don’t strikes me as…pretty indulgent.

    It’s akin to claiming that only parents can comment on parenting techniques and only women can have any input on abortion.

    Non-parents and non-women can certainly comment, respectively, but neither of them exactly deserve the casting vote.

    I didn’t comment on it personally because I see no need to tackle your logical fallacy myself.

    There’s more to persuasion than logic.

  337. Again, Adrian, are you prepared to fight? And if so, whom and for what?

    I understand your criticism of others. Let’s hear your views.

    “The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society except their constant criticisms can feel both intellectually and morally superior.” –Thomas Sowell

  338. So, Jeff, when the nuke goes off in Manhattan, who should we arrest?

    Shall we dispatch the ACLU to ensure that those Hezbollah fighters who fired those rockets into those Israeli cities receive their right to an attorney?

    Should we have sent in Interpol with a warrant to arrest Osama in Afghanistan in September of 2001?

    I know, I know! We’ll arrest the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his role in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and for trying to make nukes, both in violation of international law!

    I’ll tell you this much, Ahmadinejad isn’t the only one who is nutty as a fucking fruitcake.

  339. We tried the law enforcement route for 3 decades. Now, ask yourself what that route accomplished? What was the outcome of Bill Clinton treating Al-Qaeda’s first WTC attack, Hezbollah’s bombing of Khobar towers, etc. as criminal actions?

    Oh yeah, they were emboldened, convinced we were soft, and planned and executed a massive attack on the USA that resulted in billions of dollars in damage and thousands of deaths.

    Yep, seems clear that the law enforcement route is the way to go.

  340. Oh, and Adrian, one more comparison to try and illustrate how silly the chickenhawk position is. Are police officers the only people who should have the moral position to comment on, and/or make, law enforcement policy? If you aren’t willing to put on a badge and be a police officer does this mean that you can not take a position on the proper way to deal with crime and criminals?

  341. Eric,
    Criminals are victims of society. They only commit crimes because they are oppressed by the free-market Christian white-male power structure. Thieves and murderers deserve an apology from us all and police officers should all be fired, or perhaps jailed themselves.

    If you don’t agree, then clearly you are a bigoted racist fascist homophobic tool of patriarchy and corporate Amerikkka.

  342. Again, Adrian, are you prepared to fight? And if so, whom and for what?

    I’d be prepared to if I saw anyone that I believed needed fighting. It ain’t the jihadis, though, whatever some of them say.

    “The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society except their constant criticisms can feel both intellectually and morally superior.” –Thomas Sowell

    Heartfelt online enthusiasm for whatever Bush is up to isn’t *that* big a contribution to set against my supposed apathy, you know.

  343. Adrian,
    >I’d be prepared to if I saw anyone that I believed needed fighting.

    What would a person need to do to convince you to take aggressive action?

    Perhaps if they hijacked and airliner and flew it into a building?

    Perhaps if they detonated bombs in front of embassies?

    Perhaps if they planted a bomb on and subsequently blew up a civilian airliner?

    Perhaps if they sent suicide bombers to blow themselves up in markets and cafes?

    Perhaps if they rained down missiles upon cities?

    Perhaps if they attacked a school and held the children therein hostage to the meeting of their political demands?

    There were Europeans in the 1930s who made excuses for Hitler. Those people’s names are now mud. Do you really expect yours to hold up any better?

  344. Oh, and Adrian, one more comparison to try and illustrate how silly the chickenhawk position is. Are police officers the only people who should have the moral position to comment on, and/or make, law enforcement policy?

    Crime, parenting and abortion are all around us, while we’re fortunate that we can arrange to have wars in distant places, so there’s a sense in which your parallels ain’t, quite. But look, I’ve tried as hard as I can to lay out my problem with Dan’s pretensions to sheepdoghood. He talks about those he considers to be on the appeasement-oriented left as though he himself has somehow been tested in the heat of battle against something more substantial than his woodchuck population. I think not, but if you’re prepared to tolerate such stuff it’s up to you.

    The fact that you don’t show any need for such pointless swaggering makes me pay a lot more attention to what you have to say, is all.

  345. There were Europeans in the 1930s who made excuses for Hitler. Those people’s names are now mud. Do you really expect yours to hold up any better?

    Yes, because the parallel is dumb. Germany was a modern state, as I think I’ve mentioned. Your list of Dreadful Outrages make up a coherent whole because that’s how you’ve decided to see them. I haven’t. I mean, really, what have the Chechens and the Palestinians got to do with each other? You don’t appear to see the way the West (and Russia, to cover the Chechen angle) has behaved towards the Muslim world over the past century or so as at all unenlightened or manipulative. I do. To me, your list is just varied blowback, whereas to you it’s a vast coordinated conspiracy in quest of a Caliphate, and my beliefs a festival of self-loathing, failure of assertion and probably low testosterone levels to boot.

  346. Adrian,

    All right, so we have a difference of opinion. Scientific theories are respectable to the extent that they are falsifiable. Scientists proposing a theory explain that if certain conditions are met, either in a laboratory experiment or in the natural world, then the theory is invalid.

    Are your views falsifiable? Is there anything any jihadi could do that you would not consider to be blowback?

  347. Actually, while I would use the same examples Adrian, to show why our old methods don’t work, that doesn’t mean I think it is a single, vast conspiracy. And, really, I doubt that Dean does either. On the other hand, I think it is hiding your head in the sand to pretend that because Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO, etc. are not all the same organization with the exact same religious beliefs, that there is absolutely no coordination or cooperation.

    We aren’t facing a vast, shadowy conspiracy where every single act is part of a master plan. Instead, we are facing a culture that is diametrically opposed, in most ways, to everything our culture stands for. This culture feels, rightly so, that they have to defeat us or ultimately disappear and be swept under by us. No, they are not a modern nation-state, like Germany or the USSR was. But, two of the greatest empires of all time were defeated by barbarian cultures that, on paper, should not have been able to do so. Nor was the Germanic “attack” on Rome a coordinated, massive effort with a single goal in mind. The WWII examples are used as an illustration of why we think you need to open your eyes, don’t carry the analogy beyond what we are trying to illustrate.

  348. [still being intermittently blocked from posting]

    Scientific theories are respectable to the extent that they are falsifiable. Scientists proposing a theory explain that if certain conditions are met, either in a laboratory experiment or in the natural world, then the theory is invalid.

    We’re not in the realm of science here. Science is when you can control at least some of your variables and run things again. Mind you, most people here seem to think economics qualifies.

    Are your views falsifiable? Is there anything any jihadi could do that you would not consider to be blowback?

    What’s this? I have to imagine an atrocity and say whether or not I think it would be justified? The question is how far (and in what direction) we should go to *avert* that putative nuke in Manhattan that you’re losing sleep over, despite all the liberals it’d vaporise. You seem to think stomping Muslim countries (or maybe nodding approvingly while the Israelis do it) is going to help, whereas I see it as making it more likely. Or, like, we’re not stomping *hard enough* to get respect.

    I think you guys miss the point when you get on a high horse and moralise about fourth generation warfare. This guy is kind of interesting, not that I necessarily agree with his conclusion about the Palestinians, but I think the broader point is sound. I reckon fighting insurgencies is corrosive to morale – intrinsically, not just because there are people like me being cynical about it on the interwebs.

  349. Good grief!…quit your whinging already Adrian!…you know nothing about me or my personal circumstances other than that which I have chosen to share. This constitutes a *rather narrow* slice of my life. The fact that my unashamed stance on personal arms consistently elicits thorny responses from you tells me far more about your insecurities and inadequacies than you will ever possibly know about me.

    Continue to retort in your ‘characteristic’ manner…as I have said before to you – you’re really not that interesting…

  350. “Just because you favor the fighting of terrorism doesn’t mean you have to favor grossly asymmetric, disproportionate violence”

    Interesting site. I have no idea of (or time to verify) the integrity of the data presented there…but I’ll play along for now ;-)

    So…taking the first statistic…121 Israeli vs 763 Palestinian children killed…what does this tell us? What is the ‘correct’ proportion? 1:1? 1:2? None? (well…OK…I’m sure we’d all like to see zero dead children, but let’s get real) Could this statistic possibly betray the contempt that Palestinians have for their own children? Perhaps Israelis go to great lengths to secure their future generations…heck…they’ve have some significant experience of genocide, so I do not find it hard to imagine their priorities. What the Israelis certainly *don’t* do is send their children into harms way…the same cannot be said for certain others.

  351. >I reckon fighting insurgencies is corrosive to morale

    >and my beliefs a festival of self-loathing

    Ok, so we shouldn’t fight any “insurgencies,” defined as people who don’t have an army, but who do lay claim to a piece of territory and are prepared to slaughter civilians in order to legitimize that claim.

    And all such slaughter is legitimate anyway because it is ‘blowback.’

    So we who are civilized should, because we are civilized, hunker down and hope they don’t come after us to kill us. And even if they did, it would be our fault — blowback.

    I know I keep asking you a lot of questions which you do not deign to answer but

    Do you object to my characterization of your position as self-loathing?

  352. On the other hand, I think it is hiding your head in the sand to pretend that because Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO, etc. are not all the same organization with the exact same religious beliefs, that there is absolutely no coordination or cooperation.

    I’d be very surprised if Hizbollah, Hamas and the PLO didn’t occasionally find stuff to have a chat about, but they seem inclined to act locally, even if they’re thinking globally. Sounds like Al-Q have to hold their noses to talk to Shia, but I’m sure there’ll be a bit of traffic there too.

    My problem is with taking the Caliphate dreams seriously.

    Instead, we are facing a culture that is diametrically opposed, in most ways, to everything our culture stands for.

    Not my feeling from the Muslims I’ve known, though I’m concerned about the way women get treated. And in any case, lacking the widespread libertarian confidence that economics trumps engineering I’m not in sympathy with the way our culture treats energy. But I’ll modulate that if I see suitable replacements coming down the pipeline unfettered over the next few years, don’t worry.

    But, two of the greatest empires of all time were defeated by barbarian cultures that, on paper, should not have been able to do so. Nor was the Germanic “attack” on Rome a coordinated, massive effort with a single goal in mind.

    The Germans just wanted in IIRC, but nobody realised how fragile the whole thing was. Now you seem to be saying liberalism is making us (mainly Europe) fragile, but I see more danger in our energy dependences.

  353. Ok, so we shouldn’t fight any “insurgencies,” defined as people who don’t have an army, but who do lay claim to a piece of territory and are prepared to slaughter civilians in order to legitimize that claim.

    No, we should just recognise the reality of the advantage they hold. Unless we bite the bullet and choose genocide, they can probably outlast us in a lot of cases.

    And all such slaughter is legitimate anyway because it is ‘blowback.’

    The whole concept of legitimacy has to be accepted by both sides in a conflict before it becomes meaningful. Until then it’s mostly whining. “They won’t play fair! Waah!”

    So we who are civilized should, because we are civilized, hunker down and hope they don’t come after us to kill us. And even if they did, it would be our fault — blowback.

    We should stop interfering in their countries, permit them the self-determination we claim to set such store by and try and reduce the energy dependence which is making the region so much more strategically important than it should be. If a few of them still insist on coming after us we can cut down on granting visas and stuff. As a last resort there’s always pogroms.

    I know I keep asking you a lot of questions which you do not deign to answer but

    Which ones? Some of them have a rhetorical glimmer in their collective eye.

    Do you object to my characterization of your position as self-loathing?

    I don’t take it seriously, it’s just a caricature. I’m not passionately proud of the achievements or solidly behind the direction of our civilisation. If that makes me self-loathing in your book, so be it.

    insecurities and inadequacies

    Hee hee hee

  354. >recognize that Western civilization in its current form will not exist in the very near-term future
    >humane, sustainable survival of the coming collapse of order.

    >If that makes me self-loathing in your book, so be it.

    Adrian,
    Jeff Read says that Western civilization will not survive, and seems to be of the opinion that it SHOULD not. Assuming that is his opinion

    Do you agree with it? This is not a rhetorical question.

  355. I thought Jeff was of the opinion that it wouldn’t survive *in its current form*…which seems to me rather like stating the obvious. Never mind the a-rabs, we’ve got enough problems dealing with contemporary liberalism’s corruption of our civilization…given our current course, I daresay we’ll barely recognize America in 20 years.

  356. Adrian: The Germans just wanted in IIRC, but nobody realised how fragile the whole thing was.

    There’s a huge amount of similarity there to the Middle Eastern and North African migrations to Western Europe. Including bringing their own culture along, carving out enclaves and not becoming assimilated. I wonder what will happen when Europe tries to assimilate them? We know what happened to Rome.

    Adrian: Now you seem to be saying liberalism is making us (mainly Europe) fragile, but I see more danger in our energy dependences.

    I do think European social democracy (which is not liberalism, even if you want to call it that) is fragile. That includes, by the way, dependence on fossil fuels. I have advocated getting off of fossil fuels and onto the “next thing” for 2+ decades now. But, fossil fuel dependent economies are not the only thing, or even the primary thing, contributing to the fragility of Europe. I wouldn’t say Europe is fragile so much as brittle.

    I also wouldn’t carry the Rome/German analogy too far. But, it is a better historical precedent than the 1930’s for the actual danger posed. The 1930’s are a good precedent for the outcome of appeasement.

  357. Adrian, some points about the differences I see that cause me to say the two broad cultural sweeps are diametrically opposed.

    1. Their treatment of women is something I find abhorrent. Even the relatively mild practices found in Europe, Canada and the US.
    2. The Middle Eastern/Islamic culture places religion in the driver’s seat for law and government, not rule of law.
    3. This culture places significantly different values on the group and the individual than the West does. From their perspective the differences in individual vs. group that we see between America and Europe are very minor.
    4. The religion itself is no better or worse than Christianity was in the past. The difference is whether religion is superior or subordinate to civil authority. Whether the secular leaders like it, or not, they are in the boat that secular leaders of the West were in during the Middle Ages. Religion drives, civil government follows. That is the reverse of the values we in the West deem important.
    5. Sanctity of life, rule of law, genocide as a policy. These are all things that the West has made very different decisions on than they have.
    6. Individual responsibility and liberty.

    Now, do the individuals you meet seem much like you and I? Yep. Especially after some cultural assimilation. But a culture is more than the sum total of each individual. Individual attitudes, beliefs, values and actions are shaped by the culture they are in. To suppose you can meet a few individuals from the Middle Eastern/Islamic culture, very likely outside their actual cultural setting, and make value judgements about their culture strikes me as a poor position to take with no real bearing on reality. Those individuals are probably good people.

    But, like the Third Reich, we have to ask ourselves if the culture is a good one or a bad one.

    Based on what I’ve laid out, please show me where I’m wrong. Show me how their culture, one that advocates the opposite of the values we find important, civilized even, is not opposed in most respect to ours.

  358. Eric, the larger question is whether a civilization that

    1. Treats women as equals and not as chattels
    2. Places human life, not God’s will, at the center of law
    3. Values individualism
    4. Separates church and state
    5. Chooses not to play for keepsies, ethnically speaking and
    6. Aspires to provide liberty to the individual

    DESERVES to survive.

    Our intellectual elites tend toward the conclusion that it does not. According to Eric Hoffer, they would rather live in something like the Egypt of the Pharaohs, wherein the masses were illiterate and ignorant, and a literate few ruled them with an iron hand.

    If, as seems statistically likely, becoming a learned American makes you an anti-American, then what hope is there for us?

    In the 19th century, the settlement of the Old West drew many potential intellectuals into fields of action. There were so many fabulous opportunities for self-advancement that, as it were, how were you gonna keep them down on the campus, once they’d seen Sutter’s Mill?

    Now that the frontier is gone (at least until we colonize space), the West is just crawling with intellectuals who, while living better economically than any previous generation, NEVER STOP bitching about how much America Sucks(!).

    If we cannot, by any means, both
    1. Capture the intellectual’s loyalty and
    2. Keep this country’s promise to ordinary schmucks

    Then what are we going to do?

    This question vexes me more than any other.

  359. I am asking Adrian: If the choice is the West or the Middle East, and there is no possibility of peaceful coexistence, which do you choose?

    No qualifying the question. The question is simple. Assume it really is a fight to the death. Only one culture comes out alive, the other is tossed on the trash heap of history at the end of the day. Do you choose the West, or don’t you? Why?

  360. No qualifying the question. The question is simple. Assume it really is a fight to the death. Only one culture comes out alive, the other is tossed on the trash heap of history at the end of the day. Do you choose the West, or don’t you? Why?

    I’m a “plague on both your houses” kind of guy, though not for purposes of savouring the sense of moral superiority that Dean accuses me of. I’d choose the West if I believed it was sustainable, but the Middle East isn’t sustainable either. Moreover, I don’t accept the impossibility of peaceful coexistence, or that it would constitute surrender.

  361. Jeff Read says that Western civilization will not survive, and seems to be of the opinion that it SHOULD not. Assuming that is his opinion

    Do you agree with it? This is not a rhetorical question.

    I don’t know if it will or not – I haven’t got enough information. As to whether it should, I regard myself as a spectator. I think that if there is sufficient accessible energy, we’ll get to the Singularity, and all bets will be off, though I don’t necessarily believe that whatever opens its million unblinking eyes at that instant is necessarily going to regard quietly letting humanity upload copies of themselves into an infinite eternal playground as its main priority. But I suspect there won’t be enough energy.

  362. During the American Civil War, there were the Confederate Slaveholders and the Union Abolitionists (simplistically speaking). And there were the spectators who had no opinion on whether black people should be property.

    History has not looked kindly on the spectators of that era, and I suspect it will not look kindly on the spectators of this one, either.

  363. And there were the spectators who had no opinion on whether black people should be property.

    By “spectator” I mean “someone whose actions and opinions are unlikely to affect the big picture in any way”.

    History has not looked kindly on the spectators of that era,

    They must be *so* turning in their graves.

  364. Heh, I told you no qualifying the question. I’m not saying that it is fair and accurate and representative of reality. But, it is the sort of question that is good for clarifying philosophy and moving a discussion forward.

    So, assume the following:

    1. The West is one possible choice.
    2. The Middle East is the other.
    3. They are in a cultural war that will result in one, or the other, being triumphant
    4. No peaceful coexistence is possible (regardless of what you think is actually possible).

    Given that, which one should triumph? Which one would you fight for if that were the sum total of cultural reality? Why?

  365. Adrian: They must be *so* turning in their graves.

    Hmmm, I care about my legacy after I’m gone, even if it is only my children, grandchildren, etc. and their memory of me. This implies that what others think of us after we are gone doesn’t matter. Not sure if that is what you are trying to say, or not?

    Aside from that, we may achieve the Singularity and live forever. Already the increase in medicine’s ability to extend your life is beginning to approach the increase in risk of death based on age. When the former exceeds the latter, the curve on increase in human lifespan will go vertical. You may live to see your legacy used against you.

  366. [Just arrived from a trip to Nürnberg, so I have to reflect to old posts first]

    Dean,

    Actually, I think there is nothing wrong with the general direction of your thinking. You are quite pessimist, but there is a special kind of pessimism that is rather fruitful than depressing: when you start to realize that all human efforts tend to lead to suffering, and you are still able to love life and admire the almost unlimited capabilities of the human mind, I think this is a fruitful kind of pessimism, because sooner or later it cuts right through the fundamental self-delusions of human life. It’s a bit like you’re kinda reinventing buddhism, but I won’t write more about that as I don’t wanna look like preaching. Anyway, just go in this direction, and I think you will arrive to doubting the most fundamental questions, why do we consider existence better than nothingness and of course I don’t mean in a plain simple suicide manner, but rather as a philosophical question on why recognizable qualities, which make up what we call existence, are generally considered better than emptyness or formlessness. And then you gonna find some quite fundamental answers of no-answer.

    As for the survival and long-term goals of Western civilization… I think the Western Civilization does not exist anymore as it existed 50 years before. I think Eastern Europe had a great effect on the EU and Oriental and Latino immigration had a great effect on the USA, and both through immigration and through econimic cooperation the former Western Civ have huge connections to the Far East. It’s hard for me to admit because I hate commies, but it’s still true: from an industrial-enconomical viewpoint, China IS an integral part of Western Civ now. Therefore the question is a little bit more complicated than it looks. It’s rather a global civ than western civ.

  367. … and a bit of an afterthought. The most important thing I discovered in my 28 years of life experience is that happiness almost exclusively depends on human qualities rather than circumstances. It’s a lot more important to ask the question of what kind of people we are and what kind we want to become, than to care about what is happening to us.

    This is my basic problem with the Left – the consciously avoid to ask this question, because they think all questions on human quality lead to discrimination and fascism. The Right often asks this question, but they usually do it wrong as their ideal seems to be some kind of very boring “pray and work” type of person. I think we need to find a better ideal than that.

    I think our greatest challenge is to find new human ideals. We have to rediscover or redefine the concept of “virtue”. Not in the old way, where virtue meant serving the state or bribing the god for getting a pleasant afterlife, but just virtue for itself. Just because the lack of caring about virtue unavoidably leads to unhappiness, because we lose our self-respect and therefore our purpose, our drive to live.

    There is not more important question than that. “How can a 21st century man consider himself virtuous?” I think if we don’t find an answer to that, Osama gonna win, because without rediscovering virtue, we won’t rediscover our will to live.

  368. … and yet another thing. The word “virtue” comes from Latin word “virtus”, which comes from “vir”, which means “man”. I’m kind of convinced that a lot of our current problems came right from feminism. Don’t misunderstand me, as long as feminism is about recognizing that both sexes have the same value and therefore deserve the same rights, I’m in. But feminism had a side-effect of causing that both sexes have naturally different conduct and way of thinking, and the definition of good and right must be naturally different for the gender of healers and the gender of protectors. One of the major reasons of our lack of will to live comes from the fact that we cannot really discover really fitting identities or roles for ourselves because female and male roles were destroyed and washed into some kind of unisex role. I think the first act of rediscovering our values should be this: there must be a completely different feminine and masculine definition of good and right. And the masculine definition needs to contain some amount of warrior, knight, samurai, cowboy, whatever elements, because without that we cannot make right decisions – like, taking up arms when necessary – and we cannot live at peace with ourselves, as we let an important part of ourselves starve.

  369. Shenpen, good thoughts. Some comments for your own thinking on the topic.

    I agree that “the West” does not exist today as it did 50 years ago. It doesn’t exist today as it 40-ish years ago when I was born. Nor did Western civilization exist in 1945 as it did in 1845 or 1745. 5 decades is a long time and change is to be expected. One of the most powerful things about Western civilization has been its ability to not only change, but to desire and produce change, viewing that as a good thing. That is, indeed, one of the foundations of Liberalism. In fact, the majority of the current political leaders and thinkers of “the West” are not Liberal, regardless of what they say about themself. They resist change, are scared of it. That change was occurring long before WWII. The biggest change I see in Europe (Western anyhow) is that the people no longer want change either. Eastern Europe appears to still desire change, as does the USA.

    The point, I guess, is that the West still exists. A place that values change, rule of law, the individual, education, etc. is still here. Yes, it ahs been influenced, it has been impacted by globalization, by communism/socialism, by renewed religious statism. But, it’s still here, although the society has changed over time.

    About your comments and thoughts on virtue. I would recommend reading the early Scottish Enlightenment philosophers. They taught and studied a subject known as Moral Philosophy, which later broke into multiple areas of history, social science, economics and more. You may find what those men, 250 to 300 years ago had to say about virtue and morality. Especially interesting are the ones who did not link virtue to King or Church.

  370. Hmmm, I care about my legacy after I’m gone, even if it is only my children, grandchildren, etc. and their memory of me. This implies that what others think of us after we are gone doesn’t matter. Not sure if that is what you are trying to say, or not?

    Sure I care about what my own family will think of me, it’s just that I have difficulty imagining them scrolling through archives of my old blog postings and getting very involved with the content of what they find. Oooh look, Great-grandpa said something anti-Zionist, how terrible. Anyway, if the West has won they should have more interesting things to do, and if the jihadis have the archives will be unreadable.

  371. Eric,

    the problem is I don’t know jack shit about Scottish Enlightment philosophers. Can you at least name some names to google on?

  372. Shenpen:

    Adam Smith
    David Hume
    Francis Hutcheson

    Those three should get you started. Read “Wealth of Nations” from the perspective that Adam Smith wrote it to explain moral philosophy and human nature. He had no idea that he would found a whole new branch of study called economics when he wrote that book.

    A good introduction the Scottish Enlightenment is:

    How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It – Arthur Herman, 2001

    Just one quote on why the Scottish Enlightenment is so important to the West:

    Voltaire: “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.”

    Other Scottish Enlightenment philosophers include: James Burnett, Adam Ferguson, John Millar, and William Robertson

    Also, look at the influence of the Scots on the American education system.

  373. Shenpen,
    In case you are interested, my own recommended philosophy list would include:

    Eric Hoffer (The True Believer, anything else)
    Dennis Prager (Happiness is a Serious Problem)
    Sun Tzu (The Art of War)
    Robert Heinlein (anything)
    Louis L’Amour (anything)
    Machiavelli (The Prince)
    Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, anything else)
    Shelby Steele (A Dream Deferred)
    Thomas Sowell (A Conflict of Visions, anything else)
    Steven Pinker (How the Mind Works)

  374. If you really want to understand what’s going on, I’d also suggest Alvin Tofflers The Third Wave.

  375. Um, the comment thingie munged the underling of the book title. I should have put it in quotes as AP style allows. (Student journalist outed!)

  376. Light Bulb Moment: the terrorists are decentralized and loosely organized, but the U.S. and other governments are using bureaucratic, top-down armies to fight them. Maybe some concerned citizens should just buy some plain tickets for the Middle East and take care of the problem for good. This might not be a good idea, but small groups of indivuals can adapt more quickly than armies that were intended to fight other large armies. Something has to work!

  377. That’s exactly what will happen. Sooner or later. States, which have rules of engagement, and which have to answer to world opinion and “international law,” cannot defeat terrorist organizations which face no such constraints.

    But the West can produce deadly non-state actors as well. Stone killers who don’t give a shit what Kofi or Bush or, for that matter, Congress has to say about anything. Right now such groups would be universally denounced by all right-thinking people. But you let a few nukes go off in American cities, and the government offer some ineffectual “proportionate” response in return, and public opinion will change real fast.

    Do you want to guarantee that this will happen sooner rather than later? Put a Democrat in the White House. If our government decides it does not want to fight this war, while our enemies still do, then something’s gotta give. And what will give will be the Law.

    If the law only exists to protect murderers, then those who wish to live must abandon the law. And become murderers, themselves.

    And then Hell opens up its mouth very wide indeed.

  378. If a Conservative is a Liberal who’s been mugged, a Vigilante is a Citizen who’s been mugged and then watched as his Sovereign did nothing about it.

    Ultimately, this is how Sovereignty dies. And then, pace Mr. Hobbes, life becomes solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

    Throughout the Western world, the political Left wants to see the status quo fail. They imagine that they will then get a chance to run things as they have always dreamed. For this reason they hobble every effort to defend civilization from monstrous killers.

    What they set loose will be far worse than they can possibly imagine.

  379. Light Bulb Moment: the terrorists are decentralized and loosely organized, but the U.S. and other governments are using bureaucratic, top-down armies to fight them. Maybe some concerned citizens should just buy some plain tickets for the Middle East and take care of the problem for good. This might not be a good idea, but small groups of indivuals can adapt more quickly than armies that were intended to fight other large armies. Something has to work!

    So…volunteer unpaid amateur mercenaries who aren’t trained in unit operations (or the use of the relevant heavy weaponry, by the sound of it) and don’t know the terrain are going to saunter over there and do a more effective job of winkling hardass beardies out of a very well stocked underground bunker/tunnel system than the frigging *IDF*?

    I’d watch that on video, certainly.

  380. No Adrian, volunteer unpaid amateurs will do things like poison the water supply in Mecca, release clouds of poison gas in Damascus, start a SARS epidemic in Tehran.

    In the words of Mark Steyn:
    “when an army goes to war against a terrorist organization, it’s like watching the Red Sox play Andre Agassi: Each side is being held to its own set of rules. When Hezbollah launches rockets into Israeli residential neighborhoods with the intention of killing random civilians, that’s fine because, after all, they’re terrorists and that’s what terrorists do. But when, in the course of trying to resist the terrorists, Israel unintentionally kills civilians, that’s an appalling act of savagery.”

    In that political climate, there is only one realistic solution: create terrorist organizations to fight terrorist organizations. Only what do you do when your terrorists have won the war you would not fight and start to come home? Do you try them for “war crimes”? They’re terrorists! They are not going to submit to the rule of law.

    Soldiers can come home from the battlefield and reintegrate into law-abiding society because they never really left it. They did not abandon the rules, they just went to a place where the rules were different. But when the fanatical killers come back, civilization will reap the whirlwind.

    And you Lefties are the ones that sowed the wind, never you doubt it.

  381. Volunteer unpaid amateur bloggers are already proving they can do journalism better than the professionals. What makes you think Western science geeks can’t do terrorism better than the professionals? The West is not held back from genocide by inability, it is held back by the Law.

    And Lefties like you want to see the rules used for the exclusive benefit of the terrorists, and to the exclusive detriment of those who resist them. To the degree that you are successful, the civilized West will inevitably have to produce uncivilized people, unhampered by the rules, to do the resisting.

    And, as you say, the hardass beardies in their bunkers are not the best targets. The easiest targets are the civilian populations from whence the hardass beardies flow.

    And when the West produces its own hardass beardies who respect no Law, moral or otherwise, then when they come home, they’re going to want a piece of the action. They are not going to return to being good little taxpayers, especially since, the moment they do, people like you will demand that they be put on trial for their murderous acts. Acts you made inevitable through your ‘pox on both their houses’ moral imbecility.

    The Western terrorists will murder their way to victory in the Middle East, then they will come back to do the same here. And as long as Lefties like you retain your influence over public opinion, so that the civilized world cannot fight terrorists through civilized means, then I don’t see any way to prevent it.

  382. This “send a thief to catch a thief” theory is superficially attractive, but suffers (in this instance) from the same drawbacks as ‘they’ suffer from over here…namely, we look different. Sending a bunch of white boys over there to engage in protracted black-ops is suicide…

    Do we have sufficient mid-east-looking people, skilled in sophisticated terrorist tactics, fluent in local dialects, to infiltrate various regions and launch a campaign of terrorism to undermine the Islamo-fascists?

    Be a daisy if we do…

    I favor a low-kiloton nuclear solution myself.

  383. Dan,

    You only have to look at the history of other guerrilla and terrorist wars to see that the “other side”, the one that is nominally civilized, will begin producing very capable, competent terrorists of their own. That usually happens when law and order is no longer perceived as effective and competent by some subset of the law and order side. Look at Ireland, El Salvador, Vietnam for examples.

    To suppose that a population of 300 million cannot produce a number of effective, committed terrorists, including ones that could operate in the middle east, is not very realistic.

    I’m not in favor of this, by the way. I just recognize what reality is.

  384. Eric C,

    I agree with you…I was not suggesting we *couldn’t* produce competent terrorists, only that to be effective *in this particular hypothetical situation* we have to overcome a similar kinda hurdle to the one ‘they’ face.

    Which is also why ‘profiling’ is so critical, and why we’re currently suicidally incompetent not to be fully, and pervasively, engaged in it *right now*…I wonder what death toll will suffice to reject such ‘politically correct’ narcissism? Maybe the intellectually stifling environment of contemporary liberalism has dragged the masses down beyond any hope of realizing this…?

    I suspect many of the regular posters to this blog would make excellent terrorists…

  385. Hello,
    The comments on nuclear power caught me attention. While I am sadened by our lack of nuclear power in this nation (U.S.), I do understand that the plants of yesteryear are a financial fiasco. I remember reading in the newspaper some years back about a Japanese company wanting to install a small, low-maintenance reactor in a remote Alaskan village. A quick google search turned up http://www.adn.com/front/story/4214182p-4226215c.html amongst other stories. The illustration in this article was the one that I remembered from the local paper. While I don’t claim to be an authority on nuclear power, I know that there is newer technology that what the plants constructed so many years ago were built upon. Other nations have a bigger nuclear power program than ours. What are they doing different? I’m simply wondering why we are not seeing more interest in nuclear power being rejuvinated in the United States.

  386. >I’d watch that on video, certainly.

    And make no mistake Adrian. If it goes that far, you won’t be watching it on video. You’ll be watching out your front window. When the world goes insane, you don’t get to be a spectator anymore.

  387. If it goes that far, you won’t be watching it on video. You’ll be watching out your front window.

    Not here, I think – there’s a small Iranian expat community in the big cities but considering the precedents they’d be unwise to strive for a Tokyo Caliphate. The Japanese killed hundreds (possibly thousands) of Koreans after the Great Kanto quake in 1923 on the basis of a few rumours. Hate to think what they’d do with a genuine grievance. I’d be keeping my own head down, that’s for sure.

    My main concern here is how dependent the place is on imported energy, surprisingly enough.

  388. Look at Ireland, El Salvador, Vietnam for examples.

    I don’t know if I’d call the Loyalist terrorists capable or competent compared to the IRA – they seemed to mainly be interested in living large off the proceeds of extortion and drug dealing. They did have lots of friends in the police, of course. In El Salvador, I dunno, do you mean those American-trained dudes who massacred 900 or so men, women and children in El Mozote? Don’t think the Nicaraguan Contras would have got off the ground without generous US funding.

    What makes you think Western science geeks can’t do terrorism better than the professionals?

    Oh, they love *talking* about it, but when push comes to shove I reckon they’ll turn out to be a bit too risk-averse. Lessee, there was the Unabomber, but he was A) a lefty and B) kind of crap.

  389. Adrian, just as plenty of the bad guy terrorists get funding from government and quasi-government sources, so would someone like the Contras. I sincerely doubt that anyone could swing the sorts of campaigns we are talking about without covert government backing, including Al-Qaeda.

  390. Also, albeit with government backing, look at the effectiveness, competence and capabilities of the Hmong tribesmen in the Vietnamese Highlands. A few American special forces types and limited quantities of weapons/cash made them extremely capable. Same story in Afghanistan.

    The lesson? A very small amount of backing by a government entity can create a significant terrorist/guerrilla force. If a private force like that were to come into being, depending on the situation, it seems to me likely that one or more western governments might decide to support them covertly.

  391. Also, albeit with government backing, look at the effectiveness, competence and capabilities of the Hmong tribesmen in the Vietnamese Highlands. A few American special forces types and limited quantities of weapons/cash made them extremely capable. Same story in Afghanistan.

    Ain’t no substitute for that ol’ local knowledge, indeed.

    The lesson? A very small amount of backing by a government entity can create a significant terrorist/guerrilla force. If a private force like that were to come into being, depending on the situation, it seems to me likely that one or more western governments might decide to support them covertly.

    Yeah, but these aren’t Dean’s heavily-armed science geeks parachuted in with Teach Yourself Farsi on their iPods we’re talking about. The only people I can think of in the region who *might* go for it are the Kurds – they’re pretty hardassed and are rumoured to get on well with the Israelis. Sounds like a recipe for all kinds of fun.

  392. I don’t buy into the techno-geek commando bit myself. But, I think that, depending on the situation faced, a terrorist/guerrilla movement that is pro government could easily spring up. I also think the Spanish Civil War provides a clear guide that we could see Americans deciding to take matters into their own hands.

  393. I am assuming that all of the groups listed above came from the (relatively) native populace. The effectiveness of those groups indicates that a large portion of the native people hated our enemies just as much as we hated our enemies. When the shit hits the fan, our ‘terrorists’ will need some place to go to ground, and the natives would like a home-grown force far better than a bunch of foreigners, especially if the foreigners start attacking the populace. Most of the terrorist attacks have occurred in either the Middle East or Europe, where there is a large population of Muslims who do not like the West. The best way to cultivate effective anti-terrorist terrorist organizations would be, ironically, to let in some hippies (the ones who are *TRUE* flowerchildren). Not every liberal/green/progressive/pinkocommiefag forsakes his/her own ideologies when dealing with Muslims just because ‘we’re picking on them’. For one example, you have to look no further than an entry on this very blog. An even better idea would be to inundate the Middle East with even more American movies/television/music/etc. Pop Culture, despite its faults, is very contagious (that is why it is called POPULAR culture) ESPECIALLY to people who are emerging (or possibly about to emerge from) a strict, discipline-oriented culture. If we can win popular support in a few countries, we should find at least a few worthy candidates for our anti-Jihad. Even better, we can wage memetic warfare on the Jihadis and pull their rug of support out from under them. If we can convince some Imams to seriously believe in the ‘Religion of Peace’ memes spread by the Apologists, the masses should follow their intellectual elites in, at least, protesting the terrorist actions (similar to Americans protesting the Vietnam War). If Stalin can do it, why can’t we?

    Dean: We, the West, do not have to justify our continued existence if there is no one around to seriously ask the question. If we can drag the rest of the world down to our level (via Sexual Liberations and Pop Culture), there may not be a strong enough voice to challenge us. I have talked with other young people (I am only 20) from India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Japan, and even the UAE, and from what I gather, a lot of people like Pop Culture.

  394. Guerilla warfare, as much as I recall, has been guerillas vs. governments. I can’t think of guerilla vs guerilla warfare. It would be interesting to see how that would work.

  395. Oh, I see from one of Eric’s emails, he should be done with sword camp now, but he’s going to LinuxWorld and the World Science Fiction Convention. So we shouldn’t expect much blogging from him.

  396. Looks like Esr’s going to be in my neck of the woods for LinuxWorld! Unfortunately, since I’m not a computer professional, I’m not able to enter the promised land. :-( hope he visitsone of theLUGS that are meeting that week.(hint,hint)

  397. David Delony: Guerilla warfare, as much as I recall, has been guerillas vs. governments. I can’t think of guerilla vs guerilla warfare. It would be interesting to see how that would work.

    Actually, just about every guerilla war has included irregulars vs. irregulars. Starting with the first modern “insurgency”, the American Revolution. Actually, the earliest example I can think of was Roger’s Rangers during the French & Indian War (the Seven Years War for those schooled in Britain). Roger’s Rangers used the same tactics as the Indians. There was quite a bit of guerilla skirmishing in the West during the Revolution, between Indians that sided with the British and American irregulars. There are quite a few examples of guerillas supported by different allies during WWII fighting each other as well. In Vietnam, the Hmong fought a guerilla war against the Viet Cong.

    Those are just a few examples, off the top of my head.

  398. Heh, that’s existed for quite a while too. The Mafia wars during Prohibition, for example.

  399. or, we can blame modern gang warfare on the War on Drugs that Black, White, Brown and Yellow People Use, but that we pretend are only Used By Black and Brown People. It being might convenient to blame it on the “other people”.

  400. The War on Drugs is really just a make-work program for cops, which happens to be heavily targeted towards minorities. The tradition goes back to William Randolph Hearst’s demonization of the wacky tobaccy and the Mexicans who like to smoke it. I think all substances should be legal. By the way, I was a libertarian long before discovering *nix, The Jargon File, and esr.

  401. The War on Drugs happens to be a great way to pass laws increasing the power of the executive and the number of police officers and the amount of funding the legislature controls and the number of judges needed. All three branches of the government are happy. All the white folks get to feel safe because we’ve confined all of the whacky tobacky, crime and “other people” to ghettos. All the religious types get to feel good because they’ve seen “morality” legislated. It’s a win-win-win.

    Except for personal liberty and property rights. Ooops, pesky darn rights.

  402. Should be noted that the drugs, crime, etc. are not really confined to minorities and ghetto’s. That is just the impression given. The reality is that a lot of drug use is suburban folks driving into the lower class neighborhoods, buying drugs, then taking it home for their fun.

  403. Sounds like you libertarians are coming dangerously close to uncovering discomfiting truths about the central role race still plays in American power politics. Keep at it; I love it.

    For your next trick, you may wish to consider the MSM attention on the crack epidemic of the 80s, and the comparatively less attention being given the crystal meth epidemic of the ’00s…

  404. Jeff, maybe someday you’ll figure out that race is the hidden trump card of the left wing agenda too.

  405. > But Islamists will never love the khufr;
    >
    > …
    >
    > I would actually prefer to have them fear molesting “all civilized people”, rather than just “Americans”. Unfortunately, I don’t see the will to instill the required level of fear anywhere but in the U.S., and I don’t consistently see it here.

    Maybe fear makes you feel safer. But then, having about a third of the world’s population lving in fear somehow makes me loose any hope in the future of humanity. On the other hand, fear of what? Of death? Death isn’t something to fear for people who have lost everything, and as long as there will be death from above there will be such people. Fear of death could not scare off the 09/11 terrorists.

    Assuming that the people in these regions do not listen to reason wihtout knowing them is rightout stupid. However, how would you react if your ill-minded brother in law bombed an Israeli buss, and in return the Israeli army would tear down your home? How about your pregnant wife being shot at a control point for just being somewhat slow in obeying orders? Would fear stop you from doing some irational things?

    Maybe an old oriental story will explain better why I don’t think death from above/fear is an answer.

    Once the wind and the sun decided to do a contest, to see which one is stronger. They both saw a man walking down a road, dressed in a long coat. They agreed that the one who makes the man take off the coat should be considered the stronger one.

    The wind started to blow. And the strong the wind blew, the man just gathered the coat closer to him, holding it with both hands. After a long time, the wind gave up.

    The sun just started to shine. The man was getting hotter every minute. After not so long a time the man took off his coat.

  406. Jeff, another thing you might want to do is consider that libertarians (which I am not, although I’m a fellow traveller) do actually understand the role that race plays in American power politics. As I alluded to in my earlier comment, those of us not within the mainstream of American politics even see through the left wing approach to race. In fact, the “right”, that is the GOP, is less racist, in many ways, than the left. They certainly are not on the “white man’s burden” road that the left is on. But then, the left has always been blinded by their vision of a “radiant future”, which certainly has not changed.

  407. Eric Cowperthwaite,
    >the left has always been blinded by their vision of a “radiant future”, which certainly has not changed

    I have to disagree with you there. The Left’s ‘radiant future’ died in 1989. Right now they are running on bile. They hate men, white people, Christians, (ever increasingly) Jews, and America. Their attitude toward Western Civilization is:
    “Bitch, if I can’t have you, then you should die!”

    The American Right had a lot of the same issues after WWII, being blamed (unfairly) for the Great Depression, and (fairly) for pre-war isolationism. The question for the Right in the 1950’s was:
    “My God! If we could be wrong about the danger posed by Hitler, what else might we be wrong about?”

    Conservatism then suffered through a crisis of confidence that led the worst to rise to the top. That’s when you had the ascendancy of the John Birch Society, other assorted conspiracy nuts, and to a certain extent Joe McCarthy. What saved the American Right was Bill Buckley and the National Review. Not because Buckley was right about everything, but because he booted out the nutcases and redefined Conservatism as an intellectually serious movement.

    The 21st Century Left has no Buckley. All of their worst instincts are given free rein. They are becoming what people like me might have become if the John Birchers hadn’t been shown the door.

    The modern Left’s attitude toward race is MUCH more about hating Whitey than it is about helping Blacks. The Left no longer wants to build, just destroy.

  408. Dean: I have to disagree with you there. The Left’s ‘radiant future’ died in 1989.

    Actually, they still believe in a ‘radiant future’, with a few twists.

    1. Eeeevil corporations, especially oil and power companies, are conspiring to prevent it
    2. Eeeevil politicians on the right are in league (bought and paid for) with the corporations
    3. Stupid people who are interested in video games more than that ‘radiant future’ have been tricked into voting for the eeeevil politicians by the underhanded, dirty tricks of the eeeevil corporations.
    4. The ‘radiant future’ should never have been tried in Russia, which was entirely too backwards and unsophisticated to do it right.
    5. Rich, white men are using racial politics to keep power

    If it wasn’t for all of that, the ‘radiant future’ is possible. It’s still possible once capitalism fails, which it has to because of (take your pick):

    1. conflict between the haves and have nots, which will center around race
    2. the coming energy wars when we run out of oil
    3. global warming

    This is a new dialectic to replace the one created by the earlier socialists. The socialists have returned to their pre-1918 situation, where they have no real base of power and have to use hate, envy and fear to try and gain power and bring about the ‘radiant future’ they dream of.

  409. It should be noted that there is just enough truth to the left’s beliefs about the forces preventing their ‘radiant future’ to cause many people to buy into their conspiracies. There is just enough truth to their reasons why capitalism will collapse to cause many people to buy into their disaster scenarios. Combine that with their fear tactics (if so and so wins election he’s going to kick you out onto the street to starve, with no social safety net) and you have a recipe that explains how they have managed to keep any level of power in the US.

    I think we are beginning to watch the dissolution of the modern Democratic Party as the hard core ‘radiant future’ types go on a secular jihad against the non-believers like Lieberman. Note that Lieberman is fairly far left and follows the vast majority of the left’s platform ……… except for not being dogmatic about the war in Iraq. Because of that one thing, he has to be destroyed, and Dean, Kos, etc. have set out to do just that. If they succeed with Lieberman, they will purge the Party and that will spell the end for them. Once the Party is purged of the heretics and non-believers they will only be able to muster the support of 20%, or less, of the population.

    And yes, I purposefully used both religious and communist terminology. The American Left is a secular religion. Which is where their hatred comes from.

  410. Eric Cowperthwaite:
    >The socialists have returned to their pre-1918 situation

    There is a great deal of truth to what you say, but I think it is worse than that. The pre-1918 Left really did have a beautiful dream to fight for. See Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” (published 1889) for a glimpse of the (in some ways) exquisite vision of the socialist future.

    Today the Progressives have nothing to make Progress toward. They are sort of running on the fumes of idealism, without the substance. The reason we are embarking upon a religious era, wherein the new enemies of the West are believers, as are its chief defenders, is because the end of the Cold War cost the Left a tenable philosophical position.

    Earlier this year, my wife and I traveled to London because she wanted to see The Mousetrap. In a small park near Piccadilly Circus I saw a statue of some 19th century scientist with the quote caption:
    “There is no darkness but ignorance.”

    But is that true? Socrates and his followers took the position that human nature is inherently good, and therefore that the only reason people do evil is because they don’t know what the good is. If they knew, they would do it. People only do evil out of ignorance.

    The ancient Jews, on the other hand, with their vision of a universal God and a corresponding Devil, with an Original Sin born in the Fall of Man, believed that every man, woman and child is born with a yetzer hera, a built-in desire to do wrong.

    In modern psychological terms, you could describe a yetzer hera as a built-in predilection to deceive ourselves about the moral nature of our actions if those actions gain us what we want. If everyone has a yetzer hera, then certain conclusions follow.

    A perfect society, a utopia, would require perfect people to inhabit it. If human nature permits no perfect people, then the potential Progress that can be made through social engineering is RADICALLY decreased. Not only will there never be a Workers Paradise. If we all have a yetzer hera, there will never be Social Justice. That whole beautiful dream is, in the words of Malcolm Reynolds in “Serenity,” a long wait for a train don’t come.

    In my opinion, the new, darker Left results from their collective realization that their train isn’t coming. They are never going to get the chance to build what they love, because what they love can’t be built. The only thing left to them now is to destroy what they hate.

  411. I don’t think Jeff’s and my stuff is exactly redolent of sunny optimism and multicultural metrosexuality, though you might want to have a look at that rapture-of-the-nerds business Dean peddles from time to time. Sounds a bit, er, radiant to me.

    Combine that with their fear tactics (if so and so wins election he’s going to kick you out onto the street to starve, with no social safety net)

    As opposed to Bush fear tactics (if you don’t vote for me or my designated successors eevil men will insert nanojihadis up your children’s bottoms in the still watches of the night), perhaps?

  412. I cannot escape the irony of the Greeks and the Jews. The Greeks, at their best, were rational scientific enlightened proto-humanists.

    The ancient Jews were a bunch of backward, superstitious barbarians. There is not one shred of evidence for the existence of a God, a Devil, or anything resembling a human Soul. And yet that provincial tribe of Hebrew-speaking goatherds produced a better insight into human nature than the best of the Greeks.

    If there is a God, then He is a practical-joking son of a bitch. We live in a universe where the deeper you look into it, the more paradoxes, conundrums and flat out contradictions you find.

  413. Adrian:
    >you might want to have a look at that rapture-of-the-nerds business Dean peddles from time to time

    If you will recall, when I labeled myself a fellow traveler of the nanotech transhumanist crowd, I explicitly acknowledged how utterly silly the whole notion is. Yes, the Singularity, uploading, cybernetic immortality and the whole bit is completely absurd. It will probably never happen.

    It’s just that with no eschatology at all, it is difficult to avoid despair. Make fun of me and my silly ‘radiant vision’ all you want to. But in between your distant hollow laughter, observe that my beautiful dream has never killed one single person. Ever.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  414. No argument, but our habits are a product of what we do repeatedly. Metaphysical despair, once indulged in, easily becomes a hard habit to break.

  415. >you might want to have a look at that rapture-of-the-nerds business Dean peddles from time to time

    For the record, I never peddled the rapture-of-the-nerds business. I made a statement about my own fellow-traveler status. I have never evangelized the Singularity or any transhumanist ideas. Nor will I ever do so.

    I subscribe to a sort of techno-eschatology simply because I need to believe in something, and I don’t have the constitution to be either a Socialist or a religious believer.

    If I were to make recommendations (which I am not!) I would probably suggest taking up a religious faith, instead of my own views. If you can wrap your head around the magical world-view that religion requires, it provides a far more satisfying spiritual experience than anything I have to offer.

    I would rather not need to believe in anything. As a young man, I was a proud Randroid and entertained no thoughts about the long-term future or the ultimate meaning of life. It was sufficient to me to have a self-directed meaning in my own life. I had no concern for the question of whether life itself has meaning.

    As I have gotten older though, the question of:
    “OK. Then what?”
    continues to haunt me. How can I, pace Atlas Shrugged, dedicate my life to building a transcontinental railroad, when one day we will be moving people and cargo about using Star Trek beaming technology? How can I dedicate my life to my family, when I know there will come a day when all of my children and their children will be dead? How can I be a patriot, devoted to the United States of America, when I know that (with the possible exception of the Jews;-) no nation lasts forever? How can I determine to ‘Save the Rain Forest!,’ when I know that in five billion years the Sun will explode, reducing the Earth to a molten cinder? How can I devote my life to the human race, when I know that one day (hopefully in the VERY far future) the very last human will die?

    How can there be meaning if this is all there is? And how can this not be all there is, if there are no miracles, no witchcraft, no psychic powers and no fairy godmothers with magic wands and bibbity-bobbity-boo?

    How can life matter if this is as good as it gets?

    So I choose to believe that this is not as good as it gets. I am not, however, a salesman. I am not trying to get you to buy anything in this world. Or the next.

  416. Adrian: As opposed to Bush fear tactics

    Why is the answer of the left always to point out some corresponding fault among their opponents that they don’t like or somehow makes them look better? Why not deal with what it is on your part that I’m talking about?

  417. Dean: Yes, the Singularity, uploading, cybernetic immortality and the whole bit is completely absurd. It will probably never happen.

    whenever someone says that some technological thing will never happen, I stop and remember. I remember the prediction that men would never fly, never walk on the moon, never break the sound barrier. I remember the IBM executive who predicted that there would never be a need for more than a half dozen of his computers world wide. I think about the incredible, massive change I have seen in my own lifetime.

    I can remember when there was no such thing as cable TV, when personal computers where a pipe dream, when cars had carbureutors.

    Is the Singularity a pipe dream? I don’t know. Some things that were predicted never came true, some things that came true were never predicted. What I do know is that if it is technologically possible it’s probably going to happen. Even as all the neo-Luddites predict doom and disaster, even as they predict some new “end of the world as we know it” now that oil and the environment are no longer problems. They will live their Malthusian dreams inside a computer and never be able to see that the story of the human race, of life itself, is change, not stasis.

  418. Why is the answer of the left always to point out some corresponding fault among their opponents that they don’t like or somehow makes them look better? Why not deal with what it is on your part that I’m talking about?

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

  419. Why is the answer of the left always to point out some corresponding fault among their opponents that they don’t like or somehow makes them look better? Why not deal with what it is on your part that I’m talking about?

    Look, Conneticut Democrats decide to vote out someone who consistently votes with the GOP on a major issue and it’s the end of the Democratic party? Best to keep that sort of wishful thinking private IMO. Bush has been pumping fear for all it’s worth ever since 9/11 – it’s the only thing that makes a dwindling chunk of the population continue to view him as a statesman rather than the less flattering alternatives entertained elsewhere.

    I’ll be interested too see if the Dems can grab even one of the two houses this year, it’d mean an opportunity to start asking some questions which have been studiously ignored by the Republicans on the grounds that not doing so would have been tantamount to appeasement, surrendering to terrorism, etc. etc.

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    She loves it.

  420. First, Adrian, that is a continuing example of the holy war going on in the Democratic Party. There are plenty of less visible examples.

    Second, I wasn’t talking about Bush, I was talking about the Left. I wasn’t talking about specific people at all.

    Third, I have my own views of Bush, but, again, it wasn’t what I was discussing.

    Why are you so busy trying to divert attention from the question?

  421. >Why are you so busy trying to divert attention from the question?

    Because one discusses one’s own problems when one is seeking to correct them. One seeks to correct one’s own problems because one has some kind of ambition, one desires to BUILD something, which requires a higher caliber of moral fiber and physical or intellectual strength.

    One critiques oneself when one sees a great struggle ahead and wishes to, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Deserve victory.”

    If one has no interest in taking part in the struggle for existence, but merely wishes to spoil someone else’s attempt to do the same, then seeking to correct one’s own failures is a waste of time.

    A determined spoiler would, in reason, seek to exaggerate the magnitude of the mote in one’s neighbor’s eye. Never mind the beam in one’s own.

  422. Holy war? Oh pish, you’ve got a one-and-a-half party system and some people would like to make it into a two-party one. Good luck to them.

    Why are you so busy trying to divert attention from the question?

    Which one? Not “Why doesn’t rightwing hypocrisy about fear-mongering matter?”, I hope. Believe what you like about what will happen to the Democrats as a result of jettisoning that sleazebag – I’m more interested in what’s going to happen to the Republicans, who are, you know, actually *in power* at the moment. But perhaps Diebold can save them.

  423. Because one discusses one’s own problems when one is seeking to correct them. One seeks to correct one’s own problems because one has some kind of ambition, one desires to BUILD something, which requires a higher caliber of moral fiber and physical or intellectual strength.

    Build what? All I see going on here is a fearsome amount of jawing (myself included), and I think we will not attain the sunlit uplands by self-hypnosis and positive thinking. Is someone threatening to actually invest money or write software or something?

    One critiques oneself when one sees a great struggle ahead

    Against the beardies and their fellow-travelling cohorts of nihilism, yes…but there’s this…well…credibility problem.

  424. >Against the beardies and their fellow-travelling cohorts of nihilism, yes…but there’s this…well…credibility problem.

    Unfortunately, you are so God-damned right. As civilized Westerners confronting both fanatical non-Western beardies and our own nihilistic fifth column, we have the credibility problem from Hell.

    Credibility is a product of resolve. And resolve springs from BELIEF.

    We, who no longer believe in a supernatural eternity, and have come face-to-face with the limitations of materialism (dialectical and otherwise), are no longer certain what we believe in. Or whether it makes sense to believe in anything at all.

    Our enemies, on the other hand, got belief coming out the wazoo. They look at us and sneer. Our wizard weapons do not frighten them because the see our lack of will to use them. Our army in Iraq is the most capable on Earth. It is, in fact, the most capable in the history of Mankind. And our enemies see it, and us, as ultimately impotent. Because the more awesome our power, the lesser our will to use it.

    The video of guided missiles in the first Gulf War, which stunned audiences with the accuracy of our weapons, actually diminished our formidability. Our accurate super-weapons increased the expectation, in the minds of our own voters, that we would be able to kill our enemies without one single civilian casualty. When the jihadis purposely kill women and children, this is seen as justified because they have inferior weapons. When we accidentally do the same, we are seen, by ourselves, as vicious monsters because our super-weapons are expected to achieve morally perfect results.

    Therefore, the better our weapons, the less likely they will be used to kill our enemies. Those same enemies regard us with contempt. The Viet-cong used to cut off the arms of children vaccinated against disease by the US military. By demonstrating the resolve to commit ANY atrocity in pursuit of their goals, they made themselves MUCH more frightening to the Vietnamese villagers than the Marines could ever be. The courage and professionalism of the Marines, restrained as it was by a sense of decency, was made irrelevant by the ruthlessness of America’s enemies.

    That same dynamic showed up recently in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel has just lost it’s first war. And, as with America in Vietnam, Israel did not lose on the battlefield. It lost on the television screen.

    We have a VERY serious problem.

    And so, Yes, Adrian, our credibility is definitely not what it needs to be. If the West is to survive, something profound has to change.

  425. Please do not misunderstand me. I still believe that Islamic civilization is ultimately fragile. It will not survive the 21st century. The question is: Will we die along with it?

    Islam will not survive because it is too brittle to adapt in the face of change. Our civilization may not survive due to being hollow inside. They will be smashed, and we MAY implode.

    The Roman Empire ultimately imploded. For all their power and wealth, the people of Rome came to a place where they just couldn’t see the point anymore.

    Why bother to go on, if this is all there is?

    What lies in the future, for us to want passionately, today?

    What can we believe in, to form the foundation of our resolve?

    And without resolve, how can we argue that we deserve to survive?

  426. It should be noted that our situation is not precisely that of the Romans. Their moral fiber was rotted by their use of slave labor. In order for a people to survive, they must see themselves as worthy of survival. They must see themselves as Good.

    How can you be Good if you extract your comfort in life from the forced servitude of innocent others?

    What makes us human is our capacity to cooperate, in reason, with other rational beings. If we prey upon our fellow humans, as would a tiger, a falcon or a shark, then in what sense do we deserve to survive as humans?

    This is why we should not invade the Middle East and take all the oil so as to cut off funding to Islamic terrorists. Such a seizure would solve a superficial problem while opening up a much deeper one.

    The Leftists ceaselessly regale us with the Wickedness of the West. But as was the case with the Marines in Vietnam, the proximate source of our contemptibility in the eyes of your enemies is not in our depravity, but in our decency.

    But that decency is also the primary source of our strength. Staring into the abyss of oblivion, we are not sure if there is a good reason to continue to exist, but we remain certain that we deserve to exist, assuming a reason can be found.

    That is why, decadent as we are, we retain the ability to produce magnificent warriors such as the American and British soldiers in Iraq. We need not fear that they will lose heart.

    We need only fear the weakness in ourselves.

  427. the proximate source of our contemptibility in the eyes of OUR enemies, not YOUR

    Sigh

    Proofread before posting.

  428. By the way, Adrian, just to be snarky as all Hell: These last few posts of mine constitute an example of the kind of self-criticism one engages in if one anticipates a challenge to which one intends to rise.

    If you have no intention of rising to any occasion, then all you need to do is bash Bush.

  429. So, having gotten that petty snark out of my system, I now throw open the floor to other commenters. To wit:

    What transcendental hope can we aspire to, which:
    1. Remains plausible within the withering glare of science,
    2. Can sustain our dedication to individual Liberty while offering some solution to our dreadful Treason of the Clerks problem, and
    3. Preserves our dedication to the Good, without lending itself to naiveté?

    Please don’t be afraid to offer up suggestions. I’ve given this issue a great deal of thought and come up empty. At this point I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to almost any idea.

  430. There are, however, certain requirements. It seems to me that a valid Rapture needs a doctrine: a description of what life will be like on the other side.

    This is what is insufficient about (pace Adrian) my rapture-of-the-nerds business. You can describe what life will be like in Heaven. You can describe life in the Workers Paradise (see Edward Bellamy). No one can describe what life will be like following the Singularity. That’s what the Singularity means.

    Nope, we need a Rapture-with-a-doctrine. Please look under your couch cushions and see if you can find one.

    Furthermore, you can’t just pull a Rapture out of your ass. You can’t posit that, say, in the future we will all go to live with Puff the Magic Dragon in a land called Honah-Lee. This is because the Doctrine of Puff will not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

  431. Dean, some things dealing with the advent of technology in the 21st century can be predicted. Longevity, for example, is coming in the not too distant future. Nano-technology that results in tremendous reductions in the cost to manufacture finished goods. Just a couple off the top of my head. The point? Well, the old dream, of an increasingly vibrant future where we live longer, healthier lives, where we know more, have more wealth, more leisure time, etc. is still out there.

    More importantly, the time is not that far off, I believe, when we will become god-like ourselves. In many ways we already are. More are coming. We will replace the deity of the bible with technological humanity. Nano-technology, computers, space travel. These things will open up vistas of ability, knowledge and wealth undreamt of, much as the steam engine and internal combustion engine did during the Industrial revolution.

  432. Dean and others,

    about the prediction of the tech of the future: I agree that it’s dangerous to make predictions about what can’t be or can’t economically be invented and built in the foreseeable future, but I think one can derive some trends about how former predictions proved to be false. I think most former predictions generally highly overestimated how far conventional sciences will go or at least how much of their inventions will be economical to build, and highly underestimated how far electronics, IT and software will develop. People predicted flying cars for the year 2000 and in reality, despite all the considerable developments in this field, today’s cars don’t feel so much different from those of the fifties. On the other hand, like, Carl Sagan wrote Contact in 1985 which is, I think, one the most considerable works of sci-fi, it’s about aliens broadcasting the blueprints of a kind of a spaceship to Earth, and even in this novel, this spaceship contains no recognizable computer, it’s purely mechanical and chemical. While in reality, even my lousy Peugeot 206 contains an onboard computer, once I had to reset it’s computer top be able to ignite the car, which is a kind of ROTFL, because I never expected a car can be “repaired” like MS Windows usually is “repaired”…

    I think one of the reasons these predictions failed is because they ignored the people’s reactions to change. It seems people don’t really want to learn completely new things. People learned how to drive a car because they knew how to drive a wagon for thousands of years and the car was similar, only faster, and it’s speed increased only gradually, so the learning was gradual. Some urban legends say the first John Deere or Ford tractors were operated by reins. So the learning process, in each of it’s stage, could be hooked to some formal knowledge. But people don’t want to learn how to drive a flying car, because it can’t be hooked to a former experience. People learned how to write an e-mail, because it’s not so different from writing postal mail on a typewriter. But I can’t convince the IT (Navision) companies in the UK I’m doing job interviews with from here Budapest to use a webcam and Skype for an interview, they stick to the usual phone call first, then personal meeting scenario, simply because video chat has no former habit in history to hook it up to. And of course, the main functions of the PDA’s are almost identical to a pen and paper personal register book, until one installs some other software not in the starting package. So my idea is: only those technologies will soar where the user experience is not so different from some already existing experience.

    We can also look at it from some other viewpoint. From a technological viewpoint, how does our life differ from that of the sixties? If we look at the important things, we can fly anywhere cheap on budget airways, commute long-distance in economical cars, communicate instantly to each other via cell phone, e-mail and instant messenger, and reach information submitted by anyone anywhere and mostly anytime on the web and use it to do biz f.e. ordering books. So what we can say is technology made space and time less of a barrier. So, I think we cam expect the same direction of development from the future – being more able to reach people, things, places and information anytime and anywhere, but the general characteristics of people, things, places and information won’t really change. It gonna be a bit like being able to select any item of the “menu card” unhindered by time and space – but more or less from the same “menu card”.

  433. It should be noted that our situation is not precisely that of the Romans. Their moral fiber was rotted by their use of slave labor.

    Our dependence on machines is similar – they may not suffer, but they have all kinds of impact on our attitudes. It’s all just energy flow.

    If you have no intention of rising to any occasion, then all you need to do is bash Bush.

    I got all kinds of occasions to rise to. Just not this one.

    There are, however, certain requirements. It seems to me that a valid Rapture needs a doctrine: a description of what life will be like on the other side.

    How about an estimate of (what could happen to) the market value of humans in a world where they aren’t the measure of all things any more? ISTR Bill Joy was good on this (warning – not terribly cheerful).

  434. To be more ontopic, I think what happened in Lebanon as of yet, can hardly be considered a victory for Israel and I think we need to think about the surprising effectiveness of terrorists/guerillas. I think the reason behind it that from the invention of the gunpowder, the offensive power of the individual soldier always increased, and his defensive power decreased. This trend increased after WW2, the warrior of today can easily get cheap weapons that have high offensive power and don’t require much training, and on the other hand, has hardly any means to defend himself from a well-placed attack. This means that small-scale battles more and more become like “who shoots first, wins” and this is clearly in favour of guerilla armies as opposed to regular ones. Regular armies should react to this… some way. Any ideas?

  435. Shenpen:
    >Regular armies should react to this… some way. Any ideas?

    Killing the civilian populations from whence the guerillas flow. The Romans used to decimate, meaning to kill one in ten. This tended to make the remaining nine more…tractable. And if not, they could always repeat.

    Next question?

    Excellent post on technology and user experience, by the way.

  436. Adrian,
    >Our dependence on machines is similar

    So, using machines (which can neither think nor feel) is morally similar to using human slave labor? I’m sorry to say that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. I saw it once before in some newspaper editorial bashing Capitalism.

    So you have no problem with Hezzies lobbing missiles into Israeli cities because that’s “blowback,” but a can opener is just like a Confederate slave?

    I don’t think you and I live in the same moral universe, and I don’t know if there is any profit to be had in our discussing moral issues.

    Did I already say Thank God For Abortion?

  437. Eric Cowperthwaite:
    >Well, the old dream, of an increasingly vibrant future where we live longer, healthier lives
    >More importantly, the time is not that far off, I believe, when we will become god-like ourselves.

    All right, so you buy into my rapture-of-the-nerds business. What about issue number two:
    2. Can sustain our dedication to individual Liberty while offering some solution to our dreadful Treason of the Clerks problem?

    One difference between us and Jehovah is that He seems to absolutely believe that it is a Good Thing that He exists. Some of us are not so sure about ourselves. Check out
    The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
    http://www.vhemt.org/

    Those folks aren’t joking. They are a bunch of Leftists who have reached the (entirely valid) conclusion that the only way to build the perfect world is to build one with no people in it.

    If you believe that the Techno-Rapture will lead to a world where the pointy heads don’t get to boss us around all the time, how do you expect to keep them from trying to destroy it all? And all of us with it?

  438. “Killing the civilian populations from whence the guerillas flow. The Romans used to decimate, meaning to kill one in ten. This tended to make the remaining nine more…tractable. And if not, they could always repeat.”

    Didn’t work as well for the Nazi German army. They still got plenty of “freedom fighters,” “uprisers,” “terrorists,” or whatever you like to call them in the wake of their conquests. The world has moved on in 2000 years. It’s well known that guerilla warfare works even (particularly?) under the most extreme oppression.

  439. >Didn’t work as well for the Nazi German army. They still got plenty of “freedom fighters,” “uprisers,”

    The Russians were a problem for the Nazis, as they were a problem for Napoleon. Conquering Russia is hard. It’s fucking cold! Nobody’s done it since Genghis Khan. There was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, but most of those Jews were killed within a month. And then there was the French Resistance, which consisted of one guy, a Communist, riding around on a bicycle blowing things up. (In 1950, every single Frenchman was in the Resistance; in 1943, not so much.)

    Had it not been for American and British forces (yes, in concert with Comrade Stalin), Germany would have had no trouble dominating Jew-hating Europe. Hitler had a bitter hatred to share with those he conquered, and they loved him.

    This, by the way, is our single greatest lack in Iraq. If we had a bitter hatred to share with Iraqis, our pacification task would be orders of magnitude easier. But we fucking Yanks don’t hate anybody outside our own borders! When’s the last time you saw a bunch of Yanks get hold a rally to burn some OTHER COUNTRY’S flag? Syrians hold rallies to shout “Death to America!” Have any three Americans ever gotten together to shout “Death to Syria!?” A bunch of pathetic haters (of foreigners) are we.

    American Lefties hate Bush. American Righties hate Hillary. Leaving out Osama, assuming you are an American, can you name one foreigner you really hate? I can’t.

    Except for a few crazed Lefties, we don’t even hate the fucking Jews! And if you can’t even hate the Jews, it’s hard to sustain a hatred of anyone.

  440. Dean: If you believe that the Techno-Rapture will lead to a world where the pointy heads don’t get to boss us around all the time, how do you expect to keep them from trying to destroy it all? And all of us with it?

    They haven’t succeeded in either yet, try as they might.

  441. Actually Dean, the first vision of the techno-rapture I ever read was a short story by Isaac Asimov. I can’t remember the name of it now, but what it boils down to is this. Every computer gets asked the ultimate question throughout history: “How do we reverse entropy?” (i.e. how can we stop death) And every computer is stumped by this question. At the end of time, when the universe is barely alive and entropy nearly maximized, the entirety of the immortal human race is uploaded into the final super computer. It sits and ponders that last question until it arrives at an answer. The answer is the computer saying, “Let there be light” …………….. and there was light.

  442. “can you name one foreigner you really hate?”

    The Mexicans man, it’s always the dirty, dirty Mexicans — swarming our borders and stealing our free health care. And Castro. Yeah. Don’t forget Chavez. And Ahmeninija-whatever.

  443. BTW: fantastic sidestep of my point Dean. You said all that was required to prevent insurrection was intense, disproportionate cruelty, and I pointed out that the Nazis did this and it failed.

  444. Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    My wife? Do you see a wedding ring on my finger? Does this place look like I’m fuckin’ married? The toilet seat’s up, man.

  445. BTW: fantastic sidestep of my point Dean. You said all that was required to prevent insurrection was intense, disproportionate cruelty, and I pointed out that the Nazis did this and it failed.

    The Nazis were pussies. For true clearcutting disproportion, you’ve got to go back to the Mongols.

  446. So, using machines (which can neither think nor feel) is morally similar to using human slave labor?

    Only in the *dependence* it induces.

    So you have no problem with Hezzies lobbing missiles into Israeli cities because that’s “blowback,”

    That’s lack of decent guidance systems. I’m sure they’d be quite happy to throw them at military targets if they had the accuracy. Their stock’s gone up quite a bit recently, however, so there may be possibilities.

    but a can opener is just like a Confederate slave?

    I don’t think you and I live in the same moral universe, and I don’t know if there is any profit to be had in our discussing moral issues.

    Well, yer always welcome to restrict yourself to discussing such topics with other people who believe the Jews Walk On Water and Can Do No Wrong. Sounds a little sterile to me. I don’t think there’s much point in talking about what *ought* to happen before you actually agree on what *is* happening, and I don’t reckon we’re there yet.

    Did I already say Thank God For Abortion?

    Yeah, and how many kids have you got?

    Did you ever get round to reading Freakonomics?

  447. Dean: So, using machines (which can neither think nor feel) is morally similar to using human slave labor?

    Adrian: Only in the *dependence* it induces.

    What? So, using a labor saving device to make our lives easier, to ensure that more people have more leisure time, to increase wealth, to provide more quality manufactured goods, is morally equivalent to slavery?

    ***walks away shaking my head***

  448. “…I’m sure they’d be quite happy to throw them at military targets if they had the accuracy…”

    Are you “sure” enough to gamble others’ lives while you make such proclamations from the anonymous end of your cozy Internet connection, Igirisujin?

    AFAICT, their concept of a legitimate “military target” is, and always has been, the *entire* Jewish population…so perhaps you’re correct, from their semantical perspective…

  449. Adrian10 writes:

    I don’t know if there are real people who think about their technical skills in that idealistic way, it sounds like a caricature.

    Color me pasty white and put me in a cartoon, then.

  450. It should be noted that our situation is not precisely that of the Romans. Their moral fiber was rotted by their use of slave labor. In order for a people to survive, they must see themselves as worthy of survival. They must see themselves as Good.

    How can you be Good if you extract your comfort in life from the forced servitude of innocent others?

    By shopping at Walmart, wearing Nike and eating at McDonalds?

    We need not fear that they will lose heart.

    Nope. And they won’t change their minds, either.

    I inserted several links, but Eric’s blog engine refuses the post if I insert them. Either that, or I really am banned now.

  451. John Cowan quoted Adrian as saying: I don’t know if there are real people who think about their technical skills in that idealistic way, it sounds like a caricature.

    I’m trying to find the context this quote was pulled from. I’m curious what Adrian thought was so idealistic.

  452. Eric – the context is Shenpen’s post immediately above…or am I missing something?

    “…Question: after you became an expert in some technical field, should you help others for free by writing FAQ’s, blogging, and answering questions at mailing lists?

    Liberal answer: yes, because you learned much from others also for free, so it’s an ethical duty for you to do so.

    Libertarian answer: yes, because you often gain much by sharing than by keeping. People you help for free often find you with well-paying consultancy contract offers or good job offers – or you can just put links to your FAQ’s in your CV and many employers are impressed by that…”

  453. Jim Thompson:
    >By shopping at Walmart, wearing Nike and eating at McDonalds?

    Because there is no moral difference between buying sneakers at Wal-Mart produced in other countries under morally troubling circumstances, and owning Spartacus or Frederick Douglass as a chattel?

    Again, as with Adrian, I don’t think we live in the same moral universe. I must express my condolences at your having gone to college, because I don’t think you could have come by such moral idiocy without rigorous academic training.

    We really do have differences in comprehension. You see things as equivalent, which I see as completely different; and I see things as precisely the same, which you see as totally unrelated.

    There is a war going on between the West and Islamic extremism. Most people understand that. But there is also a civil war going on within the West, between people who think like you and those who think like me.

    My side has most of the guns, your side has the most effective propagandists. The collapse of Communism was a massive blow to the credibility of the arguments of your side. Thus, where you used to advance confidently, you are now treading water.

    But by far the most powerful weapon for my side is demographics. Myself as yet excepted, people on my side tend to have more children than your partisans do. Too many people on my side wish to ban abortion because they believe it is morally wrong. And maybe they are correct.

    But to the extent that people on your side have more abortions, and initiate fewer pregnancies which are not terminated, we may one day reach a point wherein your political opinions are no longer electorally relevant. Thus your social influence will continue to dissipate as the years go by.

    I don’t enjoy thinking like this about my fellow citizens. I wish that I had something better to hope for than for you all to die. But what am I supposed to say to you, who see no distinction between chattel slavery and Wal-Mart?

    I do not wish to believe that you are simply unreachable. But I am at my wit’s end.

  454. Dan: Eric – the context is Shenpen’s post immediately above…or am I missing something?

    Got it. I guess that all the folks I know who do those things, including myself, aren’t on Adrian’s radar.

  455. I guess that all the folks I know who do those things, including myself, aren’t on Adrian’s radar.

    I’m just a hobby coder myself, I don’t really know that many tech people other than through the interwebs.