Blogs

Bones (and flesh) of Contention

I will put the whole list of unremarkables and red-zoned claims/statements, perhaps regrouping them, and adding links where appropriate. I have been hungering for some kind of discussion with OLers on climatology's raging discourse. This may be the opening, a list of contentious contentions, and notes on same. Sharpen the dialogue, deepen the inquiry, get over the hurdles of shared knowledge. To the curb with unwarranted assumptions, as we dig. I do believe reasoned and reasonable inquiry can give us great tubers and fruits of reliable knowledge ... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++= Here's a helpful bit of exposition from a summary article at Wikipedia. This gives a little further edge to unremarkable science, but perhaps sharpens our focus on just what it is that Dennis May considers fraudulencing and hoaxeronony:   [T]he primary cause of ozone depletion is the presence of chlorine-containing source gases (primarily CFCs and related halocarbons). In the presence of UV light, these gases dissociate, releasing chlorine atoms, which then go on to catalyze ozone destruction. The Cl-catalyzed ozone depletion can take place in the gas phase, but it is dramatically enhanced in the presence of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).   In the rest of this comment, Emphases added. Bold for claims by Dennis May. Bold blue for unremarkable scientific findings. Red bold for iffy-ish statements IDed by Dennis's sniffs, clues from earlier statements on OL and Atlantis II, What we think we may know so far ... Ozone is a type of oxygen, three oxygen molecules bound together. Where Ozone comes from, where it lives, how it dies, where and how it travels in its life-cycle, this is generally understood. Today, in 2012, there just aren't any large Ozone mysteries Ozone is, like oxygen itself, a powerful, changeable, 'sticky'/repulsive, catalytic chemical under certain circumstances. Ozone is most heavily concentrated in a band of Earth's uppermost atmosphere (the stratosphere); Ozone concentrations can be measured. The heaviest concentration in the vertical column we call our atmosphere is in the so-called Ozone layer.' Ozone concentrations are not regionally diffuse; some areas of earth have stronger on average, some weaker. Ozone is most heavily "produced" in lower latitudes (the 'tropics' or equatorial latitudes) because of how most Ozone is produced -- photolysis. Ozone is made when solar radiation 'splits' a common atmospheric Oxygen molecule (two coupled O atoms). Ozone results when a 'single' O atom meets a twinned/couple Oxygen molecule. Solar radiation can also 'split' Ozone. Ozone effectively acts as a 'sun-screen' for Solar Radiation in several frequency bands, especially Ultraviolet B. Ozone 'absorbs' the energy of the Ultraviolet B, allowing less UV-b to strike living organisms on the earth's surface. Ozone concentrations in the stratsophere over the poles have marked seasonal variations. Stratospheric ozone levels will be changeable, from day to day, from season to seaon, and varying by latitude. The Ozone 'band' or layer can have differing 'thickness' as well as 'saturation.' Heavy Ozone layers can usually be found at the highest latitudes (ie, Canada, Siberia). There are essentially no remaining robust disagreements about the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone; how it is produced and how it is depleted is well-understood.
adduce some evidence showing robust disagreements about the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone, how it is produced and how it is depleted Current review of Atmospheric Science in re Ozone depletion Outlier arguments in re Ozone depletion: published; online rants; online corrections;crazy arguments; Ozone depletion can refer to two things. It can refer to: an observed decline (4%/decade) in the total volume in the Earth's upper atmosphere (stratosphere) a much larger 'springtime' decline of levels of ozone in the polar stratosphere. The seasonal 'springtime' decline over the Arctic and Antarctic is commonly referred to as the "Ozone Hole." This Ozone 'hole' (area of strong, persistent, seasonal depletion) depletion is characterized by 'destruction' of Ozone by the catalysis of Halogens. find some evidence against the discovery of 'destruction' of Ozone by the catalysis of Halogens. This is mainstream science. Two or three cites. Such as ... [*]Atmospheric halogens contain a marked proportion of 'atomic' halogens find research findings or observations that supplant the accepted measurements, that atmospheric halogens contain a marked proportion of 'atomic' halogens. Find 'measures' and 'definitions' of atmospheric halogens; contrast with proportions of 'atomic' halogens. Do they jibe? If yes, scour the literature for some differences regarding proportions/measurement If cannot find ... [*]Atomic halogens are derived from "Photodissociation" of human-made 'halocarbon' refrigerants. Evidence against the scientific finding that atmospheric Atomic halogens are derived from "Photodissociation" of human-made 'halocarbon' refrigerants. Again, this is atmospheric chemistry, a measurement and an observation. The claim is that human-manufactured refrigerents enter the atmosphere and leave catalytic derivatives (atomic halogens) that act to 'crack' Ozone. Two things must be disproved to disprove the conclusions of 23. I must find the studies and experiments that disprove the chemistry observed and predicted by photodissociation; the catalytic agents traceable directly to human production; those same catalytic agents' ability to crack Ozone via atmospheric chemical reactions in the PSCs (polar stratospheric clouds) [*]Halocarbons (human-made, refrigerents such as Freon, CFSs, Halons) have been determined -- through multiple, mutually-reinforcing scientific observation and experiment) to be 'Ozone-depleting substances' (ODS). multiple instances in which the halocarbons (Freon, CFSs, Halons) have been determined to have no role to play in the atmospheric chemistry of Ozone, and thus show evidence that the halocarbons should not be seen as Ozone-depleting substances (ODS). This will be difficult to knock over. Four or five cites from observation and experiment on the chemistry of halocarbons as ODSs. If there are no experimental evidence to be found to subvert the findings ... [*]Ozone layers or Ozone bands, or Ozone directly contributed to 'protection' of living things from excess, harmful UVB wavelengths of light. [*]The 'Monteal Protocol' is an international protocol that effectively banned ODS production (or banned their introduction into the atmosphere by propellants) world-wide. [*]The so-called Ozone Hole (properly holes, more properly, areas of Ozone Depletion) is a cause for concern, IF a demonstrated connection between ODS and declining Ozone concentrations worldwide can be demonstrated. If Ozone Holes do expose the surface of the earth (and its living biota) to increased amounts of UVB -- AND -- if a causal connection can be demonstrated between ODS and Ozone depletion in the stratosphere, sone certainly would argue that such increased harmful radiation is a cause for concern -- especially if the connection dials back to human-produced catalytic substances. This is perhaps the only one worth arguing about on list, on the main rink: first we have to look at current and recent (decadal) measurements and agree upon their utility. IF the survey says that the declines have paused, peaked or begun to reverse, let's speculate on why, according to standard atmospheric chemistry ... If the one went up, the chemistry is correct, the samples bear out the theory, then the time-lapse of Ozone depletion should make sense in the theory, and not in the counter-theory (which has not been advance anyhow) [*]In much of the world of climatology and atmospheric chemistry, etcetera, there is no particular scientific disarray or confusion in regard to the Ozone Hole(s). show something from the atmospherics and climatological literature that features clashes, disagreements, disarray and confusion with regard to Ozone holes. The fact is there isn't much confusion in re Ozone holes to be found. Where are the papers that would have pinpointed fraud or misrepresentation in a way that corresponds to Dennis's charge. If the mechanics are generally agreed upon, and the seasonal variations are fairly well understood, and if the mechanics of ozone-depletion are straight, then the final connection is the mechanics of ozone depletion, which is not much in discussion today, in the science. [*]Some overlapping concerns have been publicized that more fully engage ODS (especially CFCs) in the major concerns of present-day climatology: Anthropogenic Global Warming; some of the ODS have been rightly characterized as 'greenhouse gases' in their own right. notes overlapping concerns with CFCs in climatology. I have no idea what is wrong with that observation. That CFCs are part of what are called 'greenhouse gases' is hardly counterfactual. If Dennis can find otherwise, supercalifragilistic. Likewise a convenient detour into another discussion. Ellen has once or twice taken issue with this kind of 'GHG' uneasy-analogy manner of understanding AGW. [*]Some 'critics' have charged Hoax and Fraud with regard to Ozone Depletion. [*]It is up to the 'critic' charging Fraudulization and Hoaxering to provide evidence and warrants for such a charge makes me sigh for him, his wife, the local feedlot staff, and for the future of armchair de-hoaxerology. This one he will never answer to, sigh sigh sigh. Source: The Junk Science of Climate Change

william.scherk

william.scherk

C-SPAN, Strzok, live feed

Live, from Miami Beach, it's the Jackie Gleason Show! Actually, I wish. Today my Twitter feed was a go go with Peter Strzok answering questions from a combined committee of the House, ostensibly part of "Clinton Email Investigation.  I give but the link, since I don't have the knowledge or right to embed. https://www.c-span.org/video/?447953-12/fbi-deputy-assistant-director-peter-strzok-testifies-2016-investigations [Added: yesterday's hearing has been made embeddable:] "JULY 12, 2018 FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok on 2016 Investigations FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections, testified before a joint hearing of two House committees responsible for FBI and Justice Department oversight."

william.scherk

william.scherk

Essay on the Deep State, by Mike Lofgren

Do you ever get slightly confused by the term "Deep State," or wonder if another person is sensing the same concept as you? Here's an interesting analytical essay by Mike Lofgren, author of the book "The Deep State."  Anatomy of the Deep State   -- who knew there was a website called Wikispooks.com?  Here's a link to their page on Deep State, which uncovers the interesting provenance of the phrase ...

william.scherk

william.scherk

Test Bed -- brainstorming Weather Gods, or, a thrillah about the world's weather system and its manipulators

I thought Caroljane and Michael had some interesting  brainstorm results, laid out below. I also had some storms of creativity ... which I will add once I finish furiously scribbling notes on a break by the river. We have secretly kept everything green behind our fencing, despite the water-restrictions. I hate when Israel steals our clouds all summer. My basic notion is weather weapons, weapons of war, that is what the protagonists come to be up against, discovering and destroying the military-industrial-scientific projects that have been used to manipulate weather events in aid of endless war.  The thing is, it is a Deep kind of thing that our heroes have to get at. My favourite character-in-mind so far is a refugee from an intelligence agency. He is justifiably paranoid about his design of a master database. He knows too much, courtesy of his eidetic memory.  But which of his fears of rogue action are true?  Is he really just one of thousands on The List, the Kill the Designers list? In my flight of fancy we would get to fabulous settings, some of them mirroring or paying homage to Atlas Shrugged. Glaciers, underground CERN-style secret facilities. Low earth-orbit nuclear 'climate helper' satellites, that thousand screen command room deep underground. The 'database cities' of the INTEL surveilance future. On supersonic 'chemtrail' secret weapons. I'd also keep the political shenanigans sort of in your face but slightly out of focus, save that just as in Atlas Shrugged we are in a kind of alternate era where implausible events have already taken place.  One of the questions the protagonists learn to ask is, "Does the President Know?"   In my characters I want a 'rescue team slash commando force' to coalesce so I am looking to ex-military intelligence people, disparate people from a disbanded training unit, who have made the transition out of the forces for successful contract or independent careers. I want them to be bonded somehow conceptually, as a Protect Whistleblowers and Defectors unit, in the end. As if they all swore an oath and the oath comes in handy. Meaning the team our hero assembles or acquires should have a point of identity in common, to make the whole shelf of sinister secrecy and secret agent of technology stuff plausible. I need a bad-ass name for the Giant Computer Cloud that eats snow and steals clouds from nations and regions, thus 'false-flagging' weather manipulation events that may be possible in the next thirty-odd years. If Rand could have a free-energy motor, then we and the Frankensteins of CERN-7 can have gravity-enhancers, dark-matter sinks and sleeves and other theoretical devices almost ready to go. This on top of a semi-secret Space Programme where local weather is enhanced, altered, made wet or dry or whatever to punish Mexico. Somehow we got to stick the Vatican and on-three-continent catacombs in there. I want to avoid the nightmare pace of State of Fear, by having characters sleep and eat and so on. Not too much, just enough so that they don't seem freaky. So, plausible or wildly not -- Iranians can't get used to Israel-CERN-rogues-hidden-hands stealing their snow and clouds.  Things is gonna blow up if we don't stop the sinister secret organization from carrying out its plans. And Caroljane gets to write all the terse sex scenes.    

william.scherk

william.scherk

Reading: Dark Oasis

There is a reading festival in Chilliwack, including a lottery-style draw for fabulous prizes, accorded to a pool of readers.  You fill out a little reading report and you may be rewarded with ... weekly-distributed prizes, all around fifty bucks value, from Arts Centre/Playhouse events to Plants. Anyway, there was another little promotion going on when we visited the main library: local, small-press "Chilliwack"-keyed books aka "Local Indie Authors." I picked up .. Dark Oasis, A Self-Made Messiah Unveiled, by a guy named Jasun Horsley.  

It is a gripping tale told from the perspective of an almost-cult-member, the central figure being John de Ruiters, who now runs a "philosophy" empire out of an Edmonton "Oasis." The book will not be to the taste of those who want an extremely-skeptic take on de Ruiter; the author is somewhat reminiscent of the book published by Greg Mamishian and his wife, in that it examines a cult leader/philosopher, but this one is enlarged by the 'spiritual' beliefs of Horsley. So, if you don't want to read something by someone who identified with Carlos Castenada for a time, who is a "seeker" of spiritual truths, pass. But this seeker is able to describe the entire assembly of the present "philosophy" and its internal and 'intented' cultishness. The seeker and the skeptic in one. With a few wobbles along the way. Anyway, just a Reading:  note. I include a recent video of John de Ruiter, just to give a glimpse of the weirdness of his message. This is de Ruiter "on the road": -- for a sample of Jasun Horsley's writing style and format, see his series of smaller articles at Auticulture, especially The Casualties of “Truth”: Deconstructing John de Ruiter’s Sexual “Calling”.  That's right, Sex!

william.scherk

william.scherk

Top Twitter feeds

A Twitter List by wsscherk is my compilation of accounts our dear Leader follows. This post originally was a summer test of embedding such a thing on a page, which I did later do with both the Salon and anti-Salon lists elsewhere.  Sorry if Michael felt his privacy invaded -- this post was put on a "Publish later" schedule and forgotten about until it popped up.  In any case, Twitter Lists are a means to narrowly focus and sample tweets from interest groups, subject areas, kooks and crazies, and so on. Here is a link to how I organize my lists. Some are essential, some are works in progress. I like to dip in during my Twitter encounters ...    

All Polls Are Wrong

The phrase "all polls are wrong" was a cool hinge-point of argument last year, as the Trump train rolled on ... Yesterday a Democrat penned an interesting article at The Hill. It didn't say that "all polls are wrong," but that surveys of President Trump's popularity in the USA are flawed and in no way indicative. In other words ... Why the polls are still wrong.  Here's a few excerpts from the article: The Penn article also received some pushback, in this instance from Philip Bump of the fey canoes Washington Post: Why is a former Clinton pollster writing iffy poll analysis that panders to Trump supporters? Here's a snapshot from the folks at 538:

Killing NAFTA

Bloomberg has a short Trump-whisperer item on the President's supposed impatience with negotiations to "update" the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump’s Impatience Emerging as Biggest Threat to Nafta Agreement Some of you may have read the earlier report in which he instructs General Kelly that he "wants tariffs" ... while his weepy loser staff won't bring him tariffs. That report could be 100% shit, and since said tariffs were to be imposed on China, not perhaps pertinent. The Bloomberg story could be shit too, yet the President has been clear since the campaign that NAFTA is the shittiest deal the USA has ever signed. The upshot of the story is his purported wish to withdraw from the trade deal. That kind of talk gets Canadians antsy, since these are among the biggest trade flows on the planet, somewhere around the trillion dollar mark. Or so the could-be-lying bean counters tell us. Whither NAFTA and the USA-Canada relationship? I don't believe Trump wants to punish Canada as much as he does Mexico, but in the end, why not? Why not punish Canada for fucking you guys over? This is a boring topic, trade between the two giant geographies, and my belief that compromise will occur may turn out to be falsified.  Is Bloomberg under the giant umbrella FallSnooze? Zzzzzzzzzz ...

2018 Mid-term Congressional Elections: 300 days of excitement

There are times when I miss the Objectivist Living stalwart "Adam Selene." I am definitely going to miss his wonkish, passionate opinions on the coming mid-terms. I put this blog entry up to have a place for OLers who are interested in tracking the campaigns, the shoddy and unconvincing polls, and the final night of returns.  With the disbanding of President Trump's "voter fraud" commission** we will have no executive guidance on where or how various states are vulnerable to rigging or other hinkiness. In among the news-hoopla today, a few reports that stand out. This from The Week: A record-breaking 31 House Republicans won't seek re-election in 2018 A whopping 31 House Republicans will not be seeking re-election in November, NPR reports, including Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who announced his impending retirement from Congress on Wednesday. The 2018 GOP exodus is a new record: The last time there was such a massive departure from Congress was when 28 Democrats left in 1994, and Republicans subsequently seized control. Most significantly, Republicans in states won by Hillary Clinton are leaving in droves. "Vulnerable House Republicans would clearly rather call it quits than stand for re-election with a deeply unpopular agenda hanging over their heads," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law told NPR. [...] Democrats would need to flip 24 seats to take back the House, with the Senate being more of a long shot; in the upper chamber, Democrats have to defend 25 seats and pick up an additional three in order to take back the majority. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from November found that hypothetical Democratic candidates are favored by voters against their Republican counterparts 51 percent to 40 percent. One of my favourite election handicapping sites is Decision Desk HQ, a relatively-nonpartisan group of wonks and dweebs. Their DDHQ 2018 House Midterm Forecast is a good place to come up to speed on the challenges and excitement ahead. The 2018 House Midterm Election is bound to be one of the more interesting in recent memory. With Donald Trump in the White House, infighting on both sides of Congress, and an American public that is bursting at the seams we have a recipe for a perfect political storm. Keep your eye on this page, which houses our forecasts for all 435 congressional districts, and stick with us as we attempt to answer the ultimate questions: who will win majority control of the US House of Representatives? Here is an image from that page: http://www.thecrosstab.com/data/forecast-2018/leafletmap/index.html Click on the image above to go to the fully interactive version of this image, where you can zoom in and examine each race's details and present-day forecasts. Eg,  -- another very good site is Ballotpedia. Here is a link to their comprehensive 2018 elections page. ___________________ ** a welter of reports on the controversial commission and its end can be accessed here. Click the following for a snapshot ... Prediction:  surprise surprise!

Friends and foes chatter [Updated]

Chat instructions via video! So, my new "livecasting" set-up is  coming along. Today I botched a brief video header for this topic. I insert it just for fun. The other voice you hear is young Jordan Sather; since I wasn't wearing the headphones, I didn't know he was talking. He is talking about the Toronto attack, obliquely,  via Qanon. I will replace this with a better version where the sounds make sense and I wear the headphones as I mix. I wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to add a question, comment, request to the chat box  below. You need not be an Objectivist Living member or 'sign in' or register to use the chatbox below. You need not claim a name or moniker.
Using this one is as easy as typing in an acronym (ME) and then banging out a short or long screed. If you know or can learn a little code,  you can add images, hotlinks, and add emphasis to your screed/line of tossed-off text: It's based on the old forum standard bbcode mark-up; where you use square brackets to do some magic:  You can click the ''help" button at the bottom of the chat box -- to see all the bbcode, options for registering an avatar image, 'claiming' your name ... otherwise do a Quick Start: Click in the "name" box, and enter a screen name. Click on "message" and type your message. Then hit Enter to post!  

SCIAM: "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News"

The article "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News" appeared at the Scientific American website on February 6th. Its subheadline is "Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation."  The article makes for interesting reading, whether you consider 'fake news' a classifier for broad swaths of the information landscape, or whether you consider 'fake news' to be particular items that are inaccurate, infused with partisan bias, subject to grotesque editorial demands, or otherwise not adequate to your needs. Excerpts: ... you can guess what happened next. If you seek verity, verily you must verify ... To that end, that of critical appraisal, one dear to the heart of all Objectivish people, the magazine has another useful (or familiar) set of verification rules of thumb: Six Tips for Identifying Fake News  -- this is presented at the site as an MP3 sound file, which I link to here:   Note on audio files: the code to insert an audio file is dead easy if you have a little knowledge of HTML. Any modern browser will return a little player like that above -- given the code format below. All you need to do is make sure the file to be played is MP3, the web standard. <audio controls src="http://www.somesite.com/soundfile.mp3"> -- to insert similar audio file code on OL in your edit box, click on the "Source" button up under "Content" at the top of the edit box. This reveals the underlying HTML.  

william.scherk

william.scherk

Reading: "Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories"

I want to recommend a book I just started reading last night: "Suspicious Minds," by Rob Brotherton. As is usual, I read first the chapter that stuck out -- Chapter 5, The Paranoid Fringe. It takes a useful critical look at the seminal article by Richard Hofstadter -- "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" -- and also runs to ground a plausible origin of 'tinfoil hats.'  The book is written in a wry conversational tone, and is not on the surface a ''scholarly" read thick with endless footnotes, but it also contains a very useful reference list by page number -- as well as a full index at the back.  (My copy is from our local library, but I am going to order it from Amazon so I always have it on hand as a reference book.) Here is an excerpt from the first page that might whet OLer's appetite for more ... In a fit of recursion, I include this bit of commentary from earlier this month. It suggests that I am bound by ingrained prejudice/s, which may or may not be true ... yet leaves the door open to further friendly discussion. -- for those who like to check out reviews before purchasing or borrowing from a library, here's a selection -- which I thought remarkable. Remarkable in the sense of "how many reviews do not mention Donald Trump?" New York Times review by Adrian Chen
Inside Higher Education review by Scott McLemee
Brief Scientific American review by Maria Temming -- for the benefit of Dear Leader, I found the book is available at his local library too!
 

Livestream test Feb 2

My second test is also awful ... long, choppy, echoey, but I fear not [added February 2] _______________________________   I have been fussing with technical impediments for a few days -- with the end of the fuss a more-success-than-fail test of streaming video live from Chilliwack. It is still awful, laggy, popping here and there, distorting audio, skipping frames, refusing to play video so I can hear it ... but with some more fussing and rehearsal, and more script cards, and more drilling, this can work. Expect this thread to be locked from time to time as I replace the content with the actual live event URL. This is a recording ... Yes, it is even more awful than I feared, but still a success. The echoes can be fixed by disabling the mic when listening to playback of embedded videos. And the awful disparities in volume can be finessed.  > I want to recommend a neat little standalone application that lets a podcaster/livecaster play various sound files. It's called Jingle Palette. A screenshot of the thing: As can be seen in the labels, I had audio excerpts from video, text-to-speech items, and some radio-stingers.  All at various wrong sound levels ...  

william.scherk

william.scherk

 

Release the MEMO

The Hill reports the 'breaking' news that the White House has approved the public release of the MEMO. The MEMO was crafted by staff of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). From an earlier report ...  

william.scherk

william.scherk

Tribes, Tribalism, Tribulations

When Two Tribes Go To War ... Taking this topic out from the conspiracy thread here at Friends and Foes. I  want to look at how we discern tribalisms, membership, shibboleths and associated markers.    Define: William's tribe. Define: Michael's tribe.   List: core beliefs of Michael's tribe (sacred cows)
List: core beliefs of William's tribe (sacred cows) Once a core belief of Michael's / William's tribal affiliates is identified, plug the details into the above quote. Denote, clearly: a core premise/belief of each of the two tribes identified above. Provide at least one example from OL of each tribe's unquestioned core belief. Ask each of the tribe members whether or not they actually hold the identified belief. Once a/the "core belief/s" of the respective tribes are identified, set up a "premise-checking" operation. For another time.   Again, can we put a name to it? Can we define William's Tribe so that there is no mistaking what you mean?  

william.scherk

william.scherk

 

Ayn Rand Sightings -- The Fountainhead in LA Review of Books

I was alerted to this review by one of the folks I follow on Twitter, Robert Tracinski: A small excerpt from the offending review with a bit of Rand news that I missed highlighted: -- I am half-convinced that we already noted the Amsterdam theatre group's adaptation in an earlier OL post, but my attempts to find that note are foiled by the search facility, which has gremlins at the moment. [Edit: gremlins vanquished:; the link goes to Michael's note of the earlier sighting ... ]   

william.scherk

william.scherk

Cult Warning Signs

From Rick Ross's Cult Education Institute -- Getting Started: See also the fascinating Objectivist Living topic, "Secret Objectivist Cult," a funny and intriguing thread started by Dear Leader seven years ago:  I am a big fan of Tony Ortega's blog The Underground Bunker. Tony is former editor of the Village Voice, where he began his decade-long examination of Scientology. Some readers here may have seen him on various episodes of the Leah Remini cable series "Scientology and the Aftermath. Tony had a 'public service' announcement in an awful GQ article that dared to compare Trumpism to a cult ... It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that the word cult gets flung around with wild abandon at the best of times. My first immersion into "cult studies" came in the mid-nineties, when a couple of trends in psychotherapy met and melded with moral panic into a belief that an intergenerational and international "Satanic Ritual Abuse" cult was stalking children and adults (sound familiar?).  One of the many astute chroniclers of this time was Frederick Crews, whose "The Memory Wars" still stands out above the rest. I note in passing his most recent book, a stunning tour de force in my opinion. See Freud: The Making of an Illusion. I have mentioned his work a couple of times here on OL.  He is the author of a book review just out, published at the online site of Skeptic Magazine, which is -- to say the least -- becoming massively controversial.  See this critical blog entry to grasp the contours of the controversy.  In a nutshell, the book reviewed suggests that Jerry Sandusky may be innocent ...  Anyway, back to the main subject, cult warning signs, and what to do or say and how to behave if you suspect someone is trapped in cult-thinking or a 'High Demand Group.'  Here's another PSA: -- finally (save for edits), what compelled me to post this rambling topic.  NB: I have never, ever used the word "shithole" on Objectivist Living, to the best of my memory (which unfortunately, may not approach the 'best memory' of the US President). I much prefer "socialist hellhole."  

william.scherk

william.scherk

What to learn about Russian goals when you don't really care [updated]

One of the items I fish out of the general Russia Russia Russia hoopla is geopolitical strategy. In other words, setting aside the unproven allegations of the Trump-Russia 'collusion' grab-bag, and putting to one side the actual details of the "Russia hack" of the 2016 US presidential election -- leaving the residual "what is this administration's larger strategy with regard to Russia, its hopes and fears, its ambitions." This is no easy task. The election campaign revealed just a few rules of thumb that a Trump administration would use in a new relationship.  Each of us will have an impression of just what President Trump hopes to achieve in relation to Russia between now and 2020. For me, having studied utterances of Michael Flynn and the many Russia/Putin statements from the president, it is to "get along," to cooperate where it serves American interests, and perhaps to let Russia back in from the cold by removing sanctions where appropriate. In an sense, it is a desire to move the 'deep state' off its suspicious foundations in order to make a better partnership with the Eurasian nuclear power.  (the 'deep state' I envision as the intersection of established policy [of the executive branch, including national security agencies] and law [from the legislature]; it is the entrenched state of affairs, the 'ship of state' -- a vehicle of praxis built up over time. The 'deep state' of course takes its orders not from a shadowy cartel, but from department policy as written, intelligence findings as transmitted, and law. Law as in the welter of official acts and regulations, eg, Magnitsky-related sanctions. The 'deep state' vehicle can be refitted and given new missions, but this takes time, time to install new commanders with clear mission statements, time to legislate and decree a change in direction, speed, goal and targets) Having established their own briefs on facts and values, strategy and intelligence, law and practice, OLers might like me might have asked themselves the same set of questions -- not of the American 'vehicle' commanded by President Trump, but of the Russian ship of state. What Russia wants. -- that boring introduction done, here is a well-written analysis of Russian imperatives: Russia’s Evolving Grand Eurasia Strategy: Will It Work? NB: at 4200 words the article is not light reading.  But I suspect readers will be better able to answer the question "What is a proper Russia policy for the USA?"  One person whose opinions I wish we could consult right now is the founder of Objectivism. Having a cold eye on the Soviet Union, a cold eye for any unfree state, a cold eye for dictatorships, Ayn Rand would likely be able to add moral clarity to the 'debates' about Russia Russia Russia. A  couple of folks here have contended that Rand would be enamored of Donald Trump, a notion I find preposterous. But I could be very wrong. [Spelling and grammar plotzes fixed Jan 10, 2018]

william.scherk

william.scherk

 

Fire, Cognition, Fury, Persuasion

President Trump, in his inimitable fashion, has pushed back against one of the central themes of Michael Wolff's breathless work of gossip, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The theme -- fanciful, false, 'fake' or not -- is that Trump's White House was staffed with more than a few folks who view the man in the Oval Office as unfit for the job, lacking the qualities of mind that one should expect. This is not a new theme. Here is an article in Statnews last year that tried (and failed?) to 'measure' a difference between a younger and older Trump's vocabulary and fluency.   Trump wasn’t always so linguistically challenged. What could explain the change? Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.
  The author of the Statnews May 2017 article helpfully includes several brief video excerpts -- from 1987 and 1991, and from a more recent video of the President speaking extemporaneously.     ... the decline of Grand Supreme Hoopla ...  
 

Iran, detailed reporting, VOA live-blog

Most readers will already of course be reacting to the events in Iran. As I use Twitter I realize that 40% of the 'factness' of reported events is analysis and posturing. On the fourth day of protests, getting the fine grain of these events is not easy, since you have to plow through so much crap. Greta van Susteren tweeted a useful link to the VOA live blog. It is not a trove of details, but a terse timeline. Including President Trump's tweets. The most awful analyses are coming from the so-called 'regressive left,' exemplified by the Max Blumenthal, who has become a heartless 'tankie' leftist. The kink in these folks hoses stems from their indoctrination at what I call Anti-Imperialist U (Amal Saad, Sharmine Narwani, Ben Norton, Rania Khalek, Caleb Maupin, and Max will use the occasion of the protests to curse other leftist-progressives, liberals and neo-cons -- not offering any cogent argument. Attack, attack). Party Men. They will be perfectly unmoved by any violent repression of the protests. I consider their awful behaviour a kind of cult sickness. -- I follow a few rather manic Iranians (outside) who are using Twitter to tirelessly firehose individual videos and snapshots of events coupled to real time. It is an enormous crisis/opportunity for the leadership in Iran to show the world what it is -- to either embitter its young generation more deeply, or to relieve the repression and undertake some kind of major reform. In the meantime, a lot of sleeplessness.  A more spare and sober running commentary and occasional great media sampling is at Iranwire.  I feel a foreboding. I think the government will choose repression and it will be grotesquely out of order. Again.  "Welcome back to the world, Iran.  Show us what you are, and let's see if we can do more business." -- some of the almost-screaming arguments I've seen are searching for the 'source' and 'leadership' or 'support' in the state for the protests. Rouhani says peaceful protest is a right.  Who has more to fear, the government or the young?  
 

23 Reasons Objectivists (Might) Love Roy Moore [Updated]

Elsewhere on Objectivist-Trumpism Living, the Republican run-off between Luther Strange and Roy Moore was highlighted.  ... It made me wonder just what qualities and policies an Objectivish person might celebrate in the Republican candidate for the December 12 special Senate election. I have narrowed it down to 24 attributes exemplified in direct quotes from the man ... "Homosexual conduct should be illegal" “We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.” "Now, I haven't seen one thing in the press about this, and yet the President of the United States will not produce his birth certificate [...] That's very strange indeed. Why we don't hear about it — because the press won't report it." "We have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kind of immoral things happening because we have forgotten God.” “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for" “I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government” "I'm sorry but this country was not founded on Muhammad. It was not founded on Buddha. It was not founded on secular humanism. It was founded on God," “[Islam is] a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution” “Just because it [homosexual behaviour is] done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast is prohibited in every state?” “There is no such thing as evolution. That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.” “Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” "When we forget God, we lose the only true basis for morality and ethics, and we are cast upon the shifting sands of moral relativism in which anything goes, including lying, cheating and stealing." “God’s laws are always superior to man’s laws.” “Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the God of the Holy Scriptures. They didn’t bring a Quran over on the pilgrim ship, Mayflower. Let’s get real. Let’s go back and learn our history.” “You think that God’s not angry that this land is a moral slum? How much longer will it be before his judgment comes?” "God is the only source of our law, liberty and government," "The free exercise clause of the constitution does not apply to any religion but Christianity." "Anytime you deny the acknowledgement of God you are undermining the entire basis for which our country exists." “Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress” “We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some scripture or is backed by scripture.” “‘It was the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America that Christianity ought to be favored by the State’” “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Oklahoma tried passing a law restricting Sharia law, and it failed. Do you know about that?” "But to deny God — to deny Christianity or Christian principles — is to deny what the First Amendment was established for. The rights of conscience are beyond the reach of any human power; they are given by God and cannot be encroached on by any human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural or revealed religion."  

william.scherk

william.scherk