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Blog Entries posted by william.scherk

  1. william.scherk
    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 [updated July 3 2020]:

  2. william.scherk
    Six fun (sad/awful/false/infuriating) stories emerged from the swamp in the last couple of days. Peter Taylor noted elsewhere on the site some vows made by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions on the issue of "leaks."  Some of the usual suspects have pretended that this is a "Threat" against the noble profession of prostitution journalism.
    The strongest or least-false coverage of this issue from that point of view may be from font of evul Politico ... in a story called Jeff Sessions' Attack on the Media Is Worse Than You Think.  Of course, Objectivist analysis might find that the threat is more than necessary, and that it will encourage a proper "chilling effect." Less clear is the notion of "Lie Detectors" (in the White House). Polygraphs are a useful investigative tool, but not accepted by US courts on the whole. 
    Less intrusive than a lie detector is the power to subpoena ... but see the story for all the convolutions. (one stand-out point was that it is relatively rare for journalist-itutes to be prosecuted or held in contempt for refusing to reveal sources [think Judith Miller]; the Politico story points out that the four arrested cited-but-not-cited by Sessions were not recipients but those who had purloined secret and often highly-classified 'spy' entrails from the DC borg.)
    The second story circulating is that Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC.  This may or may not be true -- even though everyone and the dog has been biting on the "news." I do not know if this would become public in the normal course of justice.
    The third story is that President Trump is a lazy do-nothing, who spends far too much time at his golf clubs ... instantiated in a nasty Newsweek cover.
    The fourth story is related to the Mueller grand jury suggestion ... this excerpt is from the brief Slate article "U.S. Reportedly Intercepted Suspected Russian Agents' Chatter That Manafort Asked for Their Help With Clinton:
    Manafort was the first somewhat hinky part of the Trump campaign and influence apparat to appear in posts here on OL, back a year and more ago.  It's not surprising that Mueller would request documents and testimony from the Manafort axis.  It isn't that he was a tool of Russia or an obvious go-between, but that he could have been a major conduit for the wink-wink quid pro quo that the crazy Russia conspiracists are certain is going to be found.
    Did Mr Manafort wink-nudge the Trump attitude that 'we take help from where it comes, given that politics  is a dirty dirty game'? I mean, isn't the essential question reduced to who promised what in return?  
    I take the tentative position that Trump's stated positions on Russia during the campaign and since being in office are obvious. So it will be exceedingly hard to show him 'promising' things on the down low, since he did it on the stump. Then, if he was inclined to reduce sanctions bite on Russia and to warm things up between the superpower and the also-ran, it was open and public.  Which requires that underlings and satellites were going to be the ones dealing with the details of wink-wink, nudge-nudge. If you are a Menshist, or not.
    (the more hysterical of the Russia hoopla employees and hobbyists are those who think every rumour is true, every leak informs the big picture. So the Flynn Effect [very pro-Russia relax] and other fizz from the week means Russian "information warfare" was coordinated. Which is alarmist nonsense, right?)
    The fifth story is about vacation-time, but in this instance taken by the manly President of Russia. Here's a sample:

    The sixth story is as usual performed by two casts, in two theatres. In the permutations, a Cernovich wing in the White House leaks out a broad range of accusations against Trump's National Security Adviser Lt. General HR McMaster -- that he is a tool of Soros/Rothschilds/Saudis, an enemy of Israel, and ever-so Swamp-Like that his hideous influence must be extirpated from Cabinet.
    Two guys come shambling up the alley. First guy looks like Steve Bannon, the second guy looks like  McMaster, and the guy with McMaster is brown and in a turban**. Which one would you ask out on a date/for help?  Which one is leaking to the Washington Post, or -- as this week -- to Cernovich-Breitbart-Gateway Pundit?
    I think there is a mini-war of ideas in the White House, which slops over into a war of words and Grand Hoopla Theatre in the mediatic multiplex. But what do I know. I am that guy who wrote "Why Donald Trump lost the election." 
    Incidentally, as a bonus seventh story -- did you know that obsessive humans do such things as rigorously analyze Twitter accounts that peddle the Kremlin lines of attack?
    Yes you did, but did you know that PR and political attack campaigns have a particular 'footprint' or pattern? Of course you did, so it won't be a surprise that there is a website that tracks real-time information-warfare memes and their flows in Kremlin-friendly orbit. If you squint and pretend to be Louise Mensch, yesterday's peak trends like the Cernovich Leaks from the angry West Wingers about McMaster were coordinated with a robust 'managed news' campaign directed by the drunk guy in the alley. See if you can find your favourites bot link or alt-news site here. I add a screenshot of the crazy site, but first an intro from the feverish topic ends of Twitter.
    * I am picturing Harjit Sajjan, who rarely togs out in his Commander outfit, but still. Who doesn't feel safer when a turbaned Sikh gets on the bus?  I would think Bannon was a drunk, and McMaster probably a loud talker. Which makes me think how many more generals should join the Trump cabinet and administrative apparatus.
  3. william.scherk
    Three hundred and twenty-five days until the first chance Democratic electors have to select a candidate (beginning with the Iowa caucuses), plus the time between that caucus and the end of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee Wisconsin on July 16 2020.
    I'll be using this topic thread to note various peaks of excitement between now and then.  I don't think there will be much excitement on the Republican side -- since barring unforeseen circumstances, President Trump is assured the nomination of his party. 
    Ballotpedia has a good, clean, in depth section devoted to the exciting Democratic candidates ...

    President Trump had the kindest words for one declared Democratic hopeful, Senator Kamala Harris. From an interview with the New York Times shortly after she declared:
    Michael has debuted a new topic, 2019 Dem Primary Watch [May 8 2019]
  4. william.scherk
    I'd like to open a field of discussion for the QAnon phenomena.  Here is where I will post in already existing material presented at OL by members.  I'll take direction from comments and from poll answers. 
    What is Q / QAnon? Why should anyone on OL pay attention? Is skepticism justified? What are the main questions readers have in mind to guide discussion? No special rules or guidelines for this thread; the OL guidelines are good enough and will apply here. .  Please keep personal abuse to a minimum. Creative insults are kosher, but if they aren't on topic, why post them?
    Our forum leader opened discussion on the phenomena back in January of this year.  My key-word search-term was "QAnon,"  not "Q," so the search results will not necessarily return all incidence of discussion touching on the phenomena.
  5. william.scherk
    [Edited January 2 2019 -- to remove or replace dead visual-links]
    Long ago Jonathan and I got some good traction out of a tangle of issues related to Global Warming slash Climate Change.  I think we are slated to renew or refresh our earlier exchanges.  I am going to poke in links to some he-said/he-saids from a few different threads at different times. One feature of the updated software is an automated 'sampling' of a link posted raw.  See below. 
    So this blog entry will be kind of administrative-technical while being built and edited. I haven't figured out if Jonathan and I should impose some 'rules' going in, so your comment may be subject to arbitrary deletion before the field is ready for play. Fan notes included.

    Adam, see what you think of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, especially the revealing map-based representations of opinion. You can drill and zoom down to state, county, district level to track data across a number of survey questions, where some of the answers are surprising. On some measures at least, the thing it is not found only in the UK, Quebec, Canada: Here's a snapshot of several maps which do not always show an expected Red State/Blue State pattern;
    [images updated January 2 2019; click and go images]

    [Deleted image-link]
    Edited 4 May 2015 by william.scherk
    Plug my How To Get Where I Got book of books, Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming. Insert link to Amazon, Library link, and to the intro chapter of Weart's companion website to the book. Make sure you include a link to Ellen's mention of a book review. 
    Bob Kolker's June 3 comment is a good hinge. What do we (J and I) think we know about the mechanism Bob sketches? What can we 'stipulate' or what can we agree on, for the sake of argument?

  6. william.scherk
    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 ... ] 
  7. william.scherk
    [Link to kerfufflage on the main stage] Three unfinished 'draft' blog entries had been posted into abeyance, had been put off to the future, which future was January 1 2020.  The entries were glops of quoted material (some of which contained a stupid 'turn Trump to Drumpf' JS routine) ... and I had no pertinent plan to revisit them. When I deleted them, I also deleted a number of comments that were attached to at least one of the entries. 
    I had thought there was no way of saving those comments once the blog entries had been removed. However, I noticed today that my syndicated 'feed' represented at Feedreader preserved the deleted items.  Here I post a visual snapshot of six of those items.  The 'feed' only encompassed these six when I checked it today.

  8. william.scherk
    No one knows at the moment how the impeachment process will end up, though OL members will generally have in memory the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts for use in comparing and contrasting.  At the present moment, nose-counting wonks have counted noses,  providing spreadsheets of current House members who have indicated they support an impeachment inquiry. There is enough to agree articles of impeachment at last count -- if the process gets that far (see also the Politico breakdown of impeachment-supporters).
    I'll add in links to extant discussion in varied front-page threads and beef up a rough timeline [over the next couple of days]. 
    The so-called  whistleblower's "whistleblow" has been allowed to emerge in slightly redacted form -- Dated August 12, 2019: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6430376-Whistleblower-Complaint.html
    -- this is what is being examined in the House right now. 
    Previously ...
    I'll ask that folks who may join in commentary here keep the personal insults to a minimum, if possible. Refer to the OL Posting Guidelines, please.
    Keys to understanding what may come down the pike is ... what has come down the pike already. In other words, a list of names of interest from roughly 2014 until now.  Ukraine is at the nexus of the foreign-policy muddle between the United States and Russia.
    Names and entities to keep track and/or place on a timeline range from (presidents) Yanukovych, Poroschenko, Zelenskyy to prosecutors-general Yarema, Shokin, Sevruk, Lutsenko. 
    For a reminder of what Ukrainian corruption looks like, the palatial estate of former president Yanukovych, who fled the country during the showdown known as "Euromaidan."  

    At the risk of alienating a few readers, I'll be referring to a few 'mistrusted' writers and outlets who have cobbled together various timelines and constellations of events. interpretations and spin.
    Any timeline will be necessarily limited, but the simpler ones can be double-checked for factual, 'on the record' events.  There are a lot of factors to be accounted for, suggestions entertained and claims tested. 
    The most expansive timelines will come after the first spate of tell-all books whose "pitches" will be landing on editors' desks this week.
    An objectivist hierarchy of conceptual knowledge is more like a database than a list or timeline, maybe. This is kind of a first wrong stab at how various states could be tied to a index/timeline.
    Open question:  how do you best organize 'what you know' or 'what is claimed' about the last five years of Ukrainian-USA-Russia-EU events?

              Foreign policy and corruption   Russian interests, actions, explanations         Associated timeline of events       Date Ukraine President Ukraine Prosecutor Person of interest Cases adjudicated, abandoned, avoided (in US and Ukraine Trump -- campaign actors / Ukraine policy Trump administration Ukraine policy       Cases of international significance. Meetings, contact, employment, associated suspicions                 2012-2017 Manafort-Ukraine Manafort FARA                                    
  9. william.scherk
    I was thinking about some of the life-learning and wisdom of Nathaniel Branden, half-convinced in my mind that I was remembering a quote accurately, that Nathaniel Branden had written "disagree" and "disagreeable" much like I thought in the title of this entry.
    I did find a phrase, something like I remembered and put it in fuller context at bottrom. But first some thoughts from the departed.
    The natural inclination of a child is to take pleasure in the use of the mind no less than of the body. The child's primary business is learning. It is also the primary entertainment. To retain that orientation into adulthood, so that consciousness is not a burden but a joy, is the mark of the successfully developed human being.
    Nathaniel Branden  

    We do not hear the term "compassionate" applied to business executives or entrepreneurs, certainly not when they are engaged in their normal work. Yet in terms of results in the measurable form of jobs created, lives enriched, communities built, living standards raised, and poverty healed, a handful of capitalists has done infinitely more for mankind than all the self-serving politicians, academics, social workers, and religionists who march under the banner of "compassion".
    Nathaniel Branden  
     “When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.”
    Ayn Rand  
    Thinking of someone with whom I have useful disagreements.  
    Watauga Lake, Tennessee. 

  10. william.scherk
    Glorp Glorp Glorp. Madame Macron is a pedophile. They never stop. Everyone knows that.
    Elsewhere on the blog ...
    Here is the promised video+audio of Milo Yiannopoulos discussing his youthful sexual activity, through the lens of a provocative gay man, with material from two podcasts, one internet radio show, and a press conference ...
  11. william.scherk
    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]
  12. william.scherk
    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!

  13. william.scherk
    "Are you overwhelmed at the amount, contradictions, and craziness of all the information coming at you in this age of social media and twenty-four-hour news cycles? 

    Fake News, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies will show you how to identify deceptive information as well as how to seek out the most trustworthy information in order to inform decision making in your personal, academic, professional, and civic lives.

    • Learn how to identify the alarm bells that signal untrustworthy information.
    • Understand how to tell when statistics can be trusted and when they are being used to deceive.
    • Inoculate yourself against the logical fallacies that can mislead even the brightest among us." 

    The author of the book is Donald A Barclay, librarian, who gave an interview to Publisher's Weekly last September. This excerpt mirrors a part of the preface, which I will dictate and post below. Dude sounds like a dang Objectivist here, if a plodder ...
    -- cross-linking here to a dedicated Front Porch topic thread "Fake News," and to a "fake news" OL-internal-search page of this blog, "Friends and Foes." There are at this moment 732 items in the "Fake News" phrase search returns of the whole of the Objectivist Living community.
    The subtitle to Barclay's book is "How to Find Trustworthy Information in the Digital Age."
  14. william.scherk
    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.
  15. william.scherk
    The work history of the folks in the Robert Mueller team is reported on by the Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff.  For those unspooked by a relatively quiet news front on the special counsel's activities, and for those who are curious about credible/non-credible implications of the activities. And maybe for those who use "Muh Russia" unironically ... (& for those who may have forgotten the details of the inquiry's frame of reference: the Rosenstein order establishing his authority)
    The DB article's subheadline slug:
    To probe alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel has essentially built his own miniature Justice Department. Meet the experts he’s recruited.
    Here is an excerpt from the conclusion (emphasis added):

  16. william.scherk
    Some thoughts from the author of 'The Righteous Mind,' Jonathan Haidt (see OL mentions here), at Spiked online: 
    The Fragile Generation
    -- my favourite conceptual creep is with the weasel-term "Fake News."  Where the species-genera distinction is obscured mightily.
    On an unrelated note, "Hate whomever you want. It's your right."  Lauren Southern bashes back at micro-aggressions from the folks at Reason TV.
  17. william.scherk
    Another unsavoury emission from the hoopla turbines. It looks like Sean Spicer may have been 'in the loop' when FoxNews got in trouble with an unwarranted story they published -- while deeper intrigue is found in the form of a lawsuit filing. A dumptruck of details arranged in a narrative of wrong-doing, true or not. The plaintiff feels FoxNews fucked him over and escaped accountability.
    To set the scene (with light editing and bolded items):
    I had earlier taken issue with the root of these assertions in an OL-Mail to our thought leader:
    I followed up  on the Stone truth-mishap when it was raised again.
    Which gave me back this closely-reasoned rejoinder ... not where I had raised it, but on the front porch (emphases added).
    Here's the thing.  Seth Rich access ... to the very material that got leaked is not evident. There is no evidentiary argument to support that claim. Seth Rich had his own niche within the DNC, but was not "head of IT" with unimpeded top-level access.  It is Roger Stone that misrepresented the DNC position as vastly greater than prosaic truth. He got it wrong -- and it was an essential part of his argument. I meant to highlight this misrepresentation from Infowars as a key falsehood in the argument structure.
    Anyway, to "I have a feeling," being the 'gotcha person,' and noting that dear leader did not quote me, let me get all epistemological:  
    Here's the minor question unanswered: what exactly was Seth Rich's position within the DNC?  
    A follow-up question would be: what is the probability that Seth Rich had an all-access pass to the superstructure of the DNC computer networks?
    And one can ask, "If Rich was not likely to be the leaker/conduit, then what does that say about the motive for his murder in DC?"
    Anyway, who cares?  Right? Well,  I''d say one can't go wrong to rationally examine competing hypotheses. Among which is 'other parties ransacked the DNC.'
    To the point, finally, the all-access-Seth  claim aside, the issue has caught fire again today. Today the hoopla units turned up sleaze and dishonesty knobs. Here is a sample of Grand Supreme Hoopla from Memeorandum:
  18. william.scherk
    Two long and involved articles that touch -- if only briefly -- on Randian ideas in culture.  The first features Arthur Robinson (of interest to our intrepid Brant Gaede) and the second drags its hooks through 'right wing' science-fiction. Although I am familiar with some of Arthur Robinson's activities, the article on him has dug up a lot of detail, and is fairly well-written -- despite its bias.
    The 'right-wing' science fiction article has a case of over-reach, but as with the Robinson article, digs up some material that might be of interest to OLers, if only to encourage critical attention.
    The Grandfather Of Alt-Science
    Art Robinson has seeded scientific skepticism within the GOP for decades. Now he wants to use urine to save lives.
    By Daniel Engber
    Filed under Science Skeptics
    Published Oct. 12, 2017
    The Sci-Fi Roots of the Far Right—From ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’ to Newt’s Moon Base to Donald’s Wall
    Pournelle, Gingrich and Trump see a future that must be secured by authoritarian institutions that group together humanity’s best and prevent the rest from stifling them.
    David Auerbach
    09.17.17 1:00 AM ET
  19. william.scherk
    This is no longer a placeholder.  Some 'on the record' wild guesses are already out -- notably our Bob Kolker -- so  I too am going to publish a prediction/analysis, knowing full well I might be picking through bird bones on November 9.
     I think Donald Trump will lose the election on November 8th. I have some definite reasons why. I thought to post the reasons here, even if I am shown to be gawdawfully wrong later on. How 'off' will my analytic take be? Only time will tell. 

    Reason? Reasons?
    Donald Trump lost because of the Republican Lady Vote, ultimately. He could have rallied a few more Latinos and African-Americans and other visible minorities to his base within his party's grasp, but that wouldn't have mattered as much as a seizing and a hold on Educated Lady votes.
    That is the main reason he lost, looking back at me from the crystal ball. Ladies.
    By state, he didn't capture the ladies of the Philadelphia suburbs, which cost him. He failed to capture the urban-suburban college-educated lady vote in Ohio and lost more crucial electoral votes.  He failed to capture the conservative educated ladies in Florida in enough numbers to beat Romney's showing in 2012  He failed with the ladies of Utah.  He failed with the ladies of North Carolina. He didn't get the crucial lady vote in states he needed.
    There may be nuance, and other subsidiary reasons rooted in Mr Trump's behaviour and the challenges every Republican faces in terms of hostile and adversarial media.  There may be ground-game reasons, money reasons, biases galore, party mutiny and backstabbiness, ghost-voting, sinister plots and precinct rigginess beyond the pale, but when the totals were officially-certified in places Trump had to dominate to be the Winner, he fell short with the ladies ...
    -- with my Red Hat on, my reasons all turn on treason, or behaviour just-shy-of treasonous, by a panoply of bought and paid for agents against democracy.  Not with a centre anywhere in particular, no grand plot, just a functional-structural bias on every dimension against Mr Trump. In the whole landscape of media small and large and fringe and newsworthy in themselves, it was ultimately Bannon and Trump against the world's sleaziest big-audience manipulators.  That built-in structural disadvantage was key. Allied structural impediments were important but secondary and amplified by his own party's elite class, whether in the party itself or in positions of prominence and power in Wall Street and Washington.  
    That covers treasonous, bought, biased and elite party elders and candidates. Where were they when he needed them?
    Those factors 'conspired' in a sense to depress turnout among previously likely voters.  The ticket-splitters and the stay-homers of the GOP great coalition of voters gave Hillary Clinton an extra advantage that was totally undeserved, a side-effect of elite 'treason' against the candidate.
    Finally, with Red Hat still firmly on, Trump lost because of loathing, not rational fear, not reason.  The supine media and the fractured, corrupt party, and the 'got' functionaries of Clinton Inc put a false mark upon him and triggered an hysterical emotional reaction. They stoked phobia, hatred and division, and blamed Trump.They stoked loathing of the man and excused their complicity in feeding the hate.
  20. william.scherk
    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."
  21. william.scherk
    Mick West at Metabunk.org has published a book!  It's called "Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect."  The early reviews at Amazon.com are brutal.

    I publish a fair-use excerpt from the introduction to the book published last month at Salon: How to pull a friend out of the conspiracy theory rabbit hole | It’s not a blue pill or a red pill, but a poison pill
    I've added highlights to parts of the excerpt that might be helpful to OLers struggling with the entailments of conspiracy-ideation --in friends, family, and perhaps in themselves ... as those of us who have read the Rob Brotherton classic understand ... "Its not THEM, it's US" ... no one wing of political or social groups is more vulnerable to the harms of conspiracy ideation than another.
    "Try to figure out my tricks."  What good advice ...
  22. william.scherk
    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.
    ... 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.  
  23. william.scherk
    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 ...