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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: LA/CA/Left Coast
Home country: Amurkin
Current location: Amurka
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 76,730

About Me

Only intelligent beings can care what happens, it\'s a big responsibility.

Journal Archives

About Snowden:

1.) You have to understand, he cleaned their clock, took it all, and he made sure to seal the deal before he went public. And he is going to screw all our "security" friends too, in Europe and elsewhere, who will not be grateful to us for that.

2.) They are used to being the guys who know, the guys who are wise, so they are in a state of panic. Us people out here in TV-land have never had such illusions of control, we never feel safe, so we can handle it better.

3.) This is what they do, the NSA, steal information and keep it secret so the government can USE IT, and they have been totally punked by one of their pet nerds. Of course they are pissed, and everything really is on the table, for them.

4.) Most of all, the spooks are being laughed at, the NSA is being laughed at, the national security state is being seen as the Keystone Kops. The Russians and the Chinese have already been here, now it's our turn, since we decided to go with the totalitarian methods too. And apparently it is just as corrosive to competence and good governance here as it was in those places.

5.) The Russian and Chinese reaction has been illuminating, you can see that they are bemused, and yet they don't want to piss off the angry guy any more than he already is, and they know they will be dealing with us when this "crisis" is long forgotten.

We used to have the talking filibuster, why was it made silent?

I'll tell you why, because a more aroused and involved electorate (crazy or not) made it more dangerous to stall public business in public. Anonymity is good for them, but not for us, we need to be watched.

The filibuster used to be used rarely, to be used on matters of principle, now it is used as a fund-raising tool.

Right now deals are being made, policy traded back and forth, and all in "quiet rooms", like Mr Romney says.

It is rare for anybody to give up power willingly.

And the filibuster represents (negatively) one of the closest things to individual autocratic power in the Congress. So if we want to get rid of the filibuster, we're going to have to throw enough of the Senators out of office first. Then they will listen to our views, not before.

I find that a difficult question to resolve, what to think of his performance so far.

On the one hand, as the first AA President, I think his first and most important job was to "succeed", to get re-elected, which he did, and handily too, brilliantly. And I find that an inarguable good thing, very important, maybe the most important thing, that he could do.

And he also seems to have brought into being the first new ruling electoral coalition since the "Solid South" gave way to the "Southern Strategy"; based on women, "minorities", and the young, and I find that very hopeful, the prospect of finally breaking the stranglehold of the plutocrats, war lovers, and racists on our politics.

But i find it easy to argue that he started out naive and has been more cautious than might have been necessary, and he is clearly not a "left-winger" such as you or I would think of it. But then so were Carter and Clinton, in their individual ways, if anything O has been a quick study. So it's also easy to come up with excuses. It's mainly the extension of the wars I find hard to swallow, strategically I see it, but morally and ethically I cannot.

So I'm kind of waiting to see how the 2nd term goes before I try to sum things up. So far there has been much to complain of, and yet we can already see a more assertive tone in the second term, and I think he is going to beat the Republicans like a gong from here on out, as long as he keeps the Democratic Congress at his back and stays safe.

Yep, it's very expensive too, and creates a lot of professional criminals.

But we are in the midst of a huge identity crisis (you will note that we cannot agree and have not been able to agree as to who we really are, we are like a bag of wildcats trying to walk down the road) and so everybody wants to get even with anybody who is not like them. Lots of whining about unity, but always somebody else who has to change.,

WRT FBI, entrapment: I think it's laziness and ambition, too lazy to hunt criminals in the wild, and to impatient to wait until you find some, so you fish for them, with plenty of bait, chum the water a bit maybe. I quote from Henry Miller:

For the man in the paddock, whose duty it is to sweep up manure,
the supreme terror is the possibility of a world without horses.
-- Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer"

For the FBI, suitably important criminals are like horses, that without which there is nothing. And real criminals are smart and dangerous, dumb guys are much more managable, easier to get them convicted, etc. So they are proactive, as we say.

I am cynical, I understand it perfectly. But I don't approve.

If you have an authoritarian bent, the last thing you want is a bunch of people asking questions. You want obedience. And the world is full of people that want to be told what to do, to belong to a tribe or a club or a gang or a clan. That plays out everyday in our politics.

There is sort of a bootstrap problem, if you get enough people well enough educated and empowered, it becomes harder to reverse. Before then, it is relatively easy to drag us back into the Hobbesian mud with a bit of violence, xenophobia, and misdirection.

When I was a kid they still had civics classes and they were still trying to really educate us to compete with the commies. I have hidden under my school desk and kissed my ass goodbye. But they started vigorously dumbing it all back down after the Vietnam debacle. It was like we failed because they lost that stupid war. Correcting an "excess of democracy".

I think there is a large element of not wanting to pay for it too.

We are long past the point where we can afford to be dumb, or cheap.

OK, thanks.

1.) I know what you are talking about, I'm an old hippie, I watched it all.

2.) The problem was not framing, the problem was politics. We had a dramatic political reaction to the civil insurrections and reform laws passed in the 60s and 70s: voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, FOIA, primary reforms, and politicians of all stripes have had to deal with that or get un-elected; the Southern Strategy, that was the "framing" issue, and all that hippie shit was in disrepute.

3.) Now, 30 years on, we are seeing generational change, the old angry white guys who took really good care of themselves and screw everyone else are dying off, and the products of those reforms I mentioned are coming to maturity, coming to power (Edit: Obama, all those women Senators, etc.) I've been watching it happen here in California for 20 years or so, we used to be a Republican State, now they are fringe politicians here.

4.) Turnout is all you need to explain 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, it's the demographics. You want to kick ass forever, all we gotta do is get our voters out, and there are much more direct and effective methods than "framing".

That is not correct.

The probability that a roll of your die will be a 6 is 1/6 th, REGARDLESS of any past series of rolls. That is what random MEANS, that there is no correlation from try to try, the past does not predict the future, AT ALL.

It is precisely that which justifies these meta-poll studies, that the polls are each separate tries, and hence (by their randomness) independent as sample data. (This is quite questionable too. Pollsters are poll junkies.)

The technical usage has a technical definition, which is correct. That does not mean the choice of the word "confidence" has the correct non-technical connotations, and as I said, in fact it's wrong, 95% probability is not 95% confidence about any try in particular, each try is ASSUMED independent, non-repeatable, and without replacement, "confidence" suggests "assurance", and that misleads, you have no such thing, you are still gambling. The entire system is built on the premise that each try is independent, that every time you ask the question, it is new.

A 95% confidence interval is a range in which the sample is expected to fall 95% of the time, the other 5% of the time it is expected to fall outside, and you are just as "confident" about the accuracy of the 5% as about the 95%, no more and no less.

At best, what polls provide is a crude heuristic that (done well) a sophisticated observer can interpret with some "confidence". Note that "confidence" is something someone has, an opinion, something one could sample too. I'm pretty "confident" at this point that Barak Obama will be the next President, barring "accidents". But I also know the present does not compel the future, it's just an educated guess based on a structured investigation.

I can go on. This is just scratching the surface, the easy stuff, we can get into Mr. Taleb's bootstrap issues with distributions, which are obvious to anyone with mathematical training and the will to look, for example. They annoyed me when I studied the subject 30 years ago, and they still do. There is nothing normal about the "normal distribution". The real world does not in fact exhibit zeroes or infinities or continuity, it is discrete, quantized, finite, and always something. Even "empty space" is far from empty. Velocity is relative (no absolute rest) and finite (less than the speed of light relative to any particular inertial frame). The uses of such notions in the physical world are all based in the laws of large numbers, probability and combinatorics, and all the physical constants that we know with great precision likewise.

Most of the more responsible pollsters seem to know that some of these issues exist, their rhetoric shows, but all the financial incentives run the other way, toward claims of certainty or some near approximation, or to show some desired "trend", a notion which you will see wanders off completely into the brush of cause and effect thinking.

There is a fundamental contradiction between assuming in one place that people form random populations you can sample randomly, by language no less, and in another, that people's behavior exhibits serial correlation (cause and effect, "confidence" about the future) over time, too. This I have seen mentioned, but I've never seen it really addressed at all.

People want confidence, assurance, security if you will, but that is wishing, we have no such thing and we need to pay attention, not be running around fat, dumb, happy, and full of ourselves because we think we know what's coming next. We don't.

I hope this at least clarifies what I base my views on.

A short explanation of why Prop 32 is bad:

1.) The proposition offers us a deal: if we give up unions as a political force, we get in return removal of corporations as a political force. So it appears "fair" if you think of unions and corporations as equivalent sorts of things because they are in competition, which would work well enough in wage negotiations, but no so in politics.

2.) However, it does not REALLY remove the rich from politics at all, it just changes how they do it, whereas it really will gut the political power of unions, since it will gut use of their main funding source, member dues. (And that's the point!)

3.) It does nothing about black money (Citizen's United) or private money owned by persons at all.

4) It will be the death of unions as an effective political force in CA.

5.) And unions and corporations are not at all the same sort of things. One represents it's members (well or ill, admittedly) and one represents the boss. One has a fundamentally democratic organization and one has a fundamental totalitarian organization (Corporations), and thus one (unions) has the intrinsic political legitimacy to speak for its members, and one has the political legitimacy to speak only for itself (or herself or himself).

Well, probability is always in play.

But if done well (which is no cheap or easy task), they can provide good estimates of momentary public opinion with a small probable error. The problem with most polls is that they are multiple choice, you don't get to say what's on your mind, you have to pick an approved response, the same sort of "management" that one will see tonight in the debate. Most polls find only what they look for, and tend to throw the results out if they don't get it, like tonight.

So, if one were to take a series of such "good" estimates, you would have a pretty good track of public opinion, and might be able to make some intelligent GUESSES about what motivated any changes. But you still have no prediction of future events without the hidden assumption that tomorrow will be like today, and anybody paying attention knows it might not, and the probability is far from miniscule, and all it can take is one to harm or help irretreivably, election wise.

It is worth remembering that one of functions of the MSM, the Mighty Wurlitzer, is to stall change, any fundamental change in who runs things here, they are 100% pro status quo, since they are privileged members of the elites themselves.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the Black Swan guy, would rip them to shreds, he understands the math, he understands how much they are assuming their own conclusions and building them into the questions and answers, and how false the premises of unitary population (i.e. it is sensible to talk about the pollees as though they were all part of the same population WRT the studied attributes), single peak distributions (they can have as many as you like), and follow something like the normal curve, all of which are ridiculous assumptions in the context of large human cultures and human mental states, which are anything but uniform as a rule.

But it gets too expensive without the simplifications, and anyway, they are not in the business of keeping us informed, exept incidentally. So with a few exceptions I consider them all complete crap, bascially propaganda tools.

They tell you nothing about future reactions to future events, and they assume the status quo as a beginning premise, that tomorrow will be like today, which is ridiculous in modern times, we are going through the period of most rapid change in human history, or for a long, long time in the past, we are talking rapid geological change now. Changes in sea level, changes in atmosphere, resource exhaustion, ...

But mostly, they are bought and paid for, with the usual consequences plain to see.

Edit: the few polls I give any credence to are one and all done by academics.
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