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Member since: Sun Feb 9, 2014, 12:43 PM
Number of posts: 217

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"Stop shopping and join the movement" ....

.... how moving. 200 protesters? 50 at another location? Pretty pitiful. This is a movement that isn't going to move very much further.

In Ferguson, the cause of justice...

...has been dealt a sever setback. By those who were demanding justice.

Distraught: The manager of the Little Caesar's said he understood the protesters were angry but added: 'Speaking your mind - thatís America. You are supposed to be able to protest peacefully and make your point. But this...'


Just voted.... Had a discussion...

Just voted - all Democrat (of course), and on the "non-partisan" school board ticket I voted for the "Teacher Approved" slate.

Had a discussion - with one of the campaigners outside the polling place. I always talk to the campaigners (of either party) and ask "probing" questions about the candidates, their positions and policy in general. It's interesting to find out their views and motivations, and I get the sense they appreciate it, being taken seriously and getting a chance to engage a bit.

This campaigner was a mature Indian lady, dressed traditionally and with a head scarf. Don't know if she was Muslim or Hindu. Once she realized I was not going to brush her off, she became a bit confessional and told me that "getting involved in politics" was very unusual for an Indian woman. She said this would normally be looked down on and discouraged. What she was doing was very simple and quotidian - just saying hi and passing out campaign literature, but it seemed to have caused her a bit of an emotional crisis to get involved. She said she had just talked to her relatives in India and she did not mention her activity to them at all because they would have been shocked and would try to discourage her!

I suggested that the next time she gets a chance to talk with them, she should tell them what she did. I told her I think it would be good for them to know so that they would have a better appreciation for what it is like in America and how America differs from their part of the world. She agreed that it would be a good idea and that it would help them to gain a broader understanding of America.

My own opinion is that, long term, the future of womankind is the future of humanity. Almost every significant world/historical problem that humankind faces is ameliorated by the progress of women toward full equality and acceptance in education, economic and social life. Malala truly deserves the Nobel peace prize. And this woman, by taking part in an activity that is outside of her traditional comfort zone, and by providing a role model to others from the same background, is also part of that.

I hate to go all exceptional and everything, but... America! You just gotta love it!

You are right. Modern civiliazation DOES require...

... treating other nations with respect, that is, with justice. Treating others with justice, however, can only be done under conditions where it is reasonable to believe that they will, in turn, treat you with justice. And this, in turn, is only possible when, first, there is good reason to believe that both sides share the same idea of what does and does not constitute justice, and, second, that no one can substantially profit by NOT treating others with justice.

Under a civil government, the government ensures that there is a prevailing and accepted notion of what is and is not just between its citizens, and enforces that notion so all citizens can be assured that behaving according to the dictates of justice is in their own self interest. If we break the law, we are punished for it.

That is why citizens within a sovereign state can live in peace with one another, and respect each other through the observance of justice.

But between sovereign states, neither of these two conditions exist. Each nation has its own idea of what does and does not constitute justice, and there is no overwhelming force to ensure that those who do not observe justice in their relations with others will be punished for it. Indeed, they are all too often rewarded for it.

Under those conditions, a war of all against all exists. And it will exist until one nation or another achieves (at least) a hegemony over the others and can effectively propagate and defend a system of justice between nations. Although we can hope for the best, realistically this not going to happen without an advanced military capability and the willingness to exercise that capability in the world at large.

And since, as you note, it is a requirement of modern civilization... Who wills the end wills the means.

Hillary Reviews Kissinger's Book

Hillary's review of Kissinger's Book World Order.

It's odd that, in his paper, Sunstein attributes....

... belief in conspiracy theories to a LACK of civil rights.

Those who hold conspiracy theories do so because of what they read and hear. In that sense, acceptance of such theories is not irrational from the standpoint of those who adhere to them. There is a close connection, we suggest, between our claim on this count and the empirical association between terrorist behavior and an absence of civil rights and civil liberties. When civil rights and civil liberties are absent, people lack multiple information sources, and they are more likely to accept conspiracy theories.


The short section on "Cognitive infiltration" (page 21) is supportive of the basic principle of free speech, that the remedy to falsehoods and fallacies is not less speech, it is MORE speech:

Our main suggestion is just that, whatever the tactical details, there would seem to be ample reason for government efforts to introduce some cognitive diversity into the groups that generate conspiracy theories. Social cascades are sometimes quite fragile, precisely because they are based on small slivers of information. Once corrective information is introduced, large numbers of people can be shifted to different views. If government is able to have credibility, or to act through credible agents, it might well be successful in dislodging beliefs that are held only because no one contradicts them. Likewise, polarization tends to decrease when divergent views are voiced within the group. Introducing a measure of cognitive diversity can break up the epistemological networks and clusters that supply conspiracy theories.

'MURICA!!! Why I <3 Drones!

Love the precision attitude control!

I was in Italy, in Florence...

... in the old section where the traditional shops (and a lot of the tourist attractions) are. I wanted some fruit, and there was a small, traditional, produce-only store, not a supermercato, with fruit and vegetables stacked up to the ceiling and one small aisle in the center.

So I went in, and started picking and choosing some items from the display baskets and then presented my selection to the shop keeper. He took my money, but gave me a real dirty look. What was that about?

After I left I looked back and watched as a few other customers come up to the store. They all stood OUTSIDE the store, and pointed in the general direction of what they wanted. The shopkeeper would then pick and chose, rather than the customer, and the customer would pay up and get whatever he was given.

Seems like I really broke protocol and was probably considered arrogant for my customer first behavior.

This was not the case in the supermercati, which were run much like an American supermarket.

Does this even start to make sense?

From a book review of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor:

According the Easterly , Adam Smith's notion of the invisible hand - the natural flow of the democratic process, the will of the people, the power to make a government accountable for its actions, the right to redress grievances - is as potent a motivator in poor communities as it is in rich ones.

This seems to be a massive misunderstanding of Adam Smith's notion of the invisible hand - That from a mired individual selfish acts emerges an over-all condition conducive to the general welfare, and that this occurs without the "visible hand" of explicit political agency - without the power to make the government accountable, without the right to redress grievances, without political will of the people or anyone else, outside of and without the democratic, or any other, political process.

Now I admit that I have not read The Wealth of Nations or Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments - but I have read about his theories and thoughts and I just cannot reconcile what I know with the claim made by the author - or perhaps imposed on the author by a careless reviewer.

Am I right about this? Could any characterization of Smith's invisible hand be more wrong? Or have I missed something?

These legal instruments...

... international law, the Geneva convention, the other world-wide international treaties, have no over-arching interpretive and enforcement authority. Each nation / state is free, within the limits of its own power and resources, to interpret the (so called) "international law" or "treaty" as it sees fit and to act accordingly.

This is why both Russia and the United States believe, or at least claim to believe, that "international law" is on their side, and continue to pursue their interests accordingly.

The United Nations and the International Criminal Courts have no intrinsic authority or coercive power to interpret and to enforce their standard of "international law". In fact, there is no "THEIR" there. They are simply forums for discussion amongst nations, creating a "hub and spoke" communications structure that facilitates international diplomacy without doing anything in particular to resolve the inherent problem of a Hobbseian "War of all against all".

Like the Pope, the United Nations has ZERO divisions.

As Kant said, there is no such thing as a TREATY. Every so called "treaty" is in reality just a TRUCE. And until there is an over-whelming power in the world that can make and ENFORCE law over the various nations / states (a real SUPER power), that will remain the reality. Like it or not.
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