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Member since: Sun Feb 9, 2014, 12:43 PM
Number of posts: 165

Journal Archives

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.

War is Hell, But...

But it beats the alternatives.

War may well be the worst way imaginable to create larger more peaceful societies, but the depressing fact is that it is pretty much the only way.

War, A Necessary Good

Related OP: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024875860

HeartBleed: The Advanced Persistent Threat

A friend of mine tells me that within hours of the public announcement of the HeartBleed vulnerability, his organization (a UART) came under attack by an ATP unit code-named UC. The ATP-UC attack was detected by their internal cyber security system and apparently was not able to establish a presence or "exfiltrate" any information.

Here is a detailed report on one particular ATP group - ATP1 - provided by Mandiant, a cyber security firm:

APT1: Exposing One of China's Cyber Espionage Units

This report is focused on the most prolific cyber espionage group Mandiant tracks: APT1. This single organization has conducted a cyber espionage campaign against a broad range of victims since at least 2006.

Their web site includes videos of actual ATP1 attacker and intrusion activities in progress!

Dr. Zhivago, Cold Warrior

...few readers know the trials of its birth and how the novel galvanized a world largely divided between the competing ideologies of two superpowers. The CIA’s role — with its publication of a hardcover Russian-language edition printed in the Netherlands and a miniature, paperback edition printed at CIA headquarters — has long been hidden.

Dr. Zhivago, Cold Warrior (Washington Post)

(Long hidden, but suspected none the less.)

Donald Rumsfeld Hasn't Learned a Damn Thing

Donald Rumsfeld Hasn't Learned a Damn Thing (What more needs be said?)

Do You Speak Dictator? A Quiz


With President Vladimir V. Putin thuggishly stealing Crimea from Ukraine, and serious concern about whether he will also invade eastern Ukraine, a debate is unfolding about whether President Obama is doing enough to stand up to tyranny. That leads me to offer a quiz, so test your skills: Do you speak dictator?

My score: 9 / 12

(From the NY Times - They have a pay-wall over a certain number of articles a month and may require some sort of registration.)
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