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September 26, 2017

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it's all part of the conspiracy

in shocking news, the WH is full of actual criminals!

https://www.propublica.org/article/ivanka-donald-trump-jr-close-to-being-charged-felony-fraud

but, yes, Obama making money because he's widely admired and respected is a problem.

"Why would they do that?"

Because it's bad business to become known as a company that doesn't pay it's debts.

Why would they do that?

Because, if they don't, the next guy won't go along to get along. What they're "paying" a past president is peanuts compared to what they got from his compliance and can expect to get from the compliance of the next one.

(And why do they pay top execs ridiculous amounts of money, even when they suck?)

I'm not necessarily buying the theory, but it's not hard to figure out how it works - in theory.

Because it's bad business to become known as a company that doesn't pay it's debts.

Riiiiight. After all, we've all seen how badly that has hurt Trump.

Well, it dies matter who you stiff. But then, maybe it has hurt him, who knows.

It is unlikely he stiffed a firmer President, only Bill could tell you.

Yeah, stiffing some guy who paints murals or hangs sheetrock isn't exactly the same thing, unless you're operating at their same level in the economic pecking order.

bob mcmanus,
I’ve been thinking about your 08.09. It seems to me that:
1. Almost any experience other than mass-media is by definition only available to a few, as opposed to the many. (The parks you walk your dogs in are realistically only available to Dallas residents, and probably to those living within a certain mile radius. Many cities don’t even have parks. You keep dogs. Dog-keeping and feeding is not affordable for everyone.) Why does this amount to “casual cruelty”? Are you saying that the masses resent this limited availability, and therefore consumption of it by anybody constitutes mental cruelty towards them?

2. Since almost all of us here are agreed that current levels of inequality are undesirable, immoral or disgusting, or a combination of all three, then the discussion could be about how to end this. You advocate for violent revolution, some here advocate for HRC type solutions, and there are no doubt many other possible suggestions. In the meantime, how does refraining from consuming experiences that are of only limited availability (restaurants, holidays etc) help to end inequality? If one enjoys the experiences, isn’t refraining from them just virtue-signalling? And if one doesn’t enjoy these experiences, refraining from them seems morally neutral. Is it your position that those who can afford these (to them) enjoyable experiences should refrain from them, and instead donate the money to alleviate the suffering of the masses? I thought philanthropy was irrelevant in your world view. And if philanthropy would make almost no difference, why refrain from the experiences, except as a symbolic, and as I say virtue-signalling, gesture?

3. The demise of libraries in the UK, and from what you say the US too, is an unalloyed evil. I assume that justifications include the availability of all human knowledge on the internet. In my opinion, this should be fought at every possible level, but I cannot see the connection between the closing of libraries and your previous points, except as another example of how unfair the world is.

All of which is to say this: is it your contention that the world and the system are currently so unfair and unequal that enjoyment by comfortably-off people of anything that poor people cannot afford is cruel and unacceptable? In which case, my response is that this is a very extreme view (surprise surprise), adherence to which would not advance the cause of human happiness one bit. Your choice to limit yourself in this way is your own business, but your condemnation of those of us who don’t is unreasonable and in fact ridiculous.

If you are interested enough in my points to answer this, I beg you not to quote political or economic philosophers or historians I have not read, and whose terminology I would find incomprehensible. Surely any argument worth making is worth making in plain, understandable language?

GftNC, perhaps I can help with the following:

In the works of Burroughs, a predominant concept is the concept of pretextual narrativity. D’Erlette[1] states that we have to choose between predialectic capitalist theory and the postcultural paradigm of context. In a sense, the premise of Marxist capitalism implies that language is part of the stasis of culture, given that truth is equal to culture.

Does that explain it? ;^)

hsh: thanks, all clear now!

In the works of Ellington, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

“Society is part of the stasis of truth,” says Foucault. Debord promotes the use of textual postsemantic theory to deconstruct the status quo. However, if Lacanist obscurity holds, we have to choose between textual postsemantic theory and presemiotic patriarchialism.

ibid

GftNC, great comment. I admire your patience and your faithfulness to the rules you outlined in the other thread.

I do mildly wonder why the conspicuous display of intellectual attainments that most people don't have isn't as "casually cruel" as the conspicuous consumption of material goods that lots of people don't have.

But I don't actually care a whole lot either way.

on equal enjoyment...

if there's one fig and fifty hungry people, should we cut the fig into fifty pieces so that each person gets an equal amount of fig? each person gets 5 calories worth of fig. who does that benefit?

not that i give a fig about philosophy.

Send the fig to the Governor of Texas:

Steve Silberman

"Trump denies Puerto Rico request to let hurricane victims use food stamps for prepared hot meals: report http://hill.cm/CJwsSnz pic.twitter.com/ulasVC6tkK"

This is pure evil. And the fact that Trump did grant waivers for Texas and Florida suggests that it's also racist. https://twitter.com/thehill/status/915302776057548800

"suggests"

liberals elide the Truth.

I actually appreciate McManus chiming in with the critical theory stuff, I just have a really hard time making sense of it.

For which, I do not blame McManus. Most likely, I simply punched the last of my advanced social theory tickets a long long time ago.

These days just keeping up with tech stuff so I can continue to be employable in some relevant way uses up about all the brain cells I have to spare.

Still in the belly of the beast, am I. Here at chez russell we're paying the rent every day, and to be honest we're glad to be able to still keep on doing it.

We all have a sell-by date, and I can sorta-kinda see mine from here. I just wanna get the mortgage paid off before they put me out to pasture.

Every once in a while, though, something in his comments gets through to me, so all in all, I'm cool with it.

Here's a thought for those dispensing ideological theories. If you truly understand the theory you are pushing, you ought to be able to explain it without incomprehensible jargon. The concepts may be hard to follow. But you should at least be able to explain them in words that the average high school senior could follow.

And frankly, doing so will vastly increase the chances that your ideas will get a receptive hearing. Personally (and I am confident I am not alone on this), when the jargon gets heavy, as it has in a couple of entries here lately, my eyes glaze over and I stop reading and tune out. This is not a formula for convincing anyone. Just sayin'.

I actually appreciate McManus chiming in with the critical theory stuff, I just have a really hard time making sense of it.

and

Every once in a while, though, something in his comments gets through to me, so all in all, I'm cool with it.

Me, too. I post that Postmodernism Generator stuff in good fun. I'm more poking fun at how the stuff looks to my not-hip-to-it eyes than I am at Bob and what he posts.

Don't get me wrong, some of it does strike me as a sort of mental-masturbation that's unlikely to result in any measurable, practical progress. But not all of it.

And, really, what the hell do I know, anyway? This kind of obscure, esoteric stuff percolates over time and gets applied in unpredictable ways. It's like pure math, or even the weird sh1t you see models wearing at fashion shows. Years later some aspect of it becomes a method of, say, tracking the spread of diseases, or can be found on the rack at Walmart.

Apropos of nothing...

oddly enough, speaking of critical theory, one of the things i'm trying to wrap my head around right now is how to inculcate critical thinking as a software engineering practice. in a way that makes it sufficiently easy to understand and apply.

I work with lots of really sharp young engineers, but surprisingly enough not many of them know how to problem solve at a basic, pragmatic level. They have really impressive repertoires of technical knowledge, best practice patterns, and coding skills. But they don't seem to teach the basic skill of breaking down real-world problems in our fine universities.

People call it "thinking outside the box", but really it's just thinking. It's teachable, but it's tricky to teach, other than via direct one-to-one mentoring.

Software development is really prone to fads, which complicates things. Pattern languages, Agile methods, architecture runways, SOLID principles. It makes me itch.

What is the problem you're trying to solve.
What are its inherent structure and dynamics.
What value is created by solving it.
How will you know when you've solved it.
How will you know when you've solved it *well enough*.

What are the hard parts going to be, what are the easy parts going to be.
What parts do know enough about to say we understand it, what parts don't we know enough about.
How can we find out the stuff we don't know.
Where are the land mines, the risky bits that will blow it all up.
What do we do about those.

Really basic questions. A good carpenter or plumber is better at this stuff than 90% of software engineers. And the problems that 90% of software engineers have to deal with in their daily work are not significantly more difficult than those faced by good carpenters or plumbers.

In my opinion.

Everybody just wants to write code right away. It's a really expensive way to explore a problem space.

Want to insure a bright future for the good old USA? Teach people to think.

Regarding McManus, I love that he is here.

As to the jargon, a friend a long time ago referred to the jargon used by the social sciences as the "social science blues".

As a result, when I read or hear such like, I translate it into a sort of blues couplet, wherein the second line repeats the first, such as:

"She done tol' me I gots ta choose between predialectic capitalist theory and the postcultural paradigm of context.

I said, she tol'me, baby, you gots to CHOOSE between predialectic capitalist theory and the postcultural paradigm of context."

Then, to finish off the verse, I add:

"Alls I know is, baby, love has gone away from me

Jus tell me, lord, which I gotta choose to get yo love back to me"

Education-speak:

"We must teach the whole child"

What does that mean? I don't know.

Sing it, instead:

"You gotta teach the whole damn chil'.

I said, you got to teach that whole damn chil.

Then one day befo too long that whole chil'
you taught right, will tell you what it means."

cleek: if there's one fig and fifty hungry people ...

Joking cleek may be, but THIS is the level at which I can grok "concepts" -- the level of specific examples. If somebody wants me to understand a theory in physics or economics or sociology or "management", I need to map the concept on to at least one particular case before I really get it.

Or, what wj said.

Anyway, it's that mode of thinking (or what passes for thinking in my head) that leads me to ask questions like:

If alternative A is likely to deliver half a fig to each of 50 hungry people, while alternative B is likely to deliver 30 whole figs to each of 30 people and a quarter fig to each of the other 20, which alternative would you vote for?

Note that A means a Gross Fig Product of 25 figs while B means a GFP of 35 figs. Which is "better" in your ideology is what defines your ideology, AFAIAC.

--TP

Since this is an open thread, let us all take a moment to give thanks that the fox will be guarding the hen house: "IRS awards multimillion-dollar fraud-prevention contract to Equifax". Somehow no surprise that it was a no-bid contract....

if there's one fig and fifty hungry people ...

grow more figs

I hope it's clear that I too value bob mcmanus's contributions, especially when I can understand them, but even when I can't I trust and believe that some others of you can.

I do mildly wonder why the conspicuous display of intellectual attainments that most people don't have isn't as "casually cruel" as the conspicuous consumption of material goods that lots of people don't have

JanieM, to tell you the truth, and this is by no means necessarily aimed at bob mcmanus, I believe that very often that kind of conspicuous display (in the same way as the material kind) is actually a manifestation of a sense of inadequacy or inferiority, which has to be constantly kept at bay by showing how superior one is to one's interlocutors/other people. As I say, I do not aim this at bob mcmanus, whose psychology I do not pretend to understand.

Lisa Romero

but surprisingly enough not many of them know how to problem solve at a basic, pragmatic level.

i'm not surprised.

the po-mo stuff here reminds me a lot of software development these days. it never gets simpler, it never gets closer to what CPUs actually do. we just keep adding layer after layer of abstraction.

my company is all about REST, these days. so we all write black boxes in Java which talk to everyone else's Java black boxes via a web server (FFS! it feels like using FedEx for inter-office mail). and some of those black boxes write Lua which talks to SAS code which uses C to write SQL to talk to equally-complex DBMSs, or Hadoop, or who knows. and it's all running in a docker image on a VM somewhere.

and kids have to learn all that cruft before they can even write an enterprise-level Hello World (not that there's a console anywhere to write "Hello World" out to). who has time to work on pragmatic problem solving skills when it takes full-time effort to learn 40 years of paradigms-of-the-week?

Posted by: cleek_with_a_fake_beard | October 04, 2017 at 01:18 PM reminds me of how our financial systems have come to work. The physical world is obscured by the multitudinous financial arrangements that are necessary for anything to get done on any large-ish scale.

What russell's talking about isn't just an IT thing, either. (Not that I think he was implying that it was.) I don't know how many times I get into a meeting with people who want Something To Be Done. When you ask them what problem, specifically, they are trying to solve, they look at you like you're wearing a fruit salad on your head.

What russell's talking about isn't just an IT thing, either.

See also public policy.

Software development is really prone to fads

How true. How sadly, sadly true. And it has been true for over 40 years to my personal knowledge. A new fad approach would come out. We would all be required to learn it. It would turn out not to be the cure-all management had been sold. We would go back to just getting stuff done. And 6 months or a year later, there would be a new fad.

But they don't seem to teach the basic skill of breaking down real-world problems in our fine universities.

I used to have a simple approach to finding (never mind teaching) problem-solving skills. I would wander around at lunch, and see who was doing the crossword puzzle. The exact skill was irrelevant, but it indicated a puzzle-solving mindset which was critical to the kind of performance analysis that I needed.

Today, I suppose, I would go with Sudoku. But the concept is the same. The only thing that's different is that people would tend to be doing the puzzles on their phone or something, making it harder to spot.

I do think that the universities are quite able to teach this skill. After all, engineering schools have been doing it forever. It's just that the idea of doing so hasn't been rolled over into the IT departments.

The physical world is obscured by the multitudinous financial arrangements that are necessary for anything to get done on any large-ish scale.

Or even on any small scale. I can't even count how many passwords I have now for online vendors, banks, retirement accounts, health care-related accounts, employee acounts, etc. And most of them require some kind of second confirming action besides a password (security questions, code sent via text or email or phone).

Or just try making a phone call to a large organization...I'm getting reminders from three directions for doctors appointments now, one of which is a bot phone message that says "Press X" to confirm, but of course if you're listening to it as voice mail, pressing X does no good. And I found out at the doc's office that the people who make live phone calls don't even know about all the other avenues.

Speaking of fads, I just got scheduled for a "stay interview" with my immediate supervisor, whom I speak with all the time about whatever it is I feel as though I need to speak with him about, and who speaks with me on the same basis. I guess now we're doing it "officially."

russell, In the late eighties I became a manager in a large company, managing lots of new coders. I crafted a course as part of onboarding them based on my freshman college logic course.

Best thing we ever did. Wonder if that course even exists anymore.

I was checking out at Staples the other day, and what was once at most a three-step, few moments, non-automated thing .... ring up (yeah, ok, that's automated) item, exchange paper money for item, receive receipt and item in bag, has now turned into a more than too many minutes "process" wherein I have to supply membership or phone number to the credit card swiper and answer via push button various other marketing-oriented and data gathering questions (I'm doing THEIR marketing department work for THEM without being paid), and then an amazingly long time for the receipt, me holding the bag in midair for deposit, as digital signals careen through atmosphere, apparently the long way around, and the cashier holding her hand in mid-air to grab the receipt out of the machine and deposit it in the bag, without either of us making eye contact because both of us just might break into screaming.

I do my best to be unproductive and time-inefficient in my current life, but in more fun ways than that.

America is efficient like stubbing your toe is a miracle.

I don't know how many times I get into a meeting with people who want Something To Be Done. When you ask them what problem, specifically, they are trying to solve, they look at you like you're wearing a fruit salad on your head.

I have a different angle on this. Where I work, people sometimes sit inside closed rooms and dream up projects and deadlines without bothering to get time estimates from the people who will actually be doing the work, and might be expected to know something about it.

Then, when the projects inevitably fall behind, they talk about "bottlenecks" and try to move tasks around to avoid the bottlenecks.

On one occasion when I became a bottleneck, I mdae up a maxim for the managers: "Work takes time." Maybe they need some classes in basic...physics?

People call it "thinking outside the box", but really it's just thinking. It's teachable, but it's tricky to teach, other than via direct one-to-one mentoring.

I can't say how much I completely agree with the need for this. I've seen reports of studies over the years showing how teaching students (high school, and in some cases elementary school) variously chess and philosophy has long term benefits for, among other things, critical thinking. I agree with Marty too, teaching logic (although not too much symbolic logic) would I think achieve the same results. In any case, it is the very definition of a transferrable skill.

Denise Salmon Burditus

Well shit, I guess I'll get the afternoon coffee, even though it makes pee every 15 minutes. This may be fun for a troll.

Shorter:Pascal was right about leaving the room, I try not to. Also, Buddha was right about desiring/grasping being the cause of root of all suffering and evil.

I have also tried not to desire or possess, and while not a Trappist by any means, I have never had much that wasn't in my body, and despaired when falling into accumulation and attachment.

I beg you not to quote political or economic philosophers or historians I have not read, and whose terminology I would find incomprehensible. Surely any argument worth making is worth making in plain, understandable language?

Longer, and it will be long. For a start:

The writer on politics who fails to take this precaution is condemned to produce nothing but ‘a chimera, or [something that] might have been formed in Utopia, or in that golden age of the poets when, to be sure, there was least need for it’.48 The meaning of this warning is as clear as can be: as much as capitalism, but in a totally different way,communism too must contend with desire and its passions, namely, with the ‘force of the affects’ responsible, not for the local oddities of voluntary servitude, but for the permanence of universal ‘human servitude’.49 Almost negatively, as its real condition of possibility seems so far away from us, it is again Spinoza who gives us perhaps the definition of true communism: passionate exploitation comes to an end when people know how to guide their common desires – and form enterprises, but communist ones – towards goals that are no longer subject to unilateral capture; namely, when they understand that the truly good is what one must wish for others to possess at the same time as oneself. This is for example the case with reason, that all must want the greatest possible number to possess, since ‘insofar as men live according to the guidance of reason, they are most useful to man’.50 But this redirection of desire and this understanding of things are precisely the goal of Spinoza’s Ethics, and he does not hide that ‘the way [is] very hard.

This is in fact an understatement, since it assumes people are not in the grip of the passions, but guided by reason. Ex ductu rationis, people know that they must unrestrictedly want for others the joys they seek for themselves, and ‘want nothing for themselves which they do not desire for other[s]’.52 But this is indeed the highest formula of communism, resting on the generalised non-rivalry of the (true) goods, which can therefore be genuinely produced and enjoyed in common, namely, rid of the capturing efforts of individual desires that the passionate life otherwise keeps recreating. Only non-rivalry really saves us from the figure of the master-desire.

From Frederrick Lordon, Willing Slaves of Capital:Spinoza and Marx on Desire

Note 1:I take this shit seriously.

Note 2: Notice the names, allusions, and references. "Master desire" may be out of Lacan, Zizek uses it a lot. This is the desire(s) we accept to be part of capitalism or any other society. We choose it.

To be continued ad nauseam

Count, your story about Staples made me laugh and (not really, but symbolically) cry. I walked out of Staples a year or so ago when the cashier's sidekick asked me for the sixth time (literally, and after I had let my irritation show after the fifth time) whether I would join their frequent buyer program, or whatever the F it is. I haven't been back.

Last time I bought something at LL Bean they insisted on having my name. Since I was using a gift card and was caught off guard, I gave it to them. But tomorrow I'm passing through Freeport and I'm going to try the experiment of buying something with cash and seeing if they will even sell me something for cash without demanding my name (the excuse for which is their guarantee, which has gotten unmanageable for them since people do abuse it).

Grrr.

Rhonda LeRocque

P.S. when I walked out of Staples I left $83 worth of printer ink unpurchased. Fnck'em.

If I were better at keeping my wits about me, I would have asked to see the manager (assuming the idiot who kept badgering me about their program wasn't the manager in the first place) to tell them that okay, they train (force) their cashiers to ask people to join the program, but they should also train their cashiers in the common courtesy of stopping when they get no for an answer.

I font know Count, sounds like an incredibly efficient way to collect mineable marketing data. It is just named incorrectly, "checkout".

me: and seeing if they will even sell me something for cash without demanding my name

Clarification: I expect them to ask for my name, what I'm not sure of is what they'll do when I refuse to give it, when I'm paying with cash.

I crafted a course as part of onboarding them based on my freshman college logic course.

Well done. I'll bet you were (are) a good manager.

Enable people to do their best. That's the gig.

Last time I bought something at LL Bean they insisted on having my name.

"Rufus T Firefly"

Rhonda LeRocque

Tewsbury MA home girl.

Call the names. Those folks deserve to be alive. If they can't be alive, they at least deserve to be remembered.

Note on note 2

I don't understand blog commenting style, but I am as deeply suspicious of it as I am of analytic philosophy and liberal capitalism, and think the style is connected to them.

What I read and encounter 8+ hours a day is filled with dropped names, allusions, endnotes, references, and shared jargon/technical language. The "ordinary language" of blog comments strikes as similar to and connected with "common sense and what's natural." Like "entrepreneurs deserve more"

Personally I don't consider myself capable of an original thought or expression, and assume without hesitation that anything I could say has been said much better by someone else, likely many times.

To say:"All suffering comes from grasping." strikes me as simple theft. It is my responsibility to find those sources, and credit them.

An argument from pure logic and simple reason or personal experience or anecdote about acquaintances seems to me to ahistorical and asocial/individualistic, IOW, anti-communist and liberal capitalist.

Knowledge and wisdom is collective, social, and historical and this should be acknowledged and proclaimed as much as possible.

So I quote and allude not from showing off or to be obscure but to humbly point toward my mentors and superiors, who are legion if not universal. And to proclaim the collective, not personal, local, or tribal, intelligence.

I find what I read as frustrating as how you find my writing, because every page of a Lordon points me to five books I will probably never read, but need to read to fully understand the material*. They are not hostile or intimidating but loving and sharing. To write against their style would be arrogant, ungrateful, and show that I haven't learned a damn thing.

Wisdom is collective

*I know nothing, I understand nothing, I am nothing, not even a self, all the work has been for nought...except:

Wisdom is collective

(PS:I read 100 times, no 1000 times as many comments as I write. Everybody is a piece of the collective)

Clarification: I expect them to ask for my name, what I'm not sure of is what they'll do when I refuse to give it, when I'm paying with cash.

I've refused to give my name and/or phone number many times at various retailers. I'm reasonably sure they'll take your money.

My wife, when asked for her phone number, would respond, "It's unlisted." As much as you may have been taken off-guard when asked for personal information, that does the same to them. They look confused say something like, "Oh... Okay."

"It's unlisted" is a good reply. I will try to remember to use it next time, although sometimes I'm in the mood to be more directly confrontational. Not hostile, but just framing myself as not cooperating in the game.

I find it fascinating that everything ("everything") is linked to phone numbers now, and people just stand in line with a crowd within hearing distance and recite their phone numbers to clerks.

Or I should say associates.

And our phones are an open channel for every scam artist on the planet anyhow, so who am I kidding?

All of which is to say this: is it your contention that the world and the system are currently so unfair and unequal that enjoyment by comfortably-off people of anything that poor people cannot afford is cruel and unacceptable?

Yes. Property is theft, which includes intellectual property (what is in your head) and frankly personal relationships. The Communist Manifesto called for the end of marriage, in 1848.

In which case, my response is that this is a very extreme view (surprise surprise), adherence to which would not advance the cause of human happiness one bit.

Good communists are not Utopians. Our goal is not a perfect world, but the melioration of human suffering, both physical and psychological. And if possible, the prevention of catastrophes and holocausts.

For a few the fulfillment of their intense personal desires, like a gold toilet or trip down the Rhine, is the source of their happiness. But those desires are shared by the many and unattainable for them, causing untold psychological misery, since they under our system blame themselves.

On my better days, it's Mao pajamas for everyone in the dorm and creches for the children, who are the most horrifyingly private property. I'm hardcore.

Sorry, in a world of limited natural resources and human competition, your personal happiness and fulfillment of your accumulative desires are probably my enemy and target. Socialism/communism is not going to pay for your hundred shoes or collection of rifles.

Victor Link

Finally, of course, we seek the common/commons, where those hundred shoes and a thousand more are available in the rental shop, temporarily available to anyone. But they would not be private property and would need to be returned like a library book.

What is the psychological and social difference between a library book and an owned copy on you homeshelf? Why do we desire the latter at all?

Profit and possession.

Charleston Hartfield

I do mildly wonder why the conspicuous display of intellectual attainments that most people don't have isn't as "casually cruel" as the conspicuous consumption of material goods that lots of people don't have.

A very fair question, and one I do think about, and in fact alluded to above. I surrendered money and accomplishment for time at an early age, because what I wanted required time.

What I didn't acquire was the power that a "normal life" and credentials provide, and the model of the swami under the tree I hope is not so intimidating. But certainly there are histories of esoteric knowledge being used for power. They usually fall to a sword.

And as a communist, I listen to everyone with their own local knowledges and different voices, and try to help them attain their collective desires rather than my own, as much as I find morally permissable.

Enough.

What is the psychological and social difference between a library book and an owned copy on you homeshelf?

if i want to access the contents of a book, at any time for any reason, having it on my shelf is far more convenient than having to schedule a visit to town library. and since my town has ~3,000 people, the library probably doesn't have the book i want.

where those hundred shoes and a thousand more are available in the rental shop,

no, i will not wear rented shoes.

Chris Hazencomb

Thank you. Your 02.52 and 02.59 are at least perfectly clear, and make the answers I was preparing to your 02.09 and 02.34 superfluous. I would just add (without, I hope, too much asperity) that my incomprehension of technical terms does not extend to ones such as "intellectual property".

What is the psychological and social difference between a library book and an owned copy on you homeshelf? Why do we desire the latter at all?

Tell that to my wife. Too. Many. Books.

I'd actually enjoy owning, or even simply possessing long-term, as little as possible. But that's not out of any sort of political philosophy. I'm just kind of a minimalist by nature. I don't know why.

Is there a gene for latent communism?

Shifting gears, I wonder what people here think of this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/opinions/i-used-to-think-gun-control-was-the-answer-my-research-told-me-otherwise/2017/10/03/d33edca6-a851-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html

I'm still rubbing my chin over it.

For myself(conceptually), the distance away from true contentment has always been measured by the number of keys on my key ring. Each key represents an obligation or risk.

It is odd sometimes for me to take the capitalist and conservative views. I drive a twelve year old car, I have no mortgage, my most valuable possession monetarily is a 1980ish model guitar and a stamp collection where collecting was abandoned in 1972, and and 6 55" tv's. And no debt. But very little savings left.

Left to be alone I would be fine with what I have, but there are 14 keys on my key ring, not counting the tbree I simply can't remember what they are for.

2 House, 2 apt(400 sq ft), car, 2 office keys, 3 mailbox keys, 2 for clients offices and a couple for kids houses.

I could have easily decided to take the road bob has, but collected keys instead.

I wonder what people here think of this

In general I'm fine with it. I think all of the suggestions she makes are great, and I'm all in favor of evidence-based policy.

I have two points of disagreement:

I think limits on magazine size are useful. There are kids from the Newtown school alive today because the shooter had to reload, and the Gabrielle Giffords shooter was prevented from doing further harm because folks in the crowd were able to overpower him when he stopped to reload.

Maybe in ideal conditions expert shooters can swap magazines in a nano-second. In real life, shooters are often clumsy.

Pick a reasonable number. 8 rounds, 10, 12. That should be enough. Yes, there are already magazines out there that hold more. Don't make any more.

The second thing is bump stocks. If someone can tell me the legitimate reason for making a semi-automatic fire like an automatic, feel free to bring it. To me, it's a complete and total public safety hazard.

Get rid of them.

I would also be open to restricting personal ownership of double-digit numbers of firearms to people who are willing to register as collectors. The dude brought 23 firearms - 10 suitcases full - to the hotel with him, and that wasn't his complete collection.

Yes, there are people who are, legitimately, collectors, and who own in some cases hundreds of firearms. Fine with me. Let the rest of us know you got 'em.

There are people out there - lots of people - who stockpile personal arsenals against the day that they are going to have to shoot (a) cops or (b) their neighbors.

Those folks are nuts. Nothing against the law about being nuts, I just want to know if you're nuts, and you have fifty AR-15's in the basement.

In any case, the bottom line is that Americans are violent people. We apparently find it entertaining.

Absolutely agreed that some kind of community outreach to isolated individuals, especially men and especially older men, would reduce gun suicides, which are the largest number of gun deaths.

And absolutely agreed that more effective local policing and outreach for gang activity would reduce homicides among younger men.

And absolutely agreed that women under threat of violence should have access to shelter and police protection.

Americans participate in a vivid violent fantasy life. Sports, movies, computer games, you name it.

We're violent.

Radio Shack used to badger cash customers, just trying to buy a fncking battery, for name/address etc, so some poor dweeb could go in back and type it into a TRS-80 for junkmail spamming purposes.

Some companies just never learn. If they ask for a (US) phone number, give them 555-xxxx (where 'xxxx' is any digits you want). They all go to 'information', any area code.

I'm pondering, but I think I agree with every word in russell's 3:46

Marty @ 3:39 - beautiful comment.

Me: I do mildly wonder why the conspicuous display of intellectual attainments that most people don't have isn't as "casually cruel" as the conspicuous consumption of material goods that lots of people don't have.

bob mcmanus today:

A very fair question, and one I do think about...as a communist, I listen to everyone with their own local knowledges and different voices, and try to help them attain their collective desires rather than my own, as much as I find morally permissable.

bob mcmanus on Sept. 27:

Hey kids, if there are any kids around, West End Blues by Louis Armstrong is beyond any doubt the greatest and most important piece of music in the 20th century. If you don't have the Hot 5s and 7s in your library and played you are a fail. I listen to everything from the medieval Carmina Burana to Tago Mago and think Armstrong is the best. [my emphasis - jm]


Was the latter just a joke then, or performance art?

ban them all.

ok, i'll compromise: i'm willing to go Originalist.

ban everything but the modern day muskets and flintlock pistols. those are dangerous to load. so how about: single-shot guns only. bolt-action.

i'll even give you double-barrel shotguns because you never know when you'll be set upon by a covey of angry quail and there's a chance the first blast of bird shot won't kill them all.

but seriously, we have a public health epidemic in the US right now. we've tried doing nothing, and it hasn't helped. and now it's time to halt the sickness. drastic measures are needed. if we eventually recover, we can talk about bringing back the deadlier guns. no, i don't care about the second amendment. it wasn't written with these weapons or this society in mind. and there is no valid reason that we should be held hostage by laws that don't apply to the actual world we live in.

Vermont Public Radio did (or maybe is still doing) a "Gunshots Series". I heard parts of it when I drove to and from Canada in August -- very interesting, especially statistics about the increased likelihood of suicide in homes where there are guns, even for the non-gun-owning household members.

IIRC there's a program to give away gun safes and another to give away gun locks, and esp. for the safes there's a waiting list. People know they should have them but can't afford them or don't want to spend the $.

Since it's an open thread, just to get this out: Provisional analysis of the effects of Trump's proposed tax cuts on Mainers.

Not that anyone is likely to be surprised.

i'm willing to go Originalist.

If you want to go originalist, the rule should be:

If you're in a militia, organized by and under the direction of local civil authority, per laws and policies set by the US Congress, you have a Constitutional right to keep and bear a firearm.

However, there area about as many firearms in private hands as their are people in our great land, and I don't see a practical way to roll that back. The horse is out of the barn.

So, if we can keep from shooting each other, I'm good.

In all good faith, it is my opinion that the 2nd A is as relevant as the 3rd.

The institution it refers to, and which it was intended to preserve, no longer exists in any way the founders would recognize.

Somewhere, Brett Bellmore is having an aneurysm.

I don't see a practical way to roll that back.

make the presence of guns in the house an insurance liability with a high possibility of loss-of-coverage for violations. put a hefty, nearly-prohibitive, tax on sales of guns and ammunition. use proceeds from that tax to fund a no-questions-asked gun buyback program.

it might take a generation, but it would work. after the original owner passed, kids and grandkids might rather have the cash than deal with the insurance and safety risks.

we could do it if we wanted to.

Crikey, JanieM @ 03.54, you take up the baton just when I decided a) that the inconsistencies were a perfect illustration of bob mcm's statement of how much he dislikes and disapproves of logic, and b) that there was no point in going further, particularly in the face of his claim that he had taken as his model "the swami under the tree". Unlike political/economic/social theory, I am perfectly familiar with Buddhist philosophy, and the desire to escape from the endless cycle of desire-attachment-suffering, and suffice to say unless bob mcm is claiming to be a boddhisatva his idea of himself is eccentric, to put it in the most generous possible terms.

[ by 'violations' i mean lying about the presence of a gun which is then involved in an incident ]

GftNC, I am setting the baton back down at this point in any case. Life is too short.

Also, I've got family coming tomorrow for five days, so I will be blessedly distracted, and hopefully that will bring my attention to these discussions back to a healthier and more manageable level.

Enjoy your family visit, JanieM, I hope we see you back here soon.

I don't see a practical way to roll that back.

make the presence of guns in the house an insurance liability

I stand corrected. Thanks cleek.

Was the latter just a joke then, or performance art?

A bit of a joke or exaggeration of course. Adorno is famous for not liking jazz, and I suppose there are lots of people who don't like music by black artists. Not that I am saying you necessarily fall into that category.

I see the ladies are demanding ostracism, which has often been the case where I visit.

Adorno is famous for not liking jazz

He's dead to me.

bob mcm's statement of how much he dislikes and disapproves of logic

That is not what I said, and I would prefer honest interlocutors to quote me when responding.

I see the ladies are demanding ostracism, which has often been the case where I visit.

I would prefer honest interlocutors to quote me when responding.

As to the latter, me too. Can you quote anyone demanding ostracism? Or demanding anything, for that matter?

Actually, I don't care if people quote me or not, but I would rather not be misrepresented or lied about.

The ladies, eh? I don't see anybody calling for ostracism. Honest interlocutor?

An argument from pure logic and simple reason or personal experience or anecdote about acquaintances seems to me to ahistorical and asocial/individualistic, IOW, anti-communist and liberal capitalist.

I think we all know how you feel about arguments which are anti-communist and liberal capitalist.

bob, you make yourself ... upleasant ... in a way that seems quite deliberate and calculated, epatering le bourgeois ad nauseam, and then act the victim (and lie) when someone says they're going to (in my case) return to ignoring you. Play the victim all you want, but surely you can't pretend that you're surprised or that you didn't in part deliberately provoke the reaction you got.

And that's the last from me.

Well guys, as you know from personal experience you will have no problem welcoming and being friendly someone the women in your life find intolerable. Direct demands are seldom explicit, though other means of communication are common.

GftNC 5:08: Carol Gilligan took the first step toward the 3rd wave, picking and choosing what parts of patriarchal roles were to be retained as instrumentally useful.

I grew up arguing with women in a complete absence of male models. Women usually despise me at sight, while men find me amusing. I do not seek to please and flatter.

As perfect a response, in every way, as one could have set out to devise if one had it in mind to illustrate mysogyny, dishonesty, and victimhood in one short post. Bravo!

Back to the world of computer work:

wj: I do think that the universities are quite able to teach this skill. After all, engineering schools have been doing it forever. It's just that the idea of doing so hasn't been rolled over into the IT departments.

Engineering isn’t the only discipline that tries to teach this skill. I give you The Beer Game.

I’m so old I learned to program before “Hello World” was the standard starting point. Either that or I’m so old I’ve forgotten it.

My first exposure to programming was in an NSF summer program for high school kids in 1967. Then I learned Fortran as an undergrad. I’m so old it was punch cards, there was no console (at least for us peons) to write “Hello World” to.

After various professional and educational wanderings, I worked for many years as a "programmer" (yes, that was the label). The companies I worked for were small, and I started so long ago that I did the whole gamut of what would now be a number of jobs: writing specs, coding, testing, writing manuals, training users.... Back in the Wild West days, you might say. I was never trained to do any of it, beyond the Fortran course and one other (which I'll get back to).

Now I am a kind of “fill in the blanks” person at the company I’ve worked for (early on, when my kids were small, as a very part-time contractor) since 1986. I’m sliding toward retirement while doing a variety of things, but none of them straightforward coding any longer, unless fancy Excel macros count. Mostly I’m a bridge between old worlds and new, especially in relation to databases and how they embody solutions to problems.

I get frustrated with “coders” for the reasons russell, cleek, wj, and hsh have mentioned. When this first started happening I was surprised that people who could write programs could also be so blockheaded, because when I started doing it, I think it was precisely the people who were naturally good at problem-solving who took to computers. I myself have had a hard time learning to “write” specs for other people, because so much of my understanding of a problem and how to solve it is intuitive. I have to slow down, break it down, make it explicit, and it’s a frustrating process. I wasn’t trained to write code, but I did it pretty well for a long time. I’m also not trained to write specs for coders, and I’m not so naturally good at that.

Weird.

Anyhow, my only other formal training was Stu Madnick’s “Systems Programming” course at MIT, which I took when I was about thirty, after I had been programming for a living for several years already. When I was an undergrad, the course was notorious as “6.251” in the MIT numbering system, renowned as one of the hardest courses at the Institute. Course 6 is Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, but in the intervening years between about 1970 and about 1980, Madnick had had some kind of disagreement with EECS and moved himself over to the Sloan School. So “Systems Programming” was no longer 6.251 (EECS), it was 15.251 (Management).

Which, to bring it back full circle, is the environment where they use The Beer Game as an intro to problem-solving.

I think of business school as an empty credential, but maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty.

(I did very well in 15.251 as a thirty-year-old working person. Which only goes to prove that college is wasted on the young. ;-)

MIT footnote: MIT can be wonderful and it can be brutal. Some people thrive there, others struggle. But one way I summarize it in elevator speech for is that it is heaven on earth for people who love solvable problems.

Unfortunately, a lot of people who are really really good at solving solvable problems imagine that there isn't any other kind.

That's one of the reasons russell is one of my idols...he knows that there are solvable ones and the other kind. (And please don't tell him that jazz does nothing for me.)

And please don't tell him that jazz does nothing for me.)

I would consider this as a potentially solvable problem..

Btw, this is my favorite thread ever. Thanks JanieM and russell.

I'll requote the bolded parts of the Lordon:

"when they understand that the truly good is what one must wish for others to possess at the same time as oneself."

"which can therefore be genuinely produced and enjoyed in common, namely, rid of the capturing efforts of individual desires that the passionate life otherwise keeps recreating"

...and let others apply it to the historical patriarchal gendered roles. There are reasons women are a minority in socialist circles.

Of course, misanthropy, asceticism, and celibacy have very commonly been interpreted as misogyny, as if the essence of "woman" is desiring and being desired. Why the hell should priests marry anyway?

I don't put full blame elsewhere, part of my life has been dedicated to being undesirable and unattractive. Many people do take that as a personal insult. Re-gender that and think about it.

Most men I've met are mere tools: dildoes, sperm and money banks, and magic mirrors. They are allowed to play intellectual games and die in wars. Never had any use for them.

8 years of Berkeley and I am asked to simplify my language. I can recognize a gross opening insult when I read one and chose to respond in kind.

Unfortunately, a lot of people who are really really good at solving solvable problems imagine that there isn't any other kind

I think this is profoundly true, and a source of great trouble in the world. Not to say that an insoluble problem cannot be changed somewhat for the better, but that's a different thing.

Utterly OT, but this is an open thread (?), here's a rather amusing account of the very uncomfortable to watch, disastrous speech by the UK's (probably soon to be ex) PM:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/04/boris-lion-king-to-theresa-may-p45-malarial-week-tory-conference

Marty, thanks in return. I should have mentioned you in my list of people who had talked about training software people in problem-solving.

As to the solvable problem of learning to appreciate jazz...maybe. Under russell's guidance, who knows what could happen.

Meanwhile, I am biting my pixelated tongue on a screed about music. Maybe it can be a post for another time. As shorthand for now: maybe jazz is unsolvability made creative, whereas I like simple-minded (i.e. solvable) folk music chords. I think I quoted Woody Guthrie here, or somewhere, recently about playing whole songs in G and D and "back to greasy G." That's about the size of it for me.

P.S. I also meant to say that cleek's 1:18 is a classic for the ages.

JanieM, I love folk, my playlists are full of singer/songwriters, Kris Kristofferson wrote most of my favorite songs of all time.

One of my early jobs was to service fire extinguishers, which meant we had large co2 bottles and I provided smoke for a few concerts, one was Weather Report, so I watched from nackstage and was happy when I could take my bottles and go home.

Fast forward a few decades and I saw Pat Metheny at a pretty small venue in NYC, it struck me that I was able to feel the structure underlying what was going on. So I quit listening for the song. It was really moving.

Then of course there is Rickie Lee Jones and Leon Russell,who led me there from elsewhere, and a whole history of jazz where the song defies rhythm, but is awesome nonetheless.

All to say I was a latecomer to jazz really and only have scratched the surface.

So I understand.


I am biting my pixelated tongue on a screed about music

I would love to read that.

Me too

I was able to feel the structure underlying what was going on. So I quit listening for the song

There ya go.

I like jazz, I know more about jazz than the average layman, I've studied it and worked hard at it but not consistently enough or long enough to be a player. On vibes, anyway, on drum kit I can hang at a pretty good amateur level.

But what I know and understand about it is actually pretty small.

My elevator pitch about what jazz is, is this:

Jazz is a style (or a spectrum of styles), and it's also a way of making music. Nowadays the spectrum of styles is so broad that it's mostly a way of making music.

As a way of making music, the way jazz works is this: given some musical material - a song, a rhythm, a pattern of chord changes, whatever - a group of players explore that material in real time. And the process of exploration is conversational, so that what one guy plays may be a response to what someone else plays.

What do you think of this chord?
I like it, but I think I will add these notes to it.
Oh, I like that! How about this?

And so on.

If you think of it as a conversation, it makes more sense.

One problem with jazz is that a lot of players like to show off. Which is annoying. It can take lot of work to learn, and there's often a kind of macho thing where players want to show you all their chops, all the time.

It's off-putting.

It can take a long time to learn what not to play, and to recognize when you've said enough.

this seems like a good place to mention that my dear wife got me the super-bonus expanded ultimate obsessive edition of Kind Of Blue for my birthday last week.

i don't even come close to knowing how to play the stuff on there. but what that they do on that record - more than anyone else does on any other jazz record i have - is to make so much of what they play sound natural and simple and organic. it feels, to me, like all of that is within my reach if i just got the right people in the right mood in the right room. but that's the magic. it took the greatest players of that era to make what i could never play - even if i spent my whole life trying - sound simple.

Property is theft, which includes intellectual property (what is in your head) and frankly personal relationships. The Communist Manifesto called for the end of marriage, in 1848.

This always seems like total BS. But then, I have limited patience with the "the world owes me a living" mindset. Not because I object to supporting those in need, but because I see no reason to support those who simply refuse to exert themselves.

And especially, to characterize marriage as theft seems to me to require both experience of a very unhappy marriage and lack of experience of a happy one. I can only feel enormous sympathy for anyone who has been so afflicted.

If you think of it as a conversation, it makes more sense.

I love listening to jazz. Also classical music. I like all genres of music, actually, but find jazz (and some 20th classical) to be immediately meaningful, especially live.

Some music (for me) needs to be heard over and over again before it means something to me. Often, jazz is just a conversation I want to hear before it happens, anticipating the next comment.

I feel like I missed appreciating Tom Petty and Prince. I liked them both, and saw Tom Petty in concert, but the time when they were becoming well known was a time that I was very isolated, and dealing with that by studying classical music (and piano). I'm not good at talking about music and literature, but it's so vital to me. And still so mysteriously so.

In mourning the fact that I didn't really feel that I knew Tom Petty and Prince well enough, I was going on a youtube tear, and found this. Yes, Prince was showing off (is that what you meant, russell?) But holy moly for anyone witnessing it.

Many rock musicians who came to the fore prior to 1975 or so, when I lost the rock and roll thread, I loved (including Steve Winwood, whom I saw in concert with Eric Clapton a few years ago - unforgettable performance in London). Maybe I'll spend some time trying to catch up.

I knew what video you linked before I opened it, sapient. I was never all that into Prince, but I thought it was pretty obvious that he was a musical genius.

Yeah, hsh. But with what russell said, I'm wondering what those other rather good guitarists were thinking, as the audience was thinking Whoa! Sometimes virtuosity has to leave behind virtue.

Prince and Whitney Houston are two musicians I got more acquainted with only after they died. I had seen the video sapient linked after Prince died, and showing off or not, one thing that shines through is what a blast they were all having playing together.

Another musician I didn't know until relatively recently, and who thankfully is still with us, is Mark Knopfler. With him I've had the odd experience of watching a lot of YouTube video and getting acquainted with him first as an older guy (he's just a little older than I am), and only then going back to his Dire Straits days and seeing him as the skinny kid that he was.

Whitney Houston singing the national anthem. Her voice is otherworldly, I just can't believe it.

"Going Home", the theme song from Local Hero, for which Knopfler did the music, is an all-time favorite. For a while there was a YouTube clip with the last few minutes of the movie, plus the credits, and that music. Then it was blocked for copyright reasons. As was my favorite clip of him doing "Done with Bonaparte" with Emmylou Harris. There are still a lot of renditions of both songs available, but I have to actually watch the movie now to get the full effect of "Going Home."

I've also watched some documentary video about/with Knopfler. He's interesting when he's talking, too.

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