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December 10, 2023


God bless the United States of America and its 45+ percent of eligible voters who are like "Fascism? Hell yeah!"


I wonder how many of them even have a clue what Fascism is. I'm 100% sure most of them don't know what socialism is (was; might be; etc.). (It's the "gummint"! Taxes! Collective action! Libraries! Good roads! Heaven forfend!)

If they do have a clue, then the classic mindest holds: "They'll go after everyone I hate, but certainly not me and mine." And for a lot of them, in some ways that will be true.

And of course there are those who have a perfectly clear clue, and can't wait. There's a Neo-Nazi group training in Maine ... they've sold one piece of land because they had gotten too much bad pub, but they say they've got other places, and I'm sure they do. Plus, I'm sure they're not the only ones.

What to do? I have no idea.

Murica missed that train a century ago and the Right never forgave FDR for that (Gabriel not being over the White House it seems). Now fascism has come into fashion again (Retro!) and the Right fears it will again blow its chance (or worse, blow itself up without at least taking the opposition with it). They are already too late to play the new avantgarde and have to look with envy to Hungary and Russia (Poland could be even getting out of it already). How can you be surprised that they are anxious? Another failure and it could take another century before Brigadoon's evil twin town reappears.

To be honest, ammonia as a fuel sounds rather absurd to me given how irritant, toxic and corrosive the stuff is. And not really nicer when liquified. I think it will take quite some time to make that a practical solution fory everyday use. Not a great fan of methanol fuel cells either. The moment one has a tank with an actively noxious fuel of low boiling point, I see trouble coming, in particular if it is moving at high speed on a regular base (i.e. cars). Will we have to add gas masks to safety belts and airbags? Or should we switch to ejection seats instead.

God bless the United States of America and its 45+ percent of eligible voters who are like "Fascism? Hell yeah!"

I agree with Janie that most of them wouldn't be able to define the word. But then, I suspect that a majority of those on the left, even among those who denounce the right for it, couldn't manage an accurate definition either. Sort of like the right and "socialism" it's simply "whatever Those People are in favor of."

But beyond that, I doubt that all of them, or even a majority, would favor fascism or anything like it if it was laid out for them. Some enthuse about TIFG as entertainment -- what else are politicians for, after all? Or they support the GOP out of habit/tribalism.

Or they have a couple of issues they care about (which they think conservatives/reactionaries support), and simply ignore the rest of the package as (relatively) unimportant. They might well be appalled by those other policies, but they just don't notice.

Take the loudly proclaimed intention, by some Congressmen and Senators, to gut Social Security. Many of those of their constituents who voted for them would freak out if they thought it was happening. But, as with Roe, they just assume it won't happen so they treat those statements is irrelevant noise. As we saw when Dobbs came down, they turn out for initiatives to reverse those things. But do so while, in many cases, still supporting those who made the laws they abhor. My guess is that they view those as anomalies, and not integral to the package.

It's not "Fascism? Hell, yeah!" More like "Fascism? Huh?" Call it blissful ignorance. Combined with their demonstrated difficulty in believing that hardly anybody important really believes things significantly different than what their own social circle does. (That's why the election must have been stolen somehow.)

ammonia as a fuel sounds rather absurd to me given how irritant, toxic and corrosive the stuff is. And not really nicer when liquified. I think it will take quite some time to make that a practical solution fory everyday use.

More like never. Make that Never!

Nitrous oxides give us fun stuff like smog and acid rain. And that's where the nitrogen in ammonia goes when burned. We went to a lot of trouble to get rid of those byproducts once. No way we want to even consider making them again.

Unfortunately the 'Left' (many decades ago and led by the communist regimes in Eastern Europe) made 'fascist' an equivalent of what 'woke' is for US reactionaries (or 'antisemitic' for Israeli rightwingers and their associates), i.e. a general purpose attack word that has lost all specific meaning. And for the wider public fascist =!= Nazi*. With the GOP leadership not wearing swastika armbands (at least in public) that excludes them from that category (from the US public POV). And it is futile to even try to explain what particular brand of fascism it resembles most (not Nazism but austrofascism, with a dose of Italian theatralics mainly limited to His Orangeness**).

*I am of the school that thinks that despite great overlap Nazism and fascism are not simply the same. (Original) Nazism has some elements that the other classic fascist regimes abhorred (relatively high social mobility, hostility towards all organized religion plus a few other things) and on the other hand went far beyond in other (evil) aspects that are not at the core of 'normal' fascism (e.g. going from the typical - even quintessential - discrimination and persecution of designated groups to systematic industrial genocide at all costs even undermining the war effort).

**admittedly, Kimberly Guilfoyle tried a full Nuremberg Rally impression once

I thought about the nitrous oxides too but I think that part will be the easiest to solve. Usually it takes some efforts to not go straight through to nitrogen and water. Nitric acid from ammonia needs a catalyst and careful control of conditions. I do not know, whether ammonia motor tech aims at combustion or at fuel cells, admittedly. I see the main trouble with the ammonia itself and how to safely handle and contain it.

Speaking of fascism in the US, I just finished Ben Lerner's semi-autobiographical "The Topeka School" in which he attempts, among a few other things, to trace the origins of the current malaise by describing the abuse of speech and the radical polarization of public discourse. (He was National Debate champion in his youth.)


Some concerns and predictions for AI in 2024.

• AI Influencers & Verification
• Scams & Verification
• Advanced Robotics
• Realtime Conversations
• First Videogame NPCS
• Autonomous Agents
• AI Warfare
• Text To Video
• Next Gen AI - New Architecture
• Offline LLMs

2024 AI : 10 Things Coming In 2024 (A.I In 2024 Major Predictions) (YouTube)

Here is an example of an artificial voice trained on an actual person's voice. In this case, it's the voice of Katherine Mangu-Ward the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine. It sounds much more real than the purely artificial voices.

You could get a phone call claiming to be from someone you know and you wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't from them.

Podcast: The Best of Reason Magazine: A weekly selection from Reason—the magazine of free minds and free markets—read by AI.

It's not Fascism unless it's from the Fascist regions of Yurp, it's just Sparkling Authoritarianism.

You could get a phone call claiming to be from someone you know and you wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't from them.

From the voice. But, at least with the people I know, within two sentences we're talking about something. And an AI would be hard pressed to maintain the illusion; it just wouldn't have the background, the context.

wj - the danger of this sort of AI is how it will be used for propaganda and disinformation purposes. There is no need to maintain an illusion in order to impersonate someone long-term. What we will have instead is open season on disinformation with the usual assholes producing fake "evidence" that all the horrible things we believe about The Other Side are 100% true.

Even better, once enough people on The Other Side are screaming and yelling about AI Deepfakes, you can flip the script and use the work they do to undermine the fakes as rhetorical tools for injecting doubt into any discussion about actual things Your People said that aren't playing well with the public.

People are highly motivated to maintain the worldview on which their political identities rest, and they will seek out information that helps them protect their biases. Especially true for those with low media literacy, and strongest there at either end of the voting age continuum.

Perfect environment for deepening our regime cleavage and pushing polarization to the point of violence.

And I know that a lot of this has been true of the past as well, but the pace and volume of the disinformation is too great for our usual defenses to keep up with the effects.

The problem is not AI per se. The problem is the way AI will empower assholes like Bannon and Jones, and captivate bored edgelords like Musk.

The "move fast and break things" strategy from the Altman story in the OP.

Things are already pretty broken.

You could get a phone call claiming to be from someone you know and you wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't from them.

Ask "how do we know each other?".

You could get a phone call claiming to be from someone you know and you wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't from them.

It's a big leap from "doesn't sound like a machine" to imitating the timbre, cadence, idiom, and on and on, of a person I know and have talked to before. Color me very, very, very skeptical. Actually, "skeptical" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Also, what wj and russell said.

I cannot resist quoting one of my favorite Internet resources, the Alice and Bob After Dinner Speech.

The telephone is also very noisy. Often the interference is so bad that Alice and Bob can hardly hear each other. On top of that Alice and Bob have very powerful enemies. One of their enemies is the Tax Authority. Another is the Secret Police. This is a pity, since their favorite topics of discussion are tax frauds and overthrowing the government.

These enemies have almost unlimited resources. They always listen in to telephone conversations between Alice and Bob. And these enemies are very sneaky. One of their favorite tricks is to telephone Alice and pretend to be Bob.

Well, you think, so all Alice has to do is listen very carefully to be sure she recognizes Bob's voice. But no. You see Alice has never met Bob. She has no idea what his voice sounds like.

I have a standing bet with my son that I will live long enough to see the first "Best Synthetic Actor" award given. Optimistically I still have 20 years to go.

I'm sure Donald (maybe others) will think, "Yeah. Duh!" But I, in my ignorance, was surprised to find this from damned near 6 years ago(!) while looking for more on the latest story about the Israeli government allowing Qatar to funnel cash to Hamas (or actively assisting, even - a second link below on that).



I had some vague knowledge that they viewed Hamas as a foil of sorts, but I didn't know how far it went.

Hsh— I knew Bibi played divide and conquer but not to the extent it turns out he was doing.

Also, in one respect I was as dumb as Bibi. I thought Hamas had become pragmatic. It was Islamic Jihad that seemed to be the hotheads. But I have a better excuse— if someone told me Hamas guys were playing with hang gliders I would have suspected something.

Donald and hsh: yes, Bibi has in effect been funding, and certainly backing, Hamas. His calculation that this would keep the establishment of a Palestinian state out of reach notwithstanding, I am told that Israeli anger against him for this, and the intelligence failures, is strong.

Donald, you were not alone. One of my best-informed friends, very active in the pro-Palestinian fight, was telling me Hamas was pragmatic a mere few months ago.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: this from today's Guardian gives a steer on how Mike Johnson might face trouble at the next congressional elections:


Meanwhile, back at the ranch: this from today's Guardian gives a steer on how Mike Johnson might face trouble at the next congressional elections

It seems unlikely that he might get beaten in a Republican primary by someone who cares about climate, polution, etc. Not impossible, perhaps, but unlikely. Which means that it's only trouble if a) the Democrats in Louisiana bestir themselves to run someone against him this time, and b) a significant number of Republican voters overcome their tribal ties to vote for a Democrat.

Sure, it could happen. After all, a Democrat won a Senate seat from Alabama not that long ago. But I certainly wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

Real news from fake people instead of fake news from real people?

"See the highest quality AI footage in the world.

🤯 - Our generated anchors deliver stories that are informative, heartfelt and entertaining.

Watch the showcase episode of our upcoming news network now."
Channel 1

Ask "how do we know each other?".

Ask them to send you money.

I thought Hamas had become pragmatic

The question as to when political violence is deemed both useful and acceptable is, as they say, fraught. For example, most of us are not aware of how violent our own revolutionary war was. It was actually a civil war in many respects, and actually quite nasty. Thousands of Tories fled to Canada to avoid persecution...all because the revolutionists didn't want to pay a few taxes (an American tradition it would seem). The recent discussion at LGM about the Algerian war of independence and the bombing of civillians raised a lot of hackles.

And we annihilated many thousands of innocents civillians with just two bombs in WWII. But hey, we are told we had to.

So if I may digress a little from the usual condemnation of hamas (yes, it was a horrible crime-don't get me wrong), consider:
1. Israel was playing a false game with respect to any sort of a two state solution.
2. Israel has, by far, overwhelming advantage in arms and military might.
3. The settler movement is gobbling up the West Bank.
4. Gaza is a mass prison in all but name.
5. A diplomatic approachment as between the Saudis and Israel was in the works, effectively acting to undermine Arab support for the Palestinian cause?

So it would seem the chances of actual Palestinian liberation were, simply put, being slowly but inexorably extinguished.

What's to be done? Sign petitions?

Right now, I do not see an elegant and humane way out of this mess.

To add to Bobby's point: Israel is holding thousands of hostages, has been for years. Their "judicial" system allows for the indefinite incarceration without charges or trial of Palestinian including children for crimes as slight as throwing a rock at an illegal settler engaged in land theft. Palestinians have been the targets of violence and harassment--undeterred by the Netanyahu regime--as part of on-going ethnic cleansing. The only thing that surprises me is how much restraint and resilience Palestinians have, in general, shown.

I wonder how many Palestinians have developed emotional disorders due to chronic stress and trauma. What are the children of Gaza going to be like as they grow up? Will they develope the generational trauma phenomenon Native Americans are coping with? Displaced, dispossessed, delegitimized, demeaned in every way, subjected to relentless violence...

My primary concern about ammonia fuel is the overall efficiency. Whatever the manufacturing process for ammonia is, more energy has to go in than is released when the ammonia is burned ("In this household, we obey the laws of thermodynamics"). However you burn it, thermal efficiency is a limiting factor and at best 40-50% of the energy is lost as waste heat. Assume the energy input is electricity. The day is in sight when an energy storage method -- which is what manufactured liquid fuels is -- with a round-trip loss of 60% is useful in only a very small number of places.

Since it's an open thread... I'm having to figure out how to cut foam board to size to mount drawings/posters on. I spent a couple hours going around the house and finding every sort of cutting edge I could. Utility knives of different sorts, single-edged razor blades both naked and in various holders, rotary fabric cutters, etc. Hands down the best tool I found for the job is the 100+ year old straight razor my grandfather left me. The one that I've never been brave enough to try on my face.


Texas and California??? join forces.

Nope, nope, not going to get roped into silly partition scenarios today.

Rudy Giuliani has just been ordered by jury to pay 148 million $$ in damages in his defamation trial.
Let's see by what shenanigans he will (at least try to) get out of it. Mental unfitness/insanity perhaps?
I have no idea what options of appeal he has. Plus his ability to pay his own lawyers was in doubt even before the verdict. And the two women he defamed would have good standing for a secound round since Rudy revoked his earlier revocation of his wild claims and doubled down on them right before the jury started debating the amounts he has to pay (the guilty verdict was in long before due to an earlier blunder by team Giuliani).
No sympathies from my side.
I assume the two ladies would prefer to get their old life back. What use is even such an amount of money (if they ever even get it), if they still have to essentially stay in hiding and regularly change their outer appearance because of radicalized MAGAts that threaten to lynch them?

I, for one, look forward to Rudy having difficulties paying for a cardboard box to live in, under a highway overpass.

He can fight TFG for a curtainrod to roast sparrows on, once TFG is also suitably impoverished.

What use is even such an amount of money (if they ever even get it)

Of course they won't get it. He doesn't have it, and even if he did, presumably he'd stonewall til he died (hey, if Alex Jones can do it).

I'm with Snarki.

The inability of the Deep State to track down and jail the anonymous assholes threatening these two heroes mocks the assertion of its existence. Baby steps.

I assume the two ladies would prefer to get their old life back. What use is even such an amount of money (if they ever even get it), if they still have to essentially stay in hiding and regularly change their outer appearance because of radicalized MAGAts that threaten to lynch them?

Assuming they get all of it, they can adopt the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

I was once at a conference where Gordon Moore spoke while he was still head of Intel. I happened to be sitting where I could see the hall where he left. He had two large bulky gentlemen in suits with him, each with a clear plastic wire to an earbud. Gordon stopped at the restroom. One of the men went in first, came out after a moment and the two men waited outside while Gordon used the facilities. They turned away at least one person who wanted in.

They'll have to compete with lots of other people who have legitimate claims on Rudy's money. Their lawyer said in an MSNBC interview that he's already working on that while also emphasising that the money is not what really matters for his clients and that it can't undo the lasting damage to them who have to live in what is in essence a witness protection program. Btw, it's not just them alone, the younger lady's school-age son suffered also from constant terror through his cellphone.

Freenan and Moss are apparently not done, and I hope they bankrupt a whole bunch of assholes along the way.

"That is tomorrow's work," Ruby Freeman said at the end of that clip. And ever other day after that until the end of the world, sad to say.

PS hat tip to Anne Laurie at BJ.

Something completely different: Does anyone here know whether it is true or just a (rather credible) hoax that "Deck the halls" is banned in Florida schools now?
I found several accounts of the lyrics censored/changed in other places in the US (not by state authorities but by individual teachers, churches and at least one company (on Xmas cards)*) but could not say for sure whether claims about Florida's governor pushing the same were true, predictive or satirical.

*also one report about it being done by Disney at at least one event in Florida.

Hartmut -- thanks for a good morning potential rabbit hole. ;-)

I googled for 30 seconds (okay, maybe two minutes), then said to myself, "priorities" and went and did yesterday's dishes.

As to Florida schools, it seems to me that if there had been a statewide, government-mandated ban, you should be able to find a credible source. Emphasis on "credible." (I wouldn't put it past DeSantis, but amidst the firehose of assholery he and his minions have perpetrated, this might have gotten lost in the muck.)

As for the rest of it, especially "individual teachers" (all of us have had experiences with many types of those), it seems like this story could be summed up as: there are 340 million people in the US. Some of them are teachers. Some of those are bigoted idiots. Some of them are just idiots.

As for Disney -- I saw one source that was not a major news site or an official Disney site, which had a disclaimer saying that the information wasn't official and came from (unnamed, of course) individual visitors to the parks. Make of that what you will.

And btw, even usually credible sources swallow nonsense and pass it on these days.... There was a fairly recent example (past few months), but I don't have time to track it down.

All part of the nefarious scheme to ban "Falalalala la la la la". It's just the next step before banning "hey nonny nonny", as part of cleaning up the English language.

It all starts with removing the word "gullible" from the dictionary.

It all starts with removing the word "gullible" from the dictionary.

Or better to shift its meaning completely. There must be a place in maritime ornithology for it. Or something to do with sinkholes.

Or something to do with gullets, like guttural was to do with guts.

Thanks for this Janie, I'm totally empty on topics.

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