The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Police Abolition Principles


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 16, 2023


  1. Trinity

    “This is how the Information Age ends, and it’s happening right now. In the last 12 months, the garbage infows into our culture have increased exponentially. As a result, nothing is harder to find now than actual information—which I define as “knowledge based on demonstrable or reliable facts.”

    The result is a crisis of trust unlike anything seen before in modern history.”

    But I do trust Ian.

  2. Willy

    I once used Wikipedia as my backup for an opinion I had. That place seemed to have as good a batting average for truth and facts as anybody else did, what with their various policies of using footnotes and being able to call out the veracity of articles into question and all.

    My interlocuter loudly scoffed and called my entire opinion irrelevant since I’d referred to Wikipedia. I tried again with one of the factchecker websites but got the loud scoffing again. My interlocuter’s own sole information resource was a widely discredited conspiracy and opinion website.

    From that point on my interlocuter used various ad hominems against me, backing them up with the fact that I’d referred to Wikipedia and fact-checker websites, as proof positive that little of what I’d say was ever going to be reliable.

    I seem to recall that in a previous, better-managed information age, people like that would have been discredited almost immediately. It seems not so much in our current age, especially if they claim to have a lot of money.

  3. Willy

    Meanwhile out in meatspace, I’ve noticed that the unflappably hyperconfident ubermensch has intentionally lied to me far more often than the oddball with the weird tics and BPD emotions. Or maybe I should say far worse, for me. I also tend to trust the humble rational who’s big into just laying low, minding their own business, and doing a good job.

    I think the ubermensch doesn’t have the altruism which gets developed from periods of struggle, anxiety and depression. They’re going to be mostly best-survival impulses which consist of power and control ambitions. The more honest folks are going to be far more empathically “we’re all in this together”.

    Yet most average people seem to want (or need) that savior, unbeatable warrior, daddy figure, or Dear Leader who can do no wrong and (they hope) will send some of their excess ubermenschness down to them. And of course we’re also being conditioned to believe that way by our current PTB. As if an expensive-suit-wearing, glad-handing, baby-kissing, fast-talking bullshit artist is something we all should aspire to. Me, I’d rather trust the guy who admits he’s just doing the best he can but can screw up sometimes. And that guy usually appears “normal” to me.

  4. Chuck Mire

    Ronald Wright, “A Short History of Progress”

    The complete audiobook: (4:32:42)

    The twentieth century was a time of runaway growth in human population, consumption, and technology, placing a colossal load on all natural systems, especially earth, air, and water—the very elements of life. The most urgent questions of the twenty-first century are: where will this growth lead? Can it be consolidated or sustained? And what kind of world is our present bequeathing to our future?

    In A Short History of Progress, Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age, can we recognize the experiment’s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.

  5. mago

    “Meatspace” is an offensive descriptive in my humble estimation.
    Maybe not so humble. Don’t know.

    It doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes I wonder what happened to past frequent commenters here with their pithy insights such as Astrid and ChePasa. Alienated? Preoccupied?
    Ill? Dead?

    Doesn’t matter.

    The above mentioned commentators who seem to have checked out from this site occupy a higher pay scale than me.

    But you know, we all die in the end.

    In the meantime it’s summertime in the northern latitudes.
    Enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it.

  6. bruce wilder

    I think I may have linked to Honest Broker’s 30 ways essay a couple of weeks ago and I have had some time to reflect on it. My first reaction was to note that he didn’t feature among his count the efforts of the intelligence agencies to make possession of the facts they assemble a privilege prohibited by criminal law to most.

    Honest Broker seems to think the effect of an erosion of the resources allocated for verification and integrity is to destroy trust. Upon reflection, I think the effect is more psychological.

    I have never experienced sensory deprivation that I can recall, but I understand that the brain/mind is an active even aggressive agent in assembling meaningful experience from sensory experience and in filtering and interpreting the stream of data flowing in from the senses, the mind/brain is not shy about imposing its own expectations and filling in where pieces might be missing or “noisy”. In the absence of sensory experience, the mind/brain will hallucinate just to keep busy.

    What Honest Broker notes sounds like the opposite of deprivation; it sounds like a flood of information of dubious quality. Far from having too little to process, the brain seems to have too much to sort out. I wonder if having too much to do makes the brain want to just give up. Or find some other way to simplify. Kind of the opposite of hallucinate; instead of seeing what isn’t there when nothing is being seen, the mind ignores the complexity of what is there and can be seen thru a glass darkened by conflicting narratives and careless claims as to fact, in order to avoid the cognitive load of processing, discernment and judgment.

    Over the weekend, I saw snippets of Tucker Carlson speaking and interviewing Presidential aspirants at the Turning Point Action meeting — a confab of activist Republicans apparently. Tucker is not someone I would understand to share many of my political desiderata. But I am guessing many saw him set Pence up for self-destruction.

    My discomfort with Tucker is attached to his mastery of the dark arts of propaganda. That the American culture is poisoned by an excess of salesmanship — the poison is surely in the size of the dose — is a given. Much of what Honest Broker complains about is salesmanship and manipulative propagandizing overwhelming the barriers once erected to control that flood. But, I admired the form Tucker brings to his game, the self-deprecation and the simplicity of principles.

    I saw also RFK Jr walk into the antisemitism buzz saw with his remarks about the COVID virus and racial differences in genetic susceptibility. Marginalization 101.

  7. Willy

    “Meatspace” is an offensive descriptive in my humble estimation.

    Easier to say than “that place where reality doesn’t care if you believe in it or not”.

    Whoever invented that word made it a play on the word “cyberspace’. More accurate for me would be to call it “Willyspace”, but too many seem to want to attack honesty just to score a couple points. Plus I was a fan of the “Lawnmower Man” movie.

    Still, anybody got a better term? I’m a big fan of ‘replacing before discarding’. It seems more practical to walk around my “whateverspace” wearing a decrepit old pair of duct-taped shoes, than in just my socks, while looking for a better pair of shoes.

    We were told why Astrid left. Che had physical issues and I hope he’s alright. I know that Webstir has a day job which keeps him busy. And Ten Bears disappeared after a nefarious few started calling him Ten Beers. As for the rest, I dunno.

  8. Jorge

    David Graeber (and to a lesser extend Michael Hudson) have talked about a very particular economic cycle that the Sumerian kingdoms did over and over: the govt. lent money to farmers, the farmers got in too much debt and could not pay, the farmers had no money for seed/labor/etc. and stopped farming, and food supplies crashed. Answer: Jubilee! Free the farmers from debt, let them get back to farming, and once again there is food.

    The Philippines have just gone through one iteration of this cycle.

  9. Curt Kastens

    Are You A Pessimist Yet?

    I have no way of verifying the information presnted in the link above. It does sound plausible to me. As far as resource deplition goes, I knew that things were bad. But if this video presents an accurate picture, things are much worse than I realized.

  10. capelin

    Good read of Tucker, I think.

    Hopefully RFK Jr at least dulled the saw; although we all know that the big powers would never, ever research anything like that.

    Yeah, he says what he thinks, including a lot of things that conventional wisdom would suggest not be said if your running for prez.

    Which is true, till it isn’t. Think T-rump.

    People are tired of polished turds.

  11. Z

    The timing of the bombing of Kerch Bridge and the renewal date of the Black Sea Grain Initiative has made me suspicious. Russia didn’t renew it, which is a predictable consequence of the attack on the bridge that supposedly came from a drone that was launched from a commercial vessel in the Black Sea.

    If Russia impedes the flow of grain in the Black Sea it now creates the potential pretense of preventing world hunger for NATO to establish a military presence in precious Odessa. The U.S. can drive up the price of grain with their paper money games to create a food inflation crisis.

    Tensions are building up in Syria and Iran. The U.S. is snarling in Syria, bitching about Russian interference to their wanton theft of Syrian oil and food, and also sending an aircraft carrier to the Strait of Hormuz to supposedly prevent the Iranians from seizing commercial oil ships.

    China is going to have to decide soon whether or not to get involved in any of this. If they don’t, they risk Russia getting stretched too thin and possibly standing by idly while an important ally, Iran, is overwhelmed by Israel and the U.S..


  12. Curt Kastens

    I saw this video on Youtube today. The purpose of the video was to convince me that the Russians blew up the dam on the Dnieper River. Of course on aspect of the video was to point out all of the ways that the Ukraine was damaged by the destruction of this dam. But when I weigh what they pointed out by all of the ways that Russia was damaged by the destruction of the dam I think that Russia was damaged even more.
    The result of watching this video is that while I can not even say for sure that the dam was actually blown instead of failing due to previous damage, if it was actually blown up I think that another nation in addition to the Ukraine and Russia need to be added to the suspect list. That nation is of course the United States. They would have had the means and oppotunity to do it. The motive is a bit trickier. The destruction of the dam clearly hurt Russia. But that damage has to be measured against possible alternative opportunity costs. Did the destruction of the dam in any way limit Ukraines war fighting options that might have harmed Russia even more?
    I think that the United States destroying the dam with out the prior knowledge of the Ukrianian government is the most likely scenario out of four likely scenarios.
    I hope that the divers who pulled it off are proud of themselves.

  13. Z

    Unsurprisingly, the Weekend at Biden’s production team’s student debt forgiveness bill got overturned by the Supreme Court. This was as expected because you knew the script writers of Weekend at Biden’s would structure the bill so that it would inevitably be ousted once it was challenged.

    It’s smiles all across the aisle now as Let Them Eat Shit Mitch’s old handie-man, The Lead Stiff of Weekend at Biden’s, gets cast into his favorite role, the one he revels in the most, as the failed “hero” comforting the people he covertly screwed over and gets to sink his needy beak into some forty-five year old woman’s hair, who still owes over one hundred and twenty thousand dollars in student loans, while he leeches some empathy from her by whispering into her ear about how disappointed he is on account of how hard he worked getting it passed. Poor Joe. Mr. Tears and Suffering ( It always seems to hurt Joe the most.

    Then The Lead Stiff (him/was) will give a cynical wink to his sponsors as he staggers away, who, as strict adherents to the core principles of Biden-omics, will in turn feed the neediest beak of all, the nose of the man who got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Burisma for breathing, maybe millions, and whose snout still ran an operating loss for most of those years, and subsequently raise their bids on Hunter’s latest paint bubble-blowing pieces.


  14. Z

    Blow! (2023)
    by Hunter Biden
    Cocaine. Whores. Seedy deals. And then redemption …
    An inspiring autobiography by our country’s First Son who recounts his meteoric rise from the ashes of crack and the woes of lost laptops to the accidental discovery of an innate talent to blow paint bubbles and then his rapid ascension to the world’s most commercially successful paint bubble-blowing artiste.

    Cover art: “Tunnels to Infinity” by Hunter Biden (2022)


  15. bruce wilder

    The Ukraine dam being blown is too timely to be unintentional.

    I saw an American civil engineering fanboy comment that he suspects whoever does not expect to be on the hook for rebuilding that dam someday, an enormous undertaking.

    Like the decision to use cluster bombs, it suggests that one side does not expect to secure possession at the end of the war.

  16. Z

    Excerpt from Blow!:

    Well Hunter, I hope you found your artistic niche here this time, boy my Dad said and reached over and gave me a supportive slap on the thigh. I hope this is the one he went on and then silently gazed out on the lawn with his flinty eyes for a few solemn seconds. Cause if it ain’t, we got some problems, son. The only thing left is finger-painting and that’s going to be a lot harder to sell.


  17. Curt Kastens

    I had an interesting converstation today. The subject was, do doomers do even more damage to the battle to save the enviroment than climate change denialists.
    The correct answer is clearly no. But not for the reason that you the reader might think. The reason the answer is no because neither climate denialism, or climate doomerism, will have any more effect on humanities future than the hoped for plans of climate activists.

    Macro economic system decisions are not made by climate deniers. They are made by people who do not consider the environmental consequences of the decisions that they make. Because the problems are a problem of public goods. The same can be said about doomers. Those making decisions in Ryhad, Moscow, and BP, and Cheveron do not watch doomer youtube videos.

    But more importantly climate activists are largely lying to themselves, and to the world society. They promote policies that try to keep economies of perpetural growth in place mearly by swithching to cleaner energy sources.

    The half backed measures of these “normal” activists are also doomed to fail just as fast as doing absolutely NOTHING to mitigate the effects of burning coal and oil and natural gas. A set of solutions to environmental collapse has to not only prevent global warming it has to not to destroy the earths habitat in other ways, such as polluting or depleting fresh water supplies. The typically promoted world wide solutions to environmental collapse due not meet both of these criteria.

    Humanity needed to deindustrialize if it really wanted to save itself. Those who think that deindustrializing was psycologically possible for humanity let alone politically possible for humanity raise their voices now.

    There is a waiting line for people trying to join the Amish. Do the Amish use wooden plows?

  18. Curt Kastens

    Years ago I read a blog article by a Phd. Engineer Manual Garcia who lives in the US Pacific Northwest. IIRC he stated in this article that it would be possible for the US to meet all of its energy needs through solar power if if converted 2% of its landmass to solar farms.
    I trusted him. Therefore I trusted his calculations. Therefore I was for a number of years not without hope. Of course I recognized that solving the global warming crisis would be very very difficult because even if all this solar power were built there would still be a lot of very powerful national and corprate intrests that would have a strong motivation to continue to pedel hydrocarbons down to the last drop.
    The change that has occured in my thinking over the past decade plus is that I now realize that humans, as they are now and as they are likely to remain, will use what ever energy is produced by solar and wind power to try to continually improve their quality of life and destroy the environment in the process.

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