571 comments posted · 280 followers · following 2

61 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -  Welcome to the T... · 2 replies · +3 points

I have no dog in this fight (I detest anyone who seeks or holds political office), but you're wrong about how much help Trump got from his father.

Trump inherited between $40m and $200m from his father (depending on how the estate was carved up between the siblings); had he put that in an index fund that mirrored the S&P, and reinvested dividends, he would currently be worth about what Forbes estimates his net worth to be.

In other words, given the same inheritance, Trump's 'business acumen' could have been replicated by a mongoloid who spent the last 40 years finger-painting. What's more, most of his father's wealth was amassed by grubby deals with the state government. Also, Trump has been able to get shareholders and taxpayers to carry the can for literally billions of dollars of losses of malinvestments: if I got to keep all trading gains and write off all losses, I would be massively leveraged and making all sorts of rash bets... and would be worth billions by virtue of mathematics and accounting rules.

I'm kinda glad that a guy who is not the product of the two gigantic corruption machines ('D' and 'R') is now in the 'big seat', but I also don't have any weepy-eyed notion that this will cause a change in the policies of the US government.

The US government is almost entirely run by faceless Little Eichmanns - none of whom are elected, and whose objectives have nothing whatsoever to do with voters' desires, social objectives, or anything else so poetic. Trump will get to do some entirely-symbolic embroidery around the edges, and nothing will change. <div style="display:block;margin:6px 0 0"><a class="a2a_dd" href="">

64 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -  Trump\'s electio... · 2 replies · +6 points

Although it's clearly Moore's voice, it seems to me that there must be bits missing - the bits where he returns to his leftist tropes and denigrates the schlubs whose impending votes he's just been mansplaining to the audience.

If this is an unexpurgated "one-shot" recording, or is edited in such a way that it is still a faithful representation of what Moore actually said, then two things are true:

① as a piece of rhetoric or polemic, the talk is beautifully crafted - it understands the motivations for the vast and growing US underclass, and it rejoices in the last remaining mechanism that exists to at least try to remedy it. It captures the inchoate sense of betrayal that the denizens of 'middle America' feel.

② Moore is owed an apology by folks like me who see him as a 'champagne Leftist' bloviator who uses his bully-pulpit to engage in partisan hackery. That's because - if this piece is a faithful portrayal of what he said - then he really does 'get it', and he's not opposed to it (he's not talking down to the people who he thinks are going to exercise their last remaining right... if anything he is celebrating it).

If I was a betting person, I would be that this has had a lot of pro-State context stripped out... but I would be happy to be proved wrong.

87 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -   Senate Report O... · 0 replies · +6 points

beat me to it by 4 minutes, dammit!

87 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -   Senate Report O... · 0 replies · +7 points

"The dog ate my homework".

That really shows how stupid the CIA (and the rest of the government) thinks the electorate is. Sadly, they're probably right, as only about half a percent of people will see that story for what it is... 100% büllshít.

87 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... - America’s Contin... · 2 replies · +16 points

inside every Arab there lurks a liberal democrat yearning to get out

That one is probably actually true, so long as the conditions are right. What's designed not to bring that to effect, though, is keeping a Western boot on their necks, funding/arming/supporting despotic political leaders in their region, and giving their co-religionists' land to a pack of Eurotrash and then telling them to shake it off.

The West has had a policy of preventing a United Arabia since before WWI: Crewe's 1914 letter to Hardinge makes this abundantly clear -

"What we want is not a united Arabia, but a weak and disunited Arabia, split into little principalities as far as possible under our suzerainty — but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West." Crewe to Hardinge, 12 November 1914, Archives of India (quoted in Busch, Britain, India and the Arabs p62)

The difference between the average Westerner and the average Arab, is that the average Arab knows the game that's afoot. He may not know that specific citation, but he knows about Sykes-Picot, the Balfour Declaration, the betrayal of the Arabs after WWI, and the history of Western support for the Zionist Eurotrash occupiers of Palestine.

97 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -   The Coddling of... · 6 replies · +3 points

I could tell as I was reading this piece that the author was likely a journalist, because it is replete with righteous ignorance and straw-man fallacies that are the stock-in-trade of the shallow-dilettante approach of journalists to literally any subject of any level of complexity.

For a start, the whole "We will run out of resources" schtick was stupid when Malthus wrote about it, and it's even more stupid now.

One thing that is absolutely clear is that rising living standards Granger-cause a slowing of reproduction rates (as people and societies get richer, they have fewer kids); as a result, when we succeed in lifting the 'bottom two billion' out of wrenching subsistence poverty, the rate of growth of the human population will stabilise at 2 children per adult woman - which is below-replacement. That has happened everywhere in the world where incomes have risen to above-subsistence levels; only the dirt-poor reproduce at above replacement (even religion is irrelevant). Raise a country's living standards and the women have better things to do than spend their adult lives pregnant or nursing.

All of the best work on demography, indicates that the human population will hit 11 billion sometime this century, and from there it will decline slowly for a couple of generations before eventually stabilising at about 9 billion. But it will be a far better-off 9 billion than it is now - in much the same way that the average Western person is far better off today than their social equivalent in the 1950s.

9 billion seems like a very large number, but if population density in California was the same as Manhattan, California's population would be 10.4 billion. I'm not suggesting that a density of 67k/sqmi is sustainable in California - just that the Earth is a very large place and a very large proportion of it has very low population density.

And what's more, the current agricultural output of the planet is more than enough to feed 11 billion people. It's maldistributed, but that's a different issue - and it's largely due to political interference, not the working of markets.

If the West was not so hostile to the use of fertilisers in Africa, that continent could move to food security the same way as India did in the 1970s. European countries - particularly France - use their international heft to try to prevent the use of phosphates in Africa because they're scared of a population explosion that would migrate northwards. As a result, more phosphate fertiliser is used on home lawns in the US, than in the whole of Africa.

We are nowhere near 'saturation' for human habitation; we are nowhere near the peak of our capacity to grow food; we are already producing enough to feed a global population 30% greater than the current population.

Print out the sentence below and tape it to your monitor...

Don't ever read anything written by a journalist: they almost never know anything about the subject they're writing about.

97 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -   Atheist In A Fo... · 9 replies · -22 points

The unconditional probability that the person who wrote this is a cigarette smoker, is about 85% (that's obtained using Bayes Theorem and the proportion of non-smokers in diagnoses of non-small-cell lung cancer. He didn't make clear what type of lung cancer he had, only that it's 'Stage IV''; if he had clarified the numbers could be made more precise).

If he's a smoker, he deserves no sympathy. Smokers should be banned from consuming public health resources when the consequences of their stupid, life-shortening, stinking habit catch up with them.

97 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... - The New Mind Control&n... · 1 reply · +4 points

I remember books. I remember how hard it was to get a broad range of timely information about literally any matter of consequence. I remember when statistical authorities published information in paper format only, and it had to be transcribed before it could be used in numerical analyses. And I'm only 51.

One of my favourite examples of 'things you would almost certainly never have learned before the internet' is the following excerpt from a book that nobody would have read (unless they were a grad student in History who was interested in India, and then they would only have found the passage of interest if they were also interested in Arab-Western relations)...

"What we want is not a united Arabia, but a weak and disunited Arabia, split into little principalities as far as possible under our suzerainty — but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West." Crewe to Hardinge, 12 November 1914, Archives of India (quoted in Busch, Britain, India and the Arabs p62)

Crewe and Hardinge were the UK government's 'Secretary for the Colonies' and Viceroy of India, respectively. They were intimately involved in formulating policy.

Note that this pre-dates Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration by 3 years - and it makes clear that Western interference in the Arab world has been a matter of policy for a century (which is a partial answer to 'Why do they hate us?')... and yet more people will have read that excerpt as a result of two comments of mine on the internet, than ever read the book... and that's only a small fraction of all internet readers of all comments and articles that included that excerpt.

This is why I say (all the damn time) - the internet exists to destroy bad information. It is the most useful tool for the empowerment of individuals, that has ever existed - since it enables people from all corners of the globe to interact on timescales measured in seconds, rather than weeks.

I remember how people who read one book - and couldn't check the references in it - simply took it at face value and launched a movement that directly killed 100 million people (that's 'Das Kapital', for those playing at home).

Those who try to improve their understanding by using Google (even with potential biases) are at least trying. I would prefer that, to people who simply flop into the couch and let the TV tell them what to think. &lt;div style="display:block;margin:6px 0 0"&gt;&lt;a class="a2a_dd" href=""&gt;

97 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... - The New Mind Control&n... · 1 reply · +2 points

Thing is, though: the TV (and newsprint) companies have to craft a 'one shot' message - they can't (yet) send tailored ads or tailored news broadcasts to individual households (or to individual viewers within a household). They have to aim to move a person of median intelligence from 'undecided' to 'positive' for their product.

This is why TV advertising is so unsubtle, and even product placement (e.g., constantly showing people smoking cigarettes in movies) is now above the threshold for most adults (which is no problem since tobacco product placement is targeted at teens - the only source of new customers for tobacco firms).

Traditional advertising in print, TV, radio and the movies is like trying to influence people by yelling at them. I used to fume at TV advertising - basically feeling insulted that advertisers felt that their audience (including me) were such dimwits that they would fall for such schlock.

I got over that (lol), but it really brought into sharp focus that the 'Ship of Fools' is a far better model than the 'Wisdom of Crowds'.

So long as it's just being used to make young men think they'll get laid if they wear Axe deodorant, or make young women spend a fortune on face glop, there's no big deal: people have the untrammeled right to make bad decisions about how to spend their own money.

When it's used to try to influence people to support State interference in some aspect of everyone's life, is where it gets sketchy: this is because the average individual is as stupid as a bag of hammers. (Search my comment history for discussions of the PIAAC surveys of adult literacy and numeracy - the results are frightening).

98 weeks ago @ Information Clearing H... -   What the Pundit... · 2 replies · +3 points

Anyone who believes that Trump represents an alternative way of doing things needs to read Guy Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle".

It's all a show.

Think of the entire Republican team as being a bunch of NASCARs drafting Trump's slipstream.

The Trump Show is garnering massive, free, wall-to-wall media coverage for the entire right half of the 2-party parasite... and a lot of it is sneering, which makes the 'liberal media' trope seem even more realistic.

If it suits the R machine to drop a dime on Trump and slide out of his slipstream as he slams into a wall of bad media coverage, that's what they will do.

If the R team decides that he's the best prospect for the R team to win the 'big seat', they will stay behind him (with the artificial 'frisson' maintained to make him the 'ultimate political outsider' to attract would-be revolutionaries).

If it suits the R machine to stay in his slipstream until he is elected, then they're in the White House anyhow and can get on with trying to stay in the slipstream until the end of Trump's second term.

Anyone who thinks that the guy in the big chair has a significant role in policy, is viewing the US presidency as a cartoon.

Presidents are figureheads who read what the teleprompter tells them to - it's been like that since Reagan, and Trump would be no different.