node created 2019/09/29
Whenever I am in a place where you have to wait a lot, like at a bus station, nearly everyone is swiping at their phone.

They all look like crack addicts scratching for rocks in an alleyway.

The New Colossus

"The New Colossus" is a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887). She wrote the poem in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World). In 1903, the poem was cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal's lower level.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life.
Wieviel Schönes ist auf Erden
Unscheinbar verstreut;
Möcht ich immer mehr des inne werden:
Wieviel Schönheit, die den Taglärm scheut,
In bescheidnen alt und jungen Herzen!
Ist es auch ein Duft von Blumen nur,
Macht es holder doch der Erde Flur,
wie ein Lächeln unter vielen Schmerzen.
"In der Stille"
Knowing that leaders elsewhere frequently ignore or praise violence, I’m appreciative that our leaders consistently condemn violence perpetrated by individuals. However, these same leaders provide a bad role model for citizens when the state itself employs its power to trample human rights.
Really? The former boss of the largest organization of mathematicians who literally spend their days in windowless buildings listening in on other people's conversations is calling everyone else shut-ins? REALLY?!
Under the guise of freedom of speech nowadays falsehoods, and even more critically just plain noise is pervasive; the freedom to shout nonsense is inhibiting the freedom to hear a reasonable and diverse set of opinions and facts. Most (loud and repeated) messages are by corporations and other groups too; because that channel simply has more resources - and that's unfortunate not because corporations are intrinsically evil (which they aren't), but because people are intrinsically social and groups of people often quite the reverse; so that corporate "speech" in the form of campaign finance typically is plainly corruption - albeit legal, even if most of its constituent individuals are reasonably moral people. In short; we know the evils of censorship and have robust traditions to at least oppose that; but we do not have similar traditions vs. overload and deception, and indeed our (entirely reasonable) protections against censorship make us more vulnerable to these rising problems. Is there a solution? Who knows; but any solution certainly is not on the public radar yet let alone nearby.
[Q: do you believe that a nation should suffer a detrimental cost in order to compensate for wrongs committed by the governors of that nations, or by segments of that nation in the past?]

Suppose you're living under a dictatorship, and the dictators carry out some horrendous acts. So you're living in Stalinist Russia, let's say, and Stalin carries out horrible crimes. Are the people of Russia responsible for those crimes? Well, to only a very limited extent, because living under a brutal, harsh, terrorist regime, there isn't very much they can do about it. There's something they can do, and to the extent that you can do something, you're responsible for what happens. Suppose you're living in a free, democratic society, with lots of privilege, enormous, incomparable freedoms, and the government carries out violent, brutal acts. Are you responsible for it? Yeah, a lot more responsible, because there's a lot that you can do about it. If you share responsibility in criminal acts, you are liable for the consequences.
Interview by Brian Lamb on C-SPAN (June 1, 2003)
All good things have something casual about them and lie like cows in the meadow.
When it’s Tunisians and Egyptians using FB and Twitter, everyone is quick to take credit and talk about the “transformative” power of social media. When it’s genocide, suddenly everyone is mumbling and looking at the ground. You can’t have every job listing include “changing the world” and then duck responsibility when you actually do change the world, just for the worse.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
If you want to find corruption, then "Follow the money." If you want to find authoritarians, you can follow the flow of fundamental things in much the same way:

- Who is doing the silencing?
- Who is engaging in coercion?
- Who wishes for the power to coerce?
- Who is using violence?
- Who is distorts the truth to push agendas?
- Who eschews the universal for the momentarily convenient?
Just as love is an orientation which refers to all objects and is incompatible with the restriction to one object, so is reason a human faculty which must embrace the whole of the world with which man is confronted.
What's particularly strange about this set of personality and style attacks is what little relationship they bear to reality. Far from being some sort of brutal, domineering, and angry "alpha-male" savage, Chomsky - no matter your views of him - is one of the most soft-spoken and unfailingly civil and polite political advocates on the planet. It's true that his critiques of those who wield power and influence can be withering - that's the central function of an effective critic or just a human being with a conscience - but one would be hard-pressed to find someone as prominent as he who is as steadfastly polite and considerate and eager to listen when it comes to interacting with those who are powerless and voiceless. His humanism is legion. And far from being devoid of hope, it's almost impossible to find an establishment critic more passionate and animated when talking about the ability of people to join together to create real social and political change.
But we discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in.

The universe believes in encryption.

It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.
Unanimity of opinion is a very ominous phenomenon, and one characteristic of our modern mass age. It destroys social and personal life, which is based on the fact that we are different by nature and by conviction. To hold different opinions and to be aware that other people think differently on the same issue shields us from Godlike certainty which stops all discussion and reduces social relationships to those of an ant heap. A unanimous public opinion tends to eliminate bodily those who differ, for mass unanimity is not the result of agreement, but an expression of fanaticism and hysteria. In contrast to agreement, unanimity does not stop at certain well-defined objects, but spreads like an infection into every related issue.
These sectors of doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce the basic social values: Passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear of real and imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered. It's unnecessary for them to trouble themselves with what's happening in the world. In fact, it's undesirable if they see too much of reality they may set themselves to change it.
[Q: can you conceive of any form in which you might support American military action taken, like the President's justification, in anticipation of an imminent and dangerous threat?]

Why don't you generalize it, and say, can you conceive of any action which any state might take? Sure, you can imagine such things. Let's say you're in Iran right now. [audience laughter] It's under attack by the world's superpower, with embargoes... It's surrounded by states either occupied by its superpower enemy, or having nuclear weapons. Little way down the road is the regional superpower, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons, and other WMDs, and is essentially an offshore US military base. And has a bigger and more advanced air force than any NATO power, outside the United States. And in the past year has been supplied by the global superpower with 100 advanced jet bombers, openly advertised as able to fly to Iran and back to bomb it. And also provided with what the Hebrew press calls special weaponry, nobody knows what that means, but if you're an Iranian intelligence analyst you gonna give a worst case analysis, of course. And has actually been publicly provided with smart bombs, and deep penetration weapons... They have a terrific justification for anticipatory self defense, better than any other case I can think of.

But would I approve of their bombing Israel, or carrying out terrorist acts in Washington? No, even though they have a pretty strong case, better than anything I can think of here. Just as the Japanese had a much better case than any that I can think of here, but I don't approve of Pearl Harbor. So yeah, we can conceive of cases, and in fact some of them are right in front of our eyes, but none of us approve of them. None of us.

So if we don't approve of them in real cases, why discuss hypothetical cases that don't exist? We can do that in some philosophy seminar, but in the real world there're real cases that ought to concern us.
To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.
The Grand Inquisitor explains that you have to create mysteries because otherwise the common people will be able to understand things. They have to be subordinated so you have to make things look mysterious and complicated. That's the test of the intellectual. It's also good for them: then you're an important person, talking big words which nobody can understand. Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish. But it's very inflated, a lot of television cameras, a lot of posturing. They try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child.

There's nothing there. But these are the ways in which contemporary intellectuals, including those on the Left, create great careers for themselves, power for themselves, marginalize people, intimidate people and so on.
"Chomsky on Anarchism" (2005)
It’s not that they’re bad people. It reveals an institutional pathology. There is an institutional structure that says that if you’re the CEO of a major corporation, which incidentally means that you have enormous influence in the political system, then you simply don’t care about what happens to the world in the next generation, including your own grandchildren. What you care about is profits tomorrow. It’s an institutional imperative.
I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer.
I’ve yet to see any problem, however complicated, which when you looked at it the right way didn’t become still more complicated.
"Call Me Joe"
We don’t utilize [Electronic Medical Records] at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. Partly due to patient confidentiality concerns. Partly because every operating room I’ve ever been in that has computer capability results in a nurse with her back to the surgeon and patient, typing constantly. Not good patient care, in my humble opinion.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Worry is a misuse of the imagination.
We spend huge amounts of energy and time trying to convince each other that our needs are whats best for everyone else.

In reality, people and their needs are on as wide a spectrum, as the needs of a cactus and a banyan tree. And it doesn't end there, to create another layer of confusion, those needs are continuously changing with time and context.
To the amalgamation of politicals and criminals, with which the concentration camps began both in Germany and Russia, soon a third element is added, which would soon form the majority of all inmates. This largest group consisted of people who hadn't done anything that stood in any rational relation to their imprisonment, be it in their own mind or in that of their torturers. Without them the camps could have have existed, that is, they would not have survived the first years of the regime.


These in every sense innocent people do not just form the majority of all the camp population, they also are those, which finally were "exterminated" in German gas chambers. Only on them could the murder of the juridical person be performed so completely that they could be "processed", without names, deeds or misdeeds, by which they could have been recognized, in the mass factories of death, which just because of their sheer capacity could not take individual cases into account anymore. (A Jew for example, who had done a "crime" against the Nazi regime, didn't even get put in there in the first place, they were shot or beaten to death right away.) From the beginning the gas chambers were not intended as means to intimidate or punish; they were intended for Jews or Gypsies or Poles "in general", and they served to prove, that humans in general are superfluous.


While the separation of inmates into categories was merely a tactical-organisatory measure for the the purpose of administration of the camps, the arbitrariness of committal demonstrates the essential principle of the institution as such. The existance of a political opposition is just a pretext for the concentration camp system, and its purpose is not achieved when the population more or less voluntarily conforms as consequence of the most monstrous deterrence, that is, to give up its political rights. The arbitrariness has the purpose to deprive those under the totalitarian regime of all their rights as citizens, which finally become as outlawed [vogelfrei] in their own country as otherwise only the stateless and homeless. The deprivation of humans of their rights, the killing of the juridical person in them is just a precondition of their being totally controlled, for which even voluntary agreement is a hindrance. *[Related to that is the fact that all propaganda and ["Weltanschauungslehre"] was expressly forbidden in the camps. (also see Himmler, "Wesen und Aufgabe der SS und der Polizei"). And together with this in turn it has to be considered that that teaching and propaganda was also not allowed for the guarding elite formations; their Weltanschauung was not to be "teached", but "exercized" (see Robert Ley)]*. And this is not just the case for special categories of criminals, political enemies, Jews, on which it was tested [first], but for every citizen of a totalitarian country.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft", S. 658 ff.
What has come to light is neither nihilism nor cynicism, as one might have expected, but a quite extraordinary confusion over elementary questions of morality — as if an instinct in such matters were truly the last thing to be taken for granted in our time.
"Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil"
The general idea of [the Green New Deal] was to mobilize some kind of cooperative fight to defeat the very real threat of climate change, and to overcome our addiction to fossil fuel and the consequential CO2 emissions and pollution. Many very talented people have created a lot of good ideas and solutions to the oncoming disaster.

I don't think that people realize how much this pandemic is a walk in the park compared to whats coming down the road. I don't think people want to think. I think they want to stick their head in the sand and ignore the fact that there have been many calamities in human history. Perhaps they never heard of the 10s of millions of people who starved to death in Asia less than a century ago. That was a walk in the park by comparison.

Finally, I think that people don't realize how many of the technologies that they so happily embrace (without understanding how they work or where they came from) are the result of the same scientific process that has led 11,000 scientists to tell us that our time to act is growing very short.

That's the general idea of it. And I feel sorry as hell for today's wonderful kids who will have to pay with a miserable life (those who survive) for the willful ignorance of their parents and grandparents.
note how the whole story was flagged off HN