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Free Markets Are Not Rational

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The markets are rational. From that inviolate truth, a pillar of economic thought since 1776, flows all else modern economics understands about the markets, men, and money. An inalterable belief that markets can be measured, quantified, cut, and pasted in mute acceptance that under it all, lies the consistent and undeniable force of rational behavior, a religion which has gone unquestioned.

The theory of rational markets — that buyers and sellers will always act in their best interests — was given life by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. Born into a moment between ages, the new study of economics grew and developed with its gospel already written and sanctified. Economics became nothing more than competing studies that tried to squeeze the maximum utility out of the blandness of rational, human behaviour. The competition reached a turning point at the end of two brutal wars and an economic depression that sent buildings full of newly minted economists running for their slide rules.

The rational behavior of economics had succeeded in removing over 160 million rational men, women, and children of free will from the market, and with the dull precision of 100 million mallets, rationally pummelled the earth to pieces in its own best interest. Regardless, it still came to pass that "rational", as they say, was written by the victors, and so from the smoke and ruin of trial by fire came the forged steel sword of the American Way, embracing its own best interests by clinging to the myth as flag, an inviolate symbol of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Patriotism — an exceptionally irrational behaviour — became welded to the economic cause. Free markets are rational. One choice, two options — we are right, or they are wrong. Walking off the battlefields of Europe and into the womb of America at Bretton Woods, no one questioned the unconscious absolute that free markets are rational, blinded as they were by the sheer joy of having lived to tell. And again, the participants of Bretton Woods who built the world we thrash around in today, were doing so in a single moment of time, between two very different ages.

In the time since 1944, we have clung defiantly to our patriotism, our democracies, our guns, and our religion. Empires have fallen, backward societies saved, and the planet has become a patchwork of nominally free collections of consumers and producers, all herded into crayon borders that even at the time defied common sense. The nation state was king, dividing the earth into sections of untenable, fortified camps.

However, in the latter half of the twentieth century, the rational behaviors of heretofore sequestered buyers and sellers left the confines of their nation states and roamed the earth, commerce unfettered from the chains of dogma. Rational became a moving target. Entire populations were making decisions that were in no way in their best interest (Unless you can explain going into debt for water toys and plasma TV's). The computer and the internet sped self-interest around the earth, leveraged 32 to one by irrationality itself. Growth became the new dogma, and any behaviour that helped the cause became rational. In a simpler age, we congratulated ourselves on our self-interested behaviours that kept our irrational need for nuclear weapons from killing us all. Now, on the cusp of a thermal nuclear financial meltdown, we learn for the first time that indeed man, entrusted with the buttons, will without question slide off the safety and push down hard and fast with all he's worth — and everybody else's while he's at it.

In this, our age — standing as we are in a moment of time between the old and the new — man is no longer rational, nor can he be trusted with free markets. Everything we know about economic behaviour must be reviewed and rethought…right back to the root, back to Adam Smith, back to the beginning. Back before nationalism, socialism, capitalism, and blind patriotism. Two hundred years is long enough to live a theory that was clearly wrong.

For after all, we live in a new age of individuals now, connected by the internet, thrust apart and together by technology. Democracy has arrived to the people of the earth, freed of national boundaries by the World Wide Web. Humans are at odds with economics, classically trained economists as relevant as the steam engine. Regression to the mean does not apply to bell curves of one.

There will be a fight to be sure. In America, there is no question but to do what it takes to get everything back to the past as fast as possible. Americans want to reset the machine and keep on playing. The rest of the world – who trusted their blood and treasure with the world's only superpower – feel differently about things. It wasn't them who killed the golden goose, but they were paying for the crime. A new global era was taking shape while Americans dithered over politics, Barack Obama's election being the last America would make without the input of the world. 

There is, finally, a growing consensus (outside America) that in a modern age, individuals, groups, and states do not seek to maximize their best interests. In fact, it turns out to be quite the opposite. All too often, and in ways that can demolish civilization itself, rational, free thinking men with a stupendous concentration of power and wealth have acted in direct contradiction of what should have been their best interests, and ours.

Worse it seems, average workaday people in the millions and millions will do exactly the same thing, making free market choices with their free will that will almost certainly lead to their undoing. Examples are everyday and everywhere, all the time.

Anybody got a smoke?

As he searched his world for data that would reinforce his theory of rational markets and men, Adam Smith could not have been aware of the phenomenon of tobacco, and the leading role it would play in future worlds. Would Adam Smith have written more or less than five large tomes if, a prophet of one, he wrote the bible of the next two centuries with access to the wealth of quantified and verified data that our age has developed about tobacco? How would Adam Smith have squared the absolute certainty of death, misery, and staggering social cost that smoking entails with the two thousand million free market consumers who choose, with their own free will and in markets unconstrained, to pay good and ever increasing amounts of their own hard labour in exchange for regular doses of certain and conscious death?

How can states with hegemonic commitments to the scripture of rational markets, both encourage, tax, and stand out of the way in the name of absolute theoretical freedom, while at the same time ignore the crushing mortality and exponential costs to society as a whole associated with the results of the same? The reason lies in the savage juxtaposition of an ancient, out of date philosophy against advances in natural sciences and the increasing ability for individual choice in a mysterious and complex world.

Rational markets could not have foreseen television, movie stars, and marketing, could not have imagined a plethora of endless choice, an antiquated system of competing nation states that would regress towards behaviours that were unsustainable, in free and open competition to profit from the misery and death of their own, democratic citizens.

On what rational scale can a classic economist argue that the consumption of food by wealthy, non-failed nation states is anything but destructive and self-defeating, when that food is poison at the consumption end of a system of free choice and unfettered markets? Far from acting in their best interests, the western world's diet is killing its host, trading sustainable health, happiness, and manageable costs for spectacular profits for a handful of smiling clowns, faux kings, and creepy old Kentucky Colonels?

In the end, maximum utility turns out to be a Frankenstein monster. In the salad days of the American Dream, it appeared certain that the combination of free, unfettered markets driven by rational, self-interested humans had indeed conquered nature. Wedded as they were to a glorious American Democracy, it didn't take a generation before the American Way had swept clean all remnants of any other time. So successful that all it took was Life, liberty, and wads of printed cash to overcome the Soviet hulk in spending, bankrupting any chance to notice the failure of fundamental economics, a million miles below the euphoria.

Carried along by a human explosion, a demographic cohort born into a post world war world grew up and prospered as the human embodiment of self-interest, free markets, and democracy. But somewhere along the line the point of equilibrium was reached, passed, and toppled over. The technology caught up to and passed the philosophy, the going got global, and the global got weird. Once the excel spreadsheet hit the flickering workstations of the theoretical man, the invisible hand of Adam Smith had been crushed on the ladder of human folly irreparably.  

Massive amounts of invisible capital poured across fibre optics, filling computer screens with uncountable digits impossible for coke-addled humans to imagine or fathom. Nothing less than a computer game ensued, using the invisible capital of the imaginary American Dream — leveraged beyond any common sense — in an online team shooter played in a private and expensive forum. All holy hell was unleashed with a few casual mouse clicks over coffee, by a single person seeking to maximize his utility, without a care or thought for what the result might eventually be.

The Markets are not rational.  The next age will be one that recognizes that man must indeed have protection from himself, his foibles, and his technology. Once this economic storm has passed, the wreckage left behind will have been busted back to humility, and man will take his place amongst — and not above — the world around him. Man has built a civilization so complex and over reaching, that it no longer obeys the rules he wrote for it so very long ago. This, if ever there was one, is not a time for dusty books by dusty men, from another age and time.

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About Aetius Romulous

  • Baronius

    There are a couple of interesting points in this article, but there are also a lot of cliches. Are we supposed to believe that feudalism or some other system would have created the computer? Cigarettes and junk food may be bad, but smallpox and no food are worse: we’re living longer than ever, except in precisely those places where free markets haven’t taken root. And while calling something a religion may be a good rhetorical move, it takes more than that to demonstrate that capitalism is founded on false premises.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Thanks for the comment Baronius.

    Capitalism got us all here, on that we can agree. The question is however, will capitalism (in its current form),get us any further?

    There have been substantial breakdowns in the Bretton Woods model, almost from the get go. Civilization is only about 10,000 years old, and the heyday of capitalism only about 50 years of that. If future generations are going to last another 10,000 years, I don’t believe its rational to say the current capitalism will be able to go all the way.

    I’m suggesting that we simply drop the idiocy of flag waving now, and build an economic system that recognizes the reality of the planet. Then prepare to change it again and again and again as needs demand, without fear of breaking any silly taboo.

    That is impossible to even consider when nationalism will attempt to lock its old philosophy in place, not unlike religion has with its old books. Nobody wants unfettered markets to become a Noahs Ark thingy – obviously idiotic but too entrenched in dogma to ever imagine changing.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    For someone who claims to be non-philosophical, this is quite a philosophical, eloquent, and challenging piece.

    I do agree that although capitalism had got us here, it won’t do much longer in its present form. Likewise with nationalism, which is quickly on the wane and disappearing.

    The brave new world! Yes, we’re definitely heading there, although how glorious it will be and how exciting is for the future to tell. Personally, I think it will be kind of drab and less adventurous but, hopefully, more just and fair.

    I touched on the similar themes in “The New World Order, Parts I and II” – a kind of vision of the future. You might look at it if you like.

  • bliffle

    Good article, Aetius. Entertaining and insightful.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Thanks for the comment bliffle. Remember though, don’t encourage the animals.

    And Roger, we may be singing off the same song sheet. Where’s the fun in that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Certainly not! I’m not a chorus person. More likely a star.

    So let’s not congratulate ourselves prematurely and suck each other’s dicks before due time (a line from “Pulp Fiction,” more or less).

  • Cindy

    Aetius,

    Good article. I think if Adam Smith were alive, he’d be wondering what they’ve done to his song. Not that I liked his song much anyway. But it surely wasn’t the tune he had in mind. The rest of us can sing the next line.

    I wonder if tears can be sold? There seems to have been a profit in them.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Where is the spirit Melanie’s generation had, when they were faced with a world they wouldn’t accept?

    Where is our Melanie?

  • Cindy

    They’re around A.–to my surprise (pretty recently), sometimes they even talk to each other.

  • Wingnut

    Hi gang. Good article, good comments. First, I believe mankind could have been much further advanced, had we used a cooperative system (commune/economyless) to date, instead of a competitive system (capitalism/greeenpaper rat-racing). We would have certainly been more advanced in the OTHER criteria of value measurings… like morals, equality, kindness, repair-ability, reuse-ability, W.H.O. atrocious statistics, etc.

    Melanie? Ok, if I remember right, that’s an era of anti-establishment, communes, flower-power, sitars, beads, incense, pot, dogs, kids, hippy buses, LSD, music, sharing, storytelling, tree-hugging, bug-hugging, critter-hugging, open-mindedness, avoiding-money, shunning-ownership, Christianity, gurus, and free-loving. If that’s what you’re talking about, then that’s EXACTLY what the USA and planet should be getting back-to.

    Yep, we hippies are still alive and well, and we’re patiently awaiting the natural collapse of the pyramid scheme called capitalism (see back of USA dollar for pyramid scheme symbol). The problem is actually in the use of economies and ownership (state or private). Economies cause rat-racing, because of enjoyment addictions. That, causes pyramids, which we hippies/moms KNOW are EXACTLY like the one’s the kids repeatedly fail-at building. While the upper 1/3 are “heads in the clouds”, the kids on the bottom ALWAYS GET CRUSHED from having the weight of the world’s knees on their backs. This is seen in capitalism… with the amount of servitude infestation (working FOR others instead of WITH others) (inequality), and we also see an infestation of “pay up or die” and “join or die” done to the 18 year olds. I’m pretty sure “get a job or starve” is a forcing of religion into the competer’s church, and thus has killed membership in the cooperator’s church (Christianity/communes).

    As soon as we quit using economies and ownership, and do potlucks and barnraisings instead, we’ll be back on track. It will take putting Christians in charge of the country, though. Hippies will work, too, if they’re stalwart and motivated. There will be laws and police, and the strictest law is the newest one. Fairness/equality. Its a place where church and state are allowed and encouraged… to overlap and mingle. Ready to throw the switch and outlaw economies/ownership? Custodianship will still happen. It will be much like the U.S. military supply system… using requisition forms and no monetary discrimination. Luxuries are put into repositories for all to share. Good stuff. At first it feels like a loss of freedoms, but once its tried-on, it feels like a massive gain of freedoms, because it is.

  • Cindy

    Hi Wingnut,

    I am pretty much with you on some of that. :-)

    I’d have to jump ship with this solution, though:

    It will take putting Christians in charge of the country, though. Hippies will work, too, if they’re stalwart and motivated. There will be laws and police, and the strictest law is the newest one. Fairness/equality. Its a place where church and state are allowed and encouraged… to overlap and mingle.

    Being a Christian, you may be interested in some alternatives other Christians are thinking about.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Interesting and thought provoking comments wingnut.

    In the past, I would take exception to some of your thinking but clearly, all bets are off and any idea is a good idea as long as it gets dialogue moving.

  • Baronius

    Aetius, this is what I mean about cliches. All bets aren’t off. All economic systems work imperfectly, but this one feeds, clothes, houses (yes, houses), and liberates more people than anything else we’ve tried. The idea of a communist theocracy doesn’t move the dialogue forward at all, because both concepts don’t work.

  • Cindy

    Bar,

    …this one feeds, clothes, houses (yes, houses), and liberates more people than anything else we’ve tried. From whose perspective?

    And second, so what if it did? What about the rest of the people it doesn’t work for?

    And third, there are more ideas than “communist theocracy” about.

  • Baronius

    Cindy –

    from the perspective of reality

    because something that works has a better chance of working than something that doesn’t

    because I was replying to Aetius’ reply to the comment about communist theocracy

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Baronius;

    “…everything we’ve tried” is our point of agreement, except where I would include American capitalism in the group of things tried and found wanting. Time to try something else?

    That we will find ourselves with something different in a generation is a given. I’m most concerend with the process.

  • Clavos

    That we will find ourselves with something different in a generation is a given.

    I don’t buy that, but were it to come about I’m glad that:

    A. I’m too old to live to see it, and:

    B. I have no children.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    If you strip it down to the logical, and consider the system we have currently(or at least up till last summer)is only a generation old, then add in the fact that while it continues to be a moving target day to day, we are now in a different system – there is no reason to believe it will ever return.

    That’s progress, and we should be happy for it.

  • Cindy

    Bar,

    Oh, very well then. Carry on. :-)

  • Wingnut

    Thanks for the comments, gang… very kind. You guys and gals are class-acts. Baronius, I’d like to see the abolishment of economies and ownership, so hmmm. Economies/pricetags are not a God-made thing nor are they necessities.

    Yes, maybe capitalism IS the best “economy system” ever tried (even though its not – poker chips, greenstamps, and wooden nickles are better)… but… economies always have classing and discrimination. Hierarchies form when using economies. Survival of the richest.

    The ONLY way to get past that… is teach about pyramiding in schools and churches, and stop using economies. When the kids do toybox tug-o-wars, what do we parents do? Yep. Take away the thing being tugged-over and so NOBODY gets it, sort of like the government recall happening to those federal reserve notes that capitalists think is “their hard-earned money”.

    If children can’t share, you take away the toys being tugged-over, and that’s ownershipism of federal reserve notes and entitles of ownership/store receipts. Besides, if the Christians don’t yank the cookieplate out-of the tug-o-warring children’s hands, I think God soon will. In that case, the meek shall be doing some inheriting, and being meek, we won’t claim ownership of things or money. We won’t use either… and we’ll likely be more Amish or Quakerish. An Amish-made shovel lasts for about 12 generations. A capitalism-made shovel lasts 12 days…. and sometimes only 12 hours, and is completely un-repairable. Sweet! (…smell of landfills)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Aetius,

    Read this piece and found that – how shall we say this – a number of minds are converging in analyzing a problem.

    The point you make here – markets are not rational – is a good starting point for a solution, but looking at motives for the way people act needs also to be taken into account. Why would so much effort go into such stupid and self destructive activities as selling, porn, cigarettes and fast food?

    Look at the trash hustled on this site for example and tell me the redeeming social value of it all? Yes, it pays some peoples’ bills and puts food on some peoples’ tables. But beyond that, what is the point of hustling CD’s, DVD’s, TV shows and books to people who may not have the money to buy healthy food, or the wisdom to drink enough potable water daily, or the determination to make the time to do either?

    Crack this nut, and you’ve gone a long way to seeing What Is Wrong. That doesn’t mean you’ll have a solution that you can implement or that others can implement. But at least you will have figured out the problem.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Well Ruvy, that is exactly the point of the article – that the notion of free markets, will, and rational behaviour have dramatically changed since the economic blueprint was struck.

    Our technology, and the culture it has spawned, is completely out of sync with the economic system, ancient and beaten as it obviously is. In this new culture of individual choice, the stupendous availablity of consumer options, and the process by which unfettered capitalism shapes the choices amongst them, needs to be accounted for in ways the old system never can.

    I also make the point that given a situation where the economics have been bundled up with patriotism and nationalism, its hard to imagine how this situation will change as long as some of us cling deseperately to an outmoded political culture that has a vested interest in doing nothing for progress.

    So to me, economic collapse will force the issue to be resolved, and it will be resolved on the political fight that will ensue. And that’s where the oportunity to contribute will open in ways it never has before.

    Just trying to position myself for the big show LOL.

  • Cindy

    Why would so much effort go into such stupid and self destructive activities as selling, porn, cigarettes and fast food?

    Markets pit everyone against everyone. People learn to think of lying as just marketing. Exploitation of every weakness, fault, addiction, and appetite is what is expected.

    The view that selfishness, competition and exploitation should be the basis of a society, holds it back from evolving beyond that. It’s what keeps people in Mark Schannon’s cave. (More so, I think than his beliefs about our primitive instincts.) We can decide to change that. It’s only a matter of how many people want that change. Not easy, but the more people that come to similar conclusions, the more to create the change they want to see.

    We need a new definition of progress too, Aetius.

    So to me, economic collapse will force the issue to be resolved, and it will be resolved on the political fight that will ensue. And that’s where the oportunity to contribute will open in ways it never has before.

    I agree. But as much as that will open possibilities, a lot of people will be hurt. It might be a good idea to consider ways to lighten that impact.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Read Cindy’s comment carefully, Aetius. You and she are almost there….

    Not quite though. If Mark Schannon takes a serious look at his own heritage and these comments, maybe he’ll put it all together. Maybe….

    A secular scholar would refer these ideas to Hegel – but they are far older and are related to the Jewish theory of history.

    Cheers!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    I agree with the thesis that very few people look out for their own long term best interests. That includes consumers, the people who run large and small businesses, politicians, and everyone else. It’s why those running businesses apparently look with more concern at their financial prospects for the current quarter than at those for even a year or more in the future. That’s why people buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, and a whole lot more stuff. Hell, that’s why I’ve been smoking a pipe for almost fifty years and will continue until I am buried with it stuck in my mouth, lit.

    Problem is, who is to say what our individual, long term best interests are, and who is to tell us to abjure those things which produce immediate pleasure but are not in our long term individual best interests? Perhaps a cabal of superhuman wisemenpersons (such as our Congresspersons, for example), but I don’t think many of us would tolerate that. Despite best intentions, we have not done a very good job even of reducing the criminal production, purchase and abuse of illegal drugs. Nor have we been entirely successful in reducing violent crime, fraud, and a whole lot of other stuff as to which there is a broad consensus that we should.

    Nor, for that matter, do I think it would be in our long term best interests to have some superior being tell us what is best for us and require us to comply. Reliance on that sort of thing would, more than likely, diminish whatever attention we, individually, pay to serving our own long term best interests. Current political efforts to make whole those who neglected adequately to look out for their own individual long term best interests, by requiring those who did so to pay for their errors, strike me as counterproductive in the long term. It is an insidious form of enabling a substance abuser.

    Having our collective long term best interests decided upon and somehow mandated by a superior cabal, eliminating our freedom to act on our individual short and long term best interests, might work if we had an omniscient, omnipotent and benign global dictator and lacked free will of any sort to resist. We don’t, and I don’t foresee one coming into existence.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    I dunno Dan, that sort of thing has been tried in the past and found wanting for a spectrum of good reasons.

    The answer is in harnessing the global input of people on economic decisions that affect them, and better sorting communal costs and benefits over the long run. This is something where both American democracy and capitalism are very weak currently.

  • Baronius

    Dan, if we had a big enough computer, it would tell us what to do.

    (I was just about to post this comment as a reply to Dan, when I realized it might be mistaken as a reply to Aetius. But that got me thinking, it sort of is a reply to Aetius. We have a system of measuring the importance of goods, prices. We have a way of adjusting them to present-value, interest rates. We have means of taking communal costs and benefits into account, regulation and taxes. If Aetius thinks those regulations and taxes need to be adjusted, that seems fair; but it’s only adjustment, not revolution.)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Sherlock (Miller) coughs:

    Hell, that’s why I’ve been smoking a pipe for almost fifty years and will continue until I am buried with it stuck in my mouth, lit.

    I would insist on that part, Dan. Have a surface vent built into your casket. That way, if they bury you and it turns out that you are not, in fact, dead, you can alert your surviving loved ones closest friends who don’t benefit from your will by puffing through the vent an agreed-upon smoke signal.

  • Clavos

    Clever idea, Doc, you should patent it and sell it to Bates Casket Co.

    You’re welcome.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Thank you, Mother.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Aetius, for good or bad, I can’t think of any effective way of

    harnessing the global input of people on economic decisions that affect them, and better sorting communal costs and benefits over the long run.

    That, too, has been tried in the past and found wanting for a spectrum of good reasons. For me at least, the United Nations is a prime example, even disregarding the “culture of corruption” which pervades it. The world is simply too big, with an humongous and heterogeneous population, and with the interests even of the various states, let alone the people in them, too diverse for it to function effectively.

    Still the world is wondrous large, — seven seas from marge to marge, —
    And it holds a vast of various kinds of man;
    And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu,
    And the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.

    Here’s my wisdom for your use, as I learned it when the moose
    And the reindeer roared where Paris roars to-night: —
    There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
    And — every — single — one — of — them — is — right!

    I will grant you that, in some small tribal communities, what you seem to propose might work although not on a global scale.

    We spent about a month in the Kuna Yala a few years ago, and observed the social interactions there as best we could. The Kuna Yala is an autonomous province of Panama and has three hundred and sixty-five islands. Most are unpopulated. All communities of any size have a chief, or salia who, with the advice of village elders, pretty much says what the people can and can’t do. There is a weekly Congresso or town meeting, which all males over eighteen must attend. We attended one where the saila chastised those families which had been lazy (as he put it) in producing coconuts, and praised those which had done well. The foot paths through the villages are pristine — not a piece of trash to be found. Youth are not permitted to roam about at night, and those who do so are punished. One young man told us that he had been hauled before the Congresso and lectured about why he should marry a young woman whom he did not wish to marry. He had to sit on a coconut while being lectured. A permit is required to travel to even a very close-by island. In all, freedom of choice is limited in accordance with what the saila and the village elders deem to be in the long term best interests of the community as a whole. Although the place is very beautiful, the salias doubtless are very wise, and the people appear to be very happy, I would have no interest in living there or in any similar society.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    I get it, but Bates Casket is real, and in fact the largest such company in the US.

    Interesting factoid about Bates Casket: they are part of a conglomerate called Hillenbrand Industries, which also owns one of the largest hospital equipment companies (maybe the largest): Hill-Rom.

    Talk about vertical integration…

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    We simply are not using our technology properly on the social side, while on the economic side it is being pushed to the limit every day. There is a lot more we can do with technology in the realms of politics and representation.

    It does, after all, defy logic that the worlds agenda is set by only a tiny fraction of its population. Voters in America decide the fate of every other human on earth – that’s simply crazy in a world where economics knows no such imbalance.

    If international trade and markets are essential, then so must be their equal democratic principles. Modern democracy and economics were both born in the same year, and have grown together as to equal parts of a whole. That they are no longer equal should be obvious, but for blind patriotism and nationalism.

    As i write this the G20 nations are attempting to bring this more into alignment, providing Glenn Beck with the ratings Fox had paid for. At the same time however, they are chasing the problem, and not getting ahead of it.

    Regardless, the real fury of this economic meltdown has yet to settle, and so it really is impossible to tell right now which way the final winds are going to blow. The process of change is underway, and it behooves those who care to get in the game now, and remain open minded as the thing plays itself out.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion. However, as best I have been able to learn, I don’t need no fuckin’ casket under Panamanian law. Besides, one would only delay if not prevent my bodily ascension to Heaven – a doubtless completely homogeneous and peaceful place, where there are no inequities* of any kind or sort whatever.

    Dan(Miller)

    *If my pipe is unwelcome there, I shall go elsewhere.

  • Clavos

    *If my pipe is unwelcome there, I shall go elsewhere.

    Careful what you wish for, Dan(Miller)…

  • Cindy

    Dan S. (Miller),

    I can’t think of any effective way of “harnessing the global input of people on economic decisions that affect them, and better sorting communal costs and benefits over the long run.”

    Some people have been forced to start thinking of new ideas. Who knows, maybe starting a whole bunch of little fires all over the forest might result in one big one.

    I think it might have something to do with music. A lot of people all over the world seem to be learning some strange sorts of chants.

    Although the place is very beautiful, the salias doubtless are very wise, and the people appear to be very happy, I would have no interest in living there or in any similar society.

    Me neither. Who needs community elders bossing people around? And another thing, I bet they don’t even have an IMAX there.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Clav,(#35)

    Alas, based on my intensive and thus far life long (and profoundly intellectual, I must add in all humility) study of theology, as chronicled by St. Mark the Twain in his Gospel According to St. Stormfield, Heaven ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be. A shorter exegesis, in an Epistle from St. Mark himself, is perhaps more readily understood by those of inferior intellectual ability (unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the text on Google).

    There are many other writings of St. Mark on the subject, but as I am loath to appear to impose my private religious views on others, I shall not burden this thread with them.

    In any event, I should probably not like Heaven anyway. Humor is forbidden there, as are dogs (although recent and very learned theological tomes have suggested that this thesis is highly questionable) and even those meek, mild creatures horses, I am told are forbidden. Should my pipe be unwelcome, or should an eternal supply of good Virginia tobacco be unavailable, that will be the last straw and I certainly shall have no interest in the place.

    On deep reflection, I wouldn’t anyway. Screw it.

    Cindy(#36)

    What is an IMAX? They probably don’t, although a few television sets and electric generators were starting to be seen back in 2001 when we were there. Those works of the Devil are, alas, in this wicked age, becoming ubiquitous.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy

    Dan S.(Miller),

    Check out this link for a visual idea of what IMAX 3D is like (sorta, cuz you’d kinda have to be there). That was the show I saw most recently. It was excellent.

    Below you will find a Wikipedia description. The best IMAX shows are 3d imo, they also have IMAX dome theaters. I highly recommend IMAX if you are ever nearby one.

    IMAX (short for Image MAXimum) is a motion picture film format and projection standard created by Canada’s IMAX Corporation. The traditional version of IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film display systems. A standard IMAX screen is 22 metres (72 ft) wide and 16.1 metres (53 ft) high, but can be larger. As of 2008, IMAX is the most widely used system for large-format, special-venue film presentations. As of March 2007, there were 280 IMAX theatres in 38 countries (60% of these are located in Canada and the United States). Half of these are commercial theatres and half are in educational venues.

  • Cindy

    Apparently, the biggest screen is in India and is 12,700sf. with one in Sydney being over 11,000sf.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Of course, Imax can also magnify the awfulness of a movie – for example, Watchmen. Yikes.

    On the other hand, Coraline in non-Imax 3-D was fabulous.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,

    WE are not impressed. I liked the 3d movies which were popular when I was a kid, and they really seemed, well. . . real.

    Have you done any diving, and seen some sea critters up close and personal? It is really, well . . . real — even though my pipe didn’t work under water and I couldn’t in any event think of a way to fit it into the regulator. I still feel guilty when I eat for dinner some of the cousins of the sea critters I watched underwater. I nevertheless eat and enjoy them, of course, even though I do feel a twinge of guilt now and then.

    Dan S. (Miller)

  • Cindy

    Dan S.(Miller),

    Nice, a fellow scuba diver. I have been certified diver since 1982-3? somewhere around there.

    Real!!!!???? It is amazing! It is like an LSD trip without the LSD (except the scenery doesn’t keep modifying itself in that strange way)! But really, it’s a different world isn’t it? Like going to the moon or something.

    Well, your, ahem pardon my saying, ‘old-fashioned’ 3D pictures are nothing like IMAX! IMAX is a ginormous screen about 42 miles high and wide and curved (I think). You can’t compare it! (Well you can, if you really want. But I’ll just think you’re silly.)

    P.S. Do you smoke in the shower?

  • Cindy

    Besides Dan S.(Miller), I am sorta a little afraid of giant animals. It would be hard to imagine willingly scuba diving with a humpback whale, especially a nursing one, like in the film. (Although, in my mind I’d love too.) I have swum with dolphins though–they are nice and small.

    So, if you cannot find a whale (or are scared like me) an IMAX 3d whale is a very good substitute.

    And they have things like

  • Cindy

    oops…

    (cont)

    …rafting down the Grand Canyon (unless you insist on being a spoilsport and doing that in real life too!)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,

    No, I don’t smoke in the shower. Or, for that matter in the car when my wife (hereinafter Jeanie) is around. I am permitted to smoke only in my small office and outside; at least when Jeanie is about.

    When we got to Bonaire (in 1997, I think) neither of us had done any diving. Jeanie had done a little bit of scuba, and I had done hardly any. We decided to learn to dive. Pragmatist as I sometimes am, I decided that it would be good (for me) to be able to scrub the bottom of the boat and to dive on the anchor to make sure it was set securely. We found an excellent instructor, who gave us a pretty good “cruiser discount,” and went for it.

    We both loved it, and spent about three years there, off and on — interrupted by trips to Venezuela (a pleasant overnight sail for cheap fuel, booze, etc.), an unfortunate attempt to sail to Mexico, resulting in a near sinking experience, and six months in the States for surgery and radiation therapy — getting our PADI open water, advanced open water, rescue and finally dive master certifications. Jeanie and I were both given the dive master instruction gratis, because we had to work like slaves assisting the instructor with his open water and advanced open water students. It turned out to be lots of fun, and we each logged slightly over a thousand dives between 1997 and 2001. Diving in Bonaire was very inexpensive for people living on their boats: $3.00 for a tank fill and whatever gasoline the dinghy needed to get to the desired dive mooring.

    We left Bonaire sometime in 2001, and neither of us has done any significant diving since; I did dive a few times to check our anchor, once in the San Blas Island (the Kuna Yala); there, the anchor was about thirty feet deep, the water was murky and I had to go hand over hand down the chain to find the anchor. I was later told that there was an alligator in residence, but fortunately neither of us encountered the other.

    Nuts! Our equipment would need lots of refurbishing, and the only decent dive sites are several hours away by car and then by boat, and it’s hard to find the time. Someday . . .

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Very eloquent article, Aetus – almost poetic in execution and resplendent with imagination.
    Great job heralding the idea of the irrationality of the markets. Darn, they’re dehumanizing as well.

    I do have a problem with your ending, and I quote:

    “The next age will be one that recognizes that man must indeed have protection from himself, his foibles, and his technology.”

    (I didn’t cite the closing sentences because we can always go back to them if need be.)

    So my question to you is as follows: Who do you suppose will protect the humankind from itself?
    That’s a rather mighty proposition.

    Any ideas?

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Ya know Roger, as I was slapping those lines down between puffs, I got the image of HAL from 2001 in my head…all these years and I’m still trying to match the metaphore.

    I don’t know – but I’m working on it. My first instinct is to retreat to Keynes or Galbraith but really, the answere has to be upstream from that because again, how could these guys have had any idea what our world was going to look like?

    I suggest that we really need some hard core mental gymnastics to literally ditch the concepts of classic economics and start fresh, crafting a new model that accounts for the speed and depth of modern civilization.

    I’ll accept any input from any source…provided it doesn’t stink of ideology LOL. Yuch to ideology.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Aetius.

    It goes with the rest of the article stylistically – maintaining the same tenor (or the spirit). But you’ve got over 5000 years of history arguing against it.

    Don’t worry – ideology is not cup of tea. But any system that ever tried “to protect humans from themselves has been in one way or another dictatorial.” So unless you envisage the human race transcending itself (so to speak) – which is a utopian brand of vision – I see no other resolution.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Aetius,

    I invited Mark Schannon to participate on this thread (since I believe he’s leaning toward your way of thinking), and I hope he’ll heed.

    This ought to be interesting.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Hi guys!

    Just got back from Jerusalem with the bride and did some shopping in the village for the Sabbath.

    I carried about 20 kilos (oy!) of groceries that hopefully will carry us through most of the next week.

    I decided to go to this article because of the lot, it is the most intelligent, and provides the most opportunity for actual exchange of ideas as opposed to insults (sorry, Roger).

    I’m going to ask you to look at Dan Miller’s comment #25 as the baseline to begin my thoughts.

    It is reproduced below in its entirety for my convenience (and yours) to refer to:

    I agree with the thesis that very few people look out for their own long term best interests. That includes consumers, the people who run large and small businesses, politicians, and everyone else. It’s why those running businesses apparently look with more concern at their financial prospects for the current quarter than at those for even a year or more in the future. That’s why people buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, and a whole lot more stuff. Hell, that’s why I’ve been smoking a pipe for almost fifty years and will continue until I am buried with it stuck in my mouth, lit.

    Problem is, who is to say what our individual, long term best interests are, and who is to tell us to abjure those things which produce immediate pleasure but are not in our long term individual best interests? Perhaps a cabal of superhuman wisemenpersons (such as our Congresspersons, for example), but I don’t think many of us would tolerate that. Despite best intentions, we have not done a very good job even of reducing the criminal production, purchase and abuse of illegal drugs. Nor have we been entirely successful in reducing violent crime, fraud, and a whole lot of other stuff as to which there is a broad consensus that we should.

    Nor, for that matter, do I think it would be in our long term best interests to have some superior being tell us what is best for us and require us to comply. Reliance on that sort of thing would, more than likely, diminish whatever attention we, individually, pay to serving our own long term best interests. Current political efforts to make whole those who neglected adequately to look out for their own individual long term best interests, by requiring those who did so to pay for their errors, strike me as counterproductive in the long term. It is an insidious form of enabling a substance abuser.

    Having our collective long term best interests decided upon and somehow mandated by a superior cabal, eliminating our freedom to act on our individual short and long term best interests, might work if we had an omniscient, omnipotent and benign global dictator and lacked free will of any sort to resist. We don’t, and I don’t foresee one coming into existence.

    In the first paragraph, Dan agrees with some obvious and undeniable facts of life as it is lived these days. Leaving aside his lit pipe sticking out from his grave, there is nothing to argue with (keeping your pipe lit while you are not breathing may be one hell of a trick, Dan).

    In his second paragraph, he appears to despair of anyone being able to tell individuals what to do for their best long term interests. Any atheist would share this despair. The less honest ones would insist that intelligence will prevail. Yeah, sure. That is why the 20th (Christian) Century has been as bloody as it has. Intelligence obviously has prevailed….

    No, it has not been intelligence, it has been raw passion. And it is raw passion that dictates what is going on now, too. Passion has not only dictated the overthrow of sexual mores dating from 1900, it has also dictated the way businessmen look at things in short term rather than long term, an attitude that has resulted in millions of layoffs in the last year or so.

    It was Isaac Babel who noted in one of his short stories “How It Was Done in Odessa” (I think) that “passion rules the world” – and he was right.

    So much for enlightened self-interest and philosophy. The trash can for both is not big enough.

    One of the basic elements underlying passion (sorry guys, I’m going to drag in Jewish concepts here) is the evil impulse. The evil impulse is the desire to exploit others. So long as that desire is present in human nature, exploitation, in one form or another, will be the driving force behind human actions, and “good deeds” will be the exception, not the rule.

    The rules in the Bible governing human behavior are an attempt to make one people holy (the Children of Israel) enough to be the “wise persons” Dan refers to. But our (us Children of Israel) inability to follow them have made us ineligible to be the “wise persons” that we are supposed to be. At least for the immediate present. Can you spell B-E-R-N-I-E M-A-D-O-F-F?

    So. I’m not going to stand on some holy shmoly soap box telling you what to think. None of what follows is me telling you what you should think – I told my bride and she turned her nose up at me. Mind you, she is the one who taught me about faith in G-d. So, either I have it all wrong (I may), or she doesn’t realize what her faith has wrought. I’m not telling you what to think; I’m telling you what I think – and why.

    So here goes.

    Dan hits the nail on the head for prescribing change in his last paragraph, the relevant portions copied (once again) for our benefit.

    Having our collective long term best interests decided upon and somehow mandated by a superior cabal, eliminating our freedom to act on our individual short and long term best interests, might work if we had an omniscient, omnipotent and benign global dictator and lacked free will of any sort to resist. We don’t, and I don’t foresee one coming into existence.

    What Dan doesn’t foresee is exactly what Jewish thought does foresee. The evil impulse is removed (somehow – don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue) and we continue on in our actions but we do not exploit each other. This effectively means that free will has been eliminated – because in order to choose to do good, you need to have the option to choose to do evil (to exploit other people).

    When we look at efforts to legislate goodness – like prohibition (of alcohol or drugs) or political correctness – it doesn’t take but a day for these efforts to turn into dictatorial mandates that make life miserable. The mandated good becomes evil because of its own exploitative nature. The same thing happens when countries try to outlaw “hate speech”. This seemingly good effort turns into exploitation by the ones who hate the most. Go check out the Wahhabi efforts at the UN to outlaw trash-talking Islam, for example, while resisting similar efforts to outlaw trash talking Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism – or any other set of beliefs. Do you see the pattern here?

    There is a pattern in human history, a repetitive pattern, that allows exploitative behavior to govern mankind – until there is a revolution of one kind or another getting rid of the exploiters. A new bunch takes over, but the exploitative nature of the evil impulse puts exploitation right back in the driver’s seat. And the cycle starts all over again.

    Until the Messianic Redemption.

    The Messianic Redemption is all about ditching the evil impulse and exploitation in human behavior. The big question – is the evil impulse gotten rid of altogether in the makeup of the universe? – is one that is beyond my pay grade. Jewish thought deals specifically with human behavior.

    In a world without the evil impulse, you still have buying and selling, you still have sex and sexual desire, you still have candy and Hostess Twinkies (with the aerated lard included!). What you do not have is the need to shove any of these things down someone else’s throat. So Dan still smokes his pipe, for example – just less frequently, so that he doesn’t get lip and mouth cancer. The tobacco processors work to make sure that their product is flavorful and NOT addictive. And the Children of Israel do follow those rules in the Bible designed to make them holy, and guide everyone else in how to follow the Seven Laws of Noah. And Bernie Madoff gets to suffer in a hell of his own making.

    Now let’s look at the money line in Aetius’ comment #22.

    So to me, economic collapse will force the issue to be resolved, and it will be resolved in the political fight that will ensue. And that’s where the opportunity to contribute will open in ways it never has before.

    This is what the prophetic books of the Bible are all about – how this political fight plays out – seen from the view of someone living in the Land of Israel, which is where these prophets either lived or prophesied about.

    It’s not the whole picture – there is a big world out there. It is the picture that managed to get preserved by Jews who recorded these books as part of the Bible, believing they were inspired by G-d.

    And that is how I look at it all. And why.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Nowhere have I claimed I’m the only bright star on the firmament. I’m glad that Aetius is measuring up (and so does Mark Schannon, I might add). You’re always included, of course.

    Note my comment (#48). I still think what we have here is a utopian vision. So unless you’re prepared to say how humankind can ever be protected from itself, I’ll always be ready to hear it. And given you eschatological view of things – which I, by the way, share – I’d say that the task at hand is a formidable one, indeed.

    BTW, Baronius had offered a respectful account of your position on my thread (and I responded). But it’s best to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nowhere have I claimed I’m the only bright star on the firmament.

    I was just being polite, Roger. You’ve been kind enough to engage me (on your thread), and I appreciate it. But I felt that this article, with the collection of ideas on it, was more appropriate to make my points.

    The messianic world will be pretty dictatorial, Roger. The sturm und drang of democracy will be absent because the dictator will have protected humankind against itself by removing the evil impulse. But it will not viewed as a dictatorship (with all the exploitative baggage that dictatorship carries with it) because the dictator (the messiah) will not act to exploit those he governs. This does not mean that there will be no disagreements, or that there will be no arguments, or no need for decision-making machinery. All this will still be required. But the element of exploitation (as in “I want this idea to go through to fuck you over”) will not be there.

    Those of us who will survive to live in this world will be happy to have survived because in addition to having the evil impulse removed, we will have been given a dose of what Final Judgment will look like. From what little I have read of this, it is not pretty.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    I agree with your last paragraph, Ruvy. We shall be thankful, I suppose, but it will not be pretty. But knowing human impulse for liberty – I’d say one of the most powerful ones – there will be challenges. Just like in the past.

    Only in afterlife – is my motto. That’s why (believe it or not) I take all political discussions only semi-seriously.

    Roger

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    Cut this from a piece I’m working on, attempting to get my bits around a solution as I write.
    Food ‘fer thought but be warned – you run the risk of having your input stolen LOL.

    “If the history of man is anything I suggest, it is his long running battle with and against economics. This is particularly true in today’s complex world, where there is a constant (losing) fight against the foibles of human nature. These foibles, I further suggest, are the natural elements of social man, and cannot be expunged any more than his DNA can. In the words of the great American thinker Popeye the Sailor Man ” I yam whats I yam”.

    At first, early economists attempted to deduce in which ways this natural, uninhibited man interacted within markets. They accepted that both trade and gain were prerequisites of human nature, having witnessed same for 100 centuries. Economics was a pure science of observation, test, and report, and remained that way for all of twenty minutes or so. No sooner was “Wealth of Nations” published, than came a growing cottage industry of special interests who then attempted to do nothing less than use the original paper to justify social policy, be it economic or otherwise.

    Stripping away the hyphenated economics with which we are so plagued today, we are dumped back at the feet of the original, bulletproof hypothesis that man will do as he pleases, and he will do it best for gain. In a way, every other social and cultural discipline is nothing more than an attempt at dealing with the uncomfortable truth, of us.

    When we get the issue back to the very basic, fundamental issue – human nature – we have a better grounding on which to start looking for solutions to a better world. Rather than fight nature, it may be best to consider harnessing it in some way, accepting us for who we are, and constructing an infrastructure from there.

    One titanic result of this great meltdown surely must be the damage ideology will take, enough perhaps to boldly scrub ourselves clean of the old and the stale. Hard to imagine at the moment, but history is full of examples where crisis moved societies from ancient ages into bold new ones. This may be one of those ages.

    Without it however, there is absolutely no chance we will move any closer to the fundamental issue of our social planet, and resolve the conflict between human economics and ideological dogma.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “If the history of man is anything I suggest, it is his long running battle with and against economics.”

    This is a rather loose statement, Aetius, or at the very least, must be substantiated.

    Whether at the individual – family level – or the aggregate one, the history of human kind has always been one of progress, perhaps not the kind of progress you approve of but progress nonetheless. From hunting to agrarian economy, from agrarian economy to the industrialized on, from industry to technology. And whether you like it or not, such has been the case.

    Lots of us – you also fail to realize – are reaping the benefits of leisure and culture – the implosion of arts and sciences in the West being the most obvious example. So not all of us, you had better admit, are caught in this economic spiral. I, for one, am not, and I refuse (as all artists) to be.

    So I suggest you had better to get back to the drawing board before you ask us to scrap what we already have and adopt some grandiose – you’re yet to tell us – plan for the future.

    I, for one, would be willing to listen, and so (I’m certain, would many others). So go beyond your poetical essay and tell us what we’re to expect. Because in the absence of that, given that you’re determined (as you seem to be) to leave the matter of our future shrouded (as I you seem to content to do) in the cloak of silence, I’m afraid that your prophetic warnings, unless they be accompanied by a definitive and decisive course of action, are going to amount to nothing more than dust in the wind.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    How ’bout this then – we have to make it pay to be us.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There’s always a price to pay in order to move on.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Jeeze Louise, my name’s been taken in vain so often, I just have to weigh in, although I don’t have the fortitude (aged, ill, smoker that I am) to respond to every comment. Dan M–hang around, I smoke a pipe too!) I will comment on some, my apologies to those who’ve written wonderfully thoughtful comments that I ignore.

    Romulous, whoever you are, if you’ve arrived at these conclusions simply by observation and cognition, I stand in awe. You have discovered the revolution going on in science these days, merging neurology, psychology, economics, and even quantum physics, all addressing the issues you raise about humanity’s fundamental non-rational condition.

    There’s even a recognized new field called neuro-economics. In 2004, a psychologist & economist jointly won the Nobel Econ prize for their work in demonstrating that markets and individuals do not make rational decisions–cannot make rational decisions about investing because of the way our brains are wired.

    One of the most troubling aspects of these new theories is how dominant is our unconscious and how little access we have to what’s going on there.

    The Nobel psychologist, Daniel Kanheman, came up with one of my favorite quotes: “The memory is a fickle friend.” The past is a creation of our current conditions, the future is unknown, the present never exists. (That’s my quote.)

    How then can we proceed rationally, relying on self-induced memories, absurd assumptions about the future, and no concept of the present?

    Romy (pardon the informality,) there are books and articles you must read. You are not alone in your rejection of Adam Bede’s (or was that Smith?) economic theories. In fact, the Enlightenment, the 18th Century Age of Reason, the point at which we declared that Man is a Rational Animal has been dealt the same death blow that classical Newtonian physics was by Einstein.

    The Age of Reason is dead. Homo sapiens is not a rational animal. All the talk on this thread about what follows capitalism fails to recognize what are now incontrovertible facts about how people take in, process, and act on information.

    Our facilities for reason are inextricably linked to our emotion as well as to primitive impulses that served us well, as Cindy notes, when we were in the caves.

    Until we accept and recognize that, in evolutionary terms, a million years (about how long homo sapiens have been screwing up the world) is nothing more than the blink of a gnat’s eye, we’re screwed. Our neurological impulses react to stress and threat exactly the way our ancestors did when confronted by a very large hairy mammoth or sabre-toothed tiger.

    Ruvy, I love Cindy’s faith and optimism; I share her vision of a truly anarchistic society, but my culture (can’t use the word faith since I ain’t got none) has nothing to do with it.

    It’s amazing, we’ve got two threads going that I wish could be converged. You’ve raised incredibly important issues the solution to which lie not in religion or philosophy but in a new understanding of what strange, marvelous, non-rational creatures we truly are.

    I have no idea how to reform our current systems. As arrogant as I may appear in print, I’m simply not that smart. I hesitate to say that I don’t believe in revolution, simply because, historically, very few resulted in anything but more suffering and misery. (Ours and the Brits in the 17th century, I believe.)

    However, we can and must continually challenge all our assumptions about the way things ought to be because we can never be sure how those assumptions may have been influenced by unconscious forces working against our modern interests.

    Roger, stimulating as always, noted the comment: “The next age will be one that recognizes that man must indeed have protection from himself, his foibles, and his technology.” It ain’t Hal or some new computer based on quantum physics, it’s us. We don’t need protection from ourselves, we simply (hah, if that’s not the most idiotic use of that adjective in history) must acknowledge what human beings are.

    #50: Ruvy, one doesn’t need to eliminate free will and welcome the Messiah to accomplish what we both want. I am glad I can still eat Twinkies and smoke (how about fois gros?), but, as you know (regardless of how much you try), I approach the world from a secular POV.

    Only when we accept ourselves as primitives (sorry, Cindy) with uncontrollable evolutionary instincts developed over millions of years, only when we also accept that our emotions are essential qualities to our “rational” decision making, only when we embrace our true nature (primitives with a thin veneer of civiliation) will we be able to control our worst instincts and begin to work in a cooperative, multi-cultural, multi-tribal environment.

    #23: Cindy, “The view that selfishness, competition and exploitation should be the basis of a society, holds it back from evolving beyond that. It’s what keeps people in Mark Schannon’s cave. (More so, I think than his beliefs about our primitive instincts.) We can decide to change that.” As I said in the other thread, wheverever it is, no we can’t! (Screw Obama, LOL.) We cannot decide to change our DNA. We can recognize its influence and struggle to reach beyond it; we can reinforce the positive aspects of our DNA (cooperation, empathy, etc.); we can examine our own behavior for evidence of our primitive nature and, by doing so, overcome it. But it is not simply a matter of “decision.”

    If that were the case, we’d all be living in luxury, drinking find Armagnac, smoking excellent Cuban cigars, and eating fois gros.

    Oy, as usual, I’ve done a brain dump–the problem with posts as opposed to articles.

    Anyone interested in reading about this new science, e-mail me (i’ve been reprimanded for putting my e-mail here, so look me up on BC & you can get it.) I’ve already sent Cindy some articles. And I can recommend some interesting books as well. I wish I had all this put together in a neat, compleat theory…but then I’d win the Goddamn Nobel Prize…and that ain’t likely.

    And that’s the truth…whew.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Mark,

    This year old article on sexual slavery in the United States and elsewhere on Blogcritics Magazine makes it clear that exploitation in its most brutal forms exist in what is allegedly the most civilized of the world’s nations. The purveyor of this sexual slavery is now in Israel as well, so we are not innocent of this garbage either.

    Actually, Mark, my point is that there is a cycle of exploitation/revolution/exploitation/revolution that you see in human history. What I suggest is that this cycle gets worse and worse each go-round, and that its end will be Messianic Redemption – the alternative will be Man destroying himself with nuclear weapons. The cycle I refer to is evident from our history as a species and is impossible to refute. It’s all there in the history books.

    But at some point the cup of evil becomes so full that overthrowing it overthrows mankind altogether. In reality, that is what messianic theology is really all about – a revolution.
    Most often (but not always), revolutions are preceded by economic crises. Joanne Huspek notes this particular crisis in the United States as a Perfect Storm, and the attempts to alleviate it or get Americans into some kind of storm cellar appear to be failing utterly. Joanne is not alone here.

    Obama is worse off than liquor, which has many defenders, but no defense. I expected Obama to wind up with no defenders and no defense, but I thought it would take longer than it has. But this is not written to condemn Obama. He is just the poor schmuck with the job of being your president, and he will get swept away like trash. Were McCain president, he would be in a similar position, though different critics would be skewering him for different reasons.

    At some point, the cycle has to end. But the end will not be pretty, and as I pointed out above, the Prophetic Books in the Tana”kh are a parochial view of Jews writing over two millennia ago – it’s a wide world out there, and I’m sure that there are more ways to see all these events they foresaw them. But their views are the ones that were preserved from ancient days, and they have an eerie resonance with current events. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t bother to quote them or direct you to them so consistently.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark Schannon,

    You ARE a tough nut to crack. Perhaps I ought to give myself more time to prepare a more adequate response – “reaction” would be a better word – but I decided that doing so wouldn’t really put me in a better position to draft one; I’d be just as dumbfounded and puzzled as I am now, so why wait?

    I’ve jotted down a number of points (below): excerpts from your comments and my attempt at response. This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s for illustration purposes only. Do with it what you will, but I can’t think of no better format in which to try to answer.

    1) You’re expressing some kind of vision of human progress – of a merger of sciences, of neurology, humanities, the physical sciences, what else have you – to culminate in a better understanding we humans can attain as to who we are, an understanding which, you believe, will alter us beyond our present condition, help us uncover our unconscious, etcetera and etcetera, and a whole bunch of other things I can’t even begin to articulate since you yourself don’t -as part of human evolution, I suppose – and so on and so forth. Let’s leave it at that.

    By the same token, you refuse to call it “belief,” “optimism” or “faith” because as you say in your #58, “you ain’t got faith.”

    So my simple question to you Mark: if it ain’t faith, then what the hell is it?

    2) The presumed change you’re talking about is not, as you say, a matter of “decision.” Fair enough, because your presumption is, it’s going to be “evolutionary” (?) and therefore occurring in spite of us. Yet, you’re enable to say anything beyond that.

    3) You keep on harping on the “irrational” in humans, on the intertwining of “reason” and “emotion.” Again, no one would dispute that, except that you don’t even allow “reason” or “decision” to combat this “irrationality.” They’re useless. Only once “change” occurs and our unconscious uncovered will everything fall into place.

    But I don’t really want to take any more snippets and try to deal with them in any intelligent way (because I can’t), so the bulk of this remark is going to be of a general nature.

    My main problem with you is – you’re trying to invent a language, not just one concept but the whole language. Richard Dawkins, for example, invented the notion of “meme” – a powerful (though I think misguided) tool to help us understand some of the things you may or may not try to communicate. But that’s not good enough for you, Mark. You feel you must go the full mile and invent a whole new way of talking (because our present language apparently is inadequate, you feel, to express whatever it is you want to express). So to put it bluntly, Mark, when I read what you write, I find none of it is intelligible, as though I was listening to a Martian.

    Now, I can (perhaps) understand the impulse. You have an understandable reaction to the failure of humanity, its long history of trial and error, always falling flat on its face, never resolving its problems. And as part of your disenchantment, you fault our “irrationality” and “emotions” and “the unconscious,” – indeed, even the tools at our disposal: “decision-making,” “faith.” Indeed, even language itself (because it, too, has obviously failed us, you think). Hence you feel the need to re-invent the language, a brand-new way of talking. So I can (perhaps) understand your impulse, as I said. But understanding the impulse is not the same as understanding you. You are unintelligible (and would be willing to bet, you’re unintelligible even to yourself).

    But there is nothing wrong with our ordinary language. It’s always growing and keeping pace with human history, always adjusting to adjusting conditions and circumstances, always capable of developing new nuances and the right kind of distinctions if and when the need arises. Language itself is like a growing organism – always growing, always evolving. The fault doesn’t lie in language, only in our inattention to it, or refusal to use it, or thinking it’s inadequate so therefore must be re-invented. It’s not our language that’s at fault but us, the users. Without language we have nothing.

    So this is my main beef with you, Mark. You speak a tongue I fail to understand – on analogy, perhaps, with some practitioners of Scientology, or the Jehovah Witnesses, or some other cult understandable perhaps only to the initiates.

    Well, I don’t want to join. I’m perfectly at home with English, and the mysteries which you are alluding to are not compelling enough to make me abandon my faith and join the Church of Mark.

    So unless you can bring your discussion to the common term of ordinary discourse – in English and only in English – than I’m afraid I will be taking a pass. Because as things stand, I have a distinct impression that you’re an extraterrestrial. So no, I don’t want to learn your language because I’m rather peculiar about my own. It serves me fine, and I’m comfortable where I’m at.

    Peace, friend.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Note my #60. I don’t believe Mark and I will be able to have an intelligent discussion here; but judging my some of your comments, you claim to understand him. Well, I don’t. So if you care to serve in the capacity of a translator, I wouldn’t mind and we could kick a few ideas about.

    So go for it if you like.

    Roger

  • Mar k

    Excuses, excuses. Our ‘uncontrollable evolutionary instincts’ do not excuse our acceptance — choice — of poverty amidst wealth. Nor do they preclude moral and effective corrective action…relatively speaking, that is.

  • Cindy

    Mark S.

    It’s amazing, we’ve got two threads going that I wish could be converged.

    Yes. That’s what I thought too. But then I’d really fall behind.

    As I said in the other thread, wheverever it is, no we can’t!

    Okay, but, I’m not done challenging your ideas yet!

    (I just got a little busy. I am 100 pages behind in my homework. So, it’s hard to read other things.)

    Besides you gave me 4,000 things to read. (And thank you so much for doing that! :-)

    For example, on the other thread, I think you may be wrong about John Stewart’s knowledge base, although perhaps right about that particular quote. (maybe–but, I need more time…I have to finish reading his ideas too). He discusses inculcated behavior in addition to genetics in his main book. He is a member of the Evolution, Complexity, and Cognition Research Group. It isn’t likely he’s leaving out what you’re talking about. They’re looking at everything. I doubt they are ignoring any relevant science.

  • Cindy

    Mark S.

    More to the point. It’s possible your ‘evolutionaries’ are leaving out ‘inculcated’ behavior. But I have a ways to go to see if I think that or not.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    There is nothing to translate here. Mark writes in clear enough English. He just doesn’t agree with you – or me. That’s all.

    He’s a nice guy, a good man who really does pay attention to what you write. But he views things in his own light.

    First of all, Mark views himself as a a scientist, and a writer. Second of all, what he does is conflict resolution. So he is a fellow who makes things easier for people to understand, not the other way round.

    He convinced me that one cannot prove the existence of G-d. It is something you have to believe and to take a leap of faith in. So now I do not try to prove what I view as the unprovable.

    He has trouble with that leap of faith himself. Some goats don’t like to make the jump, that’s all.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, it’s got nothing to do with goats not liking the jump, it’s got to do with self respect.

    Why on earth would any sane person choose to believe in something that, based on the evidence, doesn’t exist?

    Oh yeah, because it makes them feel a bit special and allows them to wibble on pompously rather than being humoured or pitied?

    Ultimately, no faithist can ever be completely trusted, because you just never know when their beliefs are going to make them do something completely irrational and potentially dangerous, just like any other fanatic.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Couldn’t hold your opinions in, eh?

    That’s okay, Chris. If I spit in the face of the obvious and said it was truth, I wouldn’t have my own self respect.

    Have a good Sabbath, Chris!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    It’s nothing to do with holding in one’s opinions, Ruvy. This is a discussion space and I was rebutting your argument because it made no sense, just like your second paragraph above. Now run along and indulge in your mystical nonsense like a good boy.

  • Cindy

    You feel you must go the full mile and invent a whole new way of talking (because our present language apparently is inadequate, you feel, to express whatever it is you want to express). So to put it bluntly, Mark, when I read what you write, I find none of it is intelligible, as though I was listening to a Martian…You are unintelligible (and would be willing to bet, you’re unintelligible even to yourself).

    What ‘new’ language? It’s the language of the field. One could accuse philosophy or medicine, or anthropology of ‘inventing’ a whole new language if one was unfamiliar with them. And they do invent language…but, it’s hardly ‘new’–just new to you.

    So this is my main beef with you, Mark. You speak a tongue I fail to understand – on analogy, perhaps, with some practitioners of Scientology, or the Jehovah Witnesses, or some other cult understandable perhaps only to the initiates.

    Sounds kind of harsh to me! Is this really necessary to this discussion?

    I’m probably biased. I prefer looking at science over (most) philosophy.

    I have conflicts with both Roger’s seeming ‘you can’t get there from here’ notion of philosophy, and with what I see as MarkS.’s failure to explain how we have in fact advanced beyond the war of all tribes against each other, in many ways–even though in many ways we haven’t.

    So, there is what Roger is calling ‘reason’ and/or what MarkE is calling–I don’t know he didn’t call it anything–nevertheless, there it is–it’s something.) [ethics?]

    Whatever you call it, there is something else there I think MarkS. is missing.

  • Cindy

    Whatever you call it, there is something else there I think MarkS. is missing.

    Maybe ‘missing’ is the wrong word–maybe downplaying?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    I totally disagree with your #65. I think that with Mark, the language is on the holiday. If you can understand whatever metaphysical system he’s operating with, more power to you. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s a Martian.

    Roger

    PS: I’m not referring to his article per se, only to his “explanatory” comments.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #69,

    If that’s “the language of the field,” then the whole “field” is utter nonsense.

    But that’s the reason, in all likelihood, “the field” is attempting to establish itself as credible: by re-inventing language.

  • Cindy

    MarkS.,

    Please stop using words like DNA and evolution. What the hell are you trying to do?–make science look credible?

    :-)

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Ow…hornet’s nest, hornet’s nest.

    Roger,

    This isn’t going to be a real response, but merely a holding place.

    I’ve written a number of times that these kinds of posts are totally inadequate places for the kind of detailed explanation you want. And I was once told I have “tangential and loquacious” speech, which means I ramble from idea to idea & talk too much. With articles, I try to do careful editing. With these posts, I just ramble, so I’m not surprised I’m being less than clear.

    Ruvy probably understands me because we’ve been waging wondrous, humorous, respectful battles for years now, although this is the first time, I believe, that he’s acknowledged that one can’t prove God’s existence. And he’s right…this goat just can’t make the leap.

    And Chris, you’re way too harsh. Atheism is just as unprovable as belief. God or whoever lies outside the realm of proof. While I’m not a big fan of God, I’m not ready to write Her off…just in case, you know?

    But back to Roger. I’ve read your comment a number of times, and, on some level you’re right. I am talking short-hand and, while trying to respond to too many points, not explaining enough. As for creating a new language, don’t I wish, LOL.

    Ironically, when I was a grad student in philosophy a few thousand years ago, what made me give it up was the emergence of a field called “Ordinary Language” philosophy which argued that most philosophical problems arise because of the misuse of ordinary language (oops…short hand again.) The point is, I’m not trying to be obtuse.

    One quick tangent: I have no religious faith; I have faith in people, in ideas, in values. But what I’m doing a terrible job explaining is scientific in nature–it’s not metaphysics, which I could never understand in grad school.

    Oops…another tangent. Ruvy, the me who’s scared witless by what’s happening in the world can relate to your notion of a spiraling series of disasters leading to the big collapse. However, the amateur historian can’t quite buy it.

    I was reading recently that much of Jesus’s teachings were bound up in the prevailing belief at the time that the world was going to end soon & God was going to come down and…well, do His or Her thing. Every generation “knows” that doom is around the corner. Remember how the world didn’t end with the end of the millennium?

    Except for global climate change–regardless of how much people are responsible for it–which could really mess things up. (There’s a fascinating book, “The Great Warming” about the years 800-1300 when massive global upheavals resulted from a relatively slight warming.) Oops, I’m really babbling now. Anyway, except for that, I’m leaning towards progress, albeit slow, halting, and painful.

    Oh well, today’s a bad day–fog wise–so I’ll end this here & try to figure out how to explain things in more detail & fewer words.

    Phew.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    I tried to be as tactful as I possible could because you are an intelligent and thinking person. But you can’t just do that – whatever you say has got to make sense to people. So don’t try to cover too much – one bit at a time; but whatever you do, try to be as clear as possible, especially if the area of study is relatively speaking a new one and calls for a brand-new perspective. So do it slowly if you must, but do it well. Otherwise, how are you “convert” people to the “new vision”?

    Roger

  • Baronius

    Roger, this is usually where I’d come down on you for being dismissive or something, but I’ve had the same problem with Mark in the past. About 2/3 of our exchanges have revolved around misunderstandings. I don’t think it’s a problem of articulation, though. I suspect that Mark has a very specific, unusual philosophy that he’s unaware of, that frames his thinking on a lot of topics. Either that or he’s drunk.

  • Cindy

    I don’t get it. What’s not to understand? What language problem?

    Personally I think the problem was this: In fact, the Enlightenment, the 18th Century Age of Reason, the point at which we declared that Man is a Rational Animal has been dealt the same death blow that classical Newtonian physics was by Einstein.

    Why is spoon-feeding so necessary? What is with all the passivity? Take 5 minutes and go look up the lingo.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    “Mark has a very specific, unusual philosophy that he’s unaware of, that frames his thinking on a lot of topics.”

    That’s precisely the problem, Baronius – he seems unaware of what “moves” him, not to mention the philosophy is indeed most unusual: a double whammy, which makes it his responsibility to get clear about it prior to communicating, not mind.

    And it goes beyond the few propositions that are thrown now and then, like “man is not rational,” “is mostly governed by the unconscious,” etcetera, etcetera – with which one may or may not agree. It’s the way everything is couched that I find impenetrable – as though one had to learn a brand-new language in order to even begin to understand.

    Well, I don’t have to. The onus is on the speaker if he/she intends, that is, on being understood.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And thanks, Baronius, for not coming down on me this time. I’m doing my best to reform.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    Let me introduce you to one famous remark by Wittgenstein:

    If a lion could speak we could not understand him.

    That’s in essence my contention: it goes beyonds words and phrases, English that they may be.

  • Baronius

    Yes, but doesn’t it bother you that according to Wittgenstein, no one ever understood him?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, his writing style was very cryptic. Whether they understood him to the extent he wished, I don’t know. But he’s got many more followers than detractors. Without question, the most influential figure in the 20th century philosophy.

    His style though was by design – to make you think. Like presenting us with puzzles. It’s up to us to figure them out.

  • Cindy

    Well there is something Roger and MarkS. have in common apparently, their understanding of Ordinary Language philosophy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Aetius,

    “If international trade and markets are essential, then so must be their equal democratic principles.” (#33)

    This is the key, Aetius, to any equitable resolution. The balance has got to be restored for the sake of both the economic and political system.

    I find that some of the comments (or parts of the comments) on this thread may well advance your original thinking into a semblance of a solution.

    It might be your worthwhile to sift through it carefully for seeds of ideas by way of a follow-up.

    Personally, I’d like to see you develop your theme further because as it stands it’s either DOA or at limbo. But the comments point to possibilities.

    Roger

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Gather round me, all ye who are confused or distressed by my unconscious unusual philosophy.

    Part of me wants to write a series of well-crafted essays focusing on one specific topic, laying out both the idea, it’s foundation, and implications.

    Another part of me wants to simply say–go read up on what’s happening. Google neuro-science or evolution or consciousness or Daniel Kahneman or Vernon Smith or Timothy Wilson or Richard Thaler.

    Cindy may have a good point with my comment, “In fact, the Enlightenment, the 18th Century Age of Reason, the point at which we declared that Man is a Rational Animal has been dealt the same death blow that classical Newtonian physics was by Einstein.”

    I remember heated arguments in grad school about whether people had free will; most believed the world was deterministic. This was in the mid 1980s–and quantum physics had dealt a death blow to determinism at least 50 years before. Einstein hated it, saying something like “God does not play dice with the universe.”

    If you’ve studied the Enlightenment, you know how intellectually, emotionally, and culturally disruptive it was.

    Well, we’re in the midst of a new revolution which is/will be equally as disruptive. I am very conscious of my philosophy and equally aware of how controversial it is, even among those struggling too make sense out of the new paradigm. And I know how confusing it is–hell, it confuses and disturbs me. I always wanted to be a Renaissance Man–might as well desire to be a Maytag repairman.

    I’ve been feeding scientific articles & links to Cindy & Clavos, and I just found a few more this morning.

    Roger, you wrote, “It’s the way everything is couched that I find impenetrable – as though one had to learn a brand-new language in order to even begin to understand.”

    You’re half-right. It’s not a new language; the words and their meanings haven’t changed, but it is a new conceptual framework, one I’m just beginning to understand after decades of study.

    Worse, within that framework is still being constructed. There are raging debates about the extent to which our unconscious controls our behavior. Timothy Wilson (must read: Strangers To Ourselves, Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious) claims over 95%, but he acknowledges that other scientists dispute that.

    Evolution? A recent interview in Discover Magazine about how DNA researchers have just about nailed the evolutionary process.

    One simple example of non-rational (note I don’t use irrational. Perhaps I should say rational/emotional behavior. Anyway, it’s not the best, but this Times article has some good points.

    However, as promised before, I shall endeavor to be more clear, not write in short hand, and not try to respond to every comment. But, alas, I’m an inadequate guide to this new conceptual framework.

    BTW, I took a year-long course in Wittgenstein. Hated him. Worse than Hegal. Talk about an inability to use ordinary language.

    And I’m rarely drunk when I post…note the modifier, LOL.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    Nice of you to have finally “come out of the closet,” so to speak.

    Any “new” system of thought goes through its birth pains (and only some become what we call “disciplines”). Sociology, psychology, anthropology, darn it – even the hard sciences like physics itself – have all been once part of a body of thought which was once known as philosophy. The idea of “natural philosophy,” resurrected by Descartes, was an attempt for philosophy to reclaim its dominance among the sciences (and a failed attempt, as we all know).

    Aristotle was an intellect like no other – da Vinci comes close; and the taxonomy he devised for the natural world was the beginning of biology. Once physics and other natural sciences eventually became disciplines in their own right, philosophy came to be known by some as “metaphysics,” a misnomer in a sense but you get the point.

    Examples of “failed” disciplines: “alchemy,” which eventually became chemistry; “astrology,” when paved the way to astronomy; and there are other examples, I’m sure.

    So the first thing I’d like to say – there are a lot of quacks and charlatans out there. And this is especially true today, given the explosion of knowledge (all too often superficial) and the present trend (beneficial, in my opinion) to loosen the all-to-rigid distinctions between the disciplines – i.e., the trend toward interdepartmental studies. “Scientology,” I mentioned earlier, is one example of a failed enterprise, trying to make science out of something it is not. The rather recent development by way of “cognitive studies” (and cognitive-studies departments) is another example. The CS departments, as you know, make use of philosophy, neurology and neuro-philosophy, not to mention computer sciences and models, to arrive at our understanding of cognition, cognition processes, and consciousness. Whether it’ll succeed or not is too early to tell; I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    Having said all that, I think you can begin to see why I’m rather skeptical about “modes of thought” which are claimed to be “new and revolutionary,” especially when the jargon they use appears impenetrable and in defiance of common sense. Especially in the social sciences, everything that should be said should be said clearly; so the onus is on you to bring clarity into the discussion, not for us to try to penetrate the recesses of your mind – and especially when you’re trying to introduce us to a “revolutionary mode of thinking.”

    You say in your comment, “BTW, I took a year-long course in Wittgenstein; hated him; worse than Hegel; talk about an inability to use ordinary language.” And in a comment prior, that the growing popularity of “ordinary language” brand of philosophy had made you abandon your philosophical career and quit.

    Whether you realize or not, this is very telling for apparently it says volumes about your natural bent. You have a heart of a metaphysician. And since Wittgenstein or, rather, your incompetent or uninspired teachers haven’t cured you of this metaphysical impulse, nothing ever will. So by nature, you gravitate towards theorizing and mysteries where good ole ordinary language thinking may have sufficed. Just think: you may be in a state of rebellion (against Wittgenstein and the like). And you wouldn’t be the only one.

    My take on things is rather simple. Lots of things we know now have been known by the ancients. Wisdom is not the exclusive province of the modern man, nor the exclusive province of particular civilizations or cultures; the Hindus, the Chinese, the Greeks, the Hebrews – each of these peoples have left record of their understanding as to the nature of humanity, their wisdom. And I find the categories of thought employed then very satisfactory indeed when applied to my understanding of the moderns.

    Are there no mysteries? Of course there are. Life is a mystery. But my position and MO – why create them when I see none. And in this respect, Wittgenstein and ordinary language philosophy have been very helpful.

    Peace

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    You’re saying in the comment above:

    “I’m an inadequate guide to this new conceptual framework.”

    Well, for crying out laud, that’s the damn source of the trouble. How in the hell you expect us to understand it if you have problems understanding it yourself?

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Roger,

    Because it’s new and evolving and intellectually and emotionally disruptive!

    My brain went numb when I read that 95% of our feelings, thoughts, values, biases, and behaviors are driven by our unconscious and that we have very little access to it. Timothy Wilson, who wrote that, said we can intuit what’s going on in our unconscious by carefully observing our behavior, but that’s little help.

    I was stunned when Daniel Kahneman and others have written about how scientists can literally create memories that we’ll swear are real…or conduct studies where they’ll have people keep journals about important events, such as where you were on 9/11, and then have those people deny their own journals two years later because they’ve recreated the memories to fit their current needs.

    I grew up believing in the Enlightenment ideals, especially that I was a rational animal with control over my beliefs and behaviors. It still bothers me to think that my unconscious may be the big dog in this kennel I call myself.

    I’ve spent a lifetime, both professionally and personally trying to understand why highly intelligent people, supposedly used to high-stress situations, act against their own best interests when in a crisis.

    For good or bad, I’ve always been attracted to the unusual, the unexpected, the unexplainable. I easily get bored by routine. I love trying to make sense out of chaotic states.

    One model I use to explain why the rules of success fail to work in a crisis was first formulated with two French aeronautical engineers after a night of drinking in Toulouse. (So Baronius might be right about being drunk, LOL.)

    We were trying to figure out how to quantify the influences and influencers that are necessary to cause an issue to explode into a crisis. (Damn what’s his name came up with the term, “Tipping Point,” but it’s a great concept. We finally decided that, based on Chaos Theory, there are potentially an infinite number of variables and that the task was impossible.

    But the model still was intriguing, and I revised it and have been using it since.

    I’m not surprised or disheartened by your reaction. I spent a couple of years trying to sell these theories to executives in the public relations community, but acceptance required that they actually start learning something outside their comfort zone–spend time reading about psychology, neurology, economics–and not one was willing to do it.

    My formal articles and speeches deal specifically with crisis management and how the rules change during a crisis, although they include a lot of the science I’ve been alluding to.

    But other than the few articles I’ve written here on BC, I’ve never tried to address these issues directly. I do have an idea for expanding “Three Steps From the Cave” to do that, but for private reasons, I doubt I’ll be able to work on that, or other articles, any time soon.

    Most of my writing on BC since my return has been high on satire & low on serious discourse.

    I expect & hope this discussion will continue. And I’ll try to be more focused. I need an outline from which to work to present these ideas in a more coherent framework. But if you and others are really interested, you’re going to have to do your own research.

    So you ask a simple question, get a whole pageant. The fact is, no one’s ever challenged me like this before. So, I thank you…and Baronius, Clavos, Cindy & others.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Clavos

    One model I use to explain why the rules of success fail to work in a crisis was first formulated with two French aeronautical engineers after a night of drinking in Toulouse.

    So, did some consulting for Airbus Industrie, did you?

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Clavos, I wish! No, they work for the French space agency, and one of them is my French “son” whom I’ve known since he was 14! It’s just that they share my fascination with chaos theory, non-linearity, and bizarre human behavior.

  • Clavos

    Ah. I spent some time at the Airbus facility in Toulouse many years ago, when the airline I then worked for was switching its fleet from B727s to A320s, so the combo of Toulouse and aeronautical engineers naturally brought that memory back. :>)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I do have a few books to recommend you, believe it or not.

    One is by Antonio Damasio, a behavioral neurologist, “The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness.”

    Neurophilosophy is a relatively new discipline, initiated by the likes as Chalmers and Dennett. Patricia Chalmers, Chalmers’ wife, heads a cognitive sciences department and wrote a fairly detailed text on Neurophilosophy.

    A book by Rita Carter, Exploring Consciousness is an excellent, well-balanced and lucid introduction to the latest in consciousness studies – elucidating all the conceptual problems and traps, along with possibilities.

    Philosophy of Mind is indeed one of the most challenging fields in philosophy right now, but I’m afraid that “scientism” is kind of taking over. I do not subscribe to the Mind-Brain identity thesis.

    Dennett is one guy you want to read: challenging and forward looking, but again, in a balanced kind of way. You can’t do injustice to the present conceptual system before you construct an alternative one that could replace it.

    So I’m not exactly against new developments in the sciences, philosophy and modes of thought. It’s just that lots of it, IMO, is a wild goose chase; and that the workings of human brain; and that the eventual translation of “brain events” into “action events as done be humans” is a thesis which (again, IMO) will never take hold.

    Hence, I’m quite content to leave such matters in the realm of the miraculous.

    For all my seeming arrogance and charges of being condescending, for all my belief in humans as the greatest artifact of the Universe, I am rather humble when it comes to my aspirations as to what’s possible. We shall never be gods, and I don’t want to follow the example of all those who had tried and with disastrous results – as our myths and legends inform us. There is a deeper truth to myths than most realize. So I’m quite content to be a mere human and be part of this mystery which is life and the Universe. Perhaps that’s where you and I differ. I don’t share in this aspiration to conquer. I know I’m not the master.

    Roger

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Roger,

    Gadfry Daniels, do I come across as someone seeking to conquer or master or be god-like? If so, there is much confusion.

    If there’s anything I seek, it’s truth, small “t”, answers to things that are confusing; I revel in the mysteries of the universe and reject nothing…well, I don’t believe in ghosts & such. And I do reject false science, such as Creationism, although I’m perfectly willing to say that their theological perspective could be right.

    Hey, if God’s as powerful as they all they, then she could do what the creatists claim. It’s just that it’s not science, it’s faith.

    I’ve only been intellectually disciplined in two areas: my work & my formal writing (fiction & non-fiction). Otherwise, I’m happy to wander wherever someone has something interesting to say, which means my blogging most often reflects the kid locked in the candy store after the owner’s gone home.

    It’s ironic, today I stumbled across neurophilosophy for the first time & bookmarked some sites to go back and explore. I will check out those books. Sound interesting.

    However, sir, I accuse you of the same crime as I stand accused: short hand!

    Philosophy of Mind is indeed one of the most challenging fields in philosophy right now, but I’m afraid that “scientism” is kind of taking over. I do not subscribe to the Mind-Brain identity thesis.

    So I’m not exactly against new developments in the sciences, philosophy and modes of thought. It’s just that lots of it, IMO, is a wild goose chase; and that the workings of human brain; and that the eventual translation of “brain events” into “action events as done be humans” is a thesis which (again, IMO) will never take hold.

    What do you mean that “scientism” is taking over? And by Mind-Brain identify, do you mean the theory that the mind is simply a manifestation of brain functions and has no reality apart from that?

    And “brain events” = “actions done by humans.” Are you rejecting old style behaviorism that argued that since we can’t see “mind” but only behavior, there’s no value in asking anything about “mind?” If so, I completely agree. But do you mean something else.

    You say Dennett is the one to read–first name? Book or article? That’d help. Thanks.

    Your comments about myths and legends strikes a chord because there’s an sometimes writer on BC, John Spivey, who’s self-published an amazing book, The Great Western Divide. I wrote a rather lengthy review that’ll show you another side of me, LOL.

    This is good–you sharing what you believe. It creates more of a dialogue than a Q&A…with me being the A.

    And Clavos, I have very fond memories of Toulouse. I’ve gotten a tour of the space center & it’s amazing. The French, they are so…how shall I say it…French.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    Anything by Dennett, take your pick.

    “Scientism” – if short hand, is self-explanatory, I should think: overreaching.

    “Mind-brain” identity thesis is also a common term in the philosophical literature. It’s a form of reductionism (IMO), trying to account for human behavior/action in term of neural events.

    So your proposition, namely, “we can’t see ‘mind’ but only behavior, there’s no value in asking anything about ‘mind’ ” is misstatement. Mind is everything, which isn’t to say that studying the brain is of no value/ But one shouldn’t expect to find one-to-one correspondence.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And the following, BTW,

    “It creates more of a dialogue than a Q&A…with me being the A,”

    is a misrepresentation.

    I DON’T have the kind of questions you do, neither have I asked any.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Oh well, so much for what I thought was a thoughtful exchange of ideas.

  • bliffle

    “…has been dealt the same death blow that classical Newtonian physics was by Einstein.”

    Egregious overstatement, IMO.

    I don’t know anyone who can design an engine by abandoning Newton and using Einstein, nor even how to draw water from a well. I think you see conflict where there is none, which is probably due more to your love of conflict and violence than to reason.

  • bliffle

    If you haven’t had Cassoulet in Toulouse, well…there is no hope for you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No, Mr. Schannon,

    I’m all for it, but not in terms you imagined.
    It was you who said, remember, that had the answers and I questions. So you had better come down to earth if you want to get a dialog going.

  • Cindy

    Roger,

    “Scientology,” I mentioned earlier, is one example of a failed enterprise, trying to make science out of something it is not.

    Scientology is hardly a failed enterprise. The shocking and all to worrisome problem is that it has been a greatly successful enterprise.

    Where does one get this information? ave you experience or knowledge of its failure or success? Or do you ‘imagine’ it must be a failure? Say what you know please, not what you imagine must be true in your own mind, by your own reasoning. It never helps to promote misinformation.

    Even talking about the Cult of Scientology in the same breath as what this discussion involves, leads me to believe that you might get more information on Scientology than you have. This being one of the cults I have studied in depth.

  • Cindy

    Oh, I see, you are maybe confused by the name, Sientology. I doubt a scientist would be.

  • Clavos

    Scientology is hardly a failed enterprise. The shocking and all to worrisome problem is that it has been a greatly successful enterprise.

    You beat me to it, Cindy.

    Among other things, they own most of downtown Clearwater, Florida.

    As a “religion,” they don’t have to declare to the IRS, so all estimates of their net worth are just that, estimates, but it’s probably well in excess of $1 Billion by now.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Scientology is hardly a failed enterprise. The shocking and all to worrisome problem is that it has been a greatly successful enterprise.”

    [personal attack deleted] You have more sense than that.

    It’s not a business sense in which it’s meant but as a discipline.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Roger, I have no idea what’s pissed you off so, but let’s just agree to ignore one another.

    And as for everything else on this thread, as Hamlet said, the rest is silence…or was it, this is getting boring.

  • Clavos

    It’s not a business sense in which it’s meant but as a discipline.

    OK.

    Given its hundreds of thousands of adherents, it’s fair to say that it’s succeeded as a discipline, as well.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I’ve gone back and forth following the “discussion” here between you and Mr. Schannon and find, much to my amusement, that you’ve invited him here to bat him around like a fly. What’s the point? It all seems rather pointless if you are going to act so inhospitably….

    I generally disagree with Mark on a number of things but get along with him just fine – and have no trouble understanding what he writes.
    If I really wanted to fault him for anything, it might be for his taste in liquor – but I have neither the money nor inclination to buy a bottle of Jamesons and compare it to Maker’s Mark or even J&B, what I “grew up” on.

    1. I’m not generally a liquor drinker, preferring wine.
    2. Liquor is damned expensive in this country. Israelis, being the cheap sort, tend to drink vodka, mixing it with grapefruit juice or orange juice to give the kick a little flavor. I stick with wine.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris, Roger; pay careful attention to Mr. Schannon here.

    Ruvy probably understands me because we’ve been waging wondrous, humorous, respectful battles for years now, although this is the first time, I believe, that he’s acknowledged that one can’t prove God’s existence. And he’s right…this goat just can’t make the leap.

    And Chris, you’re way too harsh. Atheism is just as unprovable as belief. God or whoever lies outside the realm of proof. While I’m not a big fan of God, I’m not ready to write Her off…just in case, you know?

    Do you both see the difference between respect and disrespect? Mark, who disagrees with me, defended me, while reproving you, Chris, for your harshness, and pointing out that you can “prove” your atheism as well as I can prove the existence of G-d.

    It was a while ago that I came to the conclusion that one cannot prove the existence of G-d – during a period of Mark’s absence from Blogcritics Magazine. Actually, it is something I’ve stated a number of times, but this is probably the first time that Mark has seen me write this particular point.

    Now run along and indulge in your mystical nonsense like a good boy.

    Finally, Chris, for you information. The chief point about the Sabbath is not to think (or worry) about worldly things – like the rent, bills, growing food, crops, weather etc. There is no mystical nonsense in giving yourself a real vacation for 25½ hours a week from the worries that plague you and me and all of the rest of us for the remaining six days of the week. In fact, it is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself aside from drinking three glasses of water in the morning.

    It is, to put it simply, a G-d given psychological coping tool. The many prohibitions on the Sabbath are designed to help your mind refrain from its normal worries. I use it. You, and anyone else is free to do it as well, though if you are not a Child of Israel, you are prohibited from celebrating the Sabbath in its entirety, something that could be fulfilled by something as simple as braiding one’s hair or shaving, particularly with an electric razor, or turning the lights on and off.

    You do not have to believe in G-d to use (and benefit from)the coping tools He gives you. I realize that “advanced” minds like you scoff at such things – but that is your loss.

    Have a good week!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, I let Mark’s comment slide when first reading it as so many other people had already responded but, seeing as you brought it up again, this is what I wanted to say.

    Mark’s assertion that “Atheism is just as unprovable as belief. God or whoever lies outside the realm of proof” is actually wrong. I don’t have to “prove” atheism, whatever that means.

    It is gullible muppets like you that are entirely willing to believe in unproven assertions. I’m quite willing to believe in the existence of gods but not based on some aged fiction.

    It is also drivel that the existence of a god couldn’t be proven. The REAL reason you have switched tactics to declining to offer any such proof is that it gets you off the hook of the main stumbling block to your laughable superstition, namely that if there is no god you are making a complete mockery of your whole life.

    Mark has no way of knowing that “God lies outside the realm of proof” or not, it is just another hypocritical gesture of political and religious correctness gone mad.

    I don’t respect the views of any cult that makes unsupported claims as to the nature of our existence as a matter of principle. People who are prepared to sign up for these long cons are simultaneously victims and perpetrators of the con, which is impressively efficient but also rather creepy.

    Why exactly do you think you deserve any respect?

    There were plenty of coping tools around before the one god delusion took hold in the primitive and superstitious circumstances of 6 or 7 thousand years ago.

    Similarly there are plenty of coping tools still around that don’t require mystical mumbo jumbo either, so I haven’t suffered any “loss”.

    I must, however, thank you for the attempt to patronise me, which is so typical of the puffed up self-importance of the faithist delusion. Imagine, a con so sophisticated that the victims actually feel good about it. True genius!!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t see what has #107 got to do with me at all?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Maybe it doesn’t, Roger. Faithists have trouble with tracking logic.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Your #106 is completely off. I never really wanted to have any discussion with Schannon while regarding him rather ill-equipped to express whatever it is he wants to express. I don’t and never wanted to learn his new language. If you’d have really read my comments through, that ought to be apparent.

    So yes, it critiqued him for it, and he was responding fairly civilly, until he decided to turn the tables on me and position himself as though I had any questions.

    So neither did I bait him in any way, not did I really have any questions – given my initial impression (still intact, by the way) that he himself didn’t have a fucking idea what he was talking about.

    Darn it, Ruvy – he virtually admits it; read the damn thing with open eyes rather be attacking me.
    Thank you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #104:

    “I have no idea what’s pissed you off so, but let’s just agree to ignore one another.”

    Perfectly fine with me since suddenly you choose to present yourself as having any answers to my simple statement that you’re not making any sense.

    As to the “virtual guy” on this thread (or whomever he or may be), why should I listen to a lot of hot air?

  • Clavos

    …why should I listen to a lot of hot air?

    Indeed. And why should we?

    You get into altercations with practically everyone on this site, starting with Cindy, who tried mightily to engage you civilly, and even such an eminently reasonable person as Mark Schannon.

    It’s not coincidence, Roger…it’s not a case of everyone in the parade being out of step but you.

    Think about it…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    My conversation was with Schannon. If you decide to come in with your stupid and off-the-wall remarks, then you’ll be called for it.
    You don’t have to read the thread if it doesn’t interest you. And since you didn’t make any substantial contribution other than your usual snickering and snivelling, don’t complain that I respond to you in kind.

  • Clavos

    QED.

    Thank you for confirming my point, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Are you speaking as an editor here or not? If not the former, then you’re out of line. So forgive me if I won’t take your advice. If you are going to make stupid comments, like the one about scientology – pretending all along not to be taking it out of context – then you are going to be called for it, Mr. Clavos. Others may not have balls to do it, but I do.

    Any other snide remarks you care to make?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Sometimes I think it is a shame that duelling has gone out of fashion. My only dilemma is who first to slap upside the head with my kid gloves?

    Perhaps common sense and good manners will prevail over this grumpy old argument…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Chris,

    Believe me I don’t like to engage in these stupid tit-for-tats.

    So I do thank you for coming in. I’m just going to ignore it.

    Roger

  • Cindy

    I hope Aetius comes back and brings the discussion around. It was good for a while.

  • M (a) ® k

    Well then let’s call him:

    Aetius,

    “If international trade and markets are essential, then so must be their equal democratic principles.” (#33)

    This is one of those ‘inherited historical dilemmas’ in need of rendering. Thus, how do we restructure markets to enable producers and consumers to meet as other than (need I say profit driven) buyers and sellers? And how do we restructure democratic institutions to enable people to meet as other than (profit driven) black and white stones?

    …and all that without giving up Imax, cheeseburgers and individual freedom.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correct, Mark. That’s the horn of the dilemma.
    I’m afraid you can’t. That’s what the market is – buyers and sellers.
    The key must be education. We’ve become a nation of consumers rather than citizens. Material values and possessions have got to be de-emphasized and other values substituted and embraced in their stead.

  • Clavos

    …and all that without giving up Imax, cheeseburgers and individual freedom.

    Not to mention yachts, Bentleys, and of course, horses…

  • Cindy

    :-) Yáy M (á) ® k!

    ¿How ´bout we kéep áll that stúff Cláv!

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    I’m here LOL.

    Since I’m new kinda, I felt it appropriate to just lurk along and get an edumacation.

    You fuckers are pretty bright, eh? Really…been around the net right back to the origional Yahoo days, and the comments here are breathtaking.

    I’ll jump back in when I build some self confidence…

  • Clavos

    ¡LOL, Cíñdý!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I don’t respect the views….

    That says it all, Chris. You needn’t waste bandwidth on further nonsense. It describes the pattern of your comments to a “T”.

    You can attempt to be contemptuously dismissive if you wish. But you won’t get away with it without being called on it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Way up at comment #49 we read the following:

    I invited Mark Schannon to participate on this thread (since I believe he’s leaning toward your way of thinking), and I hope he’ll heed.

    This ought to be interesting.

    That is your comment.

    After arguing with the good gentleman, we read the following at comment #111, directed at me:

    Your #106 is completely off. I never really wanted to have any discussion with Schannon while regarding him rather ill-equipped to express whatever it is he wants to express. I don’t and never wanted to learn his new language. If you’d have really read my comments through, that ought to be apparent.

    So, will the real Roger Nowosielski please stand up?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And while you are cogitating on that, Roger, may I redirect you to Clavos’ comment #112? It was a comment which nailed the point on the head. I suggest you reread it and think about the run-ins you’ve had with various people in the last few days….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What do you want me to tell you, Ruvy. That I should heed to Clavos? That’s neither here nor there.

    As to Schannon, yes, I did want him on this thread because Aetius’s article had some commonalities with Mark’s thinking. But then Mark got on the defensive. I can’t help if people do that when challenged on their views.

    So you tell me what I ought to do? Kiss ass?

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    All I really want you to do is think about what you say – carefully. You are not a stupid man by any stretch of the imagination. Also I suggest you read what others say – carefully – the way you usually read what I say.

    I quote the Bible because I honestly believe in the Bible. So do a number of other individuals here. Mark Schannon has trouble with the concepts therein but unlike some (I’m not referring to you here), he has the intelligence to say, “I don’t know”.

    If he honestly does not know, he speaks wisely. He struggles with his faith. In this, he is a very typical Jew. We all struggle with our faith, if it is worth anything to us. Maybe, that is why I comprehend what he says. I’ve been where he has been, albeit with considerably less knowledge and erudition. Having made a leap of faith, I can read his views and integrate them into my ideas, and try to help him with his.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I never assumed Mark to be stupid. And I was prepared to discuss his ideas with him, but he couldn’t elaborate. I provided some basic objections to his thinking – in terms of lack of clarity, and so forth. Should I pretend the understand him when I don’t?

    He could have tried to engage me. I never shirk from that, and you know it. But he chose instead to take the high ground, as though I was the one who was unclear and confused.

    I’m sorry, Ruvy. I have too much intellectual integrity to be playing games, especially with people whom I deem intelligent and who ought to know better. The dumb ones I let go and never bother to engage.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    And now you’re introducing another element to the equation. How in the hell am I supposed to know the source or the motivation behind all of this – like struggling with his faith.

    I should say it is incumbent on every intelligent person to have a fairly good idea on the conflicts which rage within them. The honest thing to do is to face up to these forces and make them relevant – if need be, bring them into the conversation. That’s what a dialogue is supposed to be all about: with others and with yourself as well.

    And you’re saying that I’m supposed to be aware of things which are hidden even from the speaker herself?

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Do yourself a favor and read this article and its comment thread, and the comment thread to this article.

    Read both through thoroughly, and then just spend some time thinking about the comments you’ve seen….

    Look at it all not from the point of view of where you have been, but where you are going. Maybe, it will give you some understanding.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As a matter of fact I did, Ruvy. More than that, I pasted some of the relevant and insightful comments onto a separate documents (five pages in all), but it’s a chuck-full of ideas.

    But why don’t you just spit it out and tell me what’s on your mind. I do have a fairly good recollection of the argument and where it was going. I know you can do it.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And BTW, my discussion with Schannon wasn’t concerning the issues raised by Aetius. It had to do with his own beliefs and my problems with him being able to express them with sufficient clarity.

  • Cindy

    Aetius do you think anything about #120? (¡Help!)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, in your comment #126, you have things back to front. You’re the one that is being called out on account of the fact that you have nothing to support your position. Respect isn’t something that is given to every notion in the world, only those that stack up…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “I don’t respect the views of any cult that makes unsupported claims as to the nature of our existence as a matter of principle.”

    Interested statement, Christ. You must mean that you are not required to agree with such views. But I am certain you respect their beliefs, no?

    So perhaps you and Ruvy don’t have the argument you both think you have.

    Help me with this now.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    No, Roger, I’m one of those people who actually uses words to say what they mean!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Chris. I never doubted that. But must there necessarily be a contradiction between not respecting the content of one’s belief(s) and the fact that they do.

    It’s that what I’m getting at, as you probably surmise.

  • Cindy

    MCH, it’s pretty evident that you haven’t been hanging on the playground lately.

    The ‘kids on the playground’ are just getting fed up with being shoved around by the ‘kid’ who thinks he’s above everyone and should make the rules that others should conform to–the ‘kid’ who can never be wrong.

    That ‘kid’ doesn’t need rescuing. He needs to hear what is being said to him; and said often very much in the spirit of kindness.

    Clav can hardly be accused of intimidation. He’s been reasonable and inclusive–except he rightly doesn’t have to take abuse.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks for your show of support. And thanks for your and your friends’ “spirit of kindness.”

  • Cindy

    I support you Roger. I just don’t grant you license.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I never insulted you, called you names, or showed you any disrespect; and the disagreements (with you and Zedd) were more over my style – which you choose to interpret as substance. So even if I was coming across as being condescending, I know I wasn’t. But since both of you insisted on your perception being a reality, I could not continue these conversations in good faith.

    Other than that, it was a good parting.

  • Cindy

    Roger,

    In my opinion you have very little personal insight. You have a very convenient memory as well–for example, you did actually do all of the above.

    And I am not really sure what to make of a person who differentiates between their ‘style’ and their ‘substance’.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    IMHO, and no offense to either of you, but wouldn’t some of this be better said in private e-mail messages?

  • Cindy

    No handy it wouldn’t be better. And I’d also like to know something else. Why when men argue is that just fine? But when a male and female argue it’s ‘get a room’, get an e-mail, etc. etc.

    Should Mark Schannon and Roger get a room? maybe zing and Dave should? How about Chris and Ruvy? etc. etc. etc.

    What would be better is if people stopped pegging every argument between males and females or every kind word as sexual or personal–any more than any other conversation here is personal.

    (The comment about the fish on the hook to Zedd got to me a little Ruvy–especially since Zedd said the same thing to me).

    I am addressing Roger about things he has said and done here. Perhaps I don’t want personal e-mail contact.

    There’s nothing different about this conversation than any other argument anyone else has.

    Sorry handy, this really wasn’t intended for you…you just happened to be the winning number.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry, Handy. It was poor judgment on my part.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Actually, Cindy, considering you two seem to fall into the same whiny argument, it would be better for the rest of us if you stopped clogging up the website with it. Next time Roger gets his feelings hurt, he should just provide a link to one of the first times it happened and anyone who wants to read it, can jump to it and see you two go back and forth about it. We don’t need to relive daily.

    “How about Chris and Ruvy?”

    Yes, they should give it a rest as well. No one cares to read another monotonous back-and-forth about their views on whether or not there is a God, since both are likely wrong and neither can prove their position anyway. They are like two children arguing about who is faster, the Superman or The Flash.

    It’s really not surprising why the author doesn’t join the discussion?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Cindy, actually sometimes I do think Dave and Clav should get a room! ;-)

    I must say your ongoing dialog with Roger is a bit of a puzzler. You’ll get into deep, detailed politico-philosophical discussions, the two of you, then all of a sudden and with no apparent warning one of you will say something which sends the other into incandescent rage. When I’m editing, these incidents send me scrambling back to look for whatever insult or personal attack it was that triggered it, only to find that there’s no red flag to be seen. The next day, you’re back talking to one another as happy as Larry.

    But I am 100% with you in thinking unreasonable and unfair the suggestion that you and Roger should take your discussions off-thread. Discouraging any kind of dialog should be anathema to the spirit of BC unless it infringes the comments policy, which none of the examples above even come close to doing (sorry, zing2, you’ll have to try harder!).

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Hey, don’t drag me into this cesspit, Dr. D.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    No, Roger, I’m one of those people who actually uses words to say what they mean!

    Take the man at his word and leave it at that. The phrase “I don’t respect the views…” sums up the pattern of Christopher Rose’s comments here – thousands of them. They do not all deal with politics of religion either, nor are they all directed at me.

    But go through his comments for the last three years and you will find a pattern of contemptuous dismissal in lots of them. That’s just the way he writes, and, at least in expressing his opinions here, the way he seems to think as well.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    El Bicho,

    “How about Chris and Ruvy?”

    Yes, they should give it a rest as well. No one cares to read another monotonous back-and-forth….

    Have a little sympathy for Chris. He finds the idea of G-d to be anathema, poison and enough to give him apoplexy. And he is tasked with reading thousands of comments here to check for personal attacks, undone links, personal info that does not belong, etc., etc. After a time, he reads enough of my comments and he just can’t hold in the annoyance he feels at what he sees. So cut him a little slack.

    If he were not comments editor, he likely would not go after me this way. His point of view would not be different – the contemptuous dismissal in his tone would not be different either. But he would not be confronted with reading something that angers and sickens him.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    So I thought you were going to chastise me for bad table manners? I’m waiting.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Why should I, Roger. Chris Rose is the Comments Editor, backed by the able Dr. Dreadful. They are the ones who hold the ruler to slap you on the knuckles for bad table manners – not I.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, you rose the question yesterday how I’m out of line insofar as some people are concerned. And I do respect your opinion, not to mention the fact I’d like to take advantage of the opportunity it’d present to air something out.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    It’s one thing to defend a friend. It is quite another to pretend to moderate a list without authority. Having been in that position before (elsewhere), it is one I do not relish.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Well, are you ready to listen to what I have to say? I’d rather say it to you than to Doc, because it’s not a complaint; but it might clear the air insofar as your (and some people’s understanding is concerned.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    So, speak up, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK, this will take me over fifteen minutes to construct. Don’t feel I’ll be using you in the sense of asking you to step in or take sides; none of that. But you offered a form of constructive criticism yesterday, even a mild rebuke, but I appreciated the spirit in which you have done so. That’s why I’d rather respond to you, informally, than to others (like Doc, well-meaning as he is) because they did not raise the question. So the only way I’ll be using here will be the opportunity. It’s got to do (mostly) with nature of all online communications and why they’re often end up so explosive.

    So give me a about half an hour.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Take your time; there is no pressure – at least not from this end….

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Folks, please ignore whining remarks from some people about what other people are saying in the comments space. This is a public space and you can all say and do whatever you want – unless the good Dr or I say different. Oh, the power! lol

    Ruvy, I’m not surprised to see you extending your dishonesty in comment #152. You are attributing qualities to me that I don’t in fact possess. I would be flattered if it wasn’t for the fact that they are so negative.

    It is a simple fact that over recent years it has become customary to grant respect to views that aren’t really worth it. This has sprung from mostly well-intentioned efforts to treat all philosophies as equally valid. That I don’t is not “contemptuous dismissal” at all, it is simply declining to give a free pass to purveyors of bullshit.

    You have some extreme views that have lead you at various times to endorse some pretty ugly perspectives and even propose a final solution or two that no sane or decent human being could ever contemplate.

    That all the madness you endorse, along with the long behaviour over history of all three strands of the monotheistic faith you support, is based on the still unproven suggestion that their might be a creator behind our perceived reality is the real “contemptuous dismissal” of others.

    The fact is that there is nothing anybody could say or do that would ever shake the dogma you are committed to, despite its specious nature.

    What you try to belittle as contempt is simply a reluctance to let you get away with the aggressive, hateful nonsense you post, just as I would with any other persistent nonsense.

    You are now in such an arrogant place that you are finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate perfectly reasonable rebuttals of your position, hence your unconvincing attempts to belittle my perspective.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK Ruvy,

    I’m not going to beat around the bush but shoot straight from the hip. Here is goes.

    I’m a superior intellect, with better than average education, a dominant personality and a great deal of personal charm. I’ve been blessed, besides, with excellent teachers who have formed me; and received all the validation as to who I am that I’ll ever need. So what’s the point of this opening paragraph?

    Simply this. In real life, we have a whole bunch of means at our disposal with whom we choose to associate and with whom we do not. Besides form of words, there’s body language, gesture and manner, bodily presence and a manifestation of physical threat (even body odor in the animal kingdom). So we all size people up on the totality of those facts and make our decisions accordingly. Some are better at it and more adept than others, but we all do it one way or another. It’s not only a fact of life; it’s also a way we get through life: decide who are our friends and who are just acquaintances or enemies, whom to care far and with respect to whom we’re indifferent. The normal rules of civility still apply, but in real life even civility can be and is reinforced by communication of physical threat or the possibility of threat. Darn, even within our own circle of friends and associates, large as it may be, there are smaller cliques – people with particular affinity or understanding, or whatever it is that binds them closer than to others. And so on and so forth, but you get the picture. Well, none of these resources are available to anyone online, which is the root of the problem. And no editorial rules or comment policy concerning inappropriate use of language can possibly deal with potential problems which arise or serve as a replacement for person-to-person contact.

    I approach every new respondent with an open mind and on equal terms. There’s no other way to proceed. Soon, however, as in real life, we all pretty much learn who is who. And once we do, we adjust ourselves accordingly. If you deem someone a fool, why bother engaging them? And if I don’t do it in real life (first off, because they wouldn’t by in my company), why would I bother to do so online?

    Well, the trouble is – even a fool doesn’t know here his or her place and can jump in with snide remarks and irrelevancies. In real life, they’d get their head bashed in (and Chris was right in suggesting it was a mistake that dueling has become outlawed); even a fool would know better. But here, they can’t act with impunity and pretend they’re your equal.

    Sorry, buddy, but true friends don’t come easy in real life. You can count them on the fingers of your hand. And the same goes for equal minds. So why should the bell curve be any different than it is in our own personal experience? It’s ridiculous to expect that. Of course, in real life, we also know other people’s weaknesses and foibles (if we’re astute enough to read them); and so we can work around it and still maintain a dialogue and the spirit of civility. But here, step on somebody’s toes and the earth shakes loose. But they’re not going to own up to their weakness or faulty thinking, but do all they can to wiggle their way out of it – again, a strategy that would be bound to fail in real life.

    Heck, one of our editors have admitted to employing a double standard: his or her friends and virtual reality.

    Well, I am not employing any such. Everybody gets a fair shot until they discredit themselves. And if they balk at discussing it further, that’s the end.

    So that’s basically the gist of what I wanted to say.

    Roger

    PS: El Bicho. For your information, yes, Roger’s feelings were never hurt, as you have so ineptly put it. The case rather was that yes, Roger ended up being disappointed with Cindy. But Roger have always thought her a rather special case and worth fighting for; so the feeling of disappointment was a natural one. Rest assured that Roger doesn’t take much to heart what most everybody here says – with notable exceptions.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Roger, whilst in general agreement with most, though not all of your above comment, I can’t let this slide unchallenged.

    “I’m a superior intellect, with better than average education, a dominant personality and a great deal of personal charm. I’ve been blessed, besides, with excellent teachers who have formed me; and received all the validation as to who I am that I’ll ever need.”

    Well, you’ve certainly got as much chutzpah as Ruvy, maybe it’s true you’ve got as much validation as you need, and you’re a reasonably smart guy, but “dominant personality and a great deal of personal charm”? Hmm, must have missed that..!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Chris. Part of it was to spice it up. Sort of tongue in cheek directed at self, not to mention getting a rise from others.

    But on a less serious note, as a matter of fact I am. But that’s in a personal life – so rather neither here nor there. The point really is I have weapons in my arsenal I can’t really use online. You get the meaning.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, Chris,

    Haven’t you noticed my humility, too. I simply adore you, Doc and STM for your King’s English, the greatest contribution to America, in my humble opinion.

    My only regret, when I landed in the New World, it should have been in England. Then I’d be truly civilized.

  • Clavos

    Heck, one of our editors have admitted to employing a double standard: his or her friends and virtual reality.

    Once again, Roger your “superior intellect” has misinterpreted the words of another, which is exactly why you are constantly embroiled in serial squabbles with everyone who engages you.

    When I mentioned “virtual reality,” I was only pointing out the very real difference between meeting and engaging people online and doing so in the flesh; a distinction you yourself just made in your #163.

    When one engages another online, all one can really know about them is what’s presented by the other individual. As you pointed out, the visual cues we rely on in face-to-face communication are absent, so you really have no verifiable impression of the other, except for what, if you’re reasonably observant, you might be able to glean by “reading between the lines.” As one BC veteran once observed to me a few years back: online, everyone is just “pixels on a screen.”

    I have no way of knowing what (if anything) presented by you or anyone else on these threads whom I haven’t met in person, is in fact true. I have no way of knowing if who they purport to be is really who they are. None of us do; much of what we believe about each other is taken on faith. Some is, as I said, gleaned from “reading between the lines,” but in the final analysis, we don’t “know” each other, in the traditional sense.

    You call yourself “Roger,” which is normally a man’s name, but the key here is “you call yourself.” I have no way of verifying your gender, or, in fact, anything else about you, except what you reveal (both deliberately and inadvertently) by what you post. Nor you, me.

    In the end, we are all just pixels on a screen.

    On the other hand, our relationships in the “real” world are not subject to the paucity of information characteristic of the “virtual” one. We have all the visual clues, all the nuances are much more observable, and taking the measure of another is much easier there, so we are better able to determine friend from foe.

    That was the distinction I was drawing in my remark to you; if you consider that to be a “double standard,” then so be it.

  • STM

    Rog: “My only regret, when I landed in the New World, it should have been in England … then I would have been truly civilised”.

    Geez, I dunno about that one Roger … that might be stretching it a bit :)

  • Cindy

    Clav,

    I had a ‘female’ online day trader ‘friend’ who turned out to be a male after almost two years. Which I learned when he called me to explain.

    Very disturbing, weird, and creepy.

  • Lester

    This is the worry Cindy.

    Is any of this real?

    Are we even here? Have you seen The Matrix?

    This is making my head warm.

  • Cindy

    lol Lester!

    Is any of this real?

    Are we even here? Have you seen The Matrix read Descartes?

    And it’s a good thing his argument supported the idea that we are real. With that unsettled, we’d still be wandering around in the dark unable to talk about anything that was a real problem.

  • Cindy

    Dr.D,

    It is often the case when people learn to irritate each other, they also learn to do so subtly. #171 allows me to vent indirectly. Harmless, unless it’s picked up on.

    When you think about it, I am sure you could find some examples from your own experience.

  • Clavos

    Cindy #169:

    Thanks.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Hi Roger,

    Been away for a bit at other things.

    The last time my IQ was tested, it was 129. One point short of genius (at least that was the standard when I took it). I’ve learned that a superior intellect usually means superior potential – but superior potential does not guarantee superior achievement.

    My 129 IQ didn’t help me out when I was living on the streets; my willingness to acknowledge that my superior potential had not gotten me a superior achievement did. Superior willingness to achieve got me superior achievements – usually.

    My strength has always been my writing ability, Roger. Writing ability does not get you girls, or lots of money, unless you are writing a good sales letter asking for money. Writing ability is not indicative of looks or even of sanity. But my writing ability does allow me a certain clarity of expression, and allowed me, when I lived on the streets, a weapon other than a gun or knife to take my vengeance on those I felt wronged me. I discovered the power of the pen when living on the streets.

    Like you, I tend to engage those who I feel are worth engaging. But all too often, I learn to my surprise the hidden talents of others, and I trust my patience rather than my judgment. It’s too easy to judge wrong.

    While we appear to each other as mere pixels, a human being types the words you see in front of you displayed on the pixels. I try never to forget that and what little civility I display comes from not forgetting that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Thanks for responding.

    Anyways, I’m not really butting in, but it looks like you and Christ have unresolved differences. He associates your beliefs with some statements you must have made in the past and therefore discredits the whole shebang. There’s no way I can come in here under the circumstances. Normally, we may respect the fact that a person believes such and such without necessarily agreeing with the content. But this thing between the two of you must have gone too far in order for him to make that distinction and to regard it as valid.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    STM,

    Of course I was stretching it a bit. But I do envy you your inflection. American English sounds so flat (unless you speak like the Kennedys used to). Perhaps I’m being on the snobby side here, but that’s my preference.

    Language is like music, and spoken language should reflect the melodic character.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I’m willing to contemplate and write about things that most people shrink from thinking – or shall we say admit to thinking. And some of those things really irk Chris.

    And I do have to admit that the condition of my wallet does influence the mood of my writing – the more flush I am, the better humor I tend to have – the less flush, the more bitter and angry….

    It took me a while to figure that out. Writing here is largely to sharpen my mind for my own endeavors. But I learn things about myself and what makes me bitter and angry when I write – and what makes me less bitter and angry.

    it looks like you and Christ have unresolved differences.

    Me and Christ have no unresolved differences whatever. He got nailed up on a cross two thousand years ago (so they say) and I didn’t. A bit of bad luck for the poor guy that I didn’t suffer….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos,

    #167. We agree in every respect on the substance of the thing.

    My only contention is that you (and perhaps many others as well) wouldn’t be saying the kinds of things you’re saying online IF IT WERE in person.

    That’s what I mean by “double standard.” And to be free of it (to the extent possible) is to try to act and respond to others online AS IF it were in person.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That must have been a Freudian slip, Ruvy. I had better be less impetuous in posting my comments without spell-checking. Most of the times it’s harmless, but occasionally it can land you in trouble.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    To amplify #175, my faith had not yet caused me to say anything unreasonable (and I seriously doubt it ever will). To the contrary, I’m a better person for it in almost every respect.

    Which is to highlight an important difference between us. Your faith is intricately connected with the history of your people and, consequently, with the present political and geopolitical situation. And for that reason, it translates into some concrete things you believe and say – things which are of relevance to the present and to what other people’s view of the present.

    Well, since in my case it is detached from all such considerations, my faith is my own personal affair, a private thing by and large, and therefore presents no kind of imposition on others. In fact, I make it a point that it wouldn’t.

    Roger

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    So, if I understand him correctly, in #177 Ruvy admits that his views are heavily influenced by his wallet? I must say that’s not a type of belief I’ve come across before, what should we call it, conditional faith?

    Just for the sake of keeping the record straight, let me just correct your other assertion, “I’m willing to contemplate and write about things that most people shrink from thinking – or shall we say admit to thinking. And some of those things really irk Chris.”

    Yeah, if calling for genocide or the murder of all those you don’t consider proper Jews is what you’re referring to.

    Of course, that doesn’t explain the arrogance of thinking that you are being free thinking in being willing to consider such solutions, whereas in reality everybody else considered it decades ago and ruled it out on the grounds that becoming your own worst enemy wasn’t any different to defeat. How bitterly ironic that a Jew doesn’t get that…

  • Irene Wagner

    TO Ruvy: Am I misreading your comment #153? Weren’t you trying to put Christopher Rose’s remarks to you in perspective, to reverse the escalating trend of the conflict between the two of you? Given all that has transpired, it appears to be an extraordinarily gracious comment.

    I, too, have spent some time lately trying to see things from Christopher Rose’s point of view. Pack of pixels though he may be, behind the snide comments is a man who really does see the monotheistic religions as a threat to the survival of mankind, its more vocal adherents as “purveyors of bullshit” who must be ridiculed and marginalized as surely as the most ignorant and cruel backwoods racist must be.

    Consider Northern Ireland. (Again! Hell!) Look at the Middle East. No more religion, no more problem. Those who “know that they know that they know” the reality of God see that the problem is deeper than blind devotion to a religion. The problem is that people are people, irrational (this comment has everything to do with the article!) some might even go so far as to say “sinful.” Sometimes the glint of a religious veneer makes the sin sparkle all the more visibly.
    What horrible dishonor it brings to name of the Creator!

    On the micro level: What if the first place one who has grown up being abused by a respected “religious leader” finds a sympathetic and non-condemning audience is a meeting of Atheists with a Mission? Sometimes we need to try to understand, as you were trying to do, Ruvy.

    There is one thing I wish Christopher Rose could understand–besides how anyone who isn’t a cretin can believe in God. If you, Ruvy the Jew, and Baronius the Catholic, and me the Protestant who Celebrates Lent could sit down and agree to stay off certain topics, (and pray for maybe an hour independently right before the meeting), we could say and hear enough about the goodness and provision and mystery of God to double the enthusiasm with which each of sing his praises at our respective places of worship. We’d look for Him, and expect to find Him, in more places than we had before. There’s a time for arguments and reason. There is a time for agreement and awe.

    I wish Christopher Rose could understand this. If you, Ruvy the Jew, and Baronius the Catholic, and me the Protestant who Celebrates Lent could sit down and agree to stay off certain topics, (and pray for maybe an hour by ourselves independently before the meeting), we could say and hear enough from one another about the goodness and provision and mystery of God so as to double the enthusiasm with which each of sing His praises at our respective places of worship. We’d look for Him, and expect to find Him, in more places than we had before.

    I am not going to apologize for believing in Jesus. But if I dismissed everything you had to say about God (even though, like Christopher Rose, I am sometimes shocked at your politics) I would be the poorer for it. I would be the poorer for it if I dismissed, the search of anyone who was trying to make sense of life. Understanding is not always the same as condoning.

    That includes Christopher Rose’s search, which may not be, currently, taking him through territory which permits him to return the favor with any degree of sincerity.

    (Sorry for the long comment, I’ve been holding it in for weeks. And hopefully, for all of us, perhaps, I won’t be back for another several.)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    if I understand him correctly….

    That is the point. You dislike my points of view so much that you cannot even see that good humor and anger refer to emotional states, as opposed to belief.

    Your are entitled to like and dislike what you wish, Chris, but your dislike colours your ability to distinguish between belief and emotional state – two different things entirely.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Belief or faith (more correctly, Ruvy) is an emotional state. To be distinguished, of course, from the cognitive element (i.e., the content or the architecture). Sorry!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    An emotional state of higher quality, that is, than anger or hate.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger @ #175:

    I’m not really butting in, but it looks like you and Christ have unresolved differences.

    True whether that was a typo or not…! ;-)

  • Cindy

    Well Ruvy,

    I saw that you meant an emotional state as opposed to your beliefs. It’s pretty clear to someone who is either reading carefully or doesn’t happen to have a ‘superior intellect’ getting in the way of everything.

    And as for you Roger, having read #163, and #176, I can honestly now say, I have never said anything to you online that I wouldn’t say to your face. IRL, I’d have actually seen that “I’m Not Condescending I Really am Superior” T-shirt you’ve got on (Oh sorry, it’s probably embroidered on your cravat.).

    It is difficult to size a person up online. But, I do agree that you can be charming. It can confuse a person. Now, I’ll try really hard to shut the hell up and realize my mistaken judgment and subsequent waste of time.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Irene, I’m hurt! Me, snide? No way!! I’d go so far as saying it is very frustrating trying to communicate with people who think as monotheists do, given their propensity for frequent incoherence – or should I call it speaking in tongues? ;-)

    I don’t really see monotheism as a credible threat to our survival because I believe that it is a trend that is on its way out, although granted I don’t see it disappearing or even dissipating much in my lifetime unless certain emergent life extension and other technologies come to fruition far more rapidly than currently expected, in which case all bets are off.

    Look, I don’t take astrologers seriously because the underlying principles of that interpretation are unsound. I’ve no objection to theism in principle, and no real bone to pick about Jesus or even Mohammed for that matter.

    On the other hand, the evidence for the existence of this god doesn’t persuade and I genuinely struggle to understand how anybody of good heart or conscience could maintain that it does. Given that, the motivation for public expression of private beliefs can’t really avoid being called into question.

    My experience of Jews, Christians and Muslims in general is that they expect others to take their views seriously whilst seldom returning the favour.

    Irene, you say the problem is people not religion, that they are irrational. I say how can we expect them to be rational when their minds are fogged by vague mystical “thinking” such as the holy trinity?

    How can we expect people to take their one and only lives more seriously when they are all going round believing in a afterlife paradise? All three strands of this religion devalue this life in favour of the next.

    I don’t really know what you are getting at with your hypothetical Jewish, Catholic and Protestant get together. You could toss in a couple of strains of Islam in there too and still all mostly agree. It is the same deity you all worship after all. You’d still all be fooling yourselves though and all the while secretly feeling that your particular take on things was the right one really.

    The real tragedy about it all, to my way of thinking at least is this: we humans are one species; we appear to have evolved here on this oddly out of the way planet, which is why there are elements of common DNA that link us to all the other lifeforms we find here.

    There is a unity between all life here and mounting evidence of a wider unity with both our galaxy and the universe itself. That seems a wondrous and awe inspiring set of circumstances to me, one which this religion devalues or ignores.

    I remain hopeful that, as we continue our rise from ignorance, a process which has been going on for at least ten thousand years and appears to be accelerating, our vision will become stronger and deeper.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Gosh, I can’t wait until the next political conversation devolves into how we interact with other commenters on the site and how I am the most misunderstood soul on the Internet!

    [Sardonic-to-English translation: Everyone shut up]

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Perhaps you could show us how to do that? ;-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #187.

    Then, there would have been a very snappy encounter; and neither would I care to be in your company or anywhere near, nor you in mine.

    Capiche?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    But Matthew, you are the most misunderstood soul on the internet.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

     
     
     
     
     

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t care whether you understand me Sussman, or anybody else for that matter. If that’s the gist of your understanding of my admittedly self-serving comment, than you indeed suffer from short attention-span, as Nalle had suggested.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Irene,

    As usual, you seem to comprehend what I say the best, even if you do not necessarily agree with me.

    I dislike drunks, and if I had to work in a bar, that dislike would eventually come out over time, because in the end, bars do cater to drinkers – who tend to become drunk. Similarly, Chris has a difficult job. There are some comment threads here (often in the music or video section) that if I had to go through comment by comment, would sicken me.

    Chris dislikes believers. Reading what I write must sicken him, and every now and again, he lets out the beast in an attempt to just get out how he feels and make one more attempt to “reason” with the “crazy” man. Truth is, though, since I know what he believes and he knows what I believe, I’d rather not argue with him.

    I’ve said some things in anger that I should regret – and don’t. From time to time I run into the vicious hatred of the Hiloním the secular Israelis who have a very similar view of religion that Chris does and think – “gee, a nuclear bomb getting rid of them would be no great loss”. I assume that I’ll pay to the Almighty for this attitude, for it is sin’át Hinám “needless hatred” whether I can justify my views to myself or not.

    As for considering genocide, the enemies of my people do it all the time and call for it all the time. So, it becomes a tool of survival that must be considered as an option. That is not savagery speaking, that is a cold appraisal of the military facts on the ground. Egypt is a major military threat, even though it is at “peace” with Israel. Defeating Egypt on the ground is far harder and more difficult than allowing the backed up waters of Lake Nasser to destroy Egypt altogether. A destroyed Egypt would send a message to the world – don’t fuck with the Jews! Executing all the Arab terrorists in our jails would send a similar message – don’t fuck with the Jews! Unfortunately, it is a message that needs to be sent and clearly understood in Tehran. The longer the regime in Israel fails to send this message – the sharper and more extreme that message will need to be. If this irks Chris – or anyone else for that matter – that’s just too bad. Someone needs to be upfront and honest about the realities in this part of the world.

    As for your beliefs, Irene, I would never condemn you your beliefs – so long as you respect my beliefs I can respect yours. Which one of us is closer to Truth is something the future will tell us….

  • Irene Wagner

    Here I sit, quietly appreciating your search, Christopher Rose.

    “There is a unity between all life here and mounting evidence of a wider unity with both our galaxy and the universe itself. That seems a wondrous and awe inspiring set of circumstances to me…”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “My experience of Jews, Christians and Muslims in general is that they expect others to take their views seriously whilst seldom returning the favour.”

    I don’t, Chris. But then again, I’m not part of any organized religion. My beliefs are my own. And I don’t devalue this life. I’m too much of a hedonist for that.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Fuckin’ proved my point, Roger. You thought my comment was all about you!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Mat, was that #193? I thought it was a brilliant explanation of life, the universe and everything.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “As for considering genocide, the enemies of my people do it all the time and call for it all the time.”

    Correct, Ruvy. But you must understand that this does not endear you in the eyes of others. I myself who is rather well versed with the history of the Jewish people and the ire of Yahweh have difficulties with the concept. I’m not suggesting that martyrdom is an option (and you’re bound to discount Christ’s teachings), but then again: considering that this world is not the end – what does it matter, really?

    I realize that tenets of your faith make it impossible for you perhaps to transcend the here and now. But not for me.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I find it difficult to share Chris’s view that the world would be a better place without (organized?) religion for the simple fact that there is insufficient data to support that assertion.

    In human history a very tiny percentage of people have been atheists, and an even tinier percentage have been atheists with any kind of clout.

    It’s impossible to say whether humankind’s usually irrational and often destructive behavior is exacerbated by religion or whether religion is just a convenient vehicle for that irrationality.

    On the question of whether religious belief is itself irrational, for most people it probably is. However, a perusal of the writings of such luminaries as T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis or the Dalai Lama should be demonstration enough that this is by no means universally true.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    No, Dan, Matt’s #193 was a demonstration of his short attention span. He had intended to write a pithy response to my #192, but was distracted by a passing UPS truck.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Goes to show how treacherous the Internet is. I apologize. I was fending ignoramuses all day long.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    C. S. Lewis in particular. What a lucid thinker.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger, have you ever read Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The simplistic view of faith (and or religions, more superficially) is that it enables humanity to deal with fear and uncertainty. And it is difficult to defeat this position.

    A more enlightened view (of faith) is that it grows experientially – somewhat akin to the manner in which one develops appreciation (for wine, music, literature).

    Wasn’t Churchill reputed to say that while liberalism is shed for conservatism once a person becomes wiser and of age? It’s similar with faith.

  • Irene Wagner

    The blank one? Even the unflappable Sussman can get sucked into the fray.

    I’m just laughing. Y’all need to take a Lenten break from BC–just like I’m not doing now–even if you aren’t Catholics. Roger Nowolsielski, I owe you a comment from the last time I took off. Just can’t think of anything to say about what’s going on except what I’ve just said.

    Ruvy I can’t act “all superior” to you about genocide. At one time Americans–not generally, I hope, but I wasn’t there–considered genocide of Native Americans reasonable. A only good one is a dead one and all that.

    And the Indians were only lobbing a few tomahawks and arrows, nothing like the explosives that are coming in, and out of, Jerusalem and Gaza. Who am I to stand in the middle of a fight for survival?

    Two things you and I can agree on vis a vis the Middle East. Neither one of us wants the US involved in the conflict. And both of us believe Messiah will have plenty–everything–to do with restoring peace.

    Now, see you at Passover or thereabouts, and not a second before!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No! Haven’t really read any of his fiction. (You know of course he was groomed by Tolkien and converted to Christianity because of Tolkien’s influence.) But Mere Christianity, the Four Loves and all other faith-related booklets, yes; not to mention almost all of his literary criticism and essays.

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger and Dr Dreadful, have you read Rumi? You probably have being smart ones. “Avalanche.” Talk about a Muslim having something say to Christians.

    I feel the same way about Heaven and Rumi as Roger feels about Heaven and his pipe.

    George Mueller he’s another good one. He didn’t write much, but a biography of his life…is

    …but I’m supposed to be taking a break.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry! You were talking about Eliot. No, The Wasteland and his essays as well – Notes on Christianity; The Murder in the Cathedral.
    His poetry, though, is difficult – full of symbolism. You have to read it in conjunction with a college course.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I want to recommend two recent TV interviews with officials who have been the target of much recent sliming:

    60 Minutes: Ben Bernanke
    Not only a concise, clear explanation of the crisis and how the Fed is approaching it, but a rare peek inside the Fed’s office building and a trip to Bernanke’s home town, Dillon, SC.

    Charlie Rose: Tim Geithner

    Geithner, not a gifted public speaker, has been caricatured as goofy and incompetent — very far, I think, from the truth. Listening to even a few minutes of this thoughtful interview may give you a clearer idea of what his thinking is really like. I usually find Charlie Rose irritating, but Geithner seems both relaxed and very articulate.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,
    “As for considering genocide, the enemies of my people do it all the time and call for it all the time.”

    Correct, Ruvy. But you must understand that this does not endear you in the eyes of others.

    The Jew who wants to “endear himself in the eyes of others” is a fool. It is long past time that Jews worried about what the Gentiles think. Too many of us have died at their hands that they deserve that consideration.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, then you understand, too, that Chris and you will never see eye to eye.

    I find it rather discouraging whenever I come across irreconcilable differences. And mind you, he is not one of “the wicked.”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger,

    ‘The Journey of the Magi’ is one of Eliot’s shorter poems, not one of his novella-length ones like ‘The Wasteland’ or ‘Prufrock’. You probably have read or heard it at some point: it’s quite a popular choice for reading at church services during Advent or at Christmas.

    It’s also my favourite poem. Like much of Eliot’s work it’s atmospheric and full of symbolism and allegory. I admire the stark honesty with which Eliot portrays his own intellectually painful conversion. Like Lewis, there was no ecstasy, no ethereal light and no angelic chorus – just long, hard, reluctant thought and (for him) irrefutable but unwelcome evidence at the end of it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Irene,

    I consider myself reasonably well-read, but to my chagrin I’ve never read Rumi nor even heard of him (her?) until now. It’s at times like this when I’m brutally reminded of my stage of life and how much there is still to read in what’s left to me.

    Oy vey. Perhaps I should retire.

  • Cindy

    I capiche Roger. After all my intellect isn’t so ‘superior’ as to have to have every tiny, obvious comment explained to me in detail.

    (It’s just Marx I have a problem understanding. Though someone told me yesterday, so does Chomsky. Apparently people write to him trying to explain the whole dialectical thing and he writes back saying, look I’ve tried, I just don’t understand it.)

    Somehow I’m left feeling sorry for your 4 female companions, who all suffered from being ‘immature’ as you say. I’m sure they suffered plenty.

    Fuckin’ proved my point, Roger. You thought my comment was all about you!

    Yeah, well, narcissists often have that problem.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dr. D,

    Don’t wish for it. This is not the culture to do it. Wisdom and old age are not at premium. You’ll just be a senior citizen and probably a member of the AARP.

    I’ll give Eliot a read. I think I’ve got all of his poems. It’ll stop me from watching “Elizabeth” for the umpteenth time.

    Here’s a link to Rumi.I haven’t heard of him either. But I do have a collection on Oriental literature and under Iran (Persia) there is a piece by Jalaluddin Rumi, titled “Shaikh Ahman, the Son of Khizruya, Buys ‘Halva’ for his creditors on the Inspiration of God Most High.” It is a parable. (Of course, Omar Khayyam is regarded their greatest poet.)

    (George Mueller is also in the Wiki, but that’s for later.)

    Speaking of modern Oriental/Arab writers, you’ve got to read at least one thing by Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian Nobel Prize winner. “The Thief and the Dogs,” a novella, is a non-stop read (much like some of Camus’s works). And Orhan Pamuk of course, last year’s winner from Turkey. I’m still reading “Snow,” but “My Name is Red” looks like the best he’d done.

    So I, too, don’t know what am I doing wasting my time here. But at least I’ve got an excuse whereas you – your whole life is ahead.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I find it rather discouraging whenever I come across irreconcilable differences. And mind you, he is not one of “the wicked.”

    Chris may not be one of the “wicked”. That is not the issue. Nor is it important. And the world is full of irreconcilable differences. But in the face of evil, all the “good” people have to do is nothing – and evil wins out.

    That is important. Too many people in the west are willing to do nothing in the face of evil. And for me, the faces of evil are many. There are the Jews who would betray us to our enemies, Jews both in the United States and in Israel; there are the officials of the United States government, ands they are many, who feel that a Jewish state is an historic mistake – and who are determined to rectify that error – down to the last Jew. There are the Europeans who feel the same way and who regret that Hitler did not kill us off 65 years ago; there are the Arabs who scream for our blood today and who dance for joy when it is shed.

    So, you in the west can afford to do nothing, if you wish, in the manifold faces of evil that I see. But I cannot remain still. And if that creates an argument here and there, that’s nice. Better that you condemn me alive than sing my praises when I am dead.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    So, now, you see why Chris thinks I’m arrogant. It is the arrogance of a Jew who dares to assert his G-d given right to live in his own country, and who is determined that if he must die, he will take as many of his enemies to the grave with him as he can.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Wrong again, Ruvy. I think you’re arrogant because you seem to think that you are exempt from the norms that ideas need substantiating. Because of that, and that you support killing in the name of your “god”, I see you as potentially one of the evil people that needs resisting. Your message is one of me first and screw everybody else. That’s the thinking of a child, not a man.

  • Irene Wagner

    I think you’re here because you love the drama, Roger Nowosielski, and you like to talk about ideas and books and argue with people and then talk about books amicably with them later on. Young and old ones find themselves in situations where there aren’t always people around to talk about the things we want to talk about. That’s why the Internet is so wonderful. Thanks for suggesting Thief and the Dogs. The very next thing on my list is in fact C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy. My son and daughter have both read it, and I haven’t. And then there’s something by Satinov that Ruvy recommended…

    Novellas and poems (and comment threads that pretty much stop before the reference numbers hit 4 digits) are definitely the way to go for readers short on time…Thanks for the handy link to The Magi, Dr. D.

    Well, Ruvy, I was all ready to write something about how appalling and unbiblical I found that statement. Then I remembered Samson’s grand exit.

    Dang.

    If only nuclear weapons could pinpoint ones’ enemies as precisely as the pillars that crashed around his head, or David’s five stones.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Of course I do, Irene. But it’s more than that. Actually, I’m in a solitary confinement where I’m at – no human contact or social life of any kind. So BC is filling the void. Sad but true.
    Anyway, always good to hear from you.

  • Irene Wagner

    ou’re not in the slammer then, are you, Roger Nowosielski?

    Probably not. Well, you spend some time around the ‘net, it’s surprising how high a percentage of people are housebound for one reason or another. Their health, or caring for spouses or kids with poor health keeps them kind of isolated.

    You can’t be in TOTAL solitary confinement, can you? It only takes one person to be a real life friend. Queen Elizabeth used to hang out with the guy who took care of her horses, at least she did in the movie. But their IQ’s were within a few standard deviations, so you know, it probably worked out for them.

    *punches your arm* You can take a joke. Take care, Roger Nowosielski.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The slammer would have been better methinks. Plenty of contact, etc. The town is culturally dead, no coffee houses, no Main Street. You have to go out of your way to meet people – unless you join a church, I suppose. No, I’m not homebound, but there’re nowhere to go, unless I drive to Nashville (financially not feasible right now).
    If I had an idea for another novel, I’d be fine. I’d struggle through it with the help of sour mash or Sauvignon blanc (James Joyce); but I don’t. Short pieces for BC are not quite engaging enough, but right now it’s the only creative work I’m capable of. Only a year ago, I had a full life – chess playing, writing, always having people around (whether you wanted to or not). Now it’s an emotional desert. But that’s enough for the sob story.

    You can look up a short piece on my weblog – “As I Lay Dying” – where I address my mood and state of mind.

    Till later then.

  • zingzing

    chris, i think ruvy’s arrogance (along with his hypocrisy) is obvious to everyone but himself. and i would bet that ruvy sees it quite plainly, but refuses to acknowledge it.

    i don’t care who you are, if you say “[i am] determined that if [i] must die, [i] will take as many of [my] enemies to the grave with [me] as [i] can,”* then you’re just a raving psychopath–no two ways about it. well, there’s some contextual considerations that must be made–we all know what he is talking about–but he’ll never understand just why he is so wrong.

    *i also love the use of the third person… it distances things from reality a bit.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I think you’re arrogant because….

    That’s okay, Chris. Better you condemn me alive than sing my praises when I’m dead. That also goes for you zing.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    See what you did there, Ruvy? Instead of paying attention to what people say, you brush them off and make glib remarks. That is arrogance!

  • Clavos

    It is to laugh.

    Chris Rose lecturing others on arrogance.

    Pot.

    Kettle.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “It is to laugh. Chris Rose lecturing others on arrogance. Pot. Kettle.’
    – Clavos

    Is he more so than yourself? Just asking.

  • zingzing

    dread: “Discouraging any kind of dialog should be anathema to the spirit of BC unless it infringes the comments policy, which none of the examples above even come close to doing (sorry, zing2, you’ll have to try harder!).”

    eh? i didn’t show up til just now. whatido?

  • zingzing

    remf, we’re all arrogant blowhards here. think that’s pretty obvious.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Actually, I’m not at all arrogant, though I have noticed that many people who bs or waffle a lot think I am. Can’t imagine why!

    Some people seem to think that standing up for what I believe in is arrogance, but they usually mean that they disagree with me but have no argument.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m not arrogant, and anyone who says I am is a fool.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    That they are!

  • Cindy

    Arrogance shmarrogance–if anyone is arrogant I’ll be sure to tell them. As I am an unequaled judge of such things due to my amazing brilliance.

    Please keep the applause down to a minimum–it’s embarrassing*.

    *See! What unparalleled humility I have.

  • bliffle

    #108 – Cristopher,

    Well said.

    I guess I’m an atheist, because I simply believe in none of the god talk of any stripe. And I have zero interest in ‘proving’ anything or defending anything involving god talk. Like most atheists, I suspect. It simply isn’t very interesting, except to poke fun at believers every once in awhile.

    And I don’t accord any special respect to believers since I regard them as having potentially dangerous delusions. I give them a wide berth and try to stay away from the danger zone.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Actually, I’m not at all arrogant….

    “Actually I’m not a robber at all,” said the young man as he emptied the contents of the cash register into his pocket with a gun at the cashier’s head.

    Before you tell us another Whopper, Chris, er, I mean fish story, er, I mean give us a further self-justifying characterization of your arrogance, let me get my hip-boots on. Your shit’s gettin’ real deep, man. If you’ll just excuse me for a moment while I also get the clothes-pin for my nose….

    There! It’s alright now! (gag, barff)

  • Dan

    After slogging through this article it’s hard for me to put my finger on what the author thinks is irrational about capitalist free markets.

    There is a lot of talk about people using their freedom to make bad choices, but making good and bad choices is what freedom is about.

    In the current, so called financial “crisis” of housing, socialism is to blame. There is nothing about government lowering lending standards that comports with a free market capitalist system.

    Artificially compelling banks to loan money to people with no skin in the game is not something free market capitalist banks would do on their own. Risky loans are not normally in their interest. The unforseen but predictable consequence of supply and artificially induced demand is overly inflated housing prices.

    Free market capitalism is wholly rational because individual capital formation is essential to societal wealth.

    American exceptionalism and all the 20th century trappings the rest of the world now enjoys was made possible because gifted people flocked here to escape confiscatory policies in other Nations.

    Humanitarianism is the goal of socialism, but to share wealth requires that you allow people to create it in the first place. The balance is struck when individual capital formation is hindered only to the extent of equal or less than the taxes extracted from it. If socialists get too greedy, the incentive to create wealth is reduced.

    In economics, the “Laffer curve” illustrates this. Before the Bush tax cuts, it would seem that we were overshooting optimal revenue enhancement since the Bush tax cuts resulted in a substantial growth of revenue over projections, and an average of about 2.5% increased GDP throughout his 2 terms.

  • Cindy

    Dan,

    According to Nobel prize laureate James Tobin, “[t]he ‘Laffer Curve’ idea that tax cuts would actually increase revenues turned out to deserve the ridicule with which sober economists had greeted it in 1981.” (Wikipedia)

    The rest of what you said sounds just like a bunch of stuff you want to believe despite all the evidence there is that it’s just not so. And I’ll refrain from repeating it, because by now these ideas have been successfully challenged numerous times on numerous threads.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    It is in the definition of “rational”, and how that definition became obsolete, and how dogma stuck to it regardless.

    Adam Smiths rational man always works for his own best interest.

    Modern dude works with full will and knowledge against his best interest, a concept Adam Smith never considered, rendering his entire thesis wrong.

    But we’re stickin’ to it regardless, and our dogma won’t allow us to see it any other way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #238:

    “After slogging through this article it’s hard for me to put my finger on what the author thinks . . .”

    This is perhaps the most insightful comment thus far, except that I would apply it beyond the specific point you’re raising. My problem, in addition, concerns the notion of “social change” that’s being employed – as though it were solely in the hands of individuals and a direct consequent of human decisions and/or actions.

    To wit, more often than not, perhaps, a change occurs in spite of human desire(s) and/or wishes to the contrary – a change we only tend to “explain away,” and after the fact (as though it had come about by design); but things often occur by “an invisible-hand”; and then, these are the most sensible of explanations.

    But the author appears to be blind to any such eventuality: the form and shape of the future society comes off, to him, precisely as planned; even the unintended consequences are not given their proper due.

    In short, there’s a great deal that amiss with this analysis.

  • Clavos

    According to Nobel prize laureate James Tobin, “[t]he ‘Laffer Curve’ idea that tax cuts would actually increase revenues turned out to deserve the ridicule with which sober economists had greeted it in 1981.”

    Cindy,

    That’s one economist’s opinion.

    Economists are [like] assholes — everybody has one.

    For a completely different analysis read The End of Prosperity, by Steven Moore and Arthur Laffer.

  • Cindy

    Clav,

    Humorous use of brackets. lol I think I will skip the book though. (but thanks) I’d probably die of boredom.

    I’d rather read that interesting stuff Mark S. gave us or even write an article about Tolstoy or sumpthin. If I had the time.

  • Dan

    I don’t think that any economist seriously disputes the theory of the Laffer curve. I think James Tobin probably just attributes Reagans success of increasing revenue to some other economic factor.

    Just as the Wikipedia entry states, the best way to understand the obvious truth of the Laffer curve is to consider the extremes. At a 0% tax rate the government doesn’t get any revenue, and at a 100% rate no one gets their butt off the couch to make money that will all be confiscated.

    Additionally, everyone probably has a different individual Laffer curve based on individual circumstance. For instance, I would still work at a 99% confiscatory rate if I were paid $10,000 per hour and it was a job I liked.

    The Laffer curve for the entire economy would be an aggragate of all individual Laffer curves and extract the most money with the least harm.

    It’s comparable to pruning a tree. Cut it down to nothing, and it won’t grow enough to harvest anything the next year. Cut it back just enough to still promote growth, and you reap a continually larger harvest.

  • Cindy

    Dan,

    I looked it up elsewhere. So, now I know everything about the Laffer Curve I hope I´ll ever need to know. I just posted that bit by Tobin because I went to look it up to know what you were talking about. Thus, regarding Laffer Curves, I am ignorant still. I don´t believe in taxes and so, I probably won´t develop much interest in how they work better.

    Mostly I was addressing the rest of your comment. Because I always wonder how people can justify that ´free market´ideology despite all odds or evidence.

    Thanks for the Laffer info.

  • Clavos

    Because I always wonder how people can justify that ´free market´ideology despite all odds or evidence.

    The evidence I find most compelling is the incredible wealth accumulated worldwide over the past couple of centuries, thanks to (mostly) free markets and global trade.

    That said, the distribution of that wealth still needs work, but no sane person can deny that the world is infinitely wealthier now than it has ever been in history, and hundreds millions of people are sharing to one degree or another in that largesse.

  • Dan

    Cindy,
    You’re welcome. And thank you for helping me to feel useful.

    I’ll bet there are many things we agree about in principle.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    I would be curious to learn what non-free market economic systems can can be justified, based on actual, long term performance in a very large and diverse society. Knowing the parameters of the justification would, obviously, also be quite helpful.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    I think both free markets and democracy together hold our current, best hope for the future – accepting that there isn’t another model not yet devised that might be better.

    The object of the game, as far as I ‘m concerend, is simply to make the current thing work much better than it has, and in the meantime, drop the dogma’s that prevent us from developing something better.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Aetius,

    “I think both free markets and democracy together hold our current, best hope for the future – accepting that there isn’t another model not yet devised that might be better.”

    At times, I happen to believe this is your thesis – with which, BTW, I agree – and at other times you appear to be contradicting it. Am I on to something here, or am I off? I believe either on this or other thread you seem to be vacillating.

  • http://screambucket.wordpress.com/ Aetius Romulous

    I very well could be – I’m working my way through it Roger, although I don’t think I’m guilty on the fundamentals.

    It’s a hard discussion to have – and write about – in as much as there is so much dogmatic labeling of all the requisite parts in the English language. People defend their labels and once that happens, discussion over.

    So it’s important not just to have a substantial input, but also one which will be heard and not marginalized and labeled.

    It’s a tough row to hoe.

    My thing is this Roger, that democracy and free markets are 2 parts of the same thing – a system. They were born at the same time and in their youth, in simpler times, worked astonishingly well.

    But because of dogma, democracy has been locked into it’s 18th century format, while free markets have evolved and changed in the same time. They are out of balance, and our current economic woes are a symptom of that wobble.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Now, that’s a reasonable proposition. The economic system has certainly evolved and it’s still in the process of so doing. The political dimension is a tougher nut to crack, IMO. I think what will emerge is a kind of hybrid of the 18th century model – not pure by any means but somehow workable.

    Tell you the truth, though. I wouldn’t worry much about the dogma and present-day debates. It’s always the case for people to discuss things endlessly and to no avail while the earth is shifting under their feet. And it’s going to shift for all the noise and clamor. The change is coming.

  • Cindy

    Re# 248

    Dan S.(Miller),

    Well, you have your answer right there along with your question then. If the qualification is that it has had to have been tried on a large scale, then you immediately eliminate the possibility of anything but systems from the past or present all of which, in my view, are failures on too many levels.

    Perhaps people who are benefiting from a system see no need to change it. They can’t justify the change. But isn’t that a bit selfish? Keep something because it benefits me? Or even some, but not most? I can’t actually consider anything acceptable unless it addresses the people who are doing the worst.

    I don’t think a system based on greed is reasonable for humans. All of what I see suggests we aren’t designed to work best based on a model of individual greed, but on cooperation, in communities. There are more than economic concerns related to that. We can’t evolve as a species under Capitalism. It’s a bad fit with the human psyche. It enhances what is worst in us and fails to meet some very deep needs.

    I discussed a basic income guarantee approach that works with Capitalism (in the meantime). It was endorsed at one time, before the powers that be went the other direction, by 1200 or so economists IIRC. There are other approaches that are discussed.

    Maybe it has to be changed slowly. Maybe through a revolution with various resultant communities trying different things. Maybe all we can do is test some ideas on small scales that seem reasonable by trial and error.

    The important thing is that whatever the system, it should be guided by basic principles, a few of which are justice, equality, and individual liberty.

    Maybe Mark has some ideas concerning what he wrote earlier @ #120:

    This is one of those ‘inherited historical dilemmas’ in need of rendering. Thus, how do we restructure markets to enable producers and consumers to meet as other than (need I say profit driven) buyers and sellers? And how do we restructure democratic institutions to enable people to meet as other than (profit driven) black and white stones?

  • Cindy

    Clav,

    Yes there is incredible wealth that has been created, but amongst incredible poverty.

    That is a huge problem that you mentioned–the distribution. I don’t see how that problem could be overcome.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy, I am still quite puzzled; but I am tired, so let me “sleep on it” overnight and maybe the light will dawn.

    In the meantime, perhaps you can suggest how our perceived needs can be met by the

    various resultant communities trying different things. Maybe all we can do is test some ideas on small scales that seem reasonable by trial and error.

    How are these small scale communities to produce or fly the airplanes on which many like to travel in company with several hundred other kindred souls (and small bags of peanuts) from coast to coast in a few hours; or the fuel efficient cars needed to commute to work; or the fresh vegetables enjoyed by people in Maine during the Winter; or chocolate candy and coffee; or the internet and the stuff needed to use it; or even the digital watches at which Douglas Adams so enjoyed poking fun?

    It does seem a bit of a challenge.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy

    Good night Dan S.(Miller),

    Or rather good morning by the time you read this:

    It begins with worker ownership of the means of production. Workers need to own their own hand. We can still manufacture everything that we do now. We can still use the equipment and technology we use now. An air traffic controller still remains knowledgeable despite that she is part owner of the airport.

    There is no need for a ‘boss’ per se to do any of these things. Nor is there any need for a representative who clearly does a much worse job than people would do for themselves.

    I had better start reading about federations I think. Maybe I’ll find some ideas there.

    When I was a child I looked around at all the houses in the cold at night and I worried if there would be enough heat to last. Then I got older and realized that, if there even was one (outside my imagination), no one was ever going to ask me to come up with a solution to any heating problem for the whole earth. I relaxed after that and felt much better.

    So, Dan S.(Miller), whatever we do, I hope for the world’s sake no one will actually be counting on me to come up with a workable economic plan or direct air traffic, for that matter. I think I’d better stick to involving myself with children and learning; it’s what I do best.

    P.S. I believe it’s pretzels these days on airplanes. I hope you aren’t too disappointed next time you fly.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It’s unlikely that any mainstream politician in the US would seriously oppose free markets in principle.

    But it’s a matter of degree, and definition. So some people in all seriousness refer to Barack Obama, or Barney Frank, as a socialist out to destroy capitalism.

    This is almost certainly not how the president sees himself.

    But purists and ideologues are never satisfied. [And there are some partisan sore losers in there who just like to call all Democrats names all the time.]

  • Franco

    Ruvy and Christopher Rose

    #65 — Ruvy

    “He convinced me that one cannot prove the existence of G-d. It is something you have to believe and to take a leap of faith in.

    He has trouble with that leap of faith himself. Some goats don’t like to make the jump, that’s all.”

    #66 — Christopher Rose

    “Ruvy, it’s got nothing to do with goats not liking the jump, it’s got to do with self respect.

    Why on earth would any sane person choose to believe in something that, based on the evidence, doesn’t exist?”

    Christopher claimes to have evidence that G-d doses not exist!!! Like to see you prove that sport!

    Christopher gose on and sez……“Ultimately, no faithist can ever be completely trusted, because you just never know when their beliefs are going to make them do something completely irrational and potentially dangerous, just like any other fanatic.

    Jesus was a faithist. Jesus said, have faith in God. I believe in both faith and reason, thus I would disagree with Christopher on both those accounts as follows.

    Christopher and I are both betting. He’s betting his life that he’s right that G-d dose not exist. I’m betting my life that Jesus was not a liar. When we die, if he’s right, I’ve lost nothing. If I’m right, he’s lost everything. I’m not willing to make that gamble.

  • zingzing

    death bed conversion, franco.

    plus, you made a bet without knowing the odds. why you gonna do that?:

    you discount the fact that there are many religions in the world, and you may have chosen the wrong one, meaning you are totally subject to the wrath of another god or some such nonsense.

    so… you’ve got about a 1/100 chance of being right. and who knows? some lone “nut” in utah might have the right god… just because a shitload of people believe something doesn’t make it correct.

    so, really, you’ve got a 99.something% chance of being wrong, and in the mean time, religion is responsible for so much bloodshed in the world. just by living a good life, you should be assured of a place in heaven.

    no reasonable god would demand that people get down on their knees and worship, worship, worship. no reasonable god wants to be sung to by tons of hungover, sleepy, bored people every sunday or saturday or whatever.

    in fact, if i were god, i’d say no singing, unless you are in a black baptist church in the south. you white people just muddle that shit up. can’t hear above your mumbling. boring shit, that.

    just lead a good life and remember the golden rule. fuck all that other junk. simple, eh? if god exists and is reasonable, i’m gold. and i don’t have to pretend.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Franco,

    I appreciate your defense of what I say. But regarding the sparring between Chis and me, give it a rest. I certainly will.

    There are believers, whatever their beliefs are, and there are those who honestly do not know, and say so. Those who honestly do not know struggle with their beliefs and hopefully come to some resolution.

    Believers, like Chris (or me) are not going to debate at all. We’re convinced that we are right.

    But as a rule, I see no reason to tell you what to believe – only to tell you what I believe. Chris hasn’t evolved that far up the ladder of intelligence yet. That is why his comments read as they do.

    What sets me apart from Chris is not the better evidence that I can attempt to drag into the court of public debate – it is perspective. I’ve been an atheist, and have some comprehension of the beliefs of atheists, some comprehension of the lack of belief of agnostics, as well as the passion of a believer.

    If I spar with Chris at all on issues like these, it is my mistake. It is a total waste of bandwidth and of time. And it is something I’ll try to avoid in the future….

    With respect to what you say about faith, you appear to be making a judgment based on what may happen to you after you die. You’re making a bet. My beliefs are not based on what will happen to me after I die, or fear of dying. My beliefs are based on what has happened to me while I’m very much alive, and my own discerning that there is a lot less coincidence or dumb luck than some would like to believe there is.

    But, Franco, I’m not telling you what to believe or criticizing your motives. I’m merely telling you what my motives are – and aren’t. So, please do not misunderstand me.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Franco, you are misunderstanding my words. Whether that is because your prejudice is overcoming your reason, it’s hard to say, but let me try to help.

    It isn’t necessary to have proof that gods don’t exist. Otherwise, we’d all go round believing every daft theory that came along. In that case, I worship the great god Chocolate who demands that we all consume of his flesh every day on pain of eternal damnation in the purgatory known as Hershey!

    What is necessary is that those who assert this magical absentee being does indeed exist have something of substance to back it up. So far, after thousands of years of trying by millions of people, there isn’t any.

    I don’t know how it is possible to believe in both faith and reason without damaging either one or the other. Clearly Franco is more on the faith side as his reasoning is fairly weak!

    It’s entirely possible to believe that Jesus existed and had interesting things to say without believing any of the mumbo jumbo about him being a deity’s offspring.

    Finally, I’m not betting anything, but let me try to clear up the terms of your little wager for you.

    If I’m right, you’ve spent all your life believing nonsense in servitude to, at best, a misconception, at worst, a cruelly deceptive con trick that perverts human nature and spirituality. I wouldn’t consider that to be nothing myself.

    If you’re right, I’ll find out when I die, but I suspect your “god” would prefer my sincere disbelief to your half-hearted “hedging my bets” approach… Some gamble!

    Ruvy, as you are totally rubbish at it, I would appreciate it if you would stop explaining my views for me.

    Your first “error” is that you are trying to drag me down to your own level by trying to claim that I am a believer too. This is a well known faithist trick which tries to make the case that people who don’t believe in gods are acting on faith rather than reason.

    Such blatant attempts at guilt by association are doomed to fail because of the weak thinking which underpins the effort. Not believing in something for which there is no evidence isn’t any kind of faith at all.

    I don’t believe there is intelligent life on Mars for example – no faith involved. Furthermore, if credible evidence came out that there was indeed life on Mars, I would accept the evidence. No faithist can ever be intellectually honest enough to admit that there is no evidence for the existence of deities because it would destroy their belief system and they are more committed to that than any truth.

    Ruvy, I have to tell you, I was literally laughing out loud when reading your statements like “Chris hasn’t evolved that far up the ladder of intelligence yet. That is why his comments read as they do” and “What sets me apart from Chris is not the better evidence that I can attempt to drag into the court of public debate – it is perspective. I’ve been an atheist, and have some comprehension of the beliefs of atheists, some comprehension of the lack of belief of agnostics, as well as the passion of a believer.”

    Setting aside the mind-boggling arrogance these remarks display, let’s see what you are really trying to say. The first one seems to be some feeble effort to imply that your intelligence is somehow more evolved because you have a belief system. Wrong! You actually sound like some slightly mad hermit who has spent entirely far too long in a cave.

    The second quote is a classic Ruvy-ism! You don’t have any evidence, never mind better; indeed, you don’t deal in evidence at all because if you did it would fatally undermine your own position.

    Just because you were, at best, so gullible and naive as to give up reason for faith doesn’t suggest that you have any perspective at all. Yes, you may have some passion for your cause, but that doesn’t serve you well, it just makes you sound hysterical, particularly as you can’t even begin to defend the basic issue of the existence of a deity in the first place. It is no surprise that you are now refusing to even attempt that folly.

    I don’t think sparring with you is a waste of time at all. To adapt a cliché, if even just one person wakes up from the god delusion as a result of this debate, then some good has come of it.

    I think more and more people are finding the personal integrity and capacity for growth to leave behind the self-serving arguments of the adherents of monotheism, whether they be Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Time is most definitely on my side!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    The point couldn’t be stressed enough – it has more to do with perspective than with anything else (and nothing whatever with making a bet). I also must add that the usually thrown dichotomy between faith and reason is a false and grossly-mistaken dichotomy. But you also have to take responsibility for some of things you say. Chris understands the context (as he himself spoke to a contextual background for some of your remarks), but certain statements you may or may have said (or meant) are not in the best service of the very faith to which you’re bound and want to live by.

    Roger

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I apologize. You seem to have lost me somewhere.

    The point couldn’t be stressed enough – it has more to do with perspective than with anything else (and nothing whatever with making a bet).

    What point are you referring to? Where are we picking up the thread of this thought?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I was referring to your #260, your last remark.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,re # 256

    I now avoid flying at every opportunity, and have succeeded for several years; so, I don’t care whether they serve/sell peanuts or pretzels. Abolition of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the resultant commercial deregulation of air travel brought us the extraordinarily inexpensive airline fares and lack of goodies and conveniences once enjoyed. That’s what most air travelers seem to demand; otherwise, there would be more service competition, less price competition and more congenial accommodations.

    But, let’s take my example of flying from coast to coast rapidly, inexpensively and uncomfortably a bit further. That requires the fabrication of expensive and complex aircraft, full of sophisticated components made by multiple manufacturers. Those things all require lots of maintenance; without it, aircraft are likely to crash and burn. The Federal Government also plays an indispensable part, through mandatory safety standards and operation of the air traffic control system.

    An aircraft departing from, say, Baltimore-Washington International and flying non stop to San Francisco, deals with lots of air traffic controllers: ground control, the tower, departure control, numerous ATC facilities along the way, approach control, the tower and ground control upon arrival. Quite a lot of coordination among these multiple and geographically distributed ATC facilities is necessary. When leaving one area of responsibility, the aircraft has to be handed off smoothly to the next one. These things and the folks who run them are necessary to help aircraft avoid banging into one another. Weather reports are useful along the way and for flight planing. The aircraft also rely on various radio navigation systems to get from BWI to SFO and to be where they are expected to be when they are supposed to be there, and where no other aircraft is likely to be at the same time. They are also tracked by different radar facilities as they fly across the country. All of these facilities have to be maintained and staffed, and there need to be redundant facilities in case something important breaks. They are heavily and necessarily relied upon by all large commercial aircraft, and most of them are used by small, private, aircraft as well. It would be quite difficult (and probably foolhardy) for even a single engine, four seat private aircraft going even a few hundred miles to avoid many of them.

    I simply cannot imagine any simple, cooperative, owner operated system or systems which could function efficiently or with relative safety in this area.

    Even something simple, like coffee, presents difficulties. Much of the coffee grown here is sent by the growers to be processed by cooperatives. The beans not further processed, packaged and sold domestically through wholesalers and retailers have to be exported, further processed, packaged and distributed to wholesalers and retailers, worldwide.

    I have no difficulty imagining a cooperative wood shop producing, for example, furniture to be sold locally, or a bunch of small land owners selling their produce through a cooperative farmers’ market. For something more complex, the idea does not seem to me to be viable.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy

    Well Dan S.(Miller),

    Then we’ll have to have some sort of large scale air traffic control system. We’ll probably need more than just that on a large scale, I would think.

    Small communities, for general local decisions, are not some sort of reversion to the stone age. We are already organized via small units in towns etc.

    Society can develop whatever it needs. The point is, to base whatever is developed on principles one being non-hierarchy. Authority must justify itself–occasionally it can. Air traffic control may or may not be one such example. I don’t know enough to be able to say. I read something about mapping air-highways.

    The point is if we need a group of people who control the air traffic for us–then that is what we, the people, decide. We determine what we need and we implement it. No government authority is necessary for that.

    Think of how Congress makes decisions. (I know, sort of a horrible example, but it’ll work.) Are representatives people who necessarily understand every field imaginable? Neither do the people have to be experts in everything to make decisions for ourselves.

    We just have to hope the aeronautical engineers (or whoever knows about this stuff) survive the revolution, so we’ll still be able to get some advice.

  • Cindy

    P.S.- My guess is that most people keep doing the same thing they are doing. Just on reorganized terms and without bosses.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    I think I follow you now….

    Franco said, Christopher and I are both betting. He’s betting his life that he’s right that G-d does not exist. I’m betting my life that Jesus was not a liar. When we die, if he’s right, I’ve lost nothing. If I’m right, he’s lost everything. I’m not willing to make that gamble.

    So, in talking to Franco, I used his own terms. Does belief really boil down to a bet? I don’t think so at all. But it was not for me to tell Franco what to think – merely what I think.

    We both agree that these issues have more to do with perspective than anything else, and that the dichotomy between science and faith is false. And I do take responsibility for what I say. What I say is not nice, the issues I raise and the possibilities I raise are not nice, and to the degree that I exhibit what is called sin’át Hinám, needless hatred, I will pay and pay heavily when G-d judges me. I do have an idea of what Divine Judgment looks like and it ain’t pretty and it is damned scary.

    But lying and perfuming my words to flatter people is worse than honesty, and I am being honest. In addition, I do not self-censor what I say, as do many Jews in Exile, out of fear of offending the Gentiles.

    Does a Jew who prettifies everything for you so as not to offend you serve his faith? I do not think so, Roger. Better you should hear (or read) unkind truths than pretty lies. For those, you can go to a prostitute or a coward. Lies are cheaper than a dime a dozen.

    I suggest we leave this issue for now and see what insights Dan Miller can bring to the conversation here. After all, the original discussion was on the irrationality of markets (and of the humans who drive them up and down). A retired attorney will have plenty of insight into both.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    “Better you should hear (or read) unkind truths than pretty lies.”

    Right, as a believer, you do have responsibility to speak up, and what you may have to say needn’t always be pretty pretty. (Witness the prophets.)

    For your info, my own faith is more on a silent side, pertaining to my own personal life and my dealings with others. And I see I’m going to have to reread some Kierkegaard on the subject, the master, to comment further. But you’re right, we had better return this thread to their rightful owners.

    Roger

  • bliffle

    #265 – Dan

    “Abolition of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the resultant commercial deregulation of air travel brought us the extraordinarily inexpensive airline fares and lack of goodies and conveniences once enjoyed.”

    I remember it differently, having lived through that period AND paid my own way on many personal flights.

    In the 60’s the jet fare from SF to LA was $12.50 on PSA. The Viscount was only $10 but arrived 15 minutes later. Coast-coast flights were about $200 RT. All these flights were comfortable and timely and quite affordable. Some guys took their date on an evening flight to LA for dinner. I didn’t only because there was no place in LA I wanted to eat at.

    My judgement is that air flight costs have hardly gone down, if at all. And the service is execrable.

    International flights were kinda expensive, mostly because of surcharges levied by governments, and most of those were negotiated away by trading flight route favors to foreign governments.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Bliffle,

    Those fares, I assume, are in 1960s dollars. Although I haven’t done the calculations, it seems likely that in 2009 dollars, the fares from nearly half a century ago would be somewhat higher than current 2009 fares.

    My wife recently checked on the fares from Panama City, Panama to San Francisco, California and, as I recall, the round trip fare was about $450.00. Some friends from Maryland are coming for a visit next month, and according to the itinerary they sent me, they will be granted an opportunity to buy whatever inedible dreck American Airlines elects graciously to make available. Other than that, nada. Hell, the food service was better on a free MATS flight I took standby from Seoul, Korea to Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s.

    I agree that the service is now execrable. Once upon a time, it was much better. My wife worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am back in the 1970s, and still brags about the food they actually cooked for and served to the passengers — even those is steerage.

    Execrable service is one of the reasons I now avoid flying at every opportunity. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I actually enjoyed it. However, I probably would not fly much now in any event, because I am quite fortunate to like very much being where I am.

    Dan(Miller)