Class Warfare Blog

July 5, 2020

Neoliberalism is a Sham, Always Has Been

I start with a quote from an article in the NY Times by Mehrsa Baradaran.

“One reason is that an ideological coup quietly transformed our society over the last 50 years, raising the fortunes of the financial economy — and its agents like private equity firms — at the expense of the real economy experienced by most Americans.

“The roots of this intellectual takeover can be traced to a backlash against socialism in Cold War Europe. Austrian School economist Friedrich A. Hayek was perhaps the most influential leader of that movement, decrying governments who chased “the mirage of social justice.” Only free markets can allocate resources fairly and reward individuals based on what they deserve, reasoned Hayek. The ideology — known as neoliberalism — was especially potent because it disguised itself as a neutral statement of economics rather than just another theory. Only unfettered markets, the theory argued, could ensure justice and freedom because only the profit motive could dispassionately pick winners and losers based on their contribution to the economy.”

Hayek was an important economist, but like most he was also wrong.

Question What evidence is there for “Only unfettered markets could ensure justice and freedom because only the profit motive could dispassionately pick winners and losers based on their contribution to the economy.”

Answer None.

“Unfettered markets fail miserably for two fundamental reasons.
For one, there is no limitation placed upon greed.”

Unfettered markets fail miserably for two fundamental reasons. For one, there is no limitation placed upon greed. There isn’t even a definition of “enough profit.” Shouldn’t there be such a concept? If for no other reason but to establish a benchmark for new business to aim at. I recall that Amazon.com was a net loser, aka made negative profits, for the first five plus years of their existence. How are they doing now?

I suggest that economists have been dissuaded from introducing such a term because ordinary people would equate “more than enough profit” with “excess profits.” The powers than be have a history of such language manipulations: when was the last time you heard the term “unearned income?”

So, greed is not limited and then, in our culture “money is power.” The wealthy have learned how to effectively turn their wealth into political power. Somebody actually measured the return on investment, ROI, for corporate lobbying in Washington, D.C. It was approximately somewhere just south of 200:1, This means that for every $1 spent on lobbying in Washington, the corporations harvested near $200. Can you name any other endeavor that produces such an ROI? I cannot. You would have to be a fool, or not wealthy, to not to participate in this massive wealth generating machine.

The consequences of this is that ordinary people have zero standing in Congress when it comes to getting legislation passed, while the wealthy is quite well served. (I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!)

The politicians ask for very little in the way of bribes, er, campaign donations. For continuing to have the taste of power in their mouths our legislators sell out us ordinary citizens for paltry sums.

So, the wealthy are using their wealth to change the rules of the games, something Hayek didn’t foresee. (I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!)

There is an aphorism which says that every child grows up in a state of rebellion against his parents. Since the parents grew up in a state of rebellion against their parents, that makes grandparents and grandchildren natural allies. This makes sense in that if we don’t push our parents away, we will never become independent.

In Hayek’s case he was in a state of rebellion against socialist forms of government he lived under and, like every youngster, he carried it too far and idealized the opposite of what he disliked, making free-market capitalism the end all and be all politically.

It is clear to everyone that capitalism is vastly self-destructive if left to its own devices. Shackled with strong government controls it can be a very good political and economic system. The idea of free markets as an “ideal good thing” all by themselves should have died with Plato.

As Mehrsa Baradaran states later in this piece, “An examination of the recent history of private equity disproves the neoliberal myth that profit incentives produce the best outcomes for society. The passage of time has debunked another such myth: that deregulating industries would generate more vibrant competition and benefit consumers. Unregulated market competition actually led to market consolidation instead. Would-be monopolies squeezed competitors, accrued political power, lobbied for even more deregulation and ultimately drove out any rivals, leading inexorably to entrenched political power. Instead of a thriving market of small-firm competition, free market ideology led to a few big winners dominating the rest.”

But then evidence such as this impacts economists about as much as facts affect the Trump administration.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. (Upton Sinclair)

Truer Words Have Not Been Written or Spoken

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 7:29 am
Tags:

“I wonder how bad this economic downturn is going to be. This recession just began in February 2020 … the Coronavirus pandemic ignited this recession, but its depth and misery for Americans have been caused by 40 years of relentless class warfare by the rich. The opening shots of the war began in 1971 when a little known Republican tobacco attorney named Lewis Powell wrote what is known as the Powell manifesto urging the rich to combine their resources, establish a variety of organizations to turn back the clock to the era of the robber barons, take over the courts, and generally fight back against the Constitutional and democratic rights of the vast majority of people. Two months later, Powell was sitting on the Supreme Court bench serving the rich as a legalized guerrilla fighter in their war against the rest of us.”

John Hively, John Hively’s Blog: News and Analysis of the War Against the Middle Class

Check Out John’s blog.

June 22, 2020

Understanding Christian Thinking

Filed under: History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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I am reading a book, The Use and Abuse of the Bible, a Brief History of Biblical Interpretation. Two of the first great Christian thinkers addressed in this book are Irenaeus (c. 130 – c. 202 CE) and Origen (c. 185–c. 253). Both of these gentlemen were praised for coming up with whole new modes of Christian thought, which should have been seen as a warning sign.

A Reasoned Approach to Understanding Christian Thinking
Thinking back to the second and third centuries CE, what kind of economic activity was available to intellectuals? I define an intellectual is someone who makes his/her way through life using his/her mind alone, whereas non-intellectuals use both their minds and bodies in various ratios. Of all of the occupations available at that time, in that place about the only place for intellectuals was as scribes. (They might also have become a physician but only the wealthy could afford the schooling.) Many people think of scribes as being stenographers for the illiterate (I did, too), but while that task might be something a scribe did (taking dictation), there was much, much more to do. Scribes might be employed by the wealthy to keep records and produce written correspondence, but the primary employer of scribes were the various temples.

My point is that intellectuals would be attracted mightily to being a religious scribe as being one of the few forms of occupation in which they got to work as they wished.

So, when scribes were presented with questions about unclear passages of scripture or flat out nonsense in scripture, they being the brilliant intellectual creatives they were, made up stuff. Irenaeus claimed that there should only be four canonical gospels (of the many more in existence) because there were four animals supporting God’s throne in Ezekiel 1. I guess the fact that most chairs had four legs wasn’t enough of a justification for God’s throne. And making a connection between the number of any part of God’s throne and the number of gospels to include in the canon seems not to be present. No surprise there.

So, question after question arises and soon they find the answers harder and harder to come up with. Origen commented on Genesis 18 where “Abraham stood by them under a tree . . .” during a divine visit to Abraham. Origen comments “What does it help me who have come to hear what the Holy Spirit teaches the human race if I hear that Abraham was standing under a tree? Let us rather see what this tree is, under which Abraham stood.” If Freud were alive I suspect he might say “Sometimes a tree is just a tree.”

Origen is probably the major source of the idea of there being “secret” knowledge that has to be winkled out through exegesis. The Jews had already succumbed to this position and Origen was leading Christians into the same position. But, I think the intellectual powers of these people, which allow them to “spin” any nonsense into sense, betrays them wholly at the end.

These worthies both insisted that the scriptures were divinely inspired and without error. So, if there is an error, it must be due to a misunderstanding on our part. Since the words must be right, our interpretation must be wrong, so what is needed is a new interpretation and what do creative intellectuals do? They create.

But by claiming that it is our flawed human understanding which is at fault, they are playing Russian Roulette with the lives of ordinary people. Ordinary people have crops and flocks to attend, business to do, families to provide for, any myriad other mundane tasks. They do not have the energy to study and learn to interpret scripture in their nonexistent spare time. So, failing to hear from a gifted intellectual who knows what scripture actually means, they mis-learn it and end up in Hell.

What the claim of “hidden knowledge” in scripture implies is that the inspired writers who composed scriptures are inadequate to their task. Should not the scriptures be easy to read and easy to understand by one and all? Shouldn’t they be clear and precise? Shouldn’t they all make sense, now and forever? Shouldn’t a lack of sense be evidence that a particular scripture was not divinely inspired?

That there is “hidden knowledge” being taught or is somehow embedded in scripture is a sop to the interpreters of meaning. Their arrogance is Trumpian “Only I can solve this problem! You see sometimes a tree is not just a tree.” (Origen felt that the tree was “insight” symbolically.) Symbolic writing is not accessible to one and all and should never appear in scripture. Every time in the NT you see a reference to the disciples not understanding what is right in front of their faces, an appeal to the concept of hidden wisdom or hidden knowledge is being made. If this knowledge were the difference between Heaven and Hell, why would any sane scripture-sponsoring entity hide that knowledge?

“He (Jesus) told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” Mark 4:11-12

What kind of great teacher deliberately obfuscates what is to be learned? Wouldn’t God Incarnate be able to speak so clearly as to create understanding and belief? And why would such a god allow prideful intellectuals to spin those scriptures into things they are not? (Note They are still doing it. Look up William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel, as examples.)

June 19, 2020

Once Again The Brilliant Yves Smith . . . This Time on the Police

Over at the Naked Capitalism website, the wonderful Yves Smith unpacks the propaganda “To Protect and Serve.” The Police Weren’t Created to ‘Protect and Serve.’ They Were Created to ‘Maintain Order.’ A Brief Look at the History of Police in America

Here’s a taste:

To understand the true purpose of police, we have to ask, “What’s being protected?” and “Who’s being served?”

Urban police forces in America were created for one purpose — to “maintain order” after a waves of immigrants swept into northern U.S. cities, both from abroad and later from the South, immigrants who threatened to disturb that “order.” The threat wasn’t primarily from crime as we understand it, from violence inflicted by the working poor on the poor or middle class. The threat came from unions, from strikes, and from the suffering, the misery and the anger caused by the rise of rapacious capitalism.

What’s being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. Who’s being served? Owners, their property, and the sources of their wealth, the orderly and uninterrupted running of their factories. The goal of police departments, as originally constituted, was to keep the workers in line, in their jobs, and off the streets.

 

June 8, 2020

The “Biblical” Source of Our Western Traditions, Part 2 of 2

I ran out of gas on this response to a claim I read. Here is the second half of my response (after the repeat of the lead in). Steve

* * *

I have been reading another William G. Dever book “What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They know It?” The title sounds like a Watergate catch phrase but the book was written in 2001, so. . . ?

Near the end of the book the author is commenting on the value of the Bible in our civilization/culture and he stated the following as being derived from the Bible:

  1. The absolute worth of the individual (the right of self-determination)
    2. The rule of law and justice (democracy)
    3. The immutable authority of morality (virtue)
    4. Liberty and justice as the foundations of politics (public morality)
    5. A free, entrepreneurial market
    6. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    7. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    8. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    9. History as purposeful (progress)
    10. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism).

Of these Dever states that we take “for granted the following notions and cultural values, nearly all of them derived from one or another interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. . . .” (Emphasis added.

Interestingly, I have owned dozens of Bibles and I must not have got the one he is drawing from.)

Finishing, Finishing

  1. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    So, human beings would never have figured this out had it not been for the Bible? really? What did humans do for the 200,000 years before the Bible was written? Apparently not dominating nature and not grasping truths of higher order. So, the evidence that over ten thousand years ago, American native peoples didn’t use fire as a means of controlling the forage available to their prey animals. And they didn’t stampede prey animals into cul-de-sacs to slaughter them. Nor did any of those people have any religious thoughts at all, despite the burial process we have uncovered, and ritual spaces that were built? I am gob-smacked at this claim. Even after the Bible was written New World peoples used extensive irrigation systems to grow crops, built massive public works, cleared square miles of jungle to plant crops, established mail systems, etc, And they did it all without the guidance of the Bible . . . it’s a miracle!
  2. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    Let’s see . . . to ordain means “order or decree (something) officially” so you cannot even have anything ordained until you have something like a government (theocratic or not) to do the deed. I presume this is a reference to a secular government being ordained by a religious government, as when the Israelites begged Yahweh to give them a king. Basically this seems to be the ability of religions to form governments. This doesn’t sound like the “rule of law and order,” this sounds like a thing guise of oppression. In other words, “we get to do to you want we want because God has ordained us to be able to do that.” This is the source of the divine rights of kings and, gee, I just don’t know how we would have gotten to our western civ without those wastrel, vicious kings.
  3. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    What? People didn’t transmit their culture, by indoctrinating their children until the Bible told them to or okayed the process? All of those rites of passage of prehistoric people were, what, unauthorized at best? People didn’t think traditions were important before the Bible? People didn’t imply meaning all over the place before the Bible? You know, hijacking is now a crime.
  4. History as purposeful (progress)
    Wow, I just don’t know how we get on in our day-to-day lives without knowing that our history was purposeful. In the US alone, all of those “settlers” (a disgusting euphemism for “conquerors”) were motivated by bring the word of god to the heathens. Greed for land and natural resources had nothing to do with it. History is not written by the victors then, it is simply the way that Biblical purposes play out. We are all just pawns to history writ large. What a crock of baloney. History is purposeful . . . what a concept! I guess those who claimed that “Progress was their most important product” were right in that they were just making it up . . . as a product . . . which we now call propaganda.
  5. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism). So, Genghis Khan’s desire to conquer the world was Biblical? Alexander the Great . . . him, too? So, our ultimate goal as participants in “Western Civilization” is to bring every other country into the fold? Is that true? The Bible’s stated goal of having the Jews rule the entire world is quite apparent. (This is what Yahweh promises.) The Catholic Church also that that particular goal, as does Islam. Gosh, don’t you think we would all be better off if that goal didn’t exist at all? This is hardly a good thing, you know.

* * *

I happen to like this author’s works (I have only read two) but this list is beyond the pale. These are the defining characteristics of Western Civilization . . . and they all come from the Bible? If that is the case, why is it that the longer a country is part of the Big WC, the less religious it becomes? That doesn’t seem to be a Biblically sourced idea, now does it?

 

 

June 7, 2020

The “Biblical” Source of Our Western Traditions

I have been reading another William G. Dever book “What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They know It?” The title sounds like a Watergate catch phrase but the book was written in 2001, so. . . ?

Near the end of the book the author is commenting on the value of the Bible in our civilization/culture and he stated the following as being derived from the Bible:

  1. The absolute worth of the individual (the right of self-determination)
    2. The rule of law and justice (democracy)
    3. The immutable authority of morality (virtue)
    4. Liberty and justice as the foundations of politics (public morality)
    5. A free, entrepreneurial market
    6. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    7. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    8. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    9. History as purposeful (progress)
    10. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism).

Of these Dever states that we take “for granted the following notions and cultural values, nearly all of them derived from one or another interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. . . .”

Interestingly, I have owned dozens of Bibles and I must not have got the one he is drawing from.

Where to Start, Where to Start?
I guess I should just take these in order.

  1. The absolute worth of the individual (the right of self-determination)
    I guess he wasn’t referring to children, or women, or slaves, or non-Hebrews, or . . . The Hebrew Bible is all about obedience, obedience to Yahweh and his representatives upon Earth. The worth of individual Hebrews is found in the encoded laws and commandments and whatnot. Even trivial infractions of scriptures result in penalties of death, with no particular due process to be followed . . . take the bride not a virgin to the city gate and stone her to death, stone to death a cheeky teenager who speaks disrespectfully to his parents, etc. And as to value, prices are put on people’s lives, in silver or cattle, that tell exactly what value the Bible places on individual human lives, aka not much.
  2. The rule of law and justice (democracy)
    This is ludicrous. Nowhere in the Bible is democracy even mentioned, let alone condoned or recommended. The entire Biblical system is set up to be ruled by authoritarians. The father in the family. The military leaders in the armies. The priests and kings and whatnot in the public sphere. There is no voting, no solicitation of public sentiments, no agora where politics is debated, etc. Taxes are collected by tax farmers, aka thugs. The rule of law was determined by who was ruling at the time. Authority determined which rules were enforced and which were disregarded. (Is not the Bible full of excoriations of Hebrews who failed to exercise the law and their responsibilities . . . over and over and over.)
  3.  The immutable authority of morality (virtue)
    The immutable authority of Yahweh is what one finds but morality varies, depending upon Yahweh and who happens to be his representative on earth at the moment. When David disobeys Yahweh (confusingly as David and anyone reading the book cannot find out where he was disobedient), Yahweh punishes him by killing tens of thousands of his followers. What ever happened to “Thou shalt not murder?” I guess the absolute worth of the individual is as a marker for Yahweh’s ire. There is no abstract morality that all swear to follow. Yahweh issues commandments, not suggestions, not “if you love me, you will’s” . . . commandments and the implication is obey or else. How is that even a moral system?
  4. Liberty and justice as the foundations of politics (public morality)
    WTF? Politics? What politics? There is no polity, no elected officials, no elections. There is no place in which “citizens” have a say in anything. In fact there are no “citizens.” There are Hebrews, who are related through religion. Liberty? Justice? Possibly these concepts existed but, if your ass was needed in the army, you were in the army. Liberty? Self-determination? As long as you obeyed, well, I guess they existed somewhere else.
  5. A free, entrepreneurial market
    This is stated as if the Bible created these things. The idea of a market was created by the people, not by the Bible. The rules of the market were determined by the people participating, not by the Bible. As usual, religion comes along and co-opts these things but I think the Bible played a role in Biblical era markets about as much as it plays a role in the N.Y. Stock Exchange, which means not at all. According to the Bible you are free to act in a market, free to be a slave, free to starve, free to die of disease. free, free, free. And while you are dying, you can be an entrepreneur, too.

* * *

I am too emotionally drained to continue. I will do the other five tomorrow or the next day.

May 29, 2020

The Values of the Western Cultural Tradition . . . Biblically Inspired?

I was reading a book last night and read this: “The implication is that this crisis should be of concern not only to theologians and clerics, but also to intelligent lay folk, and indeed to all who cherish the Western cultural tradition, which in large part derives from values enshrined in the Bible (emphasis mine).”

So, the nature of the crisis aside, have you read something like the italicizes part before? I have many, many times. But right now it seems a sop thrown to the Christians who often form the majority of citizens in Western countries.

So, our cherished “Western cultural tradition” is. . . ? We favor democracies as our governing models. Would a democracy be supported by anything in the Bible? Not at all. In the Bible it is Yahweh or the highway. The only allowed form of government supported by the Bible is a theocracy and a Christian (or Jewish) theocracy at that.

How about . . .
The separation of church and state in the U.S. and elsewhere? Nope.
No religion tests allowed in elections? Nope.
The elimination of blasphemy laws? Nope.
The elimination of anti-abortion laws (on going)? Nope.
The government refusing to support Christian schools? Nope.
Allowing people to get a divorce on their own recognizance? Nope.
Legal same sex marriage? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon gender? Nope.
Allowing people of different faiths to marry? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon race? Nope.
Trial by a jury of one’s peers? Nope
Local control of various government functions? Nope
Anti-slavery laws? Nope.

So, what are these “cherished” values “enshrined” in the Bible that are still part of our Western traditions? It seems that we have, step-by-step, weeded out all of those influences as being unenlightened. (Pun intended.)

 

May 25, 2020

I’d “Like” to Hear from the Nazi Flag Wavers

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:47 am

I put “like” in the title in quotes because if I actually did hear from Nazi flag wavers, I suspect that I wouldn’t like what I heard.

What I would “like to know” is what part of Nazism do they like and espouse.

Do they like and espouse, for example, making war on one’s neighbors to make space for more Germans (or Americans) to live and if a few million of the neighbors die in that process, well that makes even more room for us?

Do they like and espouse, for example, letting a small cadre of politicians redefine the country any way they deem fit, even if it contradicts all previous version of the country?

Do they like and espouse, for example, identifying cadres or “races” of people to blame for the current ills of the country (well, and past ones, too)?

Do they like and espouse, for example, crafting and executing plans to exterminate the cadres/races of people identified as “enemies of the state?”

Do they like and espouse, for example, indoctrination of the entire populace, but especially young people, to respect, adore, love the Leader of the small cadre of politicians through propaganda based upon nothing real?

Do they like and espouse, for example, controlling all of the news media so that they only report what the ruling regime wants reported?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the efficiency of the Nazi’s secret police, that was able to kill or disappear any persons who were the slightest bit inconvenient to the plans of the small group of ruling politicians?

Do they like and espouse, for example, rigged elections that when they produce the desired effect then result in elections being suspended as being counterproductive to the plans of the ruling elites?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the pushing of religious leaders into the background where their influence becomes nil?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the Nazi’s promotion of white supremacy/racial superiority?

What is it about Nazism that they love so much that they promote it by waving a Nazi flag?

Or are they just childishly seeking attention that their rather meager skills otherwise do not merit?

Enquiring minds want to know. . . .

May 16, 2020

Oh, Boy, I Never Thought of This Before

Filed under: History,Philosophy,Reason,Science — Steve Ruis @ 10:31 am
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Like many of you I have been binge watching things available on cable TV services. I ran across a British series, Quark Science, on Amazon Prime that I have been enjoying, and even learned a thing or two. The episode I watched last night was on entropy and chaos theory and as they went into explaining chaos theory, I had quite a string of revelations.

For those of you who haven’t considered chaos theory it basically describes systems with multiple parts that contain feedback, which is basically all natural systems, and that such systems are inherently chaotic in that they cannot be predicted. The reason being is that they are very sensitive to the “initial conditions” and minor variations in those initial conditions affect substantially the final outcome. This is where the “Butterfly Effect” inherent in the question “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” comes from (and all of its other variants over the years).

In any case, I had a number of revelations from this excursion through science for the people.

#1 Chaos theory explains why determinism isn’t a possibility. In the centuries long free will debates there is often a road block in the form of the question as to whether we live in a deterministic universe, or not. If we actually live in a “clockwork universe” are all of our choices determine by stimuli and responses that are perfectly predictable? If we do live in a deterministic universe, then free will is an illusion. We are just robots responding to the stimuli we receive. Well, chaos theory shows us that we cannot live in a deterministic universe, because minor variations in any system can produced vastly different outcomes.

#2 Predicting the future is not possible. Since determinism isn’t possible, there is no basis, no cause-effect chain, that allows predicting of the future. As ancient people, we were obsessed with predicting the future. The reason was if you could predict what was going to happen, you could protect yourself from adverse changes and take advantage of the others. The Romans, for example, were very interested in Judaism because of their written records of prophecies (and their claims of accuracy). Chaos theory explains why weather prediction is about as good as it will get right now.

#3 Emergent properties make a lot more sense now. Emergent properties are properties that break any and all causal relationships established before then emerged. Chaos theory makes these more understandable.

#4 Chaos theory explains why the universe is the way it is. The laws of physics describe a transition during the Big Expansion of the universe, aka “The Big Bang,” from its initial almost all energy state to the formation of particles and then atoms. Those laws indicate that there should have been equal amounts of matter and anti-matter created. But our universe is almost all matter . . . where is all the antimatter? Why the asymmetry between the creation of matter and antimatter? The scenario goes like this: as the particles formed, there would be equal amounts of matter and anti-matter which would self-annihilate and produce light and so the universe would become an expanding sphere of light, The End. But the data show that a part per billion excess of matter over anti-matter would yield the universe we know now. In that scenario, the particles would form and the matter and anti-matter particles would annihilate, producing an immense flask of light (later to become the Cosmic Background Radiation) but a part per billion concentration of matter would be left over, enough to create all of the stars, planets and galaxies in the universe.

But where could a 1 ppb difference between the two forms of matter come from? Well, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and chaos theory almost guarantee these two forms would not be created in exactly equal amounts, and voila! (Note To grasp the size of a part per billion, take quite a large swimming pool and fill it with pinto beans. Then throw in one black bean. Stir. The concentration of black beans in the mixture is roughly 1 ppb.)

Interestingly, we don’t really know which form of matter survived. We call the one that survived matter and the one that did not anti-matter, but since their properties are opposites of one another, we just really know they are opposites, not which one we have.

There is much, much more that the chaos theory helps clarify, such as the self-organization of matter and so on. All of these things fly, splat!, into the face of our limited thinking. Most of us, me included, are still immersed in the “clockwork universe” thinking we inherited from Victorians. We still think of the world around us as being mechanisms, complex mechanism for sure, but much like the gears and levers in a mechanical device. Scientists have passed beyond that previous view and moved on but many of the rest of us, me included, haven’t followed because thinking about such things is hard! Really hard.

But programs, or rather programmes, like Quark Science make them much, much easier to understand. I recommend the series to you.

And, since I am in speculation mode, I suspect that my clinging to the clockwork universe paradigm is an artifact of my education. As scientists we are taught classical sciences before we are taught “modern sciences.” Our early thinking patterns are determined by the paradigms of classical science. This is why we find the transition to modern science difficult. And, if one goes on to study ancient science, it is hard to learn also because they were thinking quite differently from how we think now.

May 9, 2020

The Royals v. The Tabloids

Filed under: Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 8:48 am
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It seems the main reason to have royals of the British sort now is so the tabloids have something to publish about this or that tiff in their weird social club.

I find the whole idea of royals to be absurd in the first place. Consider the British Royals Harry and William. So, what do they bring to the table? Why are they so “special?” Well, they are special because they were born of “special parents.” Those parents were Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spenser. Lady Diana Spenser was “special” because she was born of “special parents,” and more so because she married a “very special” person, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. Prince Charles was special because he was born of “special parents,” too. And those parents were special because they were born of “special parents,” and on and on. Most of these people have done nothing to merit their “special” claim, albeit one or another does something charitable from time to time, but so do many other people.

When you get back to “special people” who actually did things to merit their specialness, we find that the main skills of these people were: spending other peoples money in large quantities. One was to lavish expensive gifts upon themselves: jewels, clothes, houses, land (lots of land), food, wine, . . . there really was almost no limit. And of course, lavishing gifts and “grants of specialness,” aka titles, on their friends and relatives. The other main activity was unnecessary wars.

Imagine what would have happened if each of the wars initiated by British royals had been forgone. What would have changed? How would people’s lives have been different? Obviously if someone else brings war to your land, someone needs to lead a response, but this doesn’t seem to be all that common.

Consider the back and forth wars with the continent made by British monarchs. What were these about? Mostly they were about who was to be the most “special” where. The tussles over who ruled Normandy were incredibly destructive but the claims of both sides were equally ridiculous. The royals were motivated by ego, greed, vengeance, etc. none of which had anything to do with the future of the British realm.

And at one point more than half the countries in Europe were ruled over by people from one family. Now, that’s special.

Think about all of the times people have done wonderful things for you. Doctors, dentists, car mechanics, plumbers, you name it. You remembered their effort with a gift or a Christmas card come that season. You didn’t worship them as a monarch.

Well, those are small things, what about the big things?

Ah, you mean like Abraham Lincoln did in preserving the union or Franklin Roosevelt in fighting the Second World War and helping to win it? Did we kneel down to any of those? Did we acknowledge that they were divinely inspired agents of God? It seems that this divine right of kings bullshit was made up as a way that religions could support monarchies giving the religions some say as to which monarch would rule. (How many European monarchs got excommunicated because of their bad behavior, eh?)

If at one time in our development, we may have need a war leader who we gave some authority over us to. But we didn’t have to go whole hog (as the Vikings proved) as we acceded to most everywhere.

History is a story in which human beings think way too much of themselves. I call it the Great Man Theory of History.

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