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May 10 2012

“Make him fly, Mother!”

I got a little surprise at the supermarket checkout stand. Time has a provocative cover this week (slightly reworked).

Breast feeding? A good thing. Extended breast feeding? No problem. Sexualizing breast feeding with an attractive woman and an aggressive gaze, in an unusual pose? Weird. The title of the article, “Are you Mom enough?” is also a bit contemptuous. Apparently, it’s not enough to be a nursing mother — you’d better be sexy while you’re at it, and you’re also in competition with all those other mommies to be as aggressively maternal as you can be.

Also, this:

Also, is anyone else having flashbacks to Game of Thrones?

552 comments

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  1. 501
    Jadehawk

    Out of curiosity what is the point of this debate?

    there isn’t one. people are confused at how strange gods managed to end up where he is, and so we ended up with this highly theoretical conversation

    That’s hardly some great revelation, that’s how things work, that’s how humans work.

    did I claim it was a great revelation?

  2. 502
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    sure; point being that, because liberal democracies do rely on exploitation (of outsiders, primarily; so yeah, it’s better to be in one, because it’s always better to be at the top of a hierarchy than not) a global liberal democracy either can’t happen, or it would be more like the US than like everywhere else, exploiting internally.

    And I don’t agree that liberal democracies require exploitation. The exploitation you’re talking about is based on the private market economy, which is run by capitalists, and capitalists are great at exploiting people. Liberal democratic government could still exist without exploitation, but our standard of living would be very different; personally, I’m fine with our standard of living changing.

    anyway, before you get too confused: I’m not a totalitarian, I’m just pointing out that a nonexploitative liberal democracy is fiction. as strange gods said, if the anarchocommunists are right, there is a way to make nonexploitative societies. But mixed economy representative democracies ain’t it.

    I’m not confused, I understood that you’re not from the beginning. I just disagree with your assessment of liberal democratic government, since I seem to see you conflating public governance with private economics. I can see why you’d think that way though since the US government in particular has been corrupted by capitalists and capitalist philosophy.

  3. 503
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Lots of stuff now, little time today.

    +++++
    Mattir,

    SG, I did not take your never-respect statement with much else but amusement and a suspicion that you would be a lot happier if you didn’t spend so much energy trying to be intellectually consistent

    Consistency? I’m against it. Insisting that people try to achieve it is simply a useful tactic sometimes. Especially among nerds. Cf how to make people act rationally and how I make myself care about fairness.

    If John Morales drops by again he can confirm that I am openly pro-hypocrisy, and pretty consistent about it. (Though he’ll probably say “admittedly”.)

    Personally I love Rorty’s sentimentalism and Haidt’s elevation, but that kind of talk usually isn’t well-received at Pharyngula. An email correspondent, though, delighted me by remarking that I am really a sensualist.

    Somewhere in the depths of Walton’s FB there is a lecture from me on the perils of ideological consistency, because reality does not conform to our logical expectations.

    and rational

    Well, I don’t put any effort into it. To the extent that I am, it’s probably genetic, partly reinforced by my work.

    and if you were less optimistic about the possibilities for human happiness.

    Now that is very plausible. But it seems like something the decades will either do to me or not.

    Also you should learn to knit and/or spin. Llewelly would probably advocate wheel thrown pottery, but I think the consensus is that rotary dynamics are soothing,

    I occasionally drink until the room spins; does that count?

  4. 504
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    life,

    There hasn’t been a totalitarian any kind of state, liberal democracy or otherwise that hasn’t persecuted isn’t currently persecuting its out-groups

    Silly me. I was under the impression that liberal democracies had the ability to adapt and allow the out-groups to participate in government and larger society.

    I won’t mistake Argentina’s recent law regarding trans rights to be something good to come out of a democratically elected government body again.

  5. 505
    Jadehawk

    I think it’s a useful word of advice for activists who desperately want to alleviate and then end suffering and are vulnerable to despair as a result. I am a whole lot more effective at Doing Actual Practical Stuff™ if I accept that I can (and should) do all I can to end suffering and yet this will not bring about utopia.

    I don’t think this is in contradiction to anything I said. In the sense that I haven’t abandoned my liberal/progressive axioms, that’s what I do.

    With the caveat that I think we’re fighting a losing battle as explained in #466 on the first page of comments; so it feels less like “improving” and more like “making the last days of civilization as pleasant as possible, and postpone the shit hitting the fan until after I’m dead”

  6. 506
    Ingdigo Jump

    This is depressing. Hey I put up turtles in TET if anyone wants non depressing things. They’re tiny!

  7. 507
    Jadehawk

    And I don’t agree that liberal democracies require exploitation. The exploitation you’re talking about is based on the private market economy, which is run by capitalists, and capitalists are great at exploiting people.

    and I’d argue that the liberal democracies as they currently exist, i.e. the ones you used as an eample for strange gods, can’t exist without exploitative capitalism.

    you’d need an entirely different socioeconomic system to make Deep Ecology/Steady State Economics/Egalitarianism work

  8. 508
    Jadehawk

    . I was under the impression that liberal democracies had the ability to adapt and allow the out-groups to participate in government and larger society.

    I won’t mistake Argentina’s recent law regarding trans rights to be something good to come out of a democratically elected government body again.

    this doesn’t contradict SG’s comment at all.

  9. 509
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    and I’d argue that the liberal democracies as they currently exist, i.e. the ones you used as an eample for strange gods, can’t exist without exploitative capitalism.

    I’d like to know why you think the political and economic systems are inseparable. I don’t see how liberal democratic government necessitates exploitative capitalist economies or vice versa.

  10. 510
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Jadehawk,
    My point is that yes, there are outgroups in every society and every government. However, liberal democracies have the ability to (and often do) include them, whereas totalitarian states do not.

    But whatevs. This strikes me a lot like arguing with Walton about the monarchy– pointless.

  11. 511
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I’m not saying it isn’t a slow and painful process, nor am I saying it’s perfect.

    But totalitarian states cannot progress. None have shown the ability to while still fitting the description of totalitarianism.

  12. 512
    Amphiox

    Liberal democracies by definition must have mechanisms in place to protect outgroups from persecution, but those mechanisms are neither fully inclusive or entirely foolproof. Liberal democracy is therefore only relatively more egalitarian in this regard than other forms of government.

    But outgroups still face persecution and ingroups still possess privilege.

    I am not even sure if it is possible for any politicosocioecenomic to be otherwise, without a wholesale genetic reengineering of the human psyche.

    Churchill’s comment regarding democracy being the worst form of government imaginable except for all the others that have so far been tried is apropos here.

  13. 513
    Amphiox

    By the way, is the manner in which the core topic of discourse has meandered all over the place in this thread unusual for a nonTET/TZT thread, or is it just me?

  14. 514
    Jadehawk

    I don’t see how liberal democratic government necessitates exploitative capitalist economies or vice versa.

    definitely not vice versa, since exploitative capitalism can exist in virtually any political system. but unless we count small direct democracies, liberal democracies are hierarchical, and so would be the economic system that goes with them

  15. 515
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    My point is that yes, there are outgroups in every society and every government. However, liberal democracies have the ability to (and often do) include them, whereas totalitarian states do not.

    That’s why this whole goddamn conversation is bizarre to me.

  16. 516
    Jadehawk

    By the way, is the manner in which the core topic of discourse has meandered all over the place in this thread unusual for a nonTET/TZT thread, or is it just me?

    this is how it used to be before TET/TZT, but since then it’s become rare, because tangents, OT discussions, etc. are generally shunted off into these overflow threads, so that the thread tends to stay mostly on-topic.

  17. 517
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    definitely not vice versa, since exploitative capitalism can exist in virtually any political system. but unless we count small direct democracies, liberal democracies are hierarchical, and so would be the economic system that goes with them

    Sorry, I’m still not seeing it. How does having a President and a Congress, or state government and local government or whatever, apply to the economic system? People can vote representatives in to create planned economies of whatever kind like the ones we’re talking about. In fact, we already have mixed economies. Liberal democracies have also accomplished far more wealth redistribution, other than places like the Soviet Union (if you wanna count “making everybody poor” as wealth redistribution).

    I’m not seeing how “they’re sorta shaped the same I guess kinda” means that liberal democratic government cannot function without exploitative economic models.

  18. 518
    Jadehawk

    In fact, we already have mixed economies.

    which are still non-steady state, and non-egalitarian. they just do a lot of their exploitation outside their borders instead of within.

    “they’re sorta shaped the same I guess kinda”

    and fuck you, too. do you have to pretend your opponents are 10, or can you at least try to remember that people here tend to have thought their arguments through, so even if they’re wrong, they’re never this simplistic?

    again: hierarchical political systems create hierarchical economic systems and vice versa, because they’re not actually two separate systems, but part of one socioeconomic system. once you have any kind of hierarchy with any kind of power-concentration, you cannot prevent other parts of the same system to also become hierarchical and concentrate power. or do you think it’s coincidence that more economically stratified societies are also politically more stratified, and vice versa?

  19. 519
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    and fuck you, too. do you have to pretend your opponents are 10, or can you at least try to remember that people here tend to have thought their arguments through, so even if they’re wrong, they’re never this simplistic?

    I thought your argument was vague, but I shouldn’t have pointed it out that way. I’m sorry. Your argument was that liberal democracies are hierarchical and so are exploitative capitalist market economies. To me, that explains nothing, it describes no causal link between the two. Lots of things are hierarchical.

    hierarchical political systems create hierarchical economic systems and vice versa, because they’re not actually two separate systems, but part of one socioeconomic system.

    Now, if this is the causal link you’re attempting to make, I don’t entirely disagree. I would completely agree if you said “hierarchical political systems can lead to hierarchical economic systems and vice versa”, my disagreement is with your assertion that one follows the other without fail, and I suppose also with the basic assumption that hierarchy is bad by nature.

    Hierarchy can be bad, but say you’re working in a group of other people. If everyone gets together and votes for a leader, you still have a hierarchy for leadership purposes, but you picked your hierarchy. I’d say that’s better than having one imposed on you or picked at random.

  20. 520
    Walton
    I nominate Walton for dictator.

    Not a bad idea – for the short while it would take till he’d collapse on the floor and tear himself to pieces. :-/

    Ha. Indeed, as someone whose life is something of an emotional rollercoaster at the best of times, I can’t think of a worse fate than being an autocrat of any kind. I’d be terrible at it. I’d probably end up inadvertently destroying myself, or destroying civilization, or both, in a bout of pain and grief. Unless one of my political enemies did me a favour by assassinating me first.

    I’ll stick with being an activist and an advocate. Perhaps the idea of having real power should scare all of us. I suspect Granny Weatherwax had a point:

    No, things like crowns had a troublesome effect on clever folk; it was best to leave all the reigning to the kind of people whose eyebrows met in the middle when they tried to think. In a funny sort of way, they were much better at it.

  21. 521
    Jadehawk

    my disagreement is with your assertion that one follows the other without fail

    what mechanism do you propose that would prevent this from happening?

    and I suppose also with the basic assumption that hierarchy is bad by nature.

    hierarchy is a form of power-concentration, by its very nature. whether that’s good or bad, or can be good or bad, is irrelevant to my argument, since my argument isn’t about the morality of hierarchies, but about hierarchical structures in one part of the system creating hierarchical structures in another.

  22. 522
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    what mechanism do you propose that would prevent this from happening?

    Worker co-ops and other kinds of employee-owned businesses are a good start. Unions. These organizations already exist and are totally compatible with liberal democracy; in fact, I’d say they’re a method of applying liberal democratic principles to the workplace. If they were more widespread then economic stratification would be reduced but the hierarchy would remain. You already seem to have agreed with me that hierarchy is a tool and only acquires good or bad qualities through application.

    As far as whether there can be a truly hierarchy-less economy or government, I don’t know. I think I’ve gotten off the subject a bit because we were originally talking about the necessity of exploitation, not hierarchy.

  23. 523
    Inaji

    Walton:

    I suspect Granny Weatherwax had a point

    You suspect right. Esme Weatherwax had no use for gods, either. While she herself enjoyed a certain amount of power, she preferred to use it in pragmatic ways.

  24. 524
    David Marjanović

    And planned to build a zinc/lead smelter with no pollution control measures at all.

    *headdesk*

    that’s the problem with ethics: there’s no such thing as objective ethics (because even the most evidence-based utilitarian ethics system is based on at least one arbitrary, subjectively valuable axiom), and once you recognize that, you can no longer argue that one system is more correct or better than another. which means that, ultimately, all activism on my part amounts to making the world appeal to my sensibilities more. that makes me very much the same as the fundies and the authoritarians, who are also trying to shape their world to their liking.

    Yep. Basically I try to explain to them that they’ll like my world well enough.

    (…It’s good that I still haven’t replied to the Hoax on your blog. This thread is good preparation. =8-) )

    Well you convinced me to stop giving a shit. Sigh

    Look at this, then. (Jadehawk, you too.)

    it kind of works similarly to the moment you realize there’s no free will.

    I had no such grand moment, because:
    1) a Turing machine can’t simulate itself faster than actually doing what it does; brains may or may not be Turing machines, but I can’t always predict what I’ll do and what I’ll want to do, even though I’ve become fairly good at it.
    2) What impact does it have when you can take anything after the fact and then say “it was predetermined”? What does it change?

    I’d also argue that the oppression in liberal democracies is primarily economic in nature, coming from private capitalists, not from the government itself. That’s one reason I don’t want to get rid of representative and/or democratic government; it’s one of the few tools we have collectively that can challenge capitalists. That’s not happening in the US at the moment because we’ve allowed capitalists to take over the government.

    Seconded.

    Amusing. Getting to be dictator is far easier than getting tenure.

    Both of these depend on the country.

    In France, it’s much easier to get tenure than to become dictator…

    the perils of ideological consistency

    Staying the course all the way to the iceberg!

    My point is that yes, there are outgroups in every society and every government. However, liberal democracies have the ability to (and often do) include them, whereas totalitarian states do not.

    Jadehawk isn’t a totalitarian. I’m not sure what, if anything, she’s arguing for here, but a totalitarian state is not it.

    the Soviet Union (if you wanna count “making everybody poor” as wealth redistribution)

    Everybody, that is, except the upper levels of the party hierarchy.

    Worker co-ops and other kinds of employee-owned businesses are a good start. Unions. These organizations already exist and are totally compatible with liberal democracy; in fact, I’d say they’re a method of applying liberal democratic principles to the workplace. If they were more widespread then economic stratification would be reduced but the hierarchy would remain.

    On this I agree.

    Naturally, unions can become hierarchical concentrations of considerable power, too. I’m not even talking about 1930s Chicago. Let me digress a little…

    Standard operating procedures:
    France: the government talks to the employers, they agree on something, the government gets it through parliament, it becomes a law, the unions go on strike and shut the country down, and when the immense noise in the media settles, then the government negotiates with the unions.
    Austria: the association of employers and the association of unions negotiate stuff, then they present it to the government, which gets it through parliament, it becomes a law, and nobody complains (aloud). Together, the association of employers and the association of unions are called the paragovernment (Nebenregierung).

  25. 525
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital
    the Soviet Union (if you wanna count “making everybody poor” as wealth redistribution)

    Everybody, that is, except the upper levels of the party hierarchy.

    I figured that was commonly understood, David. :)

  26. 526
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    (Nebenregierung)

    I thought that was one of Wagner’s works.

  27. 527
    Jadehawk

    If they were more widespread then economic stratification would be reduced

    precisely. also: co-ops are not liberal democracies but anarchies, and unions also tend towards power-concentration; they may slow the process of power-concentration (and thus, exploitation), but they don’t actually prevent it.

    and incidentally, both function just fine within exploitative capitalism, so how are they methods of preventing exploitative capitalism?

    You already seem to have agreed with me that hierarchy is a tool and only acquires good or bad qualities through application.

    i have done no such thing. I said that such value judgments are irrelevant to my argument.

    I think I’ve gotten off the subject a bit because we were originally talking about the necessity of exploitation, not hierarchy.

    you think there can be hierarchy without exploitation? interesting. how exactly can power be concentrated without reducing its concentration elsewhere within the system?

  28. 528
    Sili

    Austria: the association of employers and the association of unions negotiate stuff, then they present it to the government, which gets it through parliament, it becomes a law, and nobody complains (aloud). Together, the association of employers and the association of unions are called the paragovernment (Nebenregierung).

    That’s the Danish way.

    Save for the getting it through Parliament bit.

    The government getting involved in employer/employee negotiations is usually the cause for strikes and other uproar.

    (Speaking as a drunk ignoramus.)

  29. 529
    Jadehawk

    co-ops are not liberal democracies but anarchies,

    or, I suppose, direct democracies. which are also not the same as liberal democracies

  30. 530
    Jadehawk

    oh and one more thing: unions and co-ops may decrease power-concentration within their own closed systems, but they don’t automatically have any effect on power-concentrations in other parts of the system (except, I suppose, psychologically). Plenty of co-ops and unionized jobs depend on exploitation somewhere down the line. as long as there’s an economic system based on competition, there will be exploitation because you can’t have growth economics without exploitation (it’s theoretically possible maybe, but only at much lower productivity rates. which, because we’re talking about growth economics, would never be maintained); to make the co-op system be a mechanism for eliminating exploitative capitalism, the whole world would have to be one giant co-op; thus, the whole world would be a direct democracy or else an anarcho-communist state. not, however, a liberal democracy.

  31. 531
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital
    If they were more widespread then economic stratification would be reduced

    precisely.

    Would you prefer I said “eliminated”? Because that probably won’t happen. Some variation in earnings will occur in any system. We could be bartering and you might have three turnips and I’ll only have two turnips. It will never be exactly equal and fair, but at least we’d have approximately the same amount of turnips. In the same way, I don’t care if I make 40,000 dollars a year and someone else in the same company makes 45,000 because we’re still in the same economic class; in that sense, you’ve reduced economic stratification to the point that it’s now meaningless. That’s what I mean when I say “reduce economic stratification”.

    unions also tend towards power-concentration; they may slow the process of power-concentration (and thus, exploitation)

    There is it. That is the point we disagree on, that “power-concentration” through hierarchy is exploitation by default. Union members can vote in, and by extension vote out, their leaders; how is that exploitative?

    i have done no such thing. I said that such value judgments are irrelevant to my argument.

    Okay, if they’re irrelevant, why do you have an issue with hierarchy? Because they’re exploitative by nature? You haven’t explained how hierarchies are inherently exploitative, especially ones that are democratically elected.

    you think there can be hierarchy without exploitation? interesting. how exactly can power be concentrated without reducing its concentration elsewhere within the system?

    There are different kinds of power, for one. In a monarchy, for example, the monarch has all of the executive power and everyone else has no power at all. In a representative democracy, the President has executive power too, but it’s conditional on the elective power of the constituents. (I actually prefer parliamentary systems where executives don’t serve set terms but that’s a bit tangential to the discussion).

  32. 532
    David Marjanović

    I thought that was one of Wagner’s works.

    Heh. Yes, that’s what it sounds like, but Austria is pretty much the exact opposite of a Wagner opera. :-)

    The government getting involved in employer/employee negotiations is usually the cause for strikes and other uproar.

    The government gets involved? Strange concept. :-)

  33. 533
    Jadehawk

    Would you prefer I said “eliminated”?

    of course not, since then it wouldn’t be true anymore.

    Because that probably won’t happen. Some variation in earnings will occur in any system.

    and again, you’d have to show how, once such variance occurs, it can be stopped from growing.

    There are different kinds of power, for one.

    how is that relevant? it doesn’t matter whether I have more money, more political influence, or more social status, the result is the same (especially since these are not separate at all, but tend to reinforce each other). the only way having more power than another is not exploitative is if I voluntarily never use that power-differential to my benefit. which is possible in theory, but not in a system with humans in it, because humans don’t behave that way (and even if I did refrain from using my extra power, the threat that I can and you can’t wholly prevent me is sufficient to skew systems and make them exploitative)

    In a monarchy, for example, the monarch has all of the executive power and everyone else has no power at all. In a representative democracy, the President has executive power too, but it’s conditional on the elective power of the constituents.

    and? the fact that power concentration is greater in a monarchy doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in representative democracies. how is that an argument against the fact that power-concentration is inherently exploitative? (or, that some hierarchies don’t concentrate power; since this doesn’t contradict anything I said, I can’t tell what it was supposed to be a counterargument for)

  34. 534
    Jadehawk

    Okay, if they’re irrelevant, why do you have an issue with hierarchy?

    oh ffs. this arugment is not about my issues with anything.

    you claimed you can have liberal democracies without exploitative capitalism; I said that you can’t, because hierarchies within a system tend to spread and reinforce each other, and non-exploitative economics would have to be non-hierarchical.

    none of this has anything to do with value judgments or issues. I could think that exploitative capitalism is a good thing, and the argument wouldn’t change any.

  35. 535
    RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital

    how is that an argument against the fact that power-concentration is inherently exploitative?

    You haven’t established this as a “fact” to me and apparently it’s the root cause of our disagreement, one we’re obviously not going to overcome anytime soon. Seeing as I have errands and crap to do, I should probably get going. It was good talking to you, Jadehawk.

  36. 536
    Jadehawk

    You haven’t established this as a “fact” to me and apparently it’s the root cause of our disagreement

    it would have helped if you answered my question about how power can be concentrated in one part of the system without reducing power elsewhere in the system. probably it would also help if you could explain how it could be possible for a system to exist in which one person has more power than another, but the person with more power can never actually use this power-differential to their benefit.

    oh well.

  37. 537
    Walton

    I’d also argue that the oppression in liberal democracies is primarily economic in nature, coming from private capitalists, not from the government itself.

    Hmmm. I can think of a few exceptions: anti-immigrant laws, for example, which amount to a form of oppression created and sustained almost entirely by government, and which exist in pretty much every liberal democratic country. (I say almost entirely, because there is a growing private security industry which profits directly from immigration enforcement and detention, and lobbies hard for tougher anti-immigrant laws; so capitalism is undoubtedly part of the problem. But anti-immigrant laws existed before the current trend of prison privatization began, so the blame can’t all be laid at the door of capitalism. Rather, I’d say simple racism and xenophobia are the major factors.)

  38. 538
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    David,
    (Damn, I promised myself I’d stay out of this!)

    Jadehawk isn’t a totalitarian. I’m not sure what, if anything, she’s arguing for here, but a totalitarian state is not it.

    I never thought she was. She said I hadn’t refuted sg’s point about any government system oppessing out-groups, so I explained myself further. Maybe I still haven’t done enough to clarify, but really, right now it’s not that big of a deal to me.

    Besides, to bring it back to the OP, Game of Thrones is on in a few.

  39. 539
    Walton

    (An addendum to my #37: In addition to the private immigration detention industry, the exploitation of undocumented immigrants by employers as a source of cheap labour is, of course, very much a capitalist phenomenon. But again, I don’t think economic exploitation is the primary reason why anti-immigrant laws exist. From a market perspective, rigid restrictions on immigration are not economically rational; indeed, the most vehement advocates of capitalism, like Rand and Friedman, were in favour of open borders. Rather, I’d argue that anti-immigrant laws exist primarily because of simple racism and fear of foreigners.)

  40. 540
    Walton

    There is it. That is the point we disagree on, that “power-concentration” through hierarchy is exploitation by default. Union members can vote in, and by extension vote out, their leaders; how is that exploitative?

    Of course power-concentration is exploitative – or, at least, it creates the conditions in which exploitation can occur. If someone has power to coerce me – direct coercion through the use or threat of force, or indirect coercion through control of the economic resources on which I depend – then that person has the ability to exploit me. And I don’t know why you think that the ability to vote for or against leaders, on its own, addresses this problem. The majority can, and often does, vote for leaders and policies which harm the interests of minorities.

    A decentralized system of power is far preferable, IMO.

  41. 541
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Hmpth.

    I am not a fan of anarchy, because I see very little stopping anarchy devolving into “stomp on the weak.” I have yet to see a persuasive argument to the contrary.

    Communism is one of those things that I think is very shiny in theory, but I’m not convinced that it can really work, mostly because it has yet to.

    I favor socialism-flavored liberal democracies with strong protections for minority groups, because I see them as the best way to ensuring two things:
    1) minimizing the gap between rich and poor, and
    2) giving the poor a decent standard of living.

    I don’t see a society where everyone is equal as either achievable nor necessarily a good thing.

    Of course, all governmental styles are vulnerable to co-option by charismatic authoritarians, but I believe that liberal democracies are the least vulnerable.

  42. 542
    SteveV

    If you have any idea of how the fuckety fuck to get rid of effing four o’clocks that some dipshit planted in my yard, please let me know

    You could ask Mr. Mattir to light the EwanR signal….

  43. 543
    Inaji

    SteveV:

    You could ask Mr. Mattir to light the EwanR signal….

    Um…No. Definitely no. I don’t use, or allow, any poisons or pesticides on my property. Now, if you were trying to make me bristle, you succeeded. ;D

  44. 544
    SteveV

    Then I can sleep content.
    Goodnight.

  45. 545
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Actually, Caine, I was going to review the literature on your pest species and suggest Those Bad Things for severe monocultures if that’s what the literature recommended, since that’s what the parks and (I think) Nature Conservancy use for serious problems. The method is a bit different, though, because the evil stuff is hand applied, often with a paintbrush on individual plants, and it’s used way more for severely invasive noxious weed type problems where they’re causing real problems for threatened natives. (Yes, I do use it for severe problems at the park where I work, but at home, where I have 10 acres to worry about instead of 800, I hand pull almost exclusively.) Barring that, I’d recommend either solarizing the patch where the problem is – this will effectively sterilize the area and kill everything there, using nothing but heat from sun and a sheet of sturdy clear plastic. Or you could do a serious couple of seasons pulling seedlings, trying very very hard to keep any plants from going to seed and thus depleting the seedbank. The other thing you could use is a propane torch type thing (one brand is called Weed Dragon) to burn the plants. One of these years Mommy is going to get a flamethrower for mothers day, I’m sure.

    Hope this helps.

  46. 546
    llewelly

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe
    13 May 2012 at 12:24 pm

    (though… can you even make a nuclear-fueled society happen without already having a high-energy-consuming, high-tech society…?)

    Sadly I don’t know. I’m a software engineer, not a nuclear engineer. And if a society is not high-energy consuming, I’m not sure what you need nuclear power for – after all, concentrated power is the one thing nuclear is really, really good for. That’s why it’s used in aircraft carriers and submarines, and for very population dense areas.

    .

    I do know that every nuclear power plant design I have examined in detail requires special kinds of high strength steel, and in many designs, the reactor chamber must be forged as single piece so large it can only be made in a few places in the world. Ultimately, nuclear is promising because of its very high energy concentration, and the potential for very high temperatures – and steam turbines are potentially much more efficient at high temperatures. Naturally those high temperatures and pressures require high strength materials, which sometimes means exotic materials. (Modern fossil fuel power plants face similar difficulties – and some of them run at higher temps than any existing nuclear plants – but the difference is, if all you can build are very primitive steam turbines, they can be run at much lower temperatures, and still work, just not as efficiently. )

    .

    Most steel forging methods are highly dependent on coal (for the carbon as well as the heat), so without coal, different sorts of steel forging methods would need to be used.

    .

    Another difficulty would be manipulation of the spent fuel – it comes out very hot, and it would be very challenging to design a plant which did not rely on at least some robotics or remote controlled devices to move the spent fuel around.

    .

    And there’s the separation of U-235 from U-238. There are reactor designs which require only a small seed amount of U-235, and thereafter can run on naturally occurring thorium ores – but since thorium isn’t fissionable in its natural form (it needs to be converted to U-233 by neutron absorption), such reactors need a little fissionable material to get started. There are also designs (see CANDU) which can run on natural uranium ores, which are predominately U-238, but, again, those require a small seed amount of U-235, because U-238 is not fissionable in its natural state – it needs to be converted to Pu-239 by neutron absorption. So to get nuclear power started, a small amount of U-235 is required, and it must be found, and purified – challenging tasks for a society that was not high-energy. (However, since it’s a small amount, uranium hexaflouride based methods would not be necessary. Electromagnetic methods, such as caultrons, could probably be used. Whether mass-spectroscopy would be easier than flourine separation by electrolysis for society that isn’t “high energy” is something I don’t know – one could argue that since electrolysis was developed in the 1880s, a society without electrolysis would also likely be a society without mass spectroscopy. )

    .

    To make matters worse, U-235 is the one nuclear fuel that is a scarce resource – and having constructed a nuclear industry almost exclusively reliant on U-235, we have already used up a substantial portion of the easy to find U-235, and will use up more in the near future. (Naval reactors use Pu-239, which was previously U-238, and is vastly more abundant. There are also MOX fuel projects, which mix a modest amount of Pu-239 into a uranium zinc fuel cylinder intended for a traditional U-235 based reactor, but these are still predominately U-235. Sadly only two thorium reactors have ever been built, and both were shut down decades ago.)

    .

    But the biggest difficulty might be that without a source of highly concentrated, portable energy, it is difficult to find an efficient way to power the many vehicles used in exploration and mining. Because these vehicles need to carry their energy with them, it is extremely important that it have a relatively high energy to mass ratio. It is only recently, and only in certain limited uses, that batteries have become competitive with fossil fuels in this regard.

    .

    The next best alternative I would guess to be biodiesel. Unfortunately, the best biodiesel comes from the fat of large sea mammals – a scarce resource, that a culture re-developing technology from after some sort of cataclysm would be all too likely to drive to utter extinction. (You can read Farley Mowat’s Sea of Slaughter if you want to get some idea of how swiftly this can happen.) After that are plant oils, such as palm oil – but they have very marginal energy return on investment ratios.

    .

    It would probably be more interesting to ask this question over at brave new climate. There are people there who know far more about nuclear power than I do. However – brave new climate is a community of nuclear optimists. With some nuclear Utopians thrown in.

    .

    Ultimately, I suspect that without fossil fuels, a developing culture would turn to wind, biodiesel, and for some uses, solar. Although it’s not possible to make high efficiency wind turbines without rare earths, it’s possible to generate enough electricity for some uses. Eventually, I guess work-arounds, generally much more costly, and requiring much more design effort, would be found for the problems I glossed over above. I suspect a high tech culture could re-develop without fossil fuels – but it would take much longer.

  47. 547
    Inaji

    Thanks, Mattir. They are all tangled in with poppies and a few other things I do not want to kill, including the Juniper trees they are planted around. Normally, these things are always kept in pots, because of their invasive nature and the impossibility of eradicating them. They are beyond annoying. I suppose keeping them at bay is the best I can do.

  48. 548
    llewelly

    David Marjanović | 13 May 2012 at 6:11 pm

    1) a Turing machine can’t simulate itself faster than actually doing what it does; brains may or may not be Turing machines, but I can’t always predict what I’ll do and what I’ll want to do, even though I’ve become fairly good at it.

    The same limitation applies to all the sorts of theoretical computing machines with higher algorithmic power than Turing machines.

    .

    And I’m too tired right now, but the same limitation implies that an entity which has total knowledge of the future is impossible.

  49. 549
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Caine -you could move the poppies temporarily, or try the weed torch. Yes, they are beyond annoying. If you reconsidered the Evil Approach, the trick would be to cut the vine back to just a leaf or two and then apply That Stuff with a sponge paintbrush,so you’d be using the bare minimum required.

    Here, we are battling wavy leaf basketgrass, which is apparently one of the worst invasives to crop up in decades. Sigh.

  50. 550
    Jadehawk

    And if a society is not high-energy consuming, I’m not sure what you need nuclear power for

    I meant that not in the sense of needing the energy, but in the sense of already producing and using it.

    basically, I get the impression that you need a lot of energy-intensive infrastructure to create nuclear-power in the first place; so, nuclear power cannot be the source of energy that propels a civilization into a high-tech, high-energy-consuming status.

    I suspect a high tech culture could re-develop without fossil fuels – but it would take much longer.

    interesting; thanks

  51. 551
    David Marjanović

    anti-immigrant laws exist primarily because of simple racism and fear of foreigners

    Agreed.

    One of these years Mommy is going to get a flamethrower for mothers day, I’m sure.

    ^_^

    Would suit you very well!

    However, since it’s a small amount, uranium hexaflouride based methods would not be necessary. Electromagnetic methods, such as caultrons, could probably be used. Whether mass-spectroscopy would be easier than flourine separation by electrolysis for society that isn’t “high energy” is something I don’t know – one could argue that since electrolysis was developed in the 1880s, a society without electrolysis would also likely be a society without mass spectroscopy.

    All interesting!

    Sadly only two thorium reactors have ever been built, and both were shut down decades ago.

    Why were they shut down?

    It is only recently, and only in certain limited uses, that batteries have become competitive with fossil fuels in this regard.

    I’m quite surprised to learn they’ve become competitive anywhere!

    Do you know what happened to the “super-iron” (iron-VI) batteries presented in Nature or Science about 10 years ago?

    After that are plant oils, such as palm oil –

    …for which rainforest on Borneo is being cut down and orang-utans illegally hunted right now. Unless that petition I signed had an effect, hah.

    However – brave new climate is a community of nuclear optimists. With some nuclear Utopians thrown in.

    Heh. I can imagine!

    The same limitation applies to all the sorts of theoretical computing machines with higher algorithmic power than Turing machines.

    Interesting.

    And I’m too tired right now, but the same limitation implies that an entity which has total knowledge of the future is impossible.

    Fascinating!

    …Yeah, obvious. If it can’t even simulate itself in faster-than-real time, it can’t additionally simulate the rest of the universe. And if the universe as a whole is the entity in question, it still can’t simulate itself in faster-than-real time. Right?

  52. 552
    Therrin

    Time covers elsewhere (non-permanent link).

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