Thursday Highlights

Good day … in pairs.

  1. Questioning premises, public education (here too). Here’s a hypothesis, public support for education should be weighted by measurable talents demonstrated by the child. 
  2. There’s a good idea and a reading suggestion.
  3. A thought to gnaw upon … and some more to get grumpy ’bout.
  4. Noble savage … not exactly … and a better microscope.
  5. Various thoughts … and (nothing).
  6. I don’t think that’s true … and sharing life with introverts.
  7. More than meta-data … and (nothing).
  8. The mid-East and … pipelines.
  9. Well, yes, but we are also basically evil at heart (remember the “line between” quote) … and prosecution for what?
  10. Memories of the past in these waning Weiner days (recall Ms L is in her 40s now) … and apparently order matters in the acquisition of dogs and kids.

OK then. Enjoy

11 Responses to Thursday Highlights

  1. Questioning premises, public education (here too). Here’s a hypothesis, public support for education should be weighted by measurable talents demonstrated by the child.

    By this measure we seem to be pretty good. Take the US as a whole today compared to, say, 1980. We are more talented, more educated, command a much larger range of technological skills. What’s the main difference between today and then? Then our economy was dominated by the contributions of those educated in the 70′s, 60′s, 50′s and 40′s (assuming a 20 yr old gets a good 40 years in the workforce). Today our economy is dominated by those educated in the 00′s, 90′s, 80′s and 70′s. If there was some long term decline in school quality one should be able to produce real evidence of its effects.

    But remember when people usually demand ‘measurable’ things in relation to education they forget the fact that you not only have to show you can measure something, you also have to show that what you are measuring actually matters in the real world. For example, I’ve been hearing for decades that Japanese kids measure better than US kids on some standardized tests in math and science. Yet despire popular theories of Japan’s coming world dominence decades ago, that hasn’t seemed to matter all that much. Amazon, Facebook, the smartphone are US innovations. Rather than fretting about US kids not doing well on some test, I’d test the test first and demand that it’s results are actually worth caring about.

  2. and prosecution for what?

    As shocking as it may be to hear, it is illegal to fire guns at property that doesn’t belong to you and attempt to destroy it.

  3. 3.A thought to gnaw upon …

    A pet peeve of mind is inconsistent correlation with time assertions. For example, if you allege on one hand people are getting worse as time goes by, then you must also assert people were better in the past and assuming no deviations or bends in the curve the distant past must have been some type of utopian golden age.

    I bring this up because a while ago you bashed Steven Pinker’s thesis in Better Angles that humanity was getting less and less violent over the course of history. Well if you really, really diagree with that you’re going to end up sooner or later in Rousseau’s camp, asserting our pre-civilized days were the most peaceful and ideal. But if you are going to say Rousseau was as wrong as he can be, well then you’re in Pinker’s camp. But Pinker can’t be as wrong as wrong can be on Tuesday and Rousseau as wrong as wrong can be on Friday. Figure out what the next level consquences are to your assertions and make sure you’re being consistent with them.

  4. Boonton,
    I fail to see the contradiction. I don’t think that we have fundamentally changed in any way. The “noble savages” ran herds of animals off cliffs, killed of species, and were at a constant low level state of war. While today, governments and organizations kill off big swaths of unwanted peoples, war is normally at a low level conflict all the time, and we still run species to extinction. Both are wrong. We haven’t changed in any fundamental way, Rousseau is wrong that there was an “age of innocence” and Pinker is wrong that we are better today.

  5. Boonton,
    Uhm, I meant .. what drones? Drones are not regularly flying over Denver. There is nothing at which to shoot.

    This is like Chicago writing statutes that declare a “nuclear free zone” (which by the way it wasn’t because they have hospitals and radiation medicine is practiced).

    If Colorado wrote statutes that it was legal to hunt small green men from planet X … so what? That was the extent of my objection.

  6. Boonton,
    Sorry, not Denver, but “Deer Trail Colorado”.

    Lots of drone traffic there, eh?

  7. While today, governments and organizations kill off big swaths of unwanted peoples, war is normally at a low level conflict all the time, and we still run species to extinction

    Are we really? A serious war seems to kill about 100K or so (Iraq invasion, Syria civil war). But they seem to have grown less frequent. Low level conflicts are at absurd levels of *low mortality*. For example, the entire Afghanistan/Iraq conflict claimed fewer lives on the US side than what would have been considered a pretty good battle in WWII. Even in terms of civilian casualities war is killing fewer people these days than it used too.

    Your thesis would only work if you strike a perfect mean….we aren’t any more or less violent than we have ever been. But that too would require an explanation. Clearly technological advances have increased our ability to generate violence, just as we have more ability to generate pancakes, homes, and hot showers. What opposing force is dampening violence to keep the level level then? What is causing it to mirror technology so that it always keeps it balanced? Barring some type of mechanism causing this balance, it’s much more likely you either got increasing violence over time (Rosseau’s right) or decreasing (Pinker).

    Uhm, I meant .. what drones? Drones are not regularly flying over Denver. There is nothing at which to shoot.

    I think we are very close to private drones starting to come online, rural areas might be good candidates since agriculture requires aerial operations AND rural areas tend to be away from the major air traffic hubs. Law enforcement is starting to come online too….drones are a lot cheaper and safer to hunt for illegal pot operations and meth labs than manned helicopters for example.

    If Colorado wrote statutes that it was legal to hunt small green men from planet X … so what? That was the extent of my objection.

    An objection could be that if you shoot down a drone you are a criminal, even if some local ding dongs passed a bill supposedly giving you permission. Likewise if someone gets hurt because of your act, you have a homicide on your hands, maybe even a terrorist act. It’s best not to give dumb people the false idea they can do something legally when they can’t.

  8. Boonton,

    Your thesis would only work if you strike a perfect mean….we aren’t any more or less violent than we have ever been.

    My thesis works without a “perfect mean” it only requires that man’s nature be essentially unchanged in the last 2k/4k years. You think the genetics drift is so much that we are fundamentally different than people 500 or 1k years ago? I don’t. Can you demonstrate brain chemistry differences or other changes in the last thousand or so years that would support the idea that we are different today. Remember … a few weeks ago I linked a area in Madison Wisconsin in which 150 people or more in a multi-block area started fighting, with baseball bats and so on? Yah, we’re real peaceful now.

    Barring some type of mechanism causing this balance, it’s much more likely you either got increasing violence over time (Rosseau’s right) or decreasing (Pinker).

    The “balance” is that we are the same stuff as before. Man’s makeup has not changed.

    A serious war seems to kill about 100K or so (Iraq invasion, Syria civil war).

    Aha. You fall in to the frequently noted Sudan genocide trap. If it’s no in the NYTimes it doesn’t happen. This web page is, of course, empty of entries … or not. Interesting you add the “serious war” as your threshold in response to my quoted “low level conflict all the time” point. The death rate of inter/intra tribal violence in American aboriginal tribes was a low level thing. Larger wars may have occasionally broken out, with higher levels of violence like in modern times.

    And furthermore, being just a few years removed from serious wars makes my point now yours. If they were going away, it should be a longer and longer span between them. Why do you think that is the case?

    I think we are very close to private drones starting to come online, rural areas might be good candidates since agriculture requires aerial operations AND rural areas tend to be away from the major air traffic hubs

    I see, if agricultural areas start flying crop dusting drones my guess is farmers won’t shoot at them. The drones they’d be upset about are of a different sort.

    It’s best not to give dumb people the false idea they can do something legally when they can’t.

    I see, when Oak Park and Hyde Park pass statutes declaring themselves “Nuclear Free Zones” as a political statement. You’re against giving those dumb people false ideas? Or is it only the “false ideas” that you or your party opposes that are wrong?

  9. My thesis works without a “perfect mean” it only requires that man’s nature be essentially unchanged in the last 2k/4k years

    Recall you once asserted that a person was defined by the relationships he had with others? I’m not sure you can divide man’s ‘nature’ into purely individual characteristics (his brain chemistry/DNA etc.) and keep the social matrix out.

    In other words you seem to be saying if you swapped a baby born today with one born 3000 years ago via a time machine the modern baby would be just as likely to grow up 3000 years ago to be as violent as his peers and the ancient baby raised today would grow up to be as non-violent as his peers. But I don’t think you can divide out the social conditioning as part of our nature. This is especially important when you consider epigenetics. That’s the study of how environment shapes genes. Genes can be turned on or off by the environment so even knowing someone’s complete DNA is insufficient to assert what they are ‘genetically’.

    Aha. You fall in to the frequently noted Sudan genocide trap. If it’s no in the NYTimes it doesn’t happen.

    There’s also the history book trap, if scribes didn’t think it was worth writing about 2000 years ago, then it didn’t happen. While I keep ending up returning Pinkers’ book unread to the library (never enough time) I believe he rather painstakingly tries to tease out the ‘hidden’ rates of violent death in both ancient and modern times and finds the ancient times were worse.

    I see, if agricultural areas start flying crop dusting drones my guess is farmers won’t shoot at them. The drones they’d be upset about are of a different sort.

    Who gives a crap about someone being ‘upset’? Suppose someone shot out Google’s driverless car because they don’t like the idea of it capturing images for its ‘street view’?

    I see, when Oak Park and Hyde Park pass statutes declaring themselves “Nuclear Free Zones” as a political statement.

    Did such statutes declare that residents should shoot at nuclear weapons being transported through the jurisdictions?

  10. Boonton,

    Did such statutes declare that residents should shoot at nuclear weapons being transported through the jurisdictions?

    I see. Statutes declaring it legal to shoot things which don’t exist are to be distinguished from statutes making it illegal to have in your district things which don’t exist. Your fictional legal biases are likely unwarranted.

    Who gives a crap about someone being ‘upset’?

    Well, the law was presumably passed because people in that district were sufficiently upset to make a statement that they didn’t want those devices around. It is likely that their objections to the existence of said unmanned flying vehicles is about police and surveillance not farming, hence my remark.

    But I don’t think you can divide out the social conditioning as part of our nature.

    Yah. And when I point out that for the last 500 years all three, our intellectual leaders, our religious/moral leaders, and our political leaders have been pushing mores and customs on us but have mostly stopped or reversed their views on that. You argued that they had little effect and they don’t matter. That our relatively civil times in our western world is nice and safe … right now but this is an unstable equilibrium and one we should take care not to lose, you argue that shame is outdated, that marriage doesn’t matter, that demographics don’t matter and so on.

    In other words you seem to be saying if you swapped a baby born today with one born 3000 years ago via a time machine the modern baby would be just as likely to grow up 3000 years ago to be as violent as his peers and the ancient baby raised today would grow up to be as non-violent as his peers

    Yep. You think that’s wrong?

    Recall you once asserted that a person was defined by the relationships he had with others?

    His personhood. Not person.

  11. Statutes declaring it legal to shoot things which don’t exist are to be distinguished from statutes making it illegal to have in your district things which don’t exist.

    Drones do in fact exist and whose to say one may not have to fly over their town. Would you say it’s ok for a town to pass a law saying its ok to shoot Jewish residents if the small town, in fact, had no Jewish residents?

    Yah. And when I point out that for the last 500 years all three, our intellectual leaders, our religious/moral leaders, and our political leaders have been pushing mores and customs on us but have mostly stopped or reversed their views on that.

    Really? 500 years ago our leaders were pushing morality on us? I wasn’t aware that we were once ruled by such exceptional paradigns of morality.

    Yep. You think that’s wrong?

    No but what exactly do you mean by ‘nature’? we know from feral children that if you don’t raise a human with other humans you basically don’t get a person. At least not a person capable of either good or evil as we know it since they will lack understanding of the context of their actions. So asking what a person’s nature is absent their culture is a bit like asking what a cake tastes like before eggs and flour are mixed and the batter cooked.

    That our relatively civil times in our western world is nice and safe … right now but this is an unstable equilibrium and one we should take care not to lose, you argue that shame is outdated, that marriage doesn’t matter, that demographics don’t matter and so on.

    If the equilibrium is so unstable, whey does it seem so hard to shake loose? If I moved you into a house that had lots of crystal glasses standing on numerous tables with wobbly legs and I told you this was a very valuable house so you must not make any sudden movements least you unsettle the delicate equilibrium….you’d say I was mad. A house where the crystal was secured in a good china closet, able to withstand kids running around would be much better.

    IMO the equilibrium you like is it’s own reward generating it’s own positive feedback that makes society as a whole more stable over time which would explain our declining rates of violence.

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