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DirkGently's Journal - Archives
Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Wed Oct 19th 2011, 02:52 PM
Old-school patricians like Poppy Bush knew how to wield and maintain unjust privilege in a supposed democracy: Quietly. I think he knew it was all bullshit and not to actually claim it. He called Reagan's "trickle down" theories "voodoo economics." He understood that these Chicago School, Ayn Randian fallacies are only for show, something for the privileged class to comfort themselves with as they crushed another South American republic or what have you.

But you don't actually try to sell that stuff out loud. It can't withstand the scrutiny. Except, apparently, in America. For a little while.

His son wasn't the first to actually believe all the rationalizations, but he sure embodied the child who overhears his parents saying horrendous things at home and then blurts them out embarrassingly at parties, because he doesn't get that everyone isn't as amused by,for example, the fact that "Rich people don't pay taxes anyway heeherrhaw."

Since then it's been a race to be more boldly horrific. Mitt Romney's most historic moment may forever be the day he said "Corporations are people too."

Taking it all wasn't enough. They had to go and claim they had the RIGHT. There's an old (entirely metaphorical, let us be clear) saying hanging in an office I know:

"Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered."
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Sun Oct 16th 2011, 12:15 AM
City officials reportedly assumed there would be little turnout and no continuing occupation. Not so much.

1,500+ participants per OPD, who says it was the largest turnout for any activist event downtown, ever. DUers were among the organizers. The march past the banks stretched for blocks and lead the local news.

Marches continuing downtown all night.

Protesters have reached a compromise with the police and the city to occupy a field near the park where the event was held. To be continued ...





Grayson was there





























Did I mention? The park was directly adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce building. We were advised the city has charged them $1 / year rent. Yet they were disinclined to unlock the doors to the ground floor to let even children or the elderly or disabled use the restrooms. Until the hotel across the street graciously granted access, it was about 1/4 mile walk to the nearest facilities.


Everyone get out there somewhere if you can.
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion: Presidency
Tue Oct 11th 2011, 04:05 PM
I don't care for the political or social practices of the Mormon Church. Ostracizing non-believers and the multi-million dollar crusade to ban gay marriage come to mind.

But it's an oddity of our culture that it's not only not considered poor judgment to profess a belief in certain supernatural beings and their arcane laws and commands, but a sign of moral solidity. Anyone is free to believe and worship as they see fit, but why do we have this silent bargain going on where no one expects SANE Americans to actually take their supposed religious beliefs seriously? It's considered almost a necessity to be a Christian to be elected. But what would we think if we elected one and they pursued, say, the death penalty for anyone disregarding The Sabbath? It's right there in the Bible, and we all want believers (and apparently, only believers) in political office, right?

Right?

Singling out Romney's particular brand of theism is a bit hypocritical, and in the mouths of Christian Fundamentalists, I think it's bigotry, and it feels ugly:

"You wear strange underpants while worshipping YOUR ridiculous supposed supernatural overlord. Now put on this depiction of a Roman execution device and praise Jesus like a normal person."

Crazy's really in the eye of the beholder here.

We have a huge, strange cultural blind spot for religion. I heard some British author on NPR a while back casually use "people who believe in UFOs" to mean, "people who hold irrational beliefs." "It's not like ... people who believe in UFOs or something, hahaha."

Of course, he was referring to the highly speculative, unproven belief that UFOS might contain extraterrestial beings, and quite typically dismissing that as presumptively ludicrous. Yet he would have attracted a storm of protest if he had casually dismissed people who believe an extraterrestrial being described in the Bible created the universe the same way.

He'd never have said, "It's not like ... people who believe Jesus rose from the dead and was taken up into the heavens to await the day he would return to judge all mankind, hahaha."

But it's not like the story is any more rational or fact-based. Less, really, given that it's one thing to imagine there might be life on other planets, and quite another to imagine an alien superbeing actually created humankind and is concerned about our moral judgments and sexual habits.

I'd never condone judging or hating someone because of the religion they grew up in.

But maybe it IS time we start asking adherents to the culturally-favored religious groups whether they intend to make real-world decisions based on the decidedly unreal tenets of religion, no matter how traditional or culturally accepted those views have become.
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Thu Oct 06th 2011, 12:01 AM
For Christ's sake, with the Apple bashing. The man died a painful death. I didn't see the post nominating him for sainthood, but a lot of people appreciate good design. What exactly is the problem with that?

I don't take issue with anyone criticizing Apple's labor issues, etc., other than the fact they tend to ignore the fact they used the same horrible plants as everyone else.

I don't take issue with people noting Jobs' notorious personality, although it takes a pretty petty turn of mind to bring it up on the occasion of his death.

I do take issue with the suggestion that it's somehow blasphemic for people who enjoyed Jobs' accomplishments to remark on that on the day of his death, or that somehow all the enormous bullshit that's happened to America because of the financial, energy, and military industries needs to be pushed on his plate at this moment.

This was not the guy or the company that decided to play craps with the mortgage market, or to extort trillions from the U.S. taxpayers to bail them out, or to forge Assignments of Mortgage to more swiftly remove Americans from their homes when the insane financial instruments recommended to them by mortgage brokers with the moral fiber of the ebola virus exploded in their faces.

It is beyond ridiculous to suggest that OWS somehow encompasses the weirdo cult of Apple haterism comprised of strange, embittered creatures who can't let an Apple-related event occur without launching a fusillade of pretentious bullshit about how Apple users, who include most of the professional publishing, advertising and design worlds, are technologically challenged slaves to the allure of pretty packaging and slick marketing.

Jobs designed great machines that work. I started buying them after my second HP laptop in five years suffered catastrophic failure because HP couldn't be bothered to make a motherboard that wouldn't fry itself or a case that wouldn't implode when you dared to open the hinge. They were shiny and cheap and absolute pieces of crap. In the same period, my fiancee had a six-year-old MacBook Pro that outperformed the newer HPs, never so much as froze up, was swiftly and inexpensively repaired when its hard drive finally gave in, and couldn't crack at the hinge because it was made of aluminum. It's sitting on a back shelf at this moment, in perfect running condition, with a new aluminum bezel and keyboard Apple installed for free at the last repair, just to be nice.

No Apple product I've bought has failed, or even failed to work. Or even not worked better than whatever non-Apple counterpart I had before. No non-Apple computing device I've ever owned has NOT failed, irreparably, and had to be thrown away.

It's good design. Functional, durable, no more complex or simple than it needs to be. That's a hard thing to come by, and I appreciate and admire Jobs and Apple's accomplishments in bringing them to bear, given that although I keep hearing everyone else in the world already knew how to make every device Apple ever created, somehow none of them ever did.

One of the biggest Apple critics on DU wrote something nice about Jobs today. Didn't seem to cause him any pain.

That's all.

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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Fri Sep 30th 2011, 11:37 AM
We sure don't. It would be naive in the extreme to imagine its impossible that any number of inconvenient Americans or others could never become "collateral damage" in a drone strike or other "extrajudicial killing."

We have these (supposed) limitations and protections in place for a reason, but people seem to fail to appreciate what they really mean.

It is in no way natural or normal or expected that citizens are not kidnapped or tortured or murdered by powers within their own country, without charge or trial or right to counsel.

Those things ARE the natural way it goes. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were assembled with that understanding, and nothing about human nature has changed since then.

If you don't recognize someone else's right not to be murdered on the say so of the government you -- that instant-- no longer have that right yourself.

I see people people slinging out all manner of rationalizations about how bad so-and-so was, and how the entire planet is just a big WWII battlefield now. And of course how the Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, and We Can Trust Our Leader.

What's missing is that axiom that powers that be never admit wrongdoing. They never say they are or might or could possibly be, say, killing someone unfairly. They always say it's a dangerous enemy of the state. An enemy of the revolution. That a trial is unnecessary. That the exigencies of war don't permit due process. That is HOW government atrocities are committed. It's the only way it's done. It's the way it's always been done. It's not any different because it's us doing it, or we consider our enemies extra bad, or because the killings are done in countries that don't really count, somehow.

This is what barbaric conduct looks like. This is what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights forbid. There is no "but this guy was super bad, we're pretty sure, and it's like a war, and we're really scared, sooo..." exception.

It shouldn't be this hard a concept. Wonder how far they'll have to go this time before people decide that their own welfare is actually at risk here.

Maybe when they come for the college kids? When we find out the unfortunate strike that hit the convoy that was carrying the political opponent was not so accidental after all?

What's it going to take to stop excusing the inexcusable?




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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Thu Aug 04th 2011, 09:12 AM
I don't think the OP claimed leftwingers were saints. But in America, anyway, the rightWING is defined by hate. By the Enemies List. It's driven by fear of the Other. Teachers. Scientists. Journalists. Non-Christians (except Jews "holding" the Promised Land for them). Hippies. The poor. Artists. Immigrants. Minorities. Gay people. Women.

Essentially anyone who might observe or analyze or report anything with any tools other than ideology, because logic and reason and observation by definition contradict them. Thus the notion of some kind of amorphous, all-encompassing "bias" among all the world's journalists, and scientists save for those expressly employed to push a right-wing viewpoint. Beware the light-bringers, they are heretic.

Worse is anyone with less-than-equal access to resources, which implies to them a threat that situation might be reversed. Thus the constant framing of any discussion of equal rights as a demand for "special rights." The rumors that "they" are out to take over and teach homosexuality to kindergardeners, or extract "slavery reparations," or enact "Sharia law."

I'd agree people can be fearful and hateful from any number of political or economic viewpoints, but the American rightwing is predominently driven by a desire to take unfairly, and to justify that taking with a cynical view that the world is only about who has more, that those who traditionally HAVE more already are the true and proper owners of us all, and that anything that would tend to upset that order, whether it's education or the notion of equal rights, or any human cooperation that isn't directed to violently enforcing the dominance of the already-dominant, is a bad thing.

*Edited for a variety of flourishes and corrections*
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Wed Jul 06th 2011, 11:13 AM
I can't imagine anyone could care enough about freaking Nancy Grace to let it color their opinion of the outcome of a murder trial.

But her dishonest, disfunctional attitude is part of why it's a good thing the jury in this case was not fooled into accepting the prosecution's imagined-but-unproven scenario as fact.

Nancy Grace, like a lot of the public in this case, doesn't need facts or a presumption of innocence. She just needs rage. Here's a victim, and here's the person the finger of suspicion falls on most easily. DONE -- bring out the torches and pitchforks, please. She doesn't need to know any more, and the fact that her outraged "certainty" has been proven completely wrong time and time again doesn't seem to dissuade her from doing it the next time.

She's hawking a poisonous, irrational, anti-Constitutional brand of insanity that has nothing to do with justice, or concern for the victim, and everything to do with feeding stupid people's need to stroke their rage nuts into a bloodthirsty furor over things they can't even be bothered to consider factually.

You can see it in the more warped objections to the non-conviction, sneering about people supposedly not caring about the victim, not being angry enough.

Angry enough to convict someone based on suspicion alone. On the lack of a more suitable suspect. On the failure to overcome a presumption of guilt. And yes, on the appeal of the victim. Plenty of people have implied that it's far worse to have failed to convict someone in the death of a little girl than in some other type of case.

But that's bullshit. The little girl lived in a country where her mother wasn't supposed to be subject to a capital murder charge because she failed to explain her disapperance to the satisfaction of the amateur detectives of the world. It's not about actually caring for the little girl. It's about waving a bloody shirt and trying to justify a lower standard of care in figuring out who, if anyone, killed her, on the basis of rage and pity.

The result here IS worth celebrating, because every time we turn around, another principle of democracy is being beheaded on the basis of fear and anger. Privacy. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Right to counsel. The requirement that a war have a legal basis. None of that counts, we're told, if we're sufficiently scared or angry.

Yesterday, the presumption of innocence and the prosecution's burden of proof counted. IF a guilty person went unpunished, that's still better than giving the police and the state the power to imprison and execute people without bothering to prove them guilty.

I heard Nancy Grace is angry about it. Went from praising the jurors' backgrounds and likely wisdom, to condemning them as cowards who won't "show themselves." I don't watch her, and couldn't care less.

But, fuck her.





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Posted by DirkGently in Religion/Theology
Fri May 27th 2011, 01:58 PM
I was raised in a Christian religion, and rejected it on the level of any kind of literal truth, in early adulthood, in the midst of forming my values (out of early adulthood -- still in the midst of forming my values). Rejecting religion didn't fundamentally change my views or ethics or morality one way or the other, except for the decision that no argument beginning with "But God says you should ..." would hold any water with me. Thinking back, though, I don't think it ever really did.

The flavor of Christianity shown to me was not inconsistent with progressive values though. No one in church or at home preached intolerance or hellfire or any of the more despicable political aspects of religion that define the more divisive discussions we see.

Maybe it's because of that I kind of passed through and beyond the sneering, militant flavor of atheism you sometimes (ahem) see on Internet forums. I've been known to sneer BACK when confronted with the more condescending religious fallacies -- the idea that all ethics come from religion, or that life is meaningless without a belief in a religiously-provided afterlife chief among them.

I'm a humanist before being an atheist, I think. I see religion as a framework on which people have hung EVERYTHING they are capable of. Good and bad, wisdom and infuriating stupidity. Kindness and mercy, brutality and intolerance. It's all in there, or not. It's always people doing the interpretating and application.

I think getting extremely hung up on the underlying mythology (or faith) misses the point on both sides. Those obsessed with making otherwise good people obey their idea of a Supreme Being are nuts at the very best. Likewise, sneering at decent religious folk because they're doing generally good things with an underlying notion it pleases their god is pointless chest pounding.

Growing up, I heard mostly good ideas and saw mostly good practices from religious people. Do unto others. Feed the poor. Love thy neighbor. I decided those were all good things, but that it would mean less done under the rubric a mythology that didn't hold up to rational scrutiny, and was full of lot of its own ethical failings, from rape to infanticide to an inexcusable prejudice against pork chops and seafood.

That's the core of my atheism (or, more maybe more acurately -- a-religiousness). I don't decide what I think is right or wrong based on what someone else says someTHING else told them to tell me. Religion provides a lot of middle-men, all of whom tend to twist things as they see fit. If something doesn't make sense, no "Commandment" or sermon or priest ought to able convince you to do it anyway, or vis versa.

People's values are internal, no matter how they frame them. If someone kills because they "think" "God" wills it, it's that person who wants to kill. If someone forgives or assists or donates, that's the person too. You can read most of the big Holy Books as justifications for being a pacifist, warmonger, Social Democrat, or a Nazi Skinhead.

The rest -- Why We're All Here and What It Means are worthwhile considerations, but ultimately the answer there is that no one knows. We've got ourselves to answer to for now, and mostly I think that's what people do.



Edited extensively as I think of / correct stuff.




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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Tue Apr 26th 2011, 03:19 PM
Attempting to narrow the context to the breaking of the law is also a dodge. No ordinary law, no ordinary circumstances. No ordinary results. People who want to discuss rule breaking in a vacuum are making a fascist or authoritarian argument.

In order to reduce Manning's situation to a broken law, or call him a "traitor," you have to ignore a mountain of towering, flaming context.

For example, he's being pursued under a law designed to punish people for sending American military secrets to our enemies to help them in wartime. The fifth person in history so charged.

But you'd have to twist the facts into a bag of doughnuts to say that's the case here. Which Russian agent got the nuclear missile plans?

The counter-argument of course, is that it's not Manning's place to think. He must simply obey. Follow orders ...

Is an immoral order one we want people to follow?

Are matters "classified" to prevent the embarrassment of dishonest government officials to be respected as such? Why?

Getting back to "Traitor" -- this is a loaded term to start with. It implies betrayal. Of whom? For what purpose? To what end? In a vaccuum, using the term (and the inevitable accompanying cries to 'hang 'em!) is nothing more or less than an attempt to cow and threaten people for defying authority in an absolute way. You routed for the wrong team. Wore the wrong color. Shouted the wrong slogan.

Everyone who ever changed anything for the better, ever violated the status quo, ever defied an immoral authority, was a "traitor" in this way.

We should all be this kind of traitor. We must. Want to punish that? Blindly? Based on calls to patriotism and loyalty and lawfullness?

Come and f*cking get us.


edited for: extra treason
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Apr 21st 2011, 10:32 AM
As Greenwald points out, President Obama is not a progressive who has managed a few laudable reforms and foolishly given away the game or been beaten by Republicans on core progressive themes like the need to spend, not cut during an economic crisis. Or to meaningfully regulate to avoid future financial industry abuses. Or to end our proxy wars for American business interests in the Middle East.

There's a reason why there is a Republican deficit reduction plan in the House, and a conservative Republican / conservative Democrat "team" in the Democratically controlled Senate.

Obama's getting EXACTLY what he wants. It's politically expedient, and, if you assume "America is a center-right country," it's the "best" way for Democrats to succeed politically. You don't change the paradigm. You embrace it, and nibble here and there around the edges, and make beautiful speeches about making things better, while making SURE to continue favoring entrenched power structures over the good of the people at large.

He IS an effective leader, and a brilliant politician. So long as you believe making corporations or the wealthy pay fair taxes is unthinkable, and that the end of the social safety net is inevitable. That unlimited military spending and expansionism in oil-rich countries and unethical wartime tactics and creeping government secrecy are all just givens at this point.

Question is, is this what DEMOCRATS stand for, or not?



Edited for all kinds of nice additional touches.
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Sun Apr 03rd 2011, 04:20 PM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42393722/ns/bu... ... /

Dead: 11 people. Spilled: 200 million gallons. Reward: $340,000. Damage to the people and ecosystem of the Gulf: Incalculable.

Political and legal invulnerability afforded members of the Corporate Petroleum Class: Priceless.

Transocean Ltd. gave its top executives bonuses for achieving the "best year in safety performance in our company's history" — despite the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 people, including nine of its own employees, and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.


The CEO's take for this banner year: $5.9 million

That figure includes an $850,000 base salary — a 34 percent increase from the prior year; perquisites of $622,057, which includes housing and vacation allowances, among other things; and the $374,062 bonus. Also included in the figure are stock options valued at $1.9 million and deferred shares valued at $2 million when those awards were granted in March 2010.


(snip)

In the regulatory filing, the company said its bonuses were appropriate as a way to recognize its executives' efforts in "significantly improving the company's safety record" and implementing a new internal planning system.


(snip)

According to a recent Washington Post report, investigators are also examining violations of environmental laws and whether company officials made false statements to regulators, obstructed justice or falsified tests for key pieces of equipment, such as the rig’s failed blowout preventer.




First comment on the MSNBC page: "This article must be a satire piece, right??"

What's left of REALITY when destroying the economy and the environment are not only unpunishable acts, but entitle the perpetrators to six and seven-figure "bonuses?"

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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Mar 17th 2011, 11:48 AM

If it's a political gamble to protect the President's 2012 ambitions, it's not worth it. Labor rights and education and help for the poor and environmental regulation and the rest of it are not bargaining chips to be tossed aside to ensure a second Obama term, IF that would even work, which it certainly may not.

Apathy and lack of emotion, lack of a CAUSE to vote for, killed the midterms, not liberal bloggers or insufficiently loyal DU posters.

Playing paddy-cakes with the Republican fiction that gutting a few million in public services and more de-regulation will somehow magically undo the economic crisis CAUSED BY DEREGULATION simply reinforces their false narrative and paints Obama as little more than a cushion against Republican attacks. A duller knife with which to cut us.

That's not going to motivate voters. Not conservatives, who will hate him regardles. Not liberals who fail to see the appeal of "super subtle" progressivism. Not independents, who come out to right a wrong.

To be a leader, it's not enough to stand for "less bad." Or even, the conveniently ever-distant "look to the future." You have to lead the discussion, not follow. Act, not react.

I'm not questioning the President's motives, because, for one, that doesn't really matter. Perhaps he is doing his very best, from his point of view, for all of us. This may be simply bad political advice. But bad it is. Bad for all of us.
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Tue Mar 08th 2011, 12:43 PM
... what do we DO with that drive? When might it accomplish something positive, or necessary? At what point is it simply a destructive impulse incompatible with society?

We all can understand it instinctively. It may have some important place, in deterrence, or simple self-defense.

But more often, it seems to just add fuel to the problems and feed rage. Some people develop a taste for it, I think. Sitting at home, stroking the Rage Gland, dreaming of violence. Maybe acting on it, eventually.

On-line newspaper comment sections, those pits of the ugliest human impulses, are crawling with people salivating with fantasies about torturing and savaging wrong-doers. People whose vengeance bellies are never full. There was something recently about a rape (another righteous-enough source of the impulse for revenge) but the comment section I saw filled with gleeful descriptions of something truly stomach-churning that the "KKK" supposedly used to do to accused rapists involving nails and a tree stump and fire that seemed to bother no one.

There's a point where we're no longer reacting as good people who have been pushed into a primal place, but as primitives hooked on feeling good about hurting someone.

It's part of the ideological divide in the country, too. American conservatism celebrates harsh punishment and scoffs at any flinching away from doing the horrendous in the name of justice or security. I remember before the War on Islam-oops-Terrorism how conservatives used to fantasize about those countries where "they chop off your hand for stealing a loaf of bread." "There's no 'repeat-offenders' there, I'll tell ya!" Right. Except that's not true, and brutality doesn't deter -- it just soothes the offended party's need for payback.

I once got into it with a bunch online who were defending parents jailed for cramming a child's mouth full of soap (and making her chew and swallow it) to the point where she was vomiting and passing out. The argument was the same -- justice / disicipline / deterrence -- but the glee and sort of damaged psyche I was hearing from people who were beaten "soundly" in childhood and NEEDED to see that done to other children, including their own, was disturbing.

We're fighting those impulses every time we try to shut down Gitmo or call for war crimes prosecutions for the Bush regime's torture program. "How can we stop 'terrorism,' if we're not willing to act like terrorists?" Sounds almost like logic, but of course the opposite is true. More brutality and more violence just feeds the fire. Maybe that was Bush / Cheney's real goal. Endless war IS profitable, for some.

There's a place, maybe for vengeance. The parent of a murdered child certainly has the greatest claim to it I can imagine. But it's a dangerous, open-ended road to travel, and one we seem to have gone down too far already in a lot of ways.



edited for speling.
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Posted by DirkGently in General Discussion
Mon Mar 07th 2011, 02:22 PM
Hard not to see American Christian Fundamentalism's focus on prostrating oneself before the "throne" of the "lord" as providing the underpinings for a master / slave view of the world. And from that, the belief that a political leader is imbued with the authority to impose his or her ("divinely inspired") will upon the populace, with no regard to reason or justice.

I support freedom of religion, but it is time to start calling out this philosphical rationalization for oppression of others for what it is. Free-thinking people bend their knee for, prostrate themselves before, and "give over their life" to NO ONE.
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Posted by DirkGently in Environment/Energy
Mon Feb 21st 2011, 01:39 PM
Mainly, it assumes that that the "condition" for "efficacy" for a proposed course of action can be determined to be impossible at the outset. This assumes, essentially, perfect knowledge of the universe and its workings. "You can't achieve X through the process of Y, because Y is impossible."

It's essentially a crystallization of pessimism.

At the very least, it's fallaciously overbroad. One might argue, for example, that it is impossible to reduce Co2 emmissions by 80% in 30 years based on particular facts, but dismissing the goal on the basis that one simply can't do things like that is an irrational conclusion. No one can know that, and proposing that it's ridiculous to try when the benefits are fairly obvious would be ridiculous in itself.

We really don't know what we can do until we attempt it, so it's hardly fallacious to propose something which appears impossible. The "impossible" has been achieved repeatedly throughout human history, and every single one of those achievements has occurred in contravention to claims that whatever it was was demonstrably, concretely, without a shadow of a doubt, beyond the realm of possibility. Ridiculous. "Pie in the sky."

A lot of times these positions are put forward by those with a vested interest in putting a stop to the attempt. Michael Crichton's asinine Bush-pandering diatribe-disguised-as-fiction "State of Fear" posited essentially that there is no point in trying to protect the environment at all because a) We can't always predict the results (because we don't know everything) and b) We won't always be successful. That, of course, is pure baloney, and appeared motivated by the impulse to get people to stop annoying business concerns by asking that they please don't pave over our oxygen supply or warm their mansions with heaps of burning bald eagle embryos. Or maybe to get invited to brunch at the White House. I think it worked, by the way. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/national...

The "conditional efficacy" fallacy also ignores the benefits of 1) consciousness raising and 2) the benefit of partial results. Merely proposing a solution which turns out to be infeasible can result in either a better proposal which is more feasible, or may provide partial results which confer a benefit short of the original goal, but still worthy.

What if we can reduce CO2 emissions by 60%? 30%? 5%? What if we can feed more of the world more efficiently? What if we can empower women more than they are presently empowered?

Will we suffer somehow because we tried? Are we afraid the universe will laugh patronizingly at us and wag its cosmic finger knowingly? Is it somehow childish or undignified to attempt or suggest an approach that is difficult or unlikely?

Screw that.

You don't discard a goal on the basis that it seems difficult to achieve. That's what goals are for.

Granted, you might make qualitative distinctions and argue that a particular proposal doesn't make sense because it is too costly, or too risky, or so unlikely to succeed that our efforts would best be placed elsewhere, but I don't think you can make a sweeping declaration that broad proposals for beneficial change are simply fallacious thinking.

Perhaps we can't create a fleet of city-sized hover farms powered by mosquito wings to simultaneously cure world hunger, the energy crisis and overpopluation, while reducing the world's mosquitos to slow-motion pedestrian bloodsucking attacks, but aiming for more solar power or a broader understanding of birth control methods, whether or not those efforts are likely fully succeed, is hardly irrational.

The bigger fallacy, by far, would be to assume we already know what is possible and impossible, worthy and unworthy, before we even try.
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