If Demographics is Destiny

The New Europe

The New Europe

OK, I was planning a much more serious posting about the impact of demographics on the world. One with lots of graphs of percentage of which peoples with what birth rates and that it’s literally “baked in the cake” once you get to about 15-20% of an ethnicity with a 2 x (or more) birth rate than the background. But just not getting around to it.

Then in a comment by R. de Haan here:


there was a link that lead to a link … so this story about Israel participation in CERN points to a larger issue


there was this link:


That led to the above picture.

It just kind of says it all…

Though as a comment:

This map has already become outdated a little bit: the Scandinavian country will no longer be called Sweden but the Polar Palestinian Authority (click). See also Goodbye Sweden. Thanks to Olda and Peter F. for the two videos.

Yes, it’s terribly politically incorrect to point out the truthes of demographics. But “The facts just are. -E.M.Smith” and the facts of demographics are “words filled with iron”.

So for all those “happy talk PC progressive places” where they bought into the notion of a “Population Bomb” and a need for serious birth control; they had a birth rate collapse. As a result of that, they have an aging population and a shortage of young workers to support their Progressive Welfare State. The answer? Why, Import Young Workers! But from where? Why, all the places that do not support the notion of population control as they are now “over crowded”… For Europe, that is the Islamic / Arabic world next door. For the USA it is Mexico.

Those folks in Europe, being “good Muslims”, will NOT be converting to Protestantism and becoming good Germans and Swedes and Frenchmen. They will stay Muslims. (The Koran specifies the death penalty if you try to convert away…). They will continue to speak Arabic. (The mullahs dictate that you can only really understand the Koran in Arabic, so you WILL learn it from your first breath. Other languages may be added, but Arabic will be foundational.)

OK, so maybe you can just “cap the growth” at the 20% level of “new workers”…

Except when one population is on the “less than full replacement rate” plan and the other is on the “Be fruity and multiply” plan with 4 to 8 kids each, guess what, your “doubling time” is 1 to 1/2 generation. That’s 30 to 15 years.

15 years: 40%
30 years: 80%

or on the slow plan:

30 years: 40%
60 years: 80%

As Sharia comes at 51%, you can expect “the vote” in about 21 to 45 years after the 20% level is reached.

It’s Just The Facts

Please realize, I would make the SAME CASE if it were “Good Catholics” like my ancestors who were coming in then having family sizes of 9 to 13 children (my Mother’s and Father’s family respectively) or if it were “White Protestant Colonialists” moving in to a place like the various African Colonies during the colonial era.

This is not about race, nor religion (other than to the extent some religion tells one group to have more kids), nor national origin. It is about the mathematics of demographics.

You can accept what they say, perhaps even find it “a good thing”.
( I make no value judgment here).
You can ignore it, but only for a while, then the consequences WILL happen.
(be they good or ill).
You can recognize it as real, then choose to decide NOW what you want your future to be.
(And choose any of several as you like it).

What you can’t do is ignore it, and have it go away…

So Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest parties in America. Why?
My “Good Irish Catholic” ancestors.

Growing in popularity to the point of being a near match in California?
Cinco de Mayo parties.

Not to be heard from anywhere? Well, I’d say “Pilgrims” but we have a celebration of the mythical Thanksgiving Feast… except that came along AFTER the Pilgrims were all pretty much swamped and absorbed by the large influx of German (my other group of ancestors) and Swedish immigrants.

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. The first Thanksgiving which was celebrated on a fixed day was in 1863, in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states. By the middle of the 20th century, the final Thursday in November had become the customary day of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states. It was not until December 26, 1941, however, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after pushing two years earlier to move the date earlier to give the country an economic boost, signed a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday and settling it to the fourth (but not final) Thursday in November.

Last time I looked, over 50% of the US Population has “some German ancestry” and then there is “Little Sweden” spread all over Minnesota and Wisconsin… For example this page shows a typical celebration:


For a while, those ethnicities dominated the “Heartland of America”.

But now we are, nationally, a much more Irish and Mexican place than a British Protestant one, and becoming more so each day.

(Sidebar on Italian: We also have a very large Italian Catholic population, with a similar story, and the “Italian Vote” is dramatically important in some states. Chicago, for example, has great Italian restaurants for a reason… Sidebar on Blacks: Some states, like Mississippi, have huge black populations. Many counties are substantially all black. Want good BBQ? Go where the blacks are… Want good jazz? Ditto. Repeat… )

Or take Louisiana:

Percent of French Population

Percent of French Population

Percent of French Language Ancestry

Percent of French Language Ancestry

What makes “N’Orleans” what it is? What gives the Cajun character to the foods, the atmosphere to the French Quarter cafes? About a 25% and shrinking French population. It doesn’t take much to make the character of a place, and it can just as easily be re-made. Was it better when it was more than 50% French Speakers? Will it be better when it is near zero in a few more decades? (Personally, I’d vote for the whole state just speaking French as I like the “variety”, but that’s just me…)

In Conclusion

Again, I’m not passing judgement on the VALUE of the change, but pointing out the inevitability of it as things stand.

Personally, I love time in The French Quarter, even if it is much more of a tourist trap now than it was decades back. If you get off the beaten path, you can still find the French Heart of Louisiana… And Cinco de Mayo is a load of fun too. Always up for a bunch of happy folks looking to live a full life.

However that I must frequently struggle with the impact is not to be ignored. Over the last 40 years foods have gotten spicier and you now must often ASK ahead of time that no hot spices be put in. As more of the cooks are Mexican, more of the food is Mexican and with Mexican spices. At service counters, I now get to do the “language dance”. Is my Spanish better than their English? That was unheard of 30 years ago here. About 1/2 of my spouses “case load” is non-native speakers of English. So she gets “Special Ed kids” who often simply have language confusion as they only hear English in school.

There WILL be problems from this “Demographic Bomb” in Europe and there will be good things that come from it. Valuing those two is up to the locals there.

The only questions are:

Will the changes be worth it? and
Will you think about this before, or after, the changes?

If you don’t ask those questions, then you are just hoping things will turn out well. And: “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”

For anyone wanting to make some kind of racist thing out of this, don’t bother. My extended family now includes Mexicans. I grew up with about 1/3 of my time spent in a Mexican home (my closest friend as a kid) and love the food and the people. I just think folks ought to think about what they want first, rather than bitch about it later. I’d rather we still had German spoken in Ohio and more French in Louisiana and have fewer Macdonald’s and Burger Kings… and don’t even get me started on Blacks and BBQ. God, I wish I had half that gift at turning lousy cuts of meat into something to die for… and, of course, exactly how rich has popularity made Oprah? ….

No, this is about looking into your future and simply asking “Is that what I want?”, as much so you can choose to have a Cinco de Mayo party; as you like it. Last week my clothes washer was repaired by two guys speaking Assyrian, though they called it Babylonian. I had a great time talking to them about the language and sharing a book I have with some similar script in it. It was a joy to be able to hear Babylonian spoken live. It’s much more pleasant a language than Arabic, less guttural. We have an Egyptian Coptic Church in town. I want to visit just to hear Coptic spoken. I love the “misto”. There is a Persian market a block away that I shop in, and a Moroccan restaurant with the best lamb around. But “That’s just me” and I can’t speak for others.

I’d also be just as bothered by a Church ringing church bells at 8 AM on Sunday as a Mosque shouting Arabic at me; both are “not welcome” in my ears that early in the day… To the extent that I have an “agenda” it is just that Muslims, once at 51%, start to erase the “misto” and go for mono-culture. (The Koran and Sharia tells them to; remember the Afghan Buddha?) Be sure that is where you want to go before you get there. Ask Lebanon about it…

Ignoring the facts won’t change the result.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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39 Responses to If Demographics is Destiny

  1. R. de Haan says:

    @ E.M Smith: A very well written article.
    I have posted the link because it focuses on a growing anti semitic trend among the European establishment, the political establishment and the scientific establishment.
    If there is a lesson to be learned from the past it is the fact that the convergence of political an scientific establishments into a single doctrine eventually has deadly consequences.

    I see this process happening all around me and there is ample resistance.

    Friends of mine with kids at school who come home with books that are filled with AGW BS don’t protest but tell their kids to concentrate on their notes.

    It is exactly as you said.
    Ignoring the facts won’t change the result.

    As a tax payer I am responsible for the policies in Europe and outside Europe.

    I can no longer ignore the fact that the EU and everything it stands is heading in a direction for which I don’t want to bear any responsibility.
    I don;t want to be a part of it.

    That’s why I have to go.

    This doesn’t mean I will stop poking the establishment.
    All you need is an Internet connection to do that.

    But I really think it’s a much better option to choose a country with small government, low taxes, ample red tape and lots of personal freedom to spend my time.

    To be honest I would be stupid if I didn’t leave.

    Europe will become a big mess and it won’t take long.



  2. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “For Europe, that is the Islamic / Arabic world next door. For the USA it is Mexico.”

    And for Japan, it is Asimo. They hope.

  3. Espen says:

    The facts about birth rates are more complex… It’s true that first generation immigrants have higher birth rates. But according to statistics from Denmark that the 2nd generation there actually has lower birth rates than the non-immigrants of the same age.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, it is more complex, but can’t put everything in one blog posting. FWIW, study of demographics is part of economics and I’ve had to spend a fair amount of time formally looking at it. One of the things not considered by most folks is that the only thing that matters is the women. Only women give birth, so all that matters is the births per woman.

    What has the stongest correlation for reducing the births per woman? Higher education. Quickest way to get birth rates down is compulsory college education for women…

    So, to the extent you can force education and prevent the tendency to force women to stay at home under a Birka and make babies, the rate drops. To the extent the traditional model holds, the rate does not drop. It’s a race condition between the two cultures. As soon as there are enough folks to vote for “no compulsory education for girls” you are going to lose that low birth rate.

    That, BTW, is part of why I made the “cut off” at 20%. Below that level you tend to have the dominant culture having sway. Over that level, there are pockets of isolated culture that do not “melt in”. (Yes, it’s an abitrary number I’ve picked based on personal observation. Yes, it will vary by country, by ethnic group, by… but Muslims are less prone to assimilation than most, not more prone). So at about that 20% level the “new” culture sets its own norms in its own areas and at that point, the 4 to 8 is what you can reasonably expect. (As opposed to the 8 to 12 in the homelands, such as my Mother’s and Father’s families).

    There are a whole lot of other details, too, like the impact of income, age of imigrants, intermarriage, etc. All in all, a full treatment would likely run out to about 100 pages. I doubt anyone would want to read it, and I know I’d not want to write it. (Among the things you would need to address are the rate of new arrivals vs the moderation of births in settled immigrants and the sex ratio of immigrants – i.e. are they families with a more solid cultural core, or just single males who try to marry local women and have a culture clash in the home?)

    So as a first approximation, to not “start the cultural ticker” until you have a 20% population core, filters out a lot of those “small population” and “diluted culture” artifacts. If you make it 25%, things don’t change much…

    BTW, we’ve seen this movie in a couple of places now. At 51% or so, you get the rapid vote for Sharia and conversion to an Islamic State (vis Lebanon) and at the 30% to 50% range you get the “race to births”. There is a reason Israel spat out Gaza and the West Bank. They looked at the demographics and saw that Israelis were going to become a minority in Israel. (BTW, this isn’t a big secret. While I can’t cite it right now, I’ve seen discussions where Muslims advocated for just out reproducing the opposition. There was a documentary on TV that interviewed some Muslims (Palistine? Israel? Lebanon?) and they basically said that was their intent.)

    So yes, in the single digit percents, the growth rate is slower, but it ramps rapidly.

    And yes, as soon as we have evidence that traditional Muslims are as willing to tell the Mullahs and Imams to go stuff it as Catholics were willing to tell the Pope, then things will change. Before that, not so much…

    And this isn’t particularly a Muslim thing. They are just coming to the point later than most (though before some other 3rd worlders). It was the same story with Catholics about 50 years ago and Protestants about 100 back. So they are the topic today. In earlier times it was the Catholic flood… of which I am a part as my Dad was Catholic and one of 13 children. I have a college education as does my spouse. We have 2 (and are not Catholics) That’s part of why I’m in favor of free education through college for everyone who wants it…

    Sidebar on Malthus and Population Genetics: The sad and inevitable consequence of that policy, education for all, is that those people able to go to college will have far fewer children than those who are not smart enough to do it. It applies a ‘selective pressure’ against intelligence. This will preferentially shift the population toward more stupid people.

    It’s a fairly stong pressure ( 0-2 children per fecund college graduate female vs 4-6 per lesser educated) so in about 10 generations you get a strong effect and in 30 generations you are aproaching the maximal effect. Human generations are figured at 30 years, so that says that in 300 to 900 years the population will be largely unable to learn at the college level. (Though with a bell curve there will always be some bright ones)

    Only those cultures that keep intelligent women out of college or institute some counter selective pressure (such as a cultural emphasis on family that overrides the education impact such as Mormons seem to have accomplished) will maintain their intelligence.

    No, I don’t know how to “fix” that. It is a simple extrapolation of the facts via the known genetics response in populations. Yes, it depends on intelligence being in some way genetic. If you don’t think it has a genetic component, compare an Australian Sheep dog with one of the dumber breeds… That people like to believe there is not a genetic component does not make it so…

    In populations with unequal access to education there is no such pressure, so the ‘smartness’ is well distributed and tends to be preserved as other selective pressures dominate (looks, job, health, status, etc.) At some lower bound there is selective pressure for intelligence (i.e. if you can’t feed yourself you don’t have many kids) so there is a local optimal point that is ill defined. I could list a hundred other caveates but it’s not very interesting…

    So I’m willing to “take that risk” and expect that we can find a “fix” for the population genetics issue inside 300 years in exchange for slowing population growth in 30 years… But at the end of a few hundred years, you will be right back at present population growth rates, just with a much dumber on average population….

    Sometimes I wonder if this has already happened since the Dark Ages ended…

    Have I mentioned lately that Economics is called “The Dismal Science” for a reason?… Malthus was a foundational Economist… Sometimes I think Malthus was an optimist…

  5. George says:

    Sometimes I think we should simply adopt Islam as the state religion because I think we would change it more than it would change us.

    Same with Mexico, we should simply allow them to annex the US, we then hold an election, move the capital to Washington DC (or maybe Dallas) and adopt the current US Constitution.

  6. Espen says:

    E.M., thanks for your answer, an interesting read. A few points I’d like to make: Gaza is a real outlier, and I think that it indeed it more to do with politics than religion, they are actually trying to “out-reproduce” their neighbors. Among other predominantly islamic countries, the common rule holds: If the women get education, they get less (in fact too few) babies. It has been said that one of the prerequisites of the revolution in Tunis was the high educational level of the younger population, so let’s look at fertility rates (that’s the right metric in the long run, as you point out, only the women count): https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html?countryName=Tunisia&countryCode=ts&regionCode=af&rank=126#ts
    – and in fact, at 2.03, it’s slightly below the US rate, and below the replacement rate for industrialized nations (which is appr. 2.1). There are quite a few moslem nations below the US on that list (and the largest of them all, Indonesia at 2.25, is not far above the US), and while the top includes a lot of poor moslem African countries, it also includes predominantly christian countries like Uganda and Ehtiopia. So it’s not about religion, it’s about development.

    The most surprising country for those that don’t follow the news too closely or haven’t read up on fertility rates before may be Iran: At 1.88 it’s below some European countries (and it was even lower a couple of years ago, before Ahmadinejad tried to revert the trend…). The reason, again, is a high literacy rate and education length in the female population, but also a very successful government family planning program in the nineties. I’ve read that they involved local moslem clerics in that program, so at least shiite religion seems to be far more friendly to contraceptives than the pope ;)

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Make Islam mandatory and teach it in school in the USA and in no time flat there will be nearly no practitioners left, at least if chemisty, physics, and statistics classes are any guide ;-)

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Everyone is more contraceptive friendly than the Pope! :-)

    Part of the curse of Malthus is that the places from which excess population would be drawn, by definition, are just the places that still have high birth rates and have NOT “gotten over it”…

    So a country at below replacement rate will have few excess educated folks to “contribute” to run the tire factories in Germany, for example… and the educated folks are not likely to want a job slinging hot rubber. That’s one of the “detail” bits hidden in the demographics details… exactly which folks are you importing? As it’s usually stated as “young labor force” the implication is “prime child bearing years and not too educated so will do physical labor jobs”… And that is what we are getting in California. The folks with not even highschool education and willing to flip burgers and wash cars for a living. Typically on the 4 to 6 kids plan. (Though by the second or third generation they are down to 2-3 and have college degrees doing jobs like computer programmer, news anchor, and Senator… Then we import more burger flippers…. repeat until done.)

    So one of the other bits of “detail” is that it isn’t really 30 years per generation, as you haul in one batch at “20 something” and then 10 to 20 years later haul in another batch, making the effective generational rate 10 to 20 years… But I figure that is offset by some of the ‘shortcuts’ the other way, so didn’t go into that bit either…

    The real answer is to move the education and the economic growth TO the populations in their home countries. Bring them UP to modernity and stable populations, not slow down our move to stable populations. But nobody wants to do that… it doesn’t pay the welfare state bills…

  9. Espen says:

    E.M.:The real answer is to move the education and the economic growth TO the populations in their home countries. Bring them UP to modernity and stable populations

    I couldn’t agree more, and that’s one of the main reasons the AGW-religious drive me mad, because what the poor countries need is lots of lots of cheap energy, and not lots of money to buy dysfunctional overpriced “green” technology from the west. Of course the day some really revolutionary new energy arrives (Mr. Fusion ;)), these countries will have unique opportunities to jump forward, just like they’re embracing the world of wireless communication before they had time to dig cables into the ground, but until then, they need to burn coal, and if we want to help them, it should be with modern coal power technology.

    There are lots of places in the world, for instance in Africa, with really encouraging development now. The last things these countries should worry about, is the CO2 scare, and the last thing we need to tell them, are that they are “climate victims”. Energy is an opportunity for them, and as far as anyone can tell, they’re not “climate victims” at all yet. Maybe even the opposite (e.g. in Sahel)!

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    What drive me nearly nuts is places like Egypt. A giant collection of some of the brightest folks on the planet, and with high education levels in the population, but large unemployment. Why? Because the system sucked all the wealth into the hands of a few corrupt and powerful. Same thing in Libya. Same thing in {pick most Muslim countries having a revolt right now}.

    If these folks were just turned loose to innovate and create their own wealth, they and their countries would be having economic growth rates like China and India today. Perhaps faster.

    There was one news report of a guy in Egypt. 20 something, College degree. All he could do to make a living was sell fruit from a street cart. The police stole his fruit and broke his cart. It was too much for him and he set himself on fire. Just insane to run a country that way.

    If the economy were not so tied to graft for the rich and powerful, he’d have had more opportunities and there would have been no revolution (as none would have been needed).

    That simple fact, more than anything else, is why I don’t rail against The Muslim Brotherhood and all the other rebels (even those with some Al Qada connection). Though I do mutter about them a bit ;-). I’m hopeful that with a bit of freedom from their present oppressors and some economic growth, the regular folks will just do what they do: Have a nice life, enjoy the world, and see no reason to die any sooner than needed.

    We’ll see, though. The Great Experiment is being run, now. The answer comes in a few years. Either Islamic Hell On Earth with Jihadies wall to wall in Africa, or modernity rushing in after the opression is removed. (With a minor possible of the opressors return, but I just don’t see that working out with folks as frustrated as they are…)

    With luck, the world can become a better place..

    I’d love to visit Egypt and spend a month just hanging out around the pyramids and musiums et.al., even having the Call To Prayers all day long to get a feel for the daily life. But not while it’s as nutty as it is now…

    Heck, I’d like to just go visit a Mosque and ‘experience the experience’; but I’m not sure if that is allowed and I’m not interested in asking under current conditions either… (We tend to visit different kinds of religious services ‘for fun and education’… Jewish was interesting and I love Buddhist. Havn’t gotten to a Hindu place yet either… Ah well, there’s always the future…)

  11. Which ones are now the countries with the higher growth related to GDP?
    Have you observed the curious relation between magnetic field intensity and development?…..and now, according to M.Vukcevic the magnetic north pole is leaving america and going to Russia….

  12. @E.M.Smith
    Not forgetting the Sufi´s cult and its Derviches´sacred dances…and Alchemy (God´s chemistry)
    Alchemy implied, in sensation itself, a peaceful and detached love of the world. For the world of alchemy, like that of the “mythological” traditions whose heritage is transmitted, was a world at once living and transparent, a great a sacred body, an immense Anthropos in all respects resembling the small one. Nature, it could be said, was at once the body of God and the body of man. Everywhere was life, everywhere soul, everywhere the holy breath of God. The blood of the sun made the golden embryo grow in the matrix of the mountains. The seven planets in the sky, the seven metals engendered by them on earth, the seven centers of life which, from the sex to the head, gravitate in man around the sun-heart, were so many embodiments of the same structure of the Word; and the seven notes of the scale manifest also that “music of the silence”which bathes creation, haloes the saints, ands is immobilized in gold.

  13. gnomish says:

    gag *choke*
    “That’s part of why I’m in favor of free education through college for everyone who wants it…”

    i’m here to protect you from the affliction known as ‘guru syndrome’ that has been known to ruin some of the best minds once they have surrounded themselves with ‘yes men’ and others not smart enough to spot falsehood and hold the line on integrity.

    there is no such thing as ‘free education’
    you have no business being in favor of stealing from others to provide it.
    plz fix that – it’s an obvious deficiency, and fatal if used as the basis for further calculations.

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m not going to “fix” it as it isn’t broken. In the common vernacular “Free” from the government is known to mean “Free to the recipient, taken from the taxpayer”, so I have no need to repeat it in every single comment I make. I point out the non-freeness in the absolute sense often enough to remind folks that someone does pay for it.

    I also do not feel myself a “guru” (first off, I’m not sure what it really means in the original language so avoid the term most of the time; secondly, I’m pretty sure there are others a lot smarter than me. So I think of my self as a “Brown Belt” but hardly a Sensei. I can help teach others, but have much left to learn..) so there is no ‘syndrome’ from which to save me.

    Also note that it is not ME who is ‘stealing from others to provide it’. The government via the jackles who run it ARE going to steal from all of us. Since I can’t stop that, I can at least advocate for where I’d rather they put the theft that would reduce the magnetude of future needed thefts.

    OK, I know you are a “2 state binary person” who doesn’t like gradations nor compromises; however, that does not prevent ME from being ready, willing, and able to exploit them for good effect.

    This means, for example, that I can at the same time advocate for abolishing most of the functions of our government down to a minimal level including public education (that has no business being in the hands of politicians… especially at the Federal level) while ALSO advocating that as long as they are doing the deed, I at least get some benefit out of it via a reduction in the growth of the dependent class that is demanding a load of “my stuff” via the government.

    So if I can get them to deflect some of the “theft” into women’s higher education, I’ll have less total “theft” in a few years as more folks will be “contributing” (at the point of a gun…) and fewer will be asking for handouts. Net win for freedom, if only a small skirmish in the war…

    It is like a ‘tactical retreat’ in the center that lets you surround and capture an advancing force via an encirclement. The end goal is a lack of battle entirely. The medium goal is to advance. But the best way to get there is to let the center fall back, then the size of the opposing force is reduced…

    But if it make you feel better:

    I am in favor of Free-To-The-Student Education through college level for all citizens, paid for at taxpayer expense, as in the long run it produces more folks supporting the society and fewer folks dependent upon the government and reduces the population growth overall but especially so in that group most prone to taking government handouts.

    I think that’s pretty much what most folks will have read in the first place…

    And not all battles need to be fought like Picketts Charge


    Some can be fought as in Stalingrad with encirclement.


    In November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus; a two-pronged attack specifically targeted at the inferior Romanian and Italian forces protecting the German 6th Army flanks. The success of these attacks caused the weakly held flanks to collapse and the 6th Army to be cut off and surrounded inside Stalingrad. As the Russian winter set in, the 6th Army weakened rapidly from cold, starvation and ongoing Soviet attacks. Command ambiguity coupled with Adolf Hitler’s resolute belief in the “power of the will” and the value of “standing fast” further compounded the German predicament. Eventually, the failure to break the encirclement by relieving German forces, coupled with the failure of re-supply by air, caused the final collapse. By early February 1943, German resistance in Stalingrad had ceased and the remaining elements of the surrounded 6th Army had either surrendered or had been destroyed.

    In Aikido a basic technique is to offer to the opponent that which they desire, then use it against them. For example, you leave a hand slightly too far out in front of you. They will grab for it. You retreat slightly and they lean forward to follow, still going for that hand… At that moment, you ‘counter grab’ their reaching hand, bend it backwards and step forward into their advance. This joint lock will send them backwards into the ground as all their momentum is now focused into that one small weak joint they ‘handed to you’. To “allow them” to “attack your hand” is not a sign of weakness, nor of failure to understand the attack. Exactly to the contrary, it is they who do not understand that to attack is to be defeated… and offering a ‘weakness’ is no failure to defend, it is directing the opponent into a losing strategy.

    Learn to “step off the line of attack” and “use your opponents strength against them”… it works much better than a dogged slog strait up the middle of the field never retreating an inch…

    @R. de Haan:

    How in the world can they find that clouds make the place warmer? That is so incredibly out of touch with reality as to cause me to boggle. Making a sun shield makes it warmer… Uh, What have they been smoking?

    Keeping OUT 1000 W / M^2 while holding in maybe 100 W / M^2 is not going to make you warmer…

    How have we managed to make so many folks with Ph.Ds who are unable to think?

  15. Verity Jones says:


    Good post. But it is not just racial demographics. If the birthrate is high in families supported by welfare that also perperuates the ‘poverty trap’. Children growing up in ‘council estates’ in the UK where noone actually works…

    Meanwhile couples who both work struggle to afford children (and I would say this is more than just being unprepared to accept a drop in their standard of living).

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    As usual “Spot On!”.

    America had a thriving Black Middle Class prior to the advent of the Welfare State. The welfare trap drove fathers out of the home (so ‘single mom” status gave bigger cheques) and rewarded more children (with more money). The end result was the destruction of the movement toward an independent and self reliant black society in America. They were herded into the “ghetto black” trap instead.

    (That this happened to Blacks in America is not a comment on race. They just happened to be the folks in that economic strata at that time. In other places and other times you find the same trap hitting whites as well.)

    The end game of the welfare state is an ignorant and dependent society with little wealth left to support them.

    Take the same folks, give them a job (darned near any job) and let them keep and invest their own wealth; they will prosper and grow. Works for all races on the planet. The end game of a Libertarian state is a society of wealth and freedom, with only a few folks who are unable to care for themselves.

  17. Jason Calley says:

    “How have we managed to make so many folks with Ph.Ds who are unable to think?”

    Maybe with publically subsidized education?


  18. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “The end result was the destruction of the movement toward an independent and self reliant black society in America.”

    Parasites prefer weak prey and often push their victims all the way to death. Bad enough with just tape worms — but much worse with 300,000,000 people who have been infected with a whole class of parasites.

    So how do we get rid of parasites? Are there parasites for parasites? Our culture (metaphorically speaking) has an infection of flesh eating bacteria. Where (or what) is the virus that will kill the bacteria?

    A healthy culture will shrug off parasites, but what is the cure for an already badly infected nation?

  19. gnomish says:

    well, yeah, there is a syndrome – rand herself became afflicted with it and her productivity ended in a mass of delusions – from trying to rationalize with nobody around to disagree or keep her honest.

    for that reason, one should always be concerned if one finds everyone agreeing with him and should seek challengers with the wit to test his ideas.

    not to worry about placating me – you have me pegged about right and know there’s none of that, either…lol
    but regardless of how one strives for objectivity and how much one achieves, the underlying premise is, indeed, all about the ‘me’. this blog is really for and about you because you do it for your own reasons and benefit. personal growth is such a benefit and a worthy process never to be forsaken without fossilization!

    and if you’ve done your semantic analysis of my statements, you’ll understand that i get my reward out of having a friend who does likewise to me. i’ll appreciate correction when a false belief is exposed and i’ll point and hoot when i spy an existential threat.

    when i watched the palestinian kids being taught in their madrassas i determined to show that if a human being could be turned into a beast by education, likewise could a beast be turned into a sweet companion by application of identical methods.

    i mention this because it supports my claim that, for any creature with a mind:
    they learn what you teach; they do what they learn; they are what they do.

    btw – there is no such a thing as compromise between self contradictory values. mixing poison with food does not produce a healthy meal. negotiating with a rapist always ends up with rape. nor does the end justify the means – the means (and any deliberately unmentioned collateral damage) is inseparable part of the identity and defines it.
    no, there is no compromise of virtue with vice – the proper word for that is sacrifice – the exchange of something of greater value for something of lesser (or even none).

    One can never prevail against post modern relativists with tactics – they have ancient tomes full of the best ones at their fingertips as well as the most modern, scientifically proven ones. They can’t be beat with tactics – and that’s why the consistent failures.
    Only when one addresses the principles in full context can reason have a chance. If you can not attack an idea because it is wrong, you can not prevail with tactics. If you can not show that something is wrong and how it is wrong, your argument becomes part of the dialectic of compromise that ultimately ends in damage with your approval, consent and participation.

    I don’t see that it matters how one gets that slice of long-pig on a plate. What matters is whether or not one consumes the lives of others as a cannibal. As long as there is a choice to do this or not, it is definitely a moral issue and the choice is part of a loop, derived from and defining:
    what was learned; what was done; and what that person is. it is a defining act. perhaps it is not a complete definition and perhaps is in direct counterpoint to other acts that are equally defining (without deeper analysis)

    cutting to the chase, tho –
    it’s up to each to groom his own mind, examine it for defects, false beliefs – and ensure its integrity. for a person who believes that his survival depends on it, as it truly does unless there are victims to be sacrificed for his sin of evading the responsibility, scrupulous examination of his own beliefs is a kernel process. you know this.
    if you saw a friend swallowing something bad, you’d speak up and not simply tell him it’s ok – you know it would not make him feel better – and it really wouldn’t be appreciated as a friendly act. in fact, a friend is never an accomplice to such a thing. heh. you know all this, intellectually. there’s just some programming that kills the process when it conflicts with previously accepted belief. or perhaps you’d say that fully rational, objective behavior (as opposed to collegiate debate only) is to be compartmentalized – that it may be unsuitable for relationships with those who can not or do not operate with similar integrity. as the case may be, with respect to the idea of ‘free education for the masses’, which neither of us need to flog since we both understand the ‘chain of cause and effect’ which is the entity (truth always requires a context – in reality one can never drop the context), perhaps an adjustment – an ontological realignment will correct the short.
    for instance, knowing that one can never steal from a thief, inasmuch as he respects not the principle of ownership and can therefore make no credible claims for violation of it, one might evaluate ‘recovery of stolen property’ as entirely virtuous, but one can never declare stolen property as anything but proof of violation of human rights – fruit of the evil tree, is the legalistic catch phrase if you care.

    anyway, you’ll make whatever adjustments are required – ‘fix it’ so it’s not a short circuit that computes virtue = -virtue because you won’t allow a scotoma once you recognize one, i’m 51% sure…lol

    besides all that, the stimulation may elicit you to explore some unexpected tangent and you’ll produce another engaging article about who knows what. that’s the delight of other human beings, eh?

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    Now that was unfair and uncalled for! (And also great fun… I’m just glad I swallowed the last of my coffee a couple of minutes back… I actually DID LOL! and plosively too ;-)

    OK, I submit. (I’ve actually made the argument before that the problem was that we were taking too many folks unsuited to a PhD and getting them one via public education, so to be introduced to my own Petard has a certain Aikido moment to it ;-)

    @Jason Calley Part 2:

    You “sour the milk”…

    Begin with raising the discomfort level of sucking the blood. Be it an analog of “Frontline” or “Advantage” or just toughening the hide.

    I’ve got a half dozen different “Kale Family” plants in my garden right now. Some are having a bit of an aphid problem, some are not. Some have leaf miners, some do not. The difference?

    I’ve carefully selected a “Kale / Collards” cross that I’ve called “Kalards” that is pest free. It has slightly tougher leaves than the cabbages and other kales and has a bit more bitterness than the typical kale (a bit more like collards in that regard). The bugs go where it is easier to get a meal… and where it tastes better.

    So raise the hurdle to get on welfare, increase the dumping off rate, and make the process more uncomfortable (as a starter).

    “Workfare” has seemed to function well. You want welfare? Fine, no problem. Here is your shovel and there is the pile of “stuff” that needs to be moved over there… We are up to our noses in “stuff” that needs doing.

    One simple example? All those going to their “new job” will need “child care”, so have some of them be trained as child care providers and teachers who will then provide day care to the other ones kids… Some of them will need food, so forget the “food stamps”, you eat at the “welfare kitchen” (for free with your welfare badge… yes, you wear a visible badge on entry…) while some of you get trained as cooks, dishwashers, waiters, waitresses …. When you walk in the door, if there is a need, then after “lunch” you may be directed to the sink… Badges color coded for “already have an assigned job” vs “new and unassigned”…

    Basically, have the “welfare class” perform their own support and maintenance work. If I’m ever so “out of luck” as to need free food and housing, I would welcome the opportunity to “live in the dorms and work in the kitchen” for free roof, shower, and food. I have lived in the dorms (college) and I have worked in the kitchen washing dishes by hand (parent’s restaurant) and there is no shame in it at all. I was given my pay and spent it as I felt fit. At 25 cents an hour I saved $26 and paid for 1/2 of my ‘new bike’ (parents paid the other half as ‘inducement to work to a goal’) then helped a friend delivering newspapers. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for them.

    Which brings to “part 2”:

    As one of the requirements for a job interview tends to be an address and telephone number, you give them one (along with free shower and clothes). However, the address is a dorm and the phone has a receptionist that answers. Chatting with friends is discouraged that way… Now those “free clothes” come from the folks learning to sew on the sewing machines in the sewing school… and the reception and policing are done by folks learning those skills.

    Basically, you run the place like a Spanish Mission. Everything is “free” as long as you work in the garden, make the cloth, attend the services… and failure to follow the rules means a few “Sermons” then it’s out on the street you go…

    When the guy “managing” the kitchen gets a job at an outside restaurant, the next in line who has been his understudy moves up to take his job. When the “stage troup” providing plays has the “star” hired by TV, the understudy moves up. Etc.

    A few things come from this:

    Lazy folks don’t see welfare as a ‘free ride’.
    Non-lazy folks get rapidly back on their feet and out to work.
    The total system cost drops dramatically.
    Folks in the system get a valid sense of self esteem and accomplishment.

    Basically, the society at large gets a ‘tougher leaf’ and the folks wanting “services” get more of them from each other.

    If folks don’t manage the garden well, they don’t eat so well. If they make bad clothes, they look crummy. If they cook crap, they eat crap. There is a self imposed QA function that encourages self reliance and higher performance. (With ‘upper management’ ready to supply ‘fixes’ if things get too bad, like assigning a new cook…and sending the old one to cooking class…)

    And as work for “free” is not as rewarding as “work for profit” folks will readily want to ‘leave the system’… Anyone getting an ‘outside job’ gets to keep their pay and use it as they see fit “for long enough to save enough to be independent”, then they get eased out the door. Didn’t save enough to rent an appartment? Enjoy that cheap motel and handing them your paycheck…

    (As to the inevitable question of a ‘boot camp’: I could see it going ether way. Have a “civilian” flavor at the front door with “social workers” style induction. Or have a “boot camp” entry with standard uniforms, haircuts, and regimented activities for the first few weeks. My personal preference would likely be to start with the “soft entry” and if someone was returning for the 4th or 5th time, they go to “boot camp”; or if they are still “in the system” after a couple of years… Basically, the longer the aphid sucks, the harder a callus you form under them… )

    Yes, there are a load of ‘special cases’. Folks with 100% disability. Folks who are unable to function. They are what “institutionalized care” are for. I’ve known completely paralized folks who had jobs as “telephone workers” selling stuff, so it’s a high hurdle to get my sympathy. At one time I was 100% blind and deaf. About 6 months later I was recovered enough to function, but still had a couple of years to go. What did I do? I got a job… I ran a switchboard where I could turn the volume up high enough to hear it; I worked as a “night auditor” in a hotel where most of my work was staring at ‘room cards’ and doing math. (So getting close and squinting to work out the numbers was “ok”). Yes, half blind and 3/4 deaf you CAN work. I have.

    (I’m now about 25:20 on vision and the ‘fog’ of burned corneas is long gone. Hearing is about 30 db down at best, but as most folks talk over 70 db it’s not an issue most of the time.)

    Heartless? Nope, not at all. I was MUCH happier feeling like I was not a cripple and had some future. It gave me hope. Sitting at home feeling sorry for myself was crippling. Getting up and “grasping the nettle” was the best thing for me. It sent me forward to the rest of my professional life. If I’d stopped at “I’m disabled” and gone on welfare, I’d likely still be there now.

    So yes, folks who are ONLY blind or deaf or some of each get to work too. Just like folks missing an arm, leg, or part of their psyche. You give them the tools, experience and skills they need to reclaim their life, then nudge them out of the nest…

    Think of it as a “Bording school for trades and Community College” with free tuition and “learning by doing”…

    Unfortunately, to make that work would require a kind of manangement and attitude not available from your typical government employee… Perhaps we could have the various state National Guards provide it… “OK, Donna? You will be polishing this tank, John? Sgt. Rodriquez here will be teaching you how to cook in the mess hall.”…

  21. H.R says:

    @Jason Calley
    (on 31 March 2011 at 7:59 pm)

    “So how do we get rid of parasites? Are there parasites for parasites? Our culture (metaphorically speaking) has an infection of flesh eating bacteria. Where (or what) is the virus that will kill the bacteria?

    The politicians feed the the taxpayers to the “flesh eating bacteria.” Politicians get a rake off of the money going through the till. To keep getting that rake, you have to get re-elected and to get re-elected you develop a class of people dependent on you.

    It’s the meal dispensers (pols) that have to be stopped from feeding the parasites. The pols are the top of the parasite chain.

    Jason, I figure you were already waaay ahead of me on those points and I’m not trying to negate the point you made, m..K? Just rounding out the argument. The flesh eating bacteria metaphor is apt. I just think the pols are the “Leaders of the Pack” (vroooom, vrooom!).

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    The intent of what I said was not to deny the existence for all time for all people of a ‘syndrome’, only to say I don’t have it.

    Please dont’ be so abosolutist in how you read me.

    As for why I “do this”:

    First off, it’s just not relevant.

    Secondly, it started as my “peronal notes” for easy reference. It is still largely that. WSW is for me to see charts quick. The Climate postings are for my quick reference to things discovered. Etc. The notes on Fascism for example, are because I just got around to working out their true history and connection to a Socialist root. So mostly things are “about my notes” and not about ME. The only real exception was the specific postings on Aspies and how we function.

    But things grow. Some interesting folks have decided to hang out here and make interesting comments. I enjoy the social interaction with them. That’s about “US” more than just ME. But there is always a bit of me in the us. So in comments we have interactions of minds. Yeah, there will be some “me” in those interactions, but that doesn’t make the interactions about me. (Modulo when folks force it to be about me by talking about me in specific. I really don’t care about me as I don’t find that much new in me, knowing me as I already do …)

    So yes, the interaction does give “me” new things to look at that leads to new learnings that leads to new “notes” and thus articles.

    Per the “something bad in the mouth never yields good” arguments that make up the middle of your note:

    Potatoes are poisonous. So are Apples. (Seeds have cycanide in them). Salt is a poison as is sugar. (It is all about the dose…) The list is, essentially, infinite. Even water. Too little, you die of dehydration. Drink too much, hyponatremia and you die. Want to survive a cancer? Swallow a poison, but only just enough…

    That is where your black / white, good / bad, binary world breaks down. For a very large class of things, a little bit of poison is in fact essential.

    One of the most interesting is an odd bacteria. You have been infected by it. Substantially all of us have. As an infant, if you contact dirt, you get the sniffles. Why is this of interest? Because it first came to light when a kid (I think he was about 12 years old) became very ill and died. He had been raised in a spectacularly clean environment in a high rise appartment in New York City and had never touched ‘real dirt’ until a trip out of town. As you get older, if you have never had that particular bug, it is leathal on first exposure…

    It is EXISTENTIAL, to use your word, that we must be made ill by that bug to live a long and healthy life.

    There is no contradiction at all in the idea of ‘taking the poison to live’, for the simple reason that “the poison is in the dose”… as is the medicine… as is the Aikido…

  23. gnomish says:

    analogies are always innacurate and incomplete but taking medicine to remedy disease is not sacrifice.

    disease is not to be graciously accommodated; it is to be cured.

    exposure to acquire resistance depends on the premise of disease in the first place – something not to be regarded as congenial and good for humans- and secondly presumes lack of knowledge of a superior treatment that does not involve exposure and the unmentioned risk of vaccination failure.
    in any case, fighting and winning are completely different games. i’ll posit that if one knows enough, there need be no fighting and that fighting might be merely less awful than submission, not necessarily ‘good’. losing less one way than another is still losing and not winning.

    “That is where your black / white, good / bad, binary world breaks down. For a very large class of things, a little bit of poison is in fact essential.”

    There is nothing one can specify in trinary or any other base that can not be perfectly well represented in binary. That’s the essence of information theory, you know. There is even a Shakespeare quote on it: ‘to be or not to be, that is binary’ – which is a recurrent theme in every conscious undertaking- epistemology, ontology, logic – any sort of taxonomy or lexicography – for a good reason. it never ever breaks down. binary is not about false dichotomies. those are a class of conceptual entities used for fraudulent extraction of goods or services from people who know no better. good not to confuse the 2.
    binary is where math and logic meet as identities. it is used for making sense, not for making victims.
    By using an objective standard of values – not the ‘rubber ruler’- any evaluation of 2 choices must show one to be better than the other in some way because they are not identical and can not have identical properties on all dimensions . If this does not appear to be so, it simply means that the context has not been expanded or examined sufficiently to resolve it.
    By defining a class, one specifies a context, as done in your comment “for a very large class of things…” extraneous adjective aside, I find this statement to be true and unambigous – black & white, if you will – because the context is specified such that it is can not contradicted by any other fact of reality within the specified context which is ‘that the dependent clause must be valid’. it is self validating (and therefore a perfecty good definition) because to falsify it one must specify some other context.

    heh. one gets good at anything one rehearses. being as how humans distinguish themselves from all other creatures by defining themselves by rehearsal via thought, word and deed, one can never do badly by practicing the most stringent examination of anything he might accept as truth. the category of person who knows he owes it to himself does so every chance he gets…lol. true!

    in any case, ‘free education’ has crippled a generation beyond recovery, imo. will you say ‘but that’s not what i meant when i wished for it!”? I’d have to say that it always was what it always was. it is what it is just the same. now that you know what it means to wish for that, do you still wish for it?

  24. gnomish says:

    “So how do we get rid of parasites? Are there parasites for parasites? Our culture (metaphorically speaking) has an infection of flesh eating bacteria. Where (or what) is the virus that will kill the bacteria?”

    simple to say:

    this type of parasite requires acquiescence of a host.
    stop playing host.

    some quotes:
    “all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”
    “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    just say no like they did. it worked for them.

  25. E.M.Smith says:


    Am I, at this moment, hungry or not hungry. Pick one of two states.

    Oh, you mean you need that third state of “not known”….

    Yes, you can represent this with enough binary digits and some circumlocutions and added definitions and…

    Or you can just use three state logic: Is, Isn’t, Unknown.

    Much easier and much more effective.

    Similarly: Is water poison, or essential to life? The answer is “yes”… it’s INC-OR not EX-OR… now you are into the question of “at what doses on each end”. Again, it can be done as a binary encoding, much easier as an analog range graph…

    Expand your horizons…

  26. dearieme says:

    “in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.” Ah, bless: I love the version of American history that Americans tell each other. How about “in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln to foster a sense of Northern Triumphalism over the Southern states”?

    If you wanted to unify you’d show magnanimity in victory and celebrate the founding of Jamestown, or some such.

  27. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. and H.R. Not that I am surprised, but you both make good points.

    E.M., you give a well thought out, very rational, workable way to “sour the milk.” I honestly believe that if implemented, it would be a boon, spiritually, ethically and most certainly pragmatically, to anyone currently inside the welfare system. The reason why your approach makes so much sense is that is designed from the point of view of a world-wise person, someone who has a good grasp of how human psychology works, and who actually wants to solve the problem! Your approach is that of someone who desires to get people to a state of supporting themselves and running their own life again. I look at it as a sort of educational approach to welfare reform; teach people, train them, make it in their own interest to support themselves. So what’s the problem? E.M., while I have an extraordinarily high respect for you (based on what I consistently seen here online in your thoughts, analysis, and conclusions) we both know that there are other very bright people in the world, other people with similar insight into human nature. Certainly you are not the very first to think this way, surely someone else has explained to our Glorious Leaders that we need to institute a system that rewards self sufficiency and punishes sloth! Why are we still running the “hand ‘em a check” sort of welfare scheme when there are much better approaches, systems such as you describe? Well, the reason why we have not changed is that YOU or me, or H.R., — or any rational person with a desire to improve how the system treats the average person – are not running things. We need Thomas Jefferson, but what we have is Boss Tweed.

    Which brings me to H.R….

    Yes, we have a case of big fleas and little fleas. E.M. gives a good way to reform the little fleas, but the only reason why we have the little fleas is that the big fleas, fleas who live in DC, in State and local governments, and in other identifiable sub-systems of our culture, sub-systems such as finance, religion, etc., have allowed or encouraged them to multiply. At least some of the fleas are voluntary! I can choose whether to donate time and money to some of them. It is the ones who demand mandatory flea-bites, “la mordida”, that most make me gnash my teeth. E.M. points out rational ways to approach the scourge of little fleas, but the only way we will ever be able to put his plan into practice is to get the big fleas under control, and THAT will not be either simple or easy. Of course they will eventually, if allowed to, destroy their host, at which point we may be able to restart. That is not much of a solution though… I fear that we may be (as gnomish implies) approaching our generation’s “King George III” moment.

    @ gnomish “There is nothing one can specify in trinary or any other base that can not be perfectly well represented in binary.”
    @ E.M. “Again, it can be done as a binary encoding, much easier as an analog range graph…”

    What very interesting thoughts! I am constantly pleased at my good luck to have fallen in with a pack of people who not only think, but do so in a way that constantly keeps me running to keep up. Thank you all for pushing my mental boundaries.

  28. Pascvaks says:

    “If” the Ol’ American Melting Pot is still “On”, and brewing, it won’t be long before:

    … ah… well it won’t be long! Bet on it! Don’t be surprised either!

    PS: The only way Europe is ever going to get together is if they adopt a common language and throw the others in the trash can. Maybe Latin?

    PPS: To Americans who’ve spent any time overseas “The World” (aka “The Land of the Round Door Knob”) is the USofA. Everything else is on a different planet. The same is rightly said of every other part of the planet by those in their own “world”. To think of the planet as a “village” is to think of space and time, and each of 256 moving colors, while on an LSD trip.

    PPPS: Middle Eastern Islamists cannot succeed in ‘converting’ the planet without destroying themselves and their religion and changing both into something else altogether.

  29. gnomish says:

    back to aristotle-
    it is or it isn’t – whether anyone observes it or not.
    knowledge of a thing does not confer upon it a special status.
    ignorance of a thing does not confer upon it a special status. that is not a property of the entity, but of the observer.

    elevating ignorance to the epistemological level of an absolute corrupts logic and produces self contradictory loops that are responsible for malfunctions.

    if you can’t identify an exploit, you have no immunity to it. This one is the root of mysticism. there is a reason that particular psychovirus has been developed – it works. it does not work to make sense of the universe; it works to corrupt the consciousness that one needs to make sense. it is a deliberately contrived affliction. its purpose is to debase your concept of knowledge per se by installing a belief that there is a third alternative to reality. once the exploit has run and done the damage, divine revelation will be offered you as the remedy. headache is free- the cure is not. it’s also not a cure but another exploit. soon the victim will be prepared to accept the notion that the negation of life is eternal life. at that state the work is done and the consciousness is sufficiently corrupt that self destruction is only a matter of time and opportunity.

    while the universe may exist as infinitely extensible and divisible continuum, a brain does not. a brain must take slices. this is done automatically (and recapitulated and improved when logic is applied by language). there is no escaping this. however, it is not to be labelled a defect for it is the only way abstraction of truth can be performed.

    An analog meter with no markings would be silly, no? You won’t get better accuracy for having them on or for leaving them off. but if that meter is not connected to an input, you might have an indicator light to show if it’s connected or not. there is no real way to make such a thing show by the dial, is there? the reason is because it is not contained within the context of what the meter measures – it can not measure ‘no connection’. that requires a separate circuit that is not involved in the measurement and has no pertinence. it is not a property the meter can measure. it is a completely distinct identity. good grammar all the way down makes for clear thinking.

    i hope this is not exceeding the limits of this company’s abstraction to where it sounds like gibberish. it’s too easy to imagine that one is being perfectly well understood and be wrong. for example – the word ‘existential’ – it means pertinent to existence. as i used it earlier ‘existential threat’ it is synonymous with ‘death threat’. believing a lie is probably the most common cause of ‘unnatural’ death. it always has been.

  30. Jason Calley says:

    @ dearieme “Ah, bless: I love the version of American history that Americans tell each other. ”

    One of the wonderful things about the Internet and access to (relatively) unfiltered information is that more often than not, the truth really is out there — for anyone willing to dig. I never realized how extensively American history (and everyone else’s, at least as far as I can tell) had been “modified” for the school system. Note that I say only “school system” and not specifically “public school system.” Every time I started to dig into some historical period, I found that the facts of the matter were not what I had learned in college or high-school and usually wildly different than the elementary school version. I actually started to get really suspicious about this a couple of decades ago based on what I saw happening to American Civil War history. As a child I had lived in and been educated in, both Southern states and in Northern states, and though both North and South had their own emphasis, both stories were broadly similar. Then in the 1980s and especially the 1990s I started to see the consensus interpretation shift. This puzzled me. No need to go into details on what shifted or why, but I could not understand how an event, perhaps the pivotal US event since the Revolution, could undergo such a change. I mean, the Civil War was not that long ago. We have extensive records of what people did, said and apparently believed. Why the shift? When the Internet became publicly available and the information fire hose was turned on, I saw more and more disconnects showing the very fluid nature of historical opinion. I have come to the conclusion that there are at least two major forces that distort history (and science as well!).

    The first and most obvious is that public acceptance and focus channel interpretation. If (and I am just kidding about this) records became available that the Pilgrims were cannibals, people would not accept it. Too painful, too much personal angst to accept it — “Nope! The records must be wrong! MY ancestors were never cannibals!”. Equally, in war time, it is easy to accept that the enemy are barbarians and cut off little boy’s hands, or dump incubator babies on the cold, cold hospital floor to die. Of course, “Our Boys” are practically saints who spend most of their time building schools and orphanages. Disagreeing with this will get you labeled like Joe Sobran’s mythical Musidorus. http://www.sobran.com/columns/1999-2001/000120.shtml

    The second and more difficult to detect force, is the evolutionary path of memes. Historical (and scientific) memes are popularized when they have good survival traits. In order for a historical story to multiply, it must be good at infecting new minds. In other words, regardless of whether it is TRUE or not, if it is easily taught, easily comprehended, by young minds full of mush, then yes, it will multiply. Remember, “truth” is not a needed survival trait for a meme. It only has to be good at infecting and reproducing (and to a much lesser extent at mutating.) Real science, not pop science, goes to extreme measures to force theory to fit the truth. It does not just happen easily or naturally. Complex and nuanced interpretations cannot infect young minds of mush. They do not have the wiring for it. By the time they are old enough to work in subtle fashions, they have either fossilized or lost interest.

    For a scientific example, how many CAGW proponents have told you some variation of “CO2 traps heat and the world gets warmer. It is just simple physics!” Simple physics?! Really?! Of course it is not simple physics — it is a complex, chaotic system with massive unknowns in it. But “CO2 traps heat” is simple enough that anyone can be infected with the idea.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m rather fond of: http://www.interlingua.com/


    It was designed so most folks in Europe can read it without learning much. It keeps a lot of what the languages of indoeuropean base share, and tosses a lot of the ‘odd bits’. With ZERO study, I could read it with modest comprehension. Why? I have learned Spanish and French. Between them and English / German it’s mostly familar stuff (but with a lot of baggage gone…)

    While I found Esperanto and Ido a bit, er, quirky; this one isn’t… at least not that I’ve found.


    One of the “fun bits” of American History is how after the High and Holy Northern Whites freed those downtrodden Southern Blacks and were quite proud of their lack of racism in the whole matter; the same folks cried to holy hell when those same blacks exercised their newfound freedom and moved, in large numbers, to northern states…

    Now, to me, I’d think it an obvious thing to expect. Folks one place hate me, want me dead or enslaved; the others say they like me and want me free? Feet, get movin’!

    At any rate, I find it “fun” to read the bits of history where the Northern States folks basically whine that “That’s not what was supposed to happen, those white racist planters were supposed to deal with a free black population, not us!”

    BTW, I had a terrible time with “history” in school for exactly the reason you point out. If ever there were a pack of lies, it’s school taught history.

    Everything is “Glory Glory Halelujah!” and never a “Who drank beer in church?” (And certainly not a ‘which church’ or ‘what was happening outside of church’…)

    Like our present “peace through perpetual war” and “protecting the population by dropping bombs on them” programs…

    @Jason Calley:

    There is a school in San Jose: “Reed School” named for one of the survivors of The Donner Party. Rairly to never mentioned is his history of, er, “lunch”… after the journey, he became a rich and important citizen so that bit of history is “all behind us now” ;-)

    BTW, I have direct testimony from someone IN W.W.II that our guys would simply execute Germans who surrendered if they couldn’t handle the delay and processing. But that the Germans did the same thing is played up as a war horror, while our guys “never did that”… though some of our guys “in a fit of justified rage” over what the Germans did “might” have killed a few… You know, “shell shock” and all…

    Hmmm… Hadn’t realized how much I’d “compartmentalized” welfare as just the folks getting the “little checks” and not included the ones making the rules and getting the “big checks”…. Solving THAT “welfare problem” will take a bit more thinking…

    BTW, on of my favorite ‘thinking sets’ is:

    Yes, No, Unknown, Null.

    You can turn this into the Rummy:

    Known (true/false), Known Unknowns, Unknown Unknowns fairly easily. Because of that I was actually a bit thrilled when I first heard him give that “Known Knowns, Known Unknowns…” speech. I found someone else who thought with a very tidy mind…

    In Binary, it would be easily coded in 2 digits:

    00 Null
    11 Known True
    (now you get to choose the other two ordering… I like:)
    10 Known False (making the high order bit the “known” state flag and the low order bit the true/false flag)
    01 Unknown (Looked but got no answer… So a known unknown. When the first bit is 0, you don’t know, but the second bit tells you if you have looked at all…)

    So you CAN use that binary set to encode the most common cases of:

    I looked, it is.
    I looked, it isn’t.
    I looked, I don’t know.
    I didn’t look, and so do not know.

    I just find it a lot faster and easier to keep the sort as:

    Known true, known false, I can’t tell, null.

    For things like “dose of aspirin that is medicine vs bleed to death” it’s easier to think “80 grains for heart, 300-500 grains for headache, over 1500 / day “has issues” than to turn all of that into a set of binary coded numbers.

    2048 1024 512 256 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

    0000 0011 0010 for heart maintenance
    0001 0010 1100 to 0001 1111 0100 for headache, over
    0101 1101 1100 “has issues”

    Is great for computers. People ‘not so much’…

    So yes, all of computer science is based on the discovery that mathematically ALL things can be represented in a binary system. But having spent way too much of my life dealing with the “problems” that causes, especially in things like the “wandering accuracy and precision” in the math based on those encodings and the ‘translation artifacts’ and the fact that it drives folks batty to try to read ones and zeros (which I can, but it is not comfortable) the unmistakable conclusion is that “higher order logic” works better and more easily for people. We’re built for it and can handle even base 60 number system fairly easily.

    So use your hardware better, and use more than base 2.

    This also points out the more subtile trap of thinking in a binary way. You get sucked into dicotomies.

    Notice that Gnomish has run off to Aristotle to argue about the existence of the IS vs the ISN’T. And that it IS or it ISN’T reguardless of the observation? VERY binary…

    So, welcome to Alexanders Center….

    Gnomish: I’m NEITHER hungry, nor am I NOT HUNGRY. I’m a “little bit interested in food” I could eat breakfast now, or wait another hour … or two. I’d put it about a 6 on a 1-10 scale…

    And knowing that does not help you fit it into an IS / ISN’T world.

    BTW, I also have some analog meters with no marking on them. Used in constructing new things when you don’t know in advance what markings are needed… and a nice one with red on one end, green on the other, and a graduated wedge between them. Good for battery testing, but you need to provide your own volatage divider… and… Well, it’s a long list… Including using a hose to level the dirt. No markings at all, but the water in one end will be the same height as the water in the other… Then there is my “Rod” string, swung to the stars… and not a binary decision in sight…

    Being able to construct a binary logic does not make it the only one, nor even the best one, nor even a very good one. It is the one we’ve most easily been able to construct in silicon, so it’s useful to machines…

    Though even there, not all of them. Computers were not always binary, it was just easier to make binary switches and relays than to use multistate:


    The building elements of the ASCC were switches, relays, rotating shafts, and clutches. It was built using 765,000 components and hundreds of miles of wire, comprising a volume of 51 feet (16 m) in length, eight feet (2.4 m) in height, and two feet (~61 cm) deep. It had a weight of about 10,000 pounds (4500 kg). The basic calculating units had to be synchronized mechanically, so they were run by a 50-foot (~15.5 m) shaft driven by a five-horsepower (4 kW) electric motor. From the IBM Archives:

    A steel frame 51 feet (16 m) long and eight feet high held the calculator, which consisted of an interlocking panel of small gears, counters, switches and control circuits, all only a few inches in depth. The ASCC used 500 miles (800 km) of wire with three million connections, 3,500 multipole relays with 35,000 contacts, 2,225 counters, 1,464 tenpole switches and tiers of 72 adding machines, each with 23 significant numbers. It was the industry’s largest electromechanical calculator

    Numbers were encoded into binary for entry, but that was largely just an artifact of the use of punched paper for entry.

    How well did it work? This “base ten” computer?

    The electromechanical ASCC was devised by Howard H. Aiken, built at IBM and shipped to Harvard in February 1944. It began computations for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships in May and was officially presented to the university on August 7, 1944. It was very reliable, much more so than early electronic computers. It has been described as “the beginning of the era of the modern computer” and “the real dawn of the computer age”.

    There were other analog and base 10 computers, and even other bases were used. Binary has no real advantage over them. In many cases, they had an advantage technically, but the ease with which 2 state switches could be miniatureized made binary machines cheaper.

    That we were able to then USE binary to ENCODE higher order problems, does not make it the best system, and certainly not a very good one for thinking about a non-digital world.

  32. gnomish says:

    “I’m NEITHER hungry, nor am I NOT HUNGRY. … I’d put it about a 6 on a 1-10 scale…”

    well, my friend, if your hunger meter says 6 and you are not certain if it’s detecting hunger or not, then you have useless markings on that dial.
    if you were to claim that 6 degrees of hunger out of 10 is ‘not hungry’, then by the same whimsical logic one may claim that by robbing just 6 out of 10 passersby, he is not a mugger. See what that gets you to have a metaphysics that’s sievelike and useless for drawing distinctions?

    The point i have been making but failing to present in tokens your machine will accept, is that this epistemological error really has serious consequences.

    ima leave it at that, tho. we’ll connect where we are going in a similar direction at similar speed with other things.
    you’re a good boy for trying however much you do. we all converge if we all keep trying.

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    And a binary world does not handle gradations well, some day you will learn that, too… as you’re a good boy for trying…

    (I’m tempted to add “Very trying”… but “that would be somewhat wrong” ;-)

  34. Verity Jones says:

    Interlingua. Thanks for that one – it is an easy read! I’d not heard of it before.

  35. E.M.Smith says:


    I stumbled into it one day as I was chasing after some quirks in artificial languages. Realized I could basically read it without trying (though when attempting to write it I want to drag back in some French Bits ;-)

    There are even scientific papers published in it.

    Found the system they used to select what to put in / toss out made a lot of sense too…

    Don’t know how well it will stand up to “poetic use” though…

  36. Verity Jones says:

    Yes there are only a few words I need to guess or look up. I never was particularly keen os Esperanto.

    But you’re right, we’d lose the poetry, and all the idioms and quirks of language.

    I love that the French have ‘a cloud’ of milk (un nuage de lait) in tea, whereas we only have ‘a drop’.

  37. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Being able to construct a binary logic does not make it the only one, nor even the best one, nor even a very good one. It is the one we’ve most easily been able to construct in silicon, so it’s useful to machines… ”

    I am dredging up an ancient bit of mental debris here and have been unsuccessful at finding a reference for it.

    I seem to remember that John von Neumann made a study of possible logic types for computers and how efficiently they could perform logic operations — with “efficiency” being the number of and speed of logic operations as compared to the theoretical minimum number of discrete physical components; essentially, through put divided by physical complexity. He determined that yes, with practical current technology, binary was best, but that looked at from a strictly theoretical point of view, a logic system based on “e” number of values ( on 2.718…) was the best. I have no idea what that means in the real world. I can see how we could have three values (the closest whole number to e), or four, or any whole number — but a fractional number of values? I don’t get it.

    I can see fractional dimensions for fractal objects. I once played with developing a number system with a base of -2i. But fractional logic states? Nope. I don’t get it.

  38. gnomish says:

    i have no idea what he might have meant, either. but i can explain part of the notion, i.e. fractional bits.
    here is how you can conceive of fractional bits:
    let us consider representing the lower case alphabet, consisting of 26 characters.
    with 4 bits you can specify 16 unique states so that is too few to enumerate the alphabet.
    wiht 5 bits you can enumerate 32 unique states, so that is too many.
    said another way, 4 binary columns can count 0-15, or 2^4;
    5 binary columns can count 0-31, or 2^5.
    to count only 0-25 requires 2^x bits = @ 2^4.701
    there are no fractional bits any more than there are average people with one ovary and one testicle or even a global temperature. the kind of entity is purely conceptual.

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