Preamble Lost

A few comments about HRes 109, the Green New Deal 1

The Western Caucus’ response to the Resolution 2  sounds just like the folk who pushed to end the “war on coal” and enable dumping of spoil in waterways.3

After a parade of horribles (declarations by the paid Congressional shills owned by the energy extraction industries), the caucus makes the bald faced claims that

The Green New Deal would:

  • Intertwine the federal government in every aspect of our daily lives,
  • Overhaul American energy, manufacturing, and transportation sectors,
  • Jeopardize jobs and take-home income of hundreds of thousands of Americans,
  • Expand the power of federal bureaucrats far beyond what our Founding Fathers ever intended,
  • Impede the energy efficiency and carbon capture research and development industry has invested in, moving America further away from our emission goals,
  • Destabilize our electric grid and energy dominance and independence compromising our national security, and
  • Undermine federalist principles our nation was built upon.

Whoa!!!!! As one can easily see, there is no evidence tat the Resolution would do ANY of this. I am waiting to see documentation by the Western Caucus evidencing, well, anything.

I strongly suggest that EVERYONE actually read HRes 109 and if you are seeking to convince others how horrific it is, I would argue that the onus is on you to provide a sectional analysis (that’s what rational folk do). I for one would like to know what is problematic with pledging

(D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—
(i) clean air and water;
(ii) climate and community resiliency;
(iii) healthy food;
(iv) access to nature; and
(v) a sustainable environment;

Sounds very much like what the US Constitution requires of our federal government. The preamble states

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If you want to frighten yourself, go see a Manoj Nelliyattu “M. Night” Shyamalan movie. In the meantime, unplug from Fox News, try to be critical when you read or hear rants from people trying to suck your life blood and render your community a toxic desert, and do try to behave in a manner that suggests that you are a rational person entitled to enfranchisement.

 

 

 

 

 

Right to the Gut

The modern approach to property is to see property as a “bundle of sticks”, abandoning the 17th Century notions (the ones that today are touted as the basis for libertarianism) as largely foolishness. This jurisprudential analysis bore fruit in the discussion by Hohfeld of jural correlatives over a century ago.1 2 Philosophically, this echos the development of the social sciences, and the recognition that Homo sapiens is closer to termites3 than one might expect, lol. In other words, we are tribal and symbiotic, and may very well be largely a function of what our group and our gut mandate.

Practically speaking, we are intersections of complex matrices (a high tech verbalization of “bundle of sticks”). There is no such thing as ownership; there is on;y these complex relationships. To say that Locke’s idea that we own ourselves is not to say that someone else owns us, but to say the very notion of ownership is something on;y a child might entertain.

Even with this realization, as Justice Johnson notes 4, the forces that drive our jurisprudence still try to focus on only one side of the balance, as it were, and the judicial appointments of culture warriors hearten such ideological forays. As Johnson puts it, “Professor Hohfeld brought legal jurisprudence a long way by giving courts the analytical tools to understand property as a set of interdependent relations that involved both rights and obligations. That work evolved into the bundle of rights, but there has been much more emphasis on the rights, and less on the obligations. Any new theory of property rights has to emphasize broader obligations, as well as rights, if we are to confront the fairness question.”

When we hear people like Mia Love preach possessive Narcissism, when we see mobs rallying to “I built it”, we are seeing the ignorant response to the demagogues call to shed the mantle of responsibilities that all members of any society wear. Indeed, in one of many inconsistent moments Locke actually makes it clear that while individuals should have the right to elect membership in a polity, once the election has been made, the individual is caught and held fast by the tyranny of the majority (and taxes are not theft, rofl).

In sum, we are perhaps better defined by our obligations than by our “rights”. As potlatch societies recognize, status is maintained by what is given, not by what is taken. One’s position in any society is dependent on the myriad relations one manages with all the other persons and things one lives among. Hubris, at its core, is the belief that the individual is wholly responsible for their own destiny, and has been the subject of scorn for millennia. It is our great challenge that we face its resurgence today.

Consensus

In a Facebook discussion  1  stemming from Andy Hollman’s posting of Jacob Bera’s recent piece for the AASB 2 questions of the value of one of AkDEED’s experiments in teacher assessment were raised, and as it seemed to me that the discussion was turning away in part from a focus on what Jacob had to say, I thought I would start a thread focused on that alone.

AkDEED, face with continuing concerns with regard to evidence-based certification and assessment of teachers, decided to look at whether a consensus could be produced regarding appropriate praxis. AkDEED enlisted the assistance of hundreds of Master Teachers who then watched hours of videos of teachers teaching, rating performances on multiple scales. These volunteers then reviewed and discussed what they saw, why they rated the video the way they did, and how any differences might be resolved.

Now, the use of videos as a tool for teacher evaluation is widely accepted (it is in fact a major element of National Certification3 ). However, as anyone familiar with the topic will note, the teacher is free to submit any video the teacher wishes, and may redo the video over and over, and even school their students in performing for the video. So one can see that using video is at best fraught and dubious (yet it is one fundamental to one of Jacob’s arguments, but that is for another discussion …)

What I wish to address here, and what I tried to point out there, are some of the premises underlying any evaluation. There are two matters that are particularly of concern: 1) the manner in which any evaluation rubric is established, and 2) the manner in which evaluators (NBPTS uses the terms “assessors”) are qualified. To put that into rather simple language, can we agree on what good teaching is, and can we identify individuals who can sniff that out?

AKDEED adopted an Aristotelian, rather than a Platonic model. In other words, AkDEED thought they would crowdsource from those who would likely really understand the subtleties of educational praxis. We can arguably contrast that with NBPTS, which self-selected persons to set up a system to find those like themselves. I won’t argue the pros or cons of either methodology here; my focus here is on whether one can expect to obtain a consensus from experts on what those experts are supposed to be doing.

In a sense, AKDEED developed a practical exercise in what can be described as a modified Delphi method, running various prompts repeatedly through a group of experts to see if consensus about what good teaching is could be obtained.  Note that this part of the process has little or nothing to do with how the videos were prepared.  The focus is on whether what is being viewed is evidence of good teaching. In fact, such videos are used as part of educational instructional across the country.

The results were problematic. There was little agreement on what good teaching was, and some rather heated arguments about what wasn’t. In as much as the responses to videos were arguably more dependent on a teacher’s philosophy than on the evidence that of course made it just as difficult to grapple with the second horn; it was going to be virtually impossible to get any cadre of evaluators to agree on most anything.

Many teachers will assume that they and their colleagues are all extremely competent, but absent broad opportunities for peer review, those views seem more a collection of prejudices than evidence-based conclusions. I have to consider how teachers are “prepared”, and I see little that argues that first year teachers hired from UAA are by virtue of their degree, competent to teach. Whatever your thoughts about the management of ASD, it would appear that ASD has essentially agreed with me for some time. No, I am not saying that all UAA teachers are useless twits; I am saying that we have little evidence to show that they are competent independent professionals.

I have been inordinately lucky in some respects. I have had many teachers observe my teaching and have been able to observe many teachers across numerous subject areas and levels. Personally I think that is invaluable experience and is why I am a proponent of peer review. But then I see teaching like excellent theater, an approach I think not shared by all that many.

But to return to the focus of this reflection, if teachers can’t develop a consensus, then they are either agreeing that anything goes, or that they will knuckle their forehead to some arbitrary authority (who may be a philosopher king, or a tantrumming tyro.) I am not a fan of Doors 2 and 3.

From Soup to Nuts

I was a bit taken aback by a Facebook comment shared recently by John Fulton 1, a person I know to be intelligent, compassionate, giving, sensitive, and a devout Catholic.

It breaks my heart and shatters my soul to see the depravity that our society has perpetuated today.

New York not only legalized abortion to the day of the child’s birth, but they also removed protections in the event the child survives, they can still murder the child with impunity. They removed the requirement of abortions to be performed by doctors. The slap in the face was the signing of the bill by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a purported Catholic.

As a faithful Catholic Christian and Knight of Columbus, it sickens me. The fight for the sanctity of life has always been one of the most important moral issues that exists. I pray the rosary daily, contribute what I can to organizations that forward that cause, and participate in what events I can to hopefully end this culture of death and disregard for God’s greatest gift whether it is at conception or towards the natural end of life.

Curiously enough, John ends his tribulation with a  borrowed piece entitled, Intercessions for Those Involved in Abortion 2 the last stanza of which is borrowed from Jeremiah. 3

How did the Roman Catholic Church come to see abortion as depraved?

As an Irishman recently was want to say, “It is interesting to wonder though, by which revelation was it made known to the Roman Catholic Church that heaven does not approve of abortion?” 4 Somehow, Western society has gone from entertaining the notion of creation from a cosmic soup to unfettered procreation, and it’s of import to more than just the Irish how we got here (and what can be done about it)!

Certainly, Jewish law at the time and since has been that a fetus is not a person until most of it has emerged from the mother. Nor is there any credible argument that the New Testament holds otherwise. That did not serve to stop Christian theologians from trying to rule women’s bodies, as even the shortest review on the topic suggests. 5 It is difficult to take the depth of Catholic feeling all that serious though, when so many historians have demonstrated the rather dubious adoption of such policy by the Church (I am reminded of Catholics who taunt Muslims about Ramadan, but are actually wholly ignorant that their obligations during Lent are strikingly similar, lol).

My bottom line is that when one looks at the overall policy of the Church, it would appear to be in many respects focused on unbridled breeding, and the inevitable death and misery that entails. Yes, I have to argue that anyone who subscribes to such nonsense, not as an historical artifact that should be remembered but set aside now that we know better, but as present guidance for survival on Earth, is INSANE.

and I have to ask you, what do YOU want to do with all these insane persons?

 

Just Another Simple Solution

There’s no easy way to put this, so I might as well come out and just say it: Mr. Donley appears to be very confused.1 Unfortunately this is only to be expected from the silver bullet crowd who invariably see all problems as susceptible to simple solutions, solution simple solutions that they, of course, have at the ready.

Social promotion has been a concern for years 2, but it is not the source of the problem. The  reason for social promotion is that we have a system largely based on age based cohorts. And for most of a students school years, and removal from their age cohort is a kin to branding the child as “defective”.

Many educators have pointed out ways to address retention and social promotion 3 and underlying may of those recommendations is the fact that  if schools moved to a skill based system as opposed to an age based system, artifacts like social promotion would disappear, especially as the granularity of the skill based modules is increased. In fact, some of the more successful programs on view in schools attempt to exploit just such options, like Walk to Read 4, where students are grouped across classrooms for reading instruction.

Certainly there are challenges to any educational system. A typical criticism of skill based cohort management is that this is simply “tracking”5 and that tracking breeds elitism. Gross tracking could clearly lead in that direction, but effective course management and the distribution of children make it pretty clear that such results might only be seen for 3 of a thousand children, all of whom would have been entitled to IEPs as exceptional children until the likes of Mr Donley “fixed” the Alaska Statutes.

But changing the cohort system is not just a different “silver bullet”; it is not a comprehensive solution. Not only do we need to change the cohort system to focus on instruction (instead of focusing on “management”) but we also need to implement early childhood and Pre-K surveillance, assessment, and service,  as well as clinical intervention to address fundamental inadequacies in literacy and numeracy. It is not like we can hide our heads in the sand any more; we KNOW that early deficiencies in reading WILL result in likely trauma, incarceration, etc.6 Spend the money now, or spend the money later.

Lastly, let me note that this is not likely a sudden inspiration on Mr. Donley’s part. With the election of the current Governor, we will be seeing a bill along the same lines introduced in the legislature . 7 I don’t want to fault Republican legislators for being concerned about education; but endorsing a corporate package unsupported by actual research is a recipe for disaster.

 

Far From Indivisible, Alaska

I recently received the mailer below from the Wright campaign. I tried to post that mailer, together with my “call to action” 1 to the Indivisible Alaska Facebook group 2, which touts as its purpose:

We are pursuing the Indivisible Team’s strategy (please read indivisibleguide.com). We resist Trump’s racist, authoritarian, and corrupt agenda by focusing on local, defensive congressional advocacy. We demand that our own local Members of Congress serve as our voice in Washington, DC. We model inclusion, respect, and fairness in all of our actions.

This is an action-oriented group with Call to Actions. We understand the frustrations and anxiety in these times. However, if you wish to express your concerns and anxieties, there are other groups on facebook such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment.

This group is action-oriented as described by indivisibleguide.com. For that reason, the posts are moderated so we do not dilute our Call to Actions.

Before inviting other friends to this action-oriented group, please inform them that they will need to answer these question before they are approved for membership.

Our most recent Call to Action will be pinned at the top of the discussion. Please help us with our Calls to Action (phone calls, visits to local Congressional offices, etc.), at least once a week.

My “call to action”?
Please call Stanley (9077430459) and ask him for specifics!

Ask him what he specifically was opposed to in SB 91 (here’s the engrossed bill http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/29?Hsid=SB0091Z and an ADN piece on misconceptions https://www.adn.com/…/how-sb-91-has-changed-alaskas-crimin…/ so you can score his responses) Ask him what he thinks of SB 54 (http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=SB0054Z), why he thinks that SB 54 did not “fix” SB91. Ask him what he specifically thinks the incumbent should have but didn’t do with respect to SB54. Ask him where his proposed legislation can be found for your review.

Please ask Stanley on what occasions the incumbent voted to cut the PFD, and why the incumbent voted on each occasion to cut the PFD, as well as what he specifically would have done to avoid cutting the PFD (“cut the budget” is NOT an answer.)

And ask Stanley why he thinks the incumbent, who has been a vociferous advocate for educational funding, should be replaced by someone who will hopefully either be in the House minority, or will be forced to vote to cut educational spending (the mantra of the state GOP).

It is time to make Republican candidates realize that running on truthiness will no longer be tolerated.

Direct, issue grounded, respectful, and to the point. My submission was not approved.

I was a bit miffed because not only was my submission clearly within the pale of posts previously approved for the group, but because the Group allowed two threads to burgeon that spewed inaccurate vitriol attacking Judges Corey and Wolverton, who are presently the targets of another mob campaign by those who, clueless about how our system works, simply want to just hang the most convenient person.

When I asked one of the admins, Kathleen Smith Goodman, why my post was not approved, but the admins allowed the mob rants about the Judges, I received this message:

Your post needs to be toned down. Make it more direct with a quick ask and it will be reviewed again and more likely looked at by more people in the group. We are not a discussion group or a place to air your frustrations. You may look to these other sites for that, such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment and further discussion. I have had no requests from other members to remove comments on judges.

So much for “indivisible” Alaska.

Once again, an hysterical self-appointed purity patrol has rolled out the guillotine to lop off the head of anyone who is not as manic as they are. I invite all rational Alaskans to join this group (if you are not a member already) and post your disgust with such witch hunting.


The Short Shrift: Socialism Versus Social Activism

Bernie Sanders has called out Amazon in the BEZOS Act, and Jacobin Magazine says its time for socialists to organize at Amazon, but I can’t help wondering if this activism misses the soul of socialism as the increase in wages comes at the loss of access to ownership.

Setting aside the rants of the Randian culture warriors,  most have seen ownership of the means of production as the keystone of socialism.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product. 1

Unfortunately, in the US the big union money typically moves in the other direction, with health and welfare funds and pension funds being managed by greedy Wall Street bankers solely on the basis of monetary return (which amounts to workers essentially capitalizing rentiers).

The value of Amazon stock is now about $1800/share, with a market capitalization of a bit over $900B, much of that owned by institutional investors and mutual funds. So, in broad terms all that needs to happen to make Amazon a socialist powerhouse is to finance employee purchase of $450B in stock.

The alternative, no matter how noble it might appear from time to time, amounts to begging or blackmailing, as Amazon’s market power is arguably no match for activists. 2

But is worker ownership of a behemoth like Amazon a pipe dream? Now that is an organizational question  worth pondering. Rather than propose that thousands of militant socialists seek employment at Amazon quietly for the purpose of an October Revolution, why not organize for the takeover of the company; it is certainly just a “doable” as rendering Amazon a union shop, and it makes “labor” management.

Seems to me that if one is going to hitch one’s wagon to Hope and Change, then charging into the fray for the purposes of continuing to be regarded as beggars at the gate is not all that inviting.


Fuck That Shit

To my expropriating friend,

You have opined about the unkempt nature of your recent communications, announcing that you will start using the word feck.  

“In an effort to clean up my act, I am expropriating the Irish word “Feckin” as my official expletive.”
Fuck that shit. Fuck1 has an ancient and honorable tradition that was sullied only by the minions of Queen Victoria.

Now, if you wanted to talk about you being feckful (I think we reserve feckless2 for those promoting “solutions” which are, in ‘effect’ [you liked that bit of word play, didn’t you?] little more than opportunities to co-op energies that might otherwise actually produce change… ) we could talk about how full of feck you were (though I don’t know how we actually measure feck – perhaps a fecking meter – would we find one of those in Old Eire?).

But feck, as a minced oath (you will want to read this 3 amounts to what the ultrablue might argue is cultural appropriation (as you no doubt understand based on your intent to expropriate), and that would be potentially damning in a political melee where the critical play is choosing sides!

All I can recommend is what is suggested to be the lesson of the friars of Cambridgeshire:

Flen, flyys, and freris populum domini male caedunt,
Thystlis and breris crescentia gramina laedunt;
Christe, nolens guerras, sed cuncta pace tueris;
Destrue per terras breris, flen, flyȝes, and freris.
Flen, flyȝes, and freris, foul falle hem thys fyften ȝeris,
For non that her ys lovit flen, flyȝes, ne freris.

Fratres Carmeli navigant in a bothe apud Eli,
Non sunt in cœli quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.[1]
Omnes drencherunt, quia sterisman non habuerunt,
Fratres cum knyvys goth about and txxkxzv nfookt xxzxkt,[2]

Ex Eli veniens praesenti sede locatur,
Nec rex nec sapiens, Salomon tamen ille vocatur.

Pediculus cum sex pedibus me mordet ubique,
Si possum capere, tokl tobl[3] debet ipse habere.

Si tibi strok detur, wyth a round strok evacuetur;
Et si revertetur, loke tu quod retribuetur.

Est mea mens mota pro te, speciosa Magota.

Verum dixit anus, quod piscis olet triduanus;
Ejus de more simili foetet hospes odore.

Est in quadrupede pes quintus, in aequore pulvis,
In cirpo nodus, in muliere fides.

Cum premo, re retrahit, stringit con, inque sigillat,
Sub silet, ob spoliat, sed de gravat, ex manifestat.

Thus, pix, cum sepo, sagmen, cum virgine cera,
Ex hiis attractus bonus est ad vulnera factus.

Vento quid levius? fulgur. Quid fulgure? flamma.
Flamma quid? mulier. Quid muliere? nichil.
Auro quid melius? jaspis. Quid jaspide? sensus.
Sensu quid? ratio. Quid ratione? nichil.

Frigore Frix frixit, quia Tros trux tubera traxit,
Trosque truces Traces secuit necuitque minaces.

Taurus in herba ludit, et optat tangere limpham.
Rumbo murena extat Thamesia plena.4

 


 

“One can’t appreciate philosophy until one understands that one IS the relish…”

I often enjoy the conversational approach of the early Greek philosophers, though it is clear that the dialog is being manipulated.  But in the open back and forth of unfettered discourse, one might well pick up a thing or two. Here is one such discussion (published without anyone’s permission):

Elstun W Lauesen — Here I a brief restatement of what I wrote in the middle of the night.

I am a Leftist. I am not a Conservative. I will, therefore confine my remarks to the Left.
The fuel of the Left is hope because the Left is devoted to change (reform).

This is a problem in 2018. To work toward reform, we have to believe that change is possible.

And just because Barack Obama appropriated those words for his political campaign does not make the presence of hope in our hearts any less imperative as an instrument of change.

I say this because my own self-examination reveals an awful truth. I have an affliction. It is cynicism.

There is no more damaging and cancer-like condition that can afflict a person devoted to reform than cynicism.

I have concluded the following about myself:
If I think I know too much about “the system” to believe that change is ever possible; if I feel too bitter by disappointment and dashed hope and the grossness of human nature to ever believe that a New World is possible; and if my advanced skills are devoted to sitting in the back of the room and picking the scabs of old wounds rather than taking a few more hits for the cause…
…then I am irrelevant to everything I believe in and to which I am devoted.

Cynicism is an intellectual and spiritual cancer.

See it. Call it out. Cut it out. Kill it.

Merwyn Ambrose Thanks for the death sentence brother 😉

But you view of the cynic is postprandial as is the more disturbing view of pedant and elite, the mob having dined on what those terms meant, and thereupon produced the target of your abuse.

Perhaps your problem is that you continue to hitch your hope to the wagons of the snake oil salespersons? It is one thing to have glorious visions, it is another to putter along trying to make small changes; I think both may be valuable as one inspires, and the other perhaps produces results.

Yes, it is difficult to keep digging away, but it is foolish to think that the project you are working on is going to miraculously materialize, lol, and you must toil away with the full knowledge that what you are doing will likely NOT succeed. But like Camus’s Sisyphus, dig we must…

But here you castigate those that know that these efforts have little chance of success but nevertheless toil on, apparently in favor of the flag wavers – and there is your real culprit… The smiling distributors of Blue Litmus Tests, the arbiters of the “illiberal left”, the exiters and the never enoughers 😉

Merwyn Ambrose You want to see where the cancer is, Elstun? Ask Harriet why the few sentences that would have protected Alaska workers from being denied medical services were excised from HB79 with the consent of the House Majority Caucus, and then come dance by the fire 🙂

Merwyn Ambrose Cynicism is the rejection of the accoutrements of power, and the recognition that Hobbes understood full well human nature (including Macpherson’s possessive Narcissism). The Maroons who have been selling their confused version of Locke’s tepid philosophy might be excused their ignorance (though perhaps not their hubris) but Locke, in his confusion, did draw a line in the sand. It comes down to Aristotle or Plato ever again – we either forge our own way, or search for magical tablets, and if the former, then we need to fully understand the beast we are dealing with, no???

Merwyn Ambrose Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys – O…

Allen Blume MA, this is assuredly some of your best and most forthright writing! Well done, sir!

Merwyn Ambrose Thank you, AB. “One can’t appreciate philosophy until one understands that one IS the relish…” Now THAT was good

Merwyn Ambrose I appreciate the criticism of Coyne and others that the arguments as to the “illiberal left” are simply artifacts of alt-right trolling, lol, and I have often pointed out how the likes of Jonah Goldberg miss the boat, but you will note, Allen, as you peruse the thread, that there are flecks of foam on the mouths of Elstun’s intended audience 😉

“Progressives” demand forthright candidates willing to charge into the breach, but faced with persons of honesty and integrity, they regularly turn on them for lack of ideological purity.

As an educational progressive I went so far as to stand for election, lol. Check out the old web site: Let’s get it on! | Grober for School Board. I don’t recall any army of progressives flocking to me banner 🙂 In fact, just the OPPOSITE! Why is that, I wonder. Yes, I know, I am an alt-right troll….

Elstun W Lauesen Merwyn Ambrose my view of things has gotten simpler and more mystical. In math we have the Fibonacci seq in which every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones. Now the natural path of progress might adhere to this spiraling matrix, building, as it were, upon preceding values. But we know that it’s more like Hegel and less like Fibonacci, n, n+1, n-0.5, n+.75…

In the net of human experience we continue to limp along, sometimes dramatically like n+2.5 (as with electrification) and step back dramatically as we may see if Trumpism seizes arts and science (a National Science Foundation research grant on the weight of the human soul, perhaps, by NSF Head Franklin Graham, DD)

But my belief is that history in the age of the Jupiter Brain (look it up) becomes a series of fractal instances building a crystalline Stairway to Heaven (cue Led Zepplin)

Merwyn Ambrose Bradbury’s flaw, Elstun, was his failure to understand that scale is meaningless if the answer is 42…

Your comments indeed smack of Hegelian presupposition, and I worry that so many erstwhile progressive friends hide a belief in human “destiny”, lol. One of the most curious experiences I have had of late was reading Jonah Goldberg’s incredibly “progressive” introduction to “Suicide of the West”, in which he refutes the typical conservative litany on human “evolution”.

Not to push the physics analogy too far (as that is where so many ‘wu li dancers’ have gone so wrong), but light, as we know it, it based on what is arguably the imperceptible photon. It is the volume of these particles that we celebrate, and at core, the birth of these particles is on the subatomic level… hence, my argument that while one should not ignore gas giants (like Graham, pere et fils) the attempt to escape the “night that covers me” must address the minute, the granular, the local where those elements meet the organisms of tomorrow’s challenges. And that translates, dear friend to School Boards.

Rant of wrack and ruin, and hurl your epithets, but remember, the child is the father to the man.

Merwyn Ambrose He has a great riposte, Allen, but I honestly think I have 2 out of three falls here, rofl…..

The truth, gentlemen, is that this discussion should have its own thread, especially now that Elstun has admitted he is veering to the Pythagorean, lol. Music of the spheres?
Gustav Holst- The Planets, Full Suite

Allen Blume Elstun, my first instinct was to applaud your anti-cynicism polemic but then came Mr. Ambrose’ most articulate response. While there is truth in not succumbing to bleak cynicism and despair, if we fail to recognize the crisis today and the harsh cruelties to come, then we are setting ourselves up for catastrophic failure, and then, as Mr. Dewar has noted, get ready for a second FUBAR45 term in 2020.

As is already apparent, our own Democratic Party have become Quisling facilitators of the corporatist (read Fascist) agenda, willing to sacrifice the “proles” to some oligarch’s bottom line; and willingly so by the the Schumers, Pelosis, Feinsteins, et al who have become the virtually official spokespersons for Wall Street. In the face of such sycophantic surrender there is little any of us “down here” can do to reverse their abdication.

I’ve remarked elsewhere that I’m not particuarly sanguine about the coming “Blue Wave” in November because of the nature of the candidates that have emerged – mostly well-off, many former military, Chamber of Commerce neoliberals – and the fact that of all of the primary candidates only a very small percentage appear to have any substantive legislative experience/knowledge.

For those who are part of the former group, their co-option by Establishment Iron Triangles is virtually assured, while those in the latter group will be rudderless/leaderless/clueless until such time as they’re adopted by one or another of the special interest caucuses, because assuredly there is no “Poor Peoples Caucus” in the US Congress!

And while our national leaders curry favor with the Masters of the Universe our state and local parties drift ever closer to authoritarian “suck up, kick down” electoral management. Their agendas are virtually indistinguishable from their corporatist sponsors and the ALEC agenda.

And then there’s the putative leader of the so-called “Free World.” Even our seemingly “best” leaders (Obama and Clinton) were manipulated tools of Dark Money authoritarians (the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Mellon-Scaife robber barons) and where they may have had some political capital they could spend it was quickly consumed by the gaping maw of corporatism, phony capitalism, and rampant consumerism. When their coins were spent or devalued they had little choice but to bend over in accommodation to their political captors.

Each of us has struggled with affecting political change in the “polis'” interest, ably backstopped and supported by one another. We’ve taken our lumps, crawled off to knit ourselves back together, and returned to the fray – but increasingly there hasn’t been enough liniment, bandages, splints, or aspirin to make the hurts go away, and that has taken a severe toll, even among the strongest true-believers.

I see and recognize that you’re not offering Polly-Anna saccharin in your charge to all of us, but I fear you’re diminishing our ability to see the harsh realities that loom over us and that demand that we think differently – prudently – about the crisis at hand.

We’re seeing the bloody specter of Nazism already shambling across our political desert but our responses are tepid and inconsequential; and liberals that we are, we will sit in conference introducing ever more evidence of the horrors loosed and not push away from that conference table to take our outrage into the streets where it should be made manifest.

Do I sound cynical? I damned well hope so! If we do not make for a militant common cause to oppose this usurpation of our freedoms then we had best circle our wagons, hunker down, and hope we can ride out the coming years of oppression and hate. I don’t like this second alternative but it’s increasingly looking like it may be our only means of survival!