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Posts by Captain Capitulation

unhappy until the insurrection

why might new york be the unhappiest city in america? well just speculating now, but there are way too many people there. homo sapiens has extreme sucking issues, which are hard to avoid in nyc. and of course the more people you have, the less each one counts. also the glorious human gazpacho of the world's greatest place entails way too much concrete and garbage, way too few trees. (i imagine nyc also has the country's least happy trees.) plus of course contemporary art and literature make people miserable, and there's a lot of that there.

also, clintonville is the scene of grotesque continual enactments of extreme inequality. now we're in this meritocratic phase, and the basic idea of that is people get what they deserve, and what they deserve is shown by their standardized test scores or those of their children, or what colleges they got into or graduated from. see, if we lived in a meritocracy, $$$ would be proportional to desert, which is definitely, for example, how the nypd approach the enforcement of the law. (in fact, probably there are more laws and more cops than in most places. you might reconsider your basic bloombergian view that that is itself a source of human happiness.) so when a rich person struts around new york, she conveys sort of by every movement that she deserves so so much more than you do, itself a beautiful refutation of the whole picture on which it's based. it's all very hilarious, and yet still some folks might find it somewhat irritating.

rund phasers

there's been a lot of criticism directed at obama for invariably attending fundraisers galore as the world dissolves. but i think that it is very important that he do so, in order to take direction from the people who are running the country. obviously, the pres needs to maintain close ties to the super-rich who govern us. barack and hillary and other members of the billionaires' staffs are going to devote the next few years to addressing economic inequality, by enjoying it immensely every day.

Categories: Politics
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where were the dutch?

it surprises me that the government of the netherlands didn't send, say, a commando unit to secure the crash site in ukraine, but rather sat there watching the corpses being neglected or mistreated, the possessions of their citizens strolled off with, evidence about what happened to them contaminated. possibly the netherlands has no commando units? or maybe they thought like this: well, if we do that, we might have more dutch deaths. but it's hard for me to picture those separatists attacking a group of dutch soldiers on the ground, if they were made aware of who they were. and i'd say you should do that even if you took casualties. there needs to be some basic pride, some basic gesture of self-defense and outrage.

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shredded

so i'd like to know whether hamas really has a systematic policy of using human shields. but the idea that anyone would believe israel about this, or that they would believe hamas, is very silly. really, people can look right into the eyes of someone with the world's most obvious motivations to lie, and actually apparently believe them, or just join right in. seriously, if you find yourself repeating the lines of either side, you've merely discredited yourself. any person with a shred of rationality or any commitment at all to speaking the truth could not possibly accept what either side is saying about something like that.

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mpdg

i was a sullen, withdrawn young man (ok ok i was pushing 40), and in a quasi-courageous attempt at life-affirmation i married a real-life manic pixie dream girl (ok she was pushing 40 too), indeed a person who for awhile was going to be played by zoe deschanel in the film of her memoir. i came out of the whole thing with a new appreciation for sullen and withdrawn, so it did have a life-affirming effect after all.

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periodic outbreaks of slaughter

the american foreign policy establishment (represented by madeleine albright this morning on cnn, e.g.) is still saying 'there must be a two-state solution', that's the only hope etc. if that's the only hope, there is no hope. the idea that israel ever was going to or ever will permit a palestinian state to emerge is false, whatever they may say. anyway, why isn't that just a formula for more and worse war? so if you can't come up with any new ideas, we're going to recapitulate this thing ad infinitum.

really, defining states ethnically/religiously cannot not lead to violence. it's just a wee bit as though we defined the united states as a white nation, for example. i think the only possible solution would be a fully multi-ethnic full democracy. but israel will never permit that either, because then it would have destroyed its own purpose and definition. so i would see this situation persisting for the next, say, century, with periodic outbreaks of slaughter. 

physics or metaphysics?

i am going to speculate that high-end physics/cosmology has gone very far off the deep end. so, for example, stephen hawking has concluded on the basis - i guess? - of mathematics that "the universe has every possible history", and we're way into multiverses, infinitely many different spaces, and stuff. 

Dr. Tegmark, in his new book, “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality,” turns the idea on its head: The reason mathematics serves as such a forceful tool is that the universe is a mathematical structure. Going beyond Pythagoras and Plato, he sets out to show how matter, energy, space and time might emerge from numbers.

now, i'm afraid i do not understand the claim that the universe is a mathematical structure. does that mean that physical objects are abstract objects? well, you'll need to grapple with the fact that that cannot possibly be the case, given that abstract and concrete objects have extremely different sorts of properties, and hence cannot be identical. where is the number 5, bro? inside that star?

now it may sound crass to say it, but isn't whether there are other universes - whatever that means - an empirical question? (if not, i wouldn't think it's a scientific question at all.) you can stipulate universes, or invent them - but you can't discover them except in the usual human way: by actual experience. i should have said it's quite like insisting that you know the number of planets before looking at all, maybe from a biblical passage, or just by thinking about it real hard. a few decadesago  we called that "the dark ages".

the piece says that they're going beyond plato and pythagoras, but maybe they're just going back to the little stage where people were worshipping abstract objects and trying to view the physical universe either as an illusionistic scrim over the numbers and concepts, or as actually being made out of them. like i say, that's not just a puzzling formulation. if you tell me a wall is made of bricks, i understand what you're saying. if you tell me it's made out of 16 and 137, or emerges from them (causally?) it's going to take a lot to convince me that you mean anything at all. 

maybe, just perhaps, this stuff isn't science whatsoever. it certainly isn't science that involves things like experiments and systematic observation. perhaps we're back to the wildest metaphysical speculation. there's a lot to be said for that, i think, but that is also not the way it's being presented. indeed, hawking, for example is (a) doing philosophy all the time, (b) doing it very very badly, (c) denying that he's doing it at all. but if you want to believe whatever he says, go right ahead, because even if everyone believed that the universe has every possible history or whatever it may be, that will have no effects at all on this one.

more hawking

whore mocking

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please, tell me what to do and take all my stuff

when juxtaposed, two stories from today beautifully illustrate the concept of squishy totalitarianism, as well as providing an example of a system of government extremely typical of the 20th century: the marxist kleptocracy. or they give you a perfect crystallization of the essence of the state: the collectivist, unifying rhetoric - the government is all of us together! - and the swiss bank accounts into which the people producing that rhetoric are depositing more or less the entire nation. people want more more more of this or see no alternative whatsoever, so i predict that they'll be getting heaping helpings of what they're begging for: to be told what to do by the people who are robbing them. it's the social contract.

alibaba's ipo a bonanza for scions of chinese leaders

ruling communist party says firm belief in marxism will help halt moral decline

emotional crisis

i would rather be eaten by dick cheney than listen to elaine stritch sing sondheim, so the last few days have been difficult ones for me.

terrorism

more terrifying words have never been uttered than these: "produced by stephen spielberg and oprah winfrey". one thing such a collaboration is likely to achieve: a higher density of gaseous pseudo-wisdom and hyper-emotional cliches than was considered possible in such a small space. there's likely to be an explosion of banal proportions. i have no idea what the thing is about, but one thing i do know: it will teach each of us important moral lessons, touch us to the very depths of our superficial souls, and uplift us all for the umpteenth time into the very ether of Yacketysmackety.

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