40 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. They tell us what is cool and what they want.

    at the moment what is cool for eight year olds revolves around films that are too old for them to watch,
    the clever bit is to make films that are really violent and although kids under 15 are not technically allowed in you make loads of toys for young kids that are tied to the film,
    so 8 year olds really want to see spiderman, and cool kids are the ones who’s parents dont care and let them watch anything,
    anyway,
    the culture is violent now, the films are violent, and the kids are absorbing it,
    can anyone think of any reason why american films have got much much more violent in the last ten years?

  2. smiths :
    the clever bit is to make films that are really violent and although kids under 15 are not technically allowed in you make loads of toys for young kids that are tied to the film,
    so 8 year olds really want to see spiderman, and cool kids are the ones who’s parents dont care and let them watch anything,

    Too true….

    the culture is violent now, the films are violent, and the kids are absorbing it,
    can anyone think of any reason why american films have got much much more violent in the last ten years?

    Sorry to go off topic, but the depiction of violence has become very baroque lately. I’m not sure but sometimes I think the Matrix ushered in a new era of violence as art (for Hollywood films anyway, because it had many precursors elsewhere). Can anyone explain the obsession with CSI style shows. You can hardly turn on the TV without seeing an autopsy.

  3. can anyone think of any reason why american films have got much much more violent in the last ten years?

    It’s probably just that you had kids in the last ten years and you now notice. You don’t have to watch it you know.

    Anyway how does this concern get resolved in your preferred form of anarchy?

  4. daggett,

    Really nice try, mate, but it’s a very long article full of physics and Soviet Union politics (which I confess I will have to read in bits over a long period of time to get it all).

    So, although there’s a distinctly Australia connection via the work of Peter Thonemann (Oxford and Harwell) and Oliphant (plasma, ANU), I just don’t think you’re going to get a bite. Even though it has been one of the ‘hidden elephants’ for years that whereas ‘religion’ cannot be mandated by governments, science is (oops, did I just channel Feyerabend ?). And especially, but by no means exclusively, science in the old Soviet Union.

    But the whole topic simply doesn’t have the gut-grab of the “my evidence-immune belief system rulez” wars.

    Sheesh, even TerjeP can’t tell the difference between information and marketing (hint: marketing is about persuading by fair means or foul, information is about judgement independent ‘informing’).

  5. It’s probably just that you had kids in the last ten years and you now notice.

    no, thats incorrect, graphic sadistic violence is up terje, just compare jack nicholsons joker to heath ledger’s, screenviolence is up more than gold
    with regard to anarchy, as i made clear earlier i think its a sentiment rather than a system,
    comparable in its utopian fantasies to the concept of the ‘free market’
    anarchists were reacting to an oppressive system at the end of the nineteenth century,
    they struck out at figureheads in general,
    only emile henry purposefully attacked ‘bourgois’ people as accomplices of an evil system,
    most people even today hold anarchist views in opposition to something they think of as oppressive and intolerable,
    i like the idea of the end of the current capitalist system, i would like to see the didntegration of giant multi-national fims,
    its not really a call for an anarchist uture,
    if your question is what kind of government is legitimate to me then i would say that i favour the best ideals of the post-war social democratic system,
    i see it as something that you never get right, but permanently refine and oscillate,
    i see commerce and trade as essential human activities but i see unregulated capitalism as cancerous to healthy democratic systems,

    one of the main problems i see at the moment is how dishonest the discourse is about the actual state of governing and control globally,
    its clear to me that any discussion that includes america as a deomcratic nation is farcical,
    any discussion of governmental systems that doesnt recognise that giant corporations andbanks have more power than most countries is simply redundant,
    in all of this, throwing around words like anarchy or small-government or free-trade is just anachronistic clap trap

  6. most people even today hold anarchist views in opposition to something they think of as oppressive and intolerable

    When most people say anarchy what they mean is chaos. And what they envisage is a world without rules, social conventions or institutions where the strong beat the weak. That is a long way from what most political philosophers think of when they refere to anarchy. John Humphreys recently wrote a provocative article on the practicality of anarchy at the ALS blog. It is worth a read along with some of the links it offers:-

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2009/12/14/another-look-at-anarchy/

    i like the idea of the end of the current capitalist system

    Me too. I’d like the IMF to be extinct. I’d like to see an end to central banks. I agree with reducing barriers to international trade but frankly I think the predominate trade barriers in the world today are domestic barriers produced by the tax code. I think government bailouts of private industries is perverse and should stop.

    if your question is what kind of government is legitimate to me then i would say that i favour the best ideals of the post-war social democratic system

    I’d be very happy to see our governments per capita spending reduced to the level it was at in the 1950s and 1960s. Prefereably in real terms but even relative to the size of the economy would be an improvement.

    its clear to me that any discussion that includes america as a deomcratic nation is farcical

    America was formed as a constitutional republic with a demoncratic system of appointing officials. If you find it undemocratic in the sence that the majority can steal what they please then that is by design. I think that America has drifted to far away from it’s foundations towards majoritarian might makes right. It ought to get back to the roots that made it great.

    any discussion of governmental systems that doesnt recognise that giant corporations and banks have more power than most countries is simply redundant

    You’re not differentiating between soft power and hard power. I think there is a big distinction. Any discussion that does not recognise this distinction is redundant. 😉

    no, thats incorrect, graphic sadistic violence is up terje, just compare jack nicholsons joker to heath ledger’s

    I can’t comment on this example as I have seen neither. Nor have the kids. Do you think consumers have any responsibilities?

  7. Do you think consumers have any responsibilities?

    again, i dont like the way the question is framed because i dont like a discussion where all of what it is to be a human is reduced to a commercial element
    people have responsibilities of course,
    i cant see any pragmatic way that can be avoided when there’s 6 billion humans on the planet,
    the places where anyone can physically opt out of the globalised system are diminishing rapidly

  8. It is a pity that we don’t have more opt out options. There are few frontiers remaining. In Europe it used to be that you could move to the New World. In America it used to be that you could move west. Today the options are limited although you may want to check out the Seasteading Institute. Small limited government and strong property rights are the best means I know of to permit people to opt out of the mainstream. If you know of some other means I’d be interested to hear about it.

  9. Grim,

    The article tells of how in the former USSR, false promises about the viability of nuclear fusion have resulted in money and resources in that area. The same is happening in the west with the ITER project.

  10. Jim – collectively buy a large patch of land and start a commune. I’ll defend your right to do so.

  11. terje your response to jim is an admission that a person cant opt out of property rights

    personally i think the rabid defense of property as though it were as sacred as life itself is an irrational hangover from an age when it actually made sense

  12. daggett,

    (sorry to be so long in replying). Yes, I did basically get that message. My comment about ‘state mandated science’ was an oblique reference to another fine example in the USSR: Lysenkoism.

    My note about Thonemann was somewhat along your ITER line: he was publicly lauded in the late 1950s (IIRC) for having ‘found the way’ with fusion power. The recognition was embarrassingly withdrawn a short while later when it became very obvious that no breakthrough had actually happened. Oliphant also had a failure or two in his plasma work as well.

    But I’m not too concerned about ITER – hope springs eternal and all that. Though I agree that if it had been presented as an experiment in pure science with unknown, if any, commercial benefits it would almost certainly not have got the funding it required. Compare Thonemann’s success in gaining some funding in the UK with the failure of the ‘grand vision’ of Sir George Thomson (J J Thomson’s son). And yes, a little bit of cold war “if we don’t they will” jingoism has never been known to hurt a funding request – just consider the Apollo program.

    But it is the way of governments and public services (most of whose members are science ignorant if not outright anti-science) to be ‘take in’ by fast talking, confident scientists, isn’t it ? Just think Large Hadron Collider, Hubble Telescope and large Radio Telescope Arrays for instance. What commercial benefit have any of them ever returned ?

  13. @Grim
    Grim says:

    Just think Large Hadron Collider, Hubble Telescope and large Radio Telescope Arrays for instance. What commercial benefit have any of them ever returned ?

    Answer:
    Uhh, Wireless L Local Area Networks, ie Wi-Fi, which came from trying to improve research tools in astronomy, as can be seen here.
    To quote Dr. John O’Sullivan: “We were trying to detect [the radio pulse] of exploding mini black holes.”; and the from the article: While he never found mini-black holes, O’Sullivan’s chips became a vital part of modern day computing.; and again in more detail:

    Wireless LAN had been around since the 1970’s says O’Sullivan, but it was very slow, much slower than wired computers.

    “We believed the networking had to go as fast as the wires.”

    O’Sullivan says the problem with wireless networking is reverberation, where the radio waves from the outgoing signal bounce around the surrounding environment causing an echo that distorts the signal.

    Utilising their past experience with Fourier transforms, O’Sullivan’ and his team build a fast chip that could transmit the signal whilst reducing the echo.

    O’Sullivan says it’s “incredible” to think of the amount of people using the technology today.

    “We thought we were starting something big, but we’re blown away at how widespread it now is.”

    This sort of discovery happens as scientists attempt to improve the instruments that they need to do the science itself. Each new innovation then fans out into other area in which the basic idea is fruitful. Note that Dr. O’Sullivan was originally using mathematics as one of the essential research tools, and that mathematics was specialised by O’Sullivan et al to become one part of the patented algorithm for the Wi-Fi protocols.

    Yeah, what have scientists every done for us? [Sarcasm intended.]

  14. @Donald Oats,

    Well, I think you might just have been explaining the workings of serendipity to me.

    But in my, and dagget’s, defence, I’m totally unaware of anything even remotely as useful as WiFi that’s emerged from tokomaks and ITERs after 60 years of moderate to intensive research. We sure do know a lot more about plasmas now though.

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