28 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Tim Macknay :
    Apparently that could make it the fastest selling model in automotive history. Of course, it’s not in production yet – however Tesla motors has a record of delivering.

    As has Elon Musk.

  2. IIRC Musk gave a press conference where he talked about grease injection in the transmission. This supports my view that Apple and Google are not serious rivals to Tesla as real carmakers. They don’t manufacture anything, and wouldn’t know one end of a grease gun from another. With the exception of BYD, which got into electric cars and buses via phone batteries, Tesla’s rivals outside China are the legacy carmakers desperately trying to catch up: GM, Renault/Nissan. BMW. It’s not to late for born-again VW, Ford, Hyundai, and Mercedes, but few others. We can forget about the niche players and billionaires’ pet projects (Fisker, Faraday, McLaren, etc).

  3. I was interested if this was the TV show on Statins than John criticised so strongly. I take these drugs daily and do worry about these types of arguments. The arguments criticising saturated fats and cholesterol do seem weak to me.

  4. It seems significant to me that the Mayo Clinic website is very cautious about claiming real benefits for statins. I would be extremely reluctant to take statins. I simply don’t trust the pharma industry nor their dodgy research.

  5. There is a petition for the Goverment to make a Climate Emergency a Plan here if anyone is interested in signing and sharing among your networks


    To Members of the House of Representatives and Senators,

    We call on the Australian Parliament to declare a climate emergency and to mobilise resources to restore a safe climate.

    1. In February 2016, global temperatures spiked to well over 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, just weeks after the Paris Climate Agreement set an aim of not exceeding that benchmark. Climate scientists say that we are facing a climate emergency, and that the future of ecosystems and human civilisation now hang in the balance. Our Great Barrier Reef is dying as the oceans heat up and recent fires in Tasmania burned ancient world-heritage forests.

    2. Declaring a climate emergency is a vital step in building support for the very large changes required to restore a safe, cooler climate.

    3. A society-wide mobilisation of resources is required at a scale and speed not seen since the Second World War. Carbon emissions must be reduced to zero within a few years, not several decades, and we must draw down all the excess carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere using measures that include mass tree planting. We must rapidly transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, replacing fossil fuel jobs with jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    The climate restoration is an enormous task, but given the risks to ourselves and future generations we must rise to the challenge.

  6. @tony lynch

    I think that is an excellent essay. It captures and characterises the situation brilliantly. Noliberalism is largely, even exclusively, triumphant in economic matters. Social freedoms are the sop offered in return. You are free to be LBGT while also being crushingly poor. And of course, Australian Labor has ditched its base and become the Neoliberal Seconds.

    My sense of matters is that we are at an historical turning point at least as important as the transition from monarchical power to parliamentary power. Now, in turn, parliamentary democracy is failing and power is being moved to the corporations. We appear to be entering the era of Corporatocracy. Of course, it is a capitalist corporatocracy.

    No politics other than neoliberalism is operational. Even when non-neoliberals, not part of the standard political duopoly, gain power as Syriza did in Greece, they are completely powerless to implement any non-neoliberal policies. The international finance system and the international or transnational corporate system make non-neoliberal policies functionally impossible to implment in finance-transactional terms. You simply cannot perform the transactions necessary as corporations own and control the systems. The world financial-business system is a mono-system which the USA runs, with some help from the EU, and which no nations less powerful than China and Russia can ever buck.

    This is especially the case for all nations whose economies are smaller than the biggest corporations. Even in 2011;

    “If Wal-Mart were a country, its revenues would make it on par with the GDP of the 25th largest economy in the world by, surpassing 157 smaller countries.

    We’ve found 25 major American corporations whose 2010 revenues surpass the 2010 Gross Domestic Product of entire countries, often with a few billion to spare.

    Even some major countries like Norway, Thailand, and New Zealand can be bested by certain U.S. firms.” – Business Australia Insider.

    The case is even worse in 2016.

    Even as the world mono-system of late stage, financial-corporate capitalism takes over the entire world (with the possible exception of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which China might lead into a new game), we face the limits to growth. These limits of growth appear to be comprised, not of resource shortages, but as biosphere systems limits as we cause damage like climate change, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, a new mass extinction event and so on. Thus an economic mono-system incapable of environmentally sensitive adaptive change or any humane response to social needs, ploughs on heedlessly into limits imposed by the implacable laws of physics, ecology and biology.

    We are about to be punished severely for our hubris. Irrespective of whether this punishment is meted out by the laws of physics or by the gods, the results on earth and earthly life will be equally devastating. Even if one is non-theistic as I am, one has to admit that the cosmos has the powers of a god anyway with regard to us. Even if one only admits that the laws uncovered by science thus far are the only near-indubitable laws we can discover and depend on, the only correct attitude to the cosmos, the earth and the biosphere is humility and submission to its laws. We are entirely dependent on it. Our blind pride and arrogance is our worst failure.

  7. Thanks Ikonoclast.

    I too think “we are at an historical turning point at least as important as the transition from monarchical power to parliamentary power.”

    One mark of this in my field is the surprising return of the Ancient’s political categories as fundamental to understanding our situation. So notions like oligarchy, kleptocracy, plutocracy – which used to be of merely ‘historical’ interest – now pepper analyses and for the good reason that they illuminate dynamics and arrays of interests that the more usual language of liberal representative democracy (with its rights and checks and balances and Rule of Law and public/private distinction) do not, except in the most ideological (so deceptive) of ways.

    One of the very first to see all this was Jeffrey A. Winter: http://www.the-american-interest.com/2011/09/28/oligarchy-and-democracy/

    What I think we can add to all this is that ideas of oligarchy, plutocracy and kleptocracy have – as you rightly say – to be bound into the realities of corporate power. I’ve made a start at this in an essay arguing that the English East India Company (esp. its privatisation of the state of Bengal) provides an exemplary instance of such corporatism and what we might expect from it. If you want, I’ll post it on philosoper.io

  8. @tony lynch

    Excellent thank you, I would be very interested in seeing your essay posted on that site. An interesting modern case (on a smaller scale), involves the Jack Abramoff scandals related to the Marianas (the Northern Mariana Islands (including the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota), which make up a Commonwealth of the United States.)

    We perhaps disagreed a while ago on “theories of truth” (as such), in relation to my support for the “correspondence theory of truth”, which I called “analogical congruence” and later discovered Bertrand Russell had called “structural isomorphism”. But I am pleased (admittedly rather narcissistically) that I more or less re-invented the correspondence theory of truth independently and without the requisite formal learning. Of course, it is not hard to do so now as it is clearly implicit in the methods of modern science and perhaps modern language.

    Speaking of ancient or classical categories, I have been working, as a naive, self-trained “philosopher”, on our experience of the world, ancient and modern. At the physical level there is a clear connection between classical metaphysical categories and modern physical (and metaphysical categories). A very short excerpt of what I have written is;

    “That we may see an historical continuity in philosophical enquiry – and to some extent in nomenclature – we shall note some approximate equivalences in Table 1 below. These equivalences are meant to indicate that thinkers through the ages were contending with essentially the same “external reality” presented by experience to humans and then attempting to understand its nature and relationships by subjecting their own perceptions to philosophical analysis. For general reference, in this essay “?”means approximately equal in mathematical terms and “?” means approximately equal in semantic terms. (Note: Table 1 below may not tabulate well in this blog).

    TABLE 1 – Components of “Physicalness”

    Classical Philosophy Modern Physics Modern Naïve Realism

    Stoicheion ? Mass ? Matter, Material, Stuff, Things
    Energeia ? Energy ? Energy, Heat, Work, Effort
    Place, Chronos ? Space-Time Manifold ? Dimensions (x,y,z space plus time)
    Plenum (possible) ? Fields (e.g. as above) ? Space, Vacuum (believed possible)
    Void (impossible)

    Key to Table 1

    Stoicheion – (element of matter?)
    Energeia – “being-at-work” or “being-in-action” – (Implies motion?)
    Plenum – A full space – (Motion is held to be possible in a plenum provided things move simultaneously into each others’ places).

    General Notes to Table 1

    1. This table is biased to consider only “materialism” and thus only Physicalism.

    2. To some extent, Modern Naïve Realism derives from a basic modern education and borrows from Classical Physics. Another form of Innate Naïve Realism can probably be delineated where all the phenomena discussed are not theorised at all. The physical world is simply lived in and instinctively reacted to. Young children might be thought to exemplify this but even an adult employs no theories of physics or metaphysics when reacting to a hard object thrown or swung at the head.

    3. In some cases, Classical Philosophy now seems more accurate than Classical Physics or Modern Naïve Philosophy. The idea that a pure void cannot exist is closer to the view of Modern Physics. It is also the position Berkeley deduced in critiquing Newton’s Physics. The concept of a Plenum (admittedly a Latin word) crudely approximates the Modern Physics notion of a Field. “A “field” is any physical quantity which takes on different values at different points in space.” – Richard Feynman (1970) -The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol II. “In the modern framework of the quantum theory of fields, even without referring to a test particle, a field occupies space, contains energy, and its presence eliminates a true vacuum.” – John Archibald Wheeler (1998). Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics. London: Norton. p. 163. Wheeler might have added that modern physics shows that a true vacuum cannot exist in this physical universe.”

    As final note for this blog entry. To me, there is no surprise that ancient metaphysics and modern physics (for example) clearly connect like this. It is the same lived experience we are dealing with (as humans) and we are the same humans with same sensory apparatus except for rather minor evolutionary changes which might have occurred in a few thousand years.

    I am leaning much more now to process metaphysics as per Whitehead and Rescher (for example). Both of whom I yet to read anywhere near properly. Merely being in the vicinity and ambience of modern complex systems thinking, immediately inclines one to process philosophy. Of course, Heraclitus was “there” well before any moderns. Eastern philosophy (though I know very little about it), is inclined, I believe, more to the “process” end than the “things” end of metaphysics.

    I adopt now the view of Rescher (or at least of his “hard” definition of process metaphysics).

    “Process has primacy over things. Substance is subordinate to process: Things are simply constellations of process.” – Nicholas Rescher.

    This is where (to me) “process” must imply movement and change across time-space “intervals”. Thus processes are bound up holistically with the “fields” in which they occur. Ultimately in this view the question of whether these processes are “material” or “immaterial” is meaningless. Yet I hold that the processes are real. So I envisage a kind of monism where the dualism problem of “substances” (res cogitans / res extensa) simply disappears, though it takes a long argument to support this. The dualism dilemma I hold to be an artifact of language. I posit simply one holistic and connected “all-existent” (with differentiation and thus parts and processes or systems and sub-systems).

    The implicit assumption and a priori justification for this kind of holism is that the Cosmos encompasses all that is existent and it is all holistically interconnected (closely or distantly as the cases might be). There is no way to prove or disprove this assumption. It simply functions as a priori justification for the reasoning which follows.

    Following the induction of this kind holism (one connected all-existent) from our general expereince, a series of logical deductions can fully support the case that such an ontology is entirely consistent with our experience and it is well supported, but not proven, by modern physics. Of course, a consistent explanation depending entirely on a priori justification is simply a possible explanation. Such a consistent explanation does not in any way constitute a definitive final proof. The test of credibility rests on the capability of the a posteriori deductions, taken as an integrated philosophical system, to demonstrate adequate consistency. Again, a final proof is impossible.

    This is just how I see things… presently. My thinking is still evolving.

  9. Tony Lynch,

    Excellent thank you, I would be very interested in seeing your essay posted on that site.

    I have a longer post above, in moderation. Hopefully it gets through. It was cobbled and written rather too quickly. The problem though is I keep posting my naive philosophical ruminations on this site where such ruminations are really not directly relevant. I wish I could find a decent philosophical blog for a mix of professionals and amateurs where the amateurs are permitted long posts or at least long replies so long as they are at basically cogent.

  10. Failing a massive global depression, the world’s wealthiest 1% are within cooee of possessing more than 50% of the world’s wealth. In this environment (and with the revelations of the recent Panama firm’s clients) it makes sense to speak of a plutocracy, for that is very much what we seem to have.

    I wonder what ithe world will be like should this statistic become 0.1% hold > 50% of the world’s wealth?

  11. @Donald Oats

    At the current rate, we will find out. I am not sure how soon it might happen but Piketty or any economist using Piketty’s data series could tell us. Of course, extrapolation of trends only remains valid if all important factors remain constant or at a constant rate of change through the projection period. It seems to me however that it will happen or there will be a god-awful upheaval or catastrophe which intervenes. The system’s current logic will take us there except for massive internal or external contradictions causing massive disruptions.

  12. @Ikonoclast
    I’m afraid I’m not much interested in metaphysics, at least as usually conceived, and for Wittgensteinian reasons. As to what those reasons are, you might find this a useful account: http://info.sjc.ox.ac.uk/scr/hacker/docs/Metaphysics-FromIneffabilityToNormativity.pdf

    As far as perception goes I am a direct (“naive”) realist. An essay at philosopher.io explains why (“Why Naive Direct Perceptual Realism is not Naive at all”).

    My essay on neoliberalism and the East India Company will go up there on Sunday.

    As for a philosophy discussion site – philosopher.io and the University of New England are getting together to launch a “Thought Experiment Laboratory” – it is explicitly designed for encouraging and facilitating philosophical discussions without any assumption that academic philosophers are the only real ones or have any monopoly on insight or argumentative capacity. We only have one kink to iron out (for some damn reason the letter “i” refuses to appear!) so it should be up soon. I’ll post the address then.

  13. @ZM

    As if to underline the urgency, did you see the article in today’s Guardian concerning the revisions needed to the climate models to take better account of cloud formations. It would seem that present modelling may be underestimating the ‘feedbacks’ in the natural systems and consequently understating both the pace and extent of global warming.

    I find this totally unsurprising.

    Given the likely cataclysmic outcomes from global warming it is a mystery to me why the media put such little focus on it and why the politicians insist on putting their heads in the sand like the proverbial Ostrich, do they think this problem is going to go away?

    Like lemmings we approach our doom with alacrity and continue to build homes that will be exposed to even a moderate rise in sea levels and continue to burn massive amounts of fossil fuels knowing that they are the underlying cause of global warming.

  14. @ZM

    The climate restoration is an enormous task, but given the risks to ourselves and future generations we must rise to the challenge.

    Amen to that!

  15. @tony lynch

    The automatic moderation routines on this site are rather basic. A reply link counts as a link and if you put one more link in your post, the post goes to moderation. Other strings of letters in standard words can get you moderated. For a long time “s o c i a l i s m” would get a post moderated as would “S o m a l i a”. Maybe they still do. There are letter strings in these words which relate to potentially dodgy pharmaceuticals sold on the internet. There are other examples. Sometimes a topic one is discussing might just have a lot of text strings which score as bad in the algorithm.

    Of course, given the kind of inappropriate spam any blog site can be hit with, there is a clear need for a level of automatic moderation. The issue is how basic or clever the spam detection algorithms are. There are costs and benefits along that spectrum as on any other. Hopefully, your post gets through soon.

  16. It’s going mainstream – Time magazine covering origins of Tea Party, including tobacco, climate denialism etc.

    Citizens for a Sound Economy – does that sound like our LNP/IPA talk?

  17. Hi PrQ

    Any update on the stats on the Bryan Caplan bet on US vs EU unemployment figures? AFAIR the bet ended in 2018 which is closing in fast. Should be able to tell about now what the outcome will probably be. I am also very interested in a reflection on why things have gone the way they have given the vastly different policy responses across the two sides of the Atlantic, and other external contributions and issues.


  18. @tony lynch

    I think that is a brilliant article. If I fully rehearsed why I think it is brilliant I would simply end up unoriginally paraphrasing all of it.

    The finding of a common thread right through pre-capitalist mercantilism, early stage capitalism and into late stage capitalism is well supported by the historical evidence. The common thread is corporatism. The analysis lines up well with Piketty’s historical analysis of capital.

    I found the argument very powerful where it examined why neoliberalism is not a strategy (or a morality for that matter) for the personal realm, nor for the small business realm, nor for the state realm. It is as you point out, a strategy only for the corporate realm.

    I keep pointing out to people (who consequently probably find me tedious and objectionable) that the family is a s o c i a l i s t institution. The family, or rather any well functioning family, abides by the practices of “from each according to his/her ability and to each according to his/her need”. Anyone who has brought up children should not fail to see that this is the central principle of the family and a principle which ought to be extended to the community (the larger family). Equally, I point out that all in-the-family businesses which approximate the same principle “from each according to his/her ability and to each according to his/her need” are in fact workers’ cooperatives. These institutions (family and family business), were first appropriated by political conservatism and then attached to neoliberalism like as something vestigial. Family and small business are held up still as neocon shibboleths, despite owing their real value to the fact that they are s o c i a l i s t and cooperative in nature and NOT in any way capitalist or corporatist.

  19. Thanks again Ikonoclast.

    One thing we have to remember is, as you say, where we come from, and that, for most of us, is from family. Neoliberalism crushes families or tears them apart, even as it often means they must live under the same roof. That it does this ought to be enough to put it in its place. I wonder if it will be.

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