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Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness?
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Started by rshowalter at 06:08pm Nov 12, 2000 BST

I'm trying to float and idea here - and that's something these forums are good for.

Looking at the world, there are so many cases of "unthinkable" and "unexplainable" evil and negligence, that the mind and heart recoils. People recall such behavior among the Nazis, and recoil, as well they might. How could "civilized, aesthetically sensitive, cultured people" ALSO act so monstrously, and with such clear and sophisticated murderous intent.

But is this behavior so strange? Or is it the NATURAL s

rshowalter - 06:11pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#1 of 138)  | 

But is this behavior so strange? Or is it the NATURAL state of people, dealing with outsiders, outsiders who they naturally dehumanize, and deal with as heartless, exploitive predators? Is it civilization and mercy that are the "unnatural" things - the things that have to be taught, and negotiated into being, and strived for?

I'm coming to think that it is just as natural for people to act "inhumanly" - that is cruelly, and in a dehumanizing way, towards OUTSIDERS, as it is natural for people to act warmly, and with accommodation and mutual support, for people WITHIN their group.

I'm coming to the view that, just as there is an instinct for language, and an instinct for becoming a part of a group, inborn in humans, there is an instinct to exclude outsiders, to dehumanize them, to withhold cooperation from them, and to treat them as animals, subject to manipulation an predation. I'm coming to believe that this treatment of outsiders is an instinctive species characteristic, evolved over the millions of years when people lived as gatherers and team hunters.

If this is true, we all have the basic instincts to be kind, sensitive, and good, within our groups, but at the same time are naturally "monsters" in our behavior toward outsiders.

If this is right, the role of civilization is to find ways of peace and effective cooperation where isolation, conflict, duplicity, and merciless manipulation, including murder, might otherwise occur.

rshowalter - 06:16pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#2 of 138)  | 

Some human behaviors, supported by whole societies, involve what seems to me to be an unbelievable degradation and oppression of women - rape, exploitation, and passive consent to terrible acts in countless places.

Two examples are in papers today - in The New York Times an editorial objects to "Honor Killings" where a woman is murdered by her father or brothers for acts that are seen as besmirching the family's honor, including committing adultery, defying a parental order to marry, being seen in public with a man or becoming the victim of rape. Only by dehumanizing women can this happen. And yet it is common, and even widespread.

Another story, one of a number about involuntary prostitution, is Russians launch crackdown on 'sex slave' traffickers By Amelia Gentleman Special report: Russia,2763,396402,00.html This horror could only go on if MANY people let it happen, as they have, and if MANY men are prepared to exploit prostitutes who are obviously unwilling - if men are willing to pay to rape women on a routine basis, as they apparently are.

Gutwrenching behavior. And looking at the Middle East, on both sides, and looking at nuclear weapons, and looking at much, much else, there is plenty of such "gutwrenching" behavior.

Is this sort of thing the Hobbsain state of nature, the natural way people deal with each OUTSIDERS?.

It seems to me that it is, and that the needs of complex cooperation and peace take morally informed, careful building of more decent patterns. If this is so, degradation is the natural thing - decency is a matter of culture, that may depend on the insistence of groups of people on humanly decent conduct.

This idea isn't quite the same as the notion of "original sin", but it seems right to me. I'd like to pursue it. I'd be most grateful for comments here.

What I'm saying makes human ugliness unsurprising, but may make it more understandable, so we can deal with it better, and make the world a less savage, warmer place.

xpat - 07:53pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#3 of 138)

Hobbsianism wins out in societies that lack equilibrium in gender power balance.

One of the countries off Yugoslavia has a problem re mass enslavement and raping of women, a loophole in legislation permitted the deterioration which is now being addressed.

In Thailand there are now more prostitutes (many children for the tourist trade) than monks.

Australia has determined that Australians abroad must maintain Australian (Home) standards.

Some get prosecuted ... many won't!

rshowalter - 08:05pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#4 of 138)  | 

Much to be said for law and power. Indeed, the more I look, the more important power, and arguments for civilization are. And in the oppressive relations that so often exist between the sexes, people, (in my view, mostly males) can be seen at their very worst. It seems that lots of males find rape very comfortable.

The thing that strikes me is NOT that indignation isn't appropriate, and not that imposition of rules isn't appropriate.

The thing that strikes me is that SURPRISE, which seems so natural a response, is inappropriate. The horror is that so many terrible things get done by "normal human beings" who are, in the main, unscarred by what they have done.

Power relations between human groups that are decent, and efficient, and nonexploitive, seem, almost always, to take "unnatural" civilizing arrangements. "The golden rule" being perhaps the most powerful of these.

"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." isn't problematic when it is interpreted to mean "Do unto others within your group as you would have them do unto you."

But when the Golden Rule is taken further, to mean

"Do unto others outside your group as you would have them do unto you."

the Golden Rule becomes a radical, behaviorally and intellectually challenging admonition, a key piece of advice for fashioning complex cooperation, for productivity and peace, rather than leaving "nature to take its course" - the course of cruelty, conflict, and squalor.

rshowalter - 08:08pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#5 of 138)  | 

Men are physically more powerful than women, and women necessarily carry reproductive burdens men do not face. Decent power relations cannot be "natural" in the Hobbesian sense - they have to be based on conventions and the conventions should be chosen so that they fit the needs of the people involved.

With the coming of an ideal of female equality in the workplace, these conventions must be carefully rethought, and negotiated into being.

rshowalter - 08:27pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#6 of 138)  | 

A point about human murderousness being unsurprising. It is a hard thing to remember, that the SAME person can be horrific mercilessly brutal, and at the same time sensitive, aesthetically warm, supportive, tender - but tender to "insiders" while treating "outsiders" as a professional hunter instinctively treats animals- with no regard or mercy at all, indeed with pleasure in inflicting pain and killing.

In the Middle East, it is easy to paint people and groups as "murderous war criminals" - perhaps with perfect justice. These same people regard themselves, and are regarded by members of their group, as fine, sensitive, warm people.

There is no contradiction here. But there is a challenge. For peace, or higher levels of complex cooperation, people have to somehow internalize the Golden Rule, and deal even with outsiders as people. People with complex needs, with which accommodations may be reached by negotiation and convention.

Natural instincts are against these accomodations, and impasses are unsurprising. But the things necessary so that common humanity can be recognized, in a common enough reality for cooperation when it is necessary, have to be worked out.

That working out is at once an act of morality, an act of intellect, and an act of discipline. Without that working out, there may be no limit to the ugliness man can inflict on man (or woman.)

tethys2 - 08:39pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#7 of 138)

Knowing on a personal level v the impersonality of acts against a mass of people surely has an influence.

Being able to transfer an appreciation of ones actions on a personal level to their effects on an impersonal level ( i.e. empathy )is something that I believe there have been some interesting studies on.

rshowalter - 08:47pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#8 of 138)  | 

tethys2 no question empathy is a terribly important part of being fully human in a cultured sense - and it is connected with the Golden Rule - connected with being able, and willing to think of OTHERS as human.

But it is gruesome, and a major problem, that people, and especially people who have been in some conflict (have lied to each other, for instance) can deal with OTHERS with no empathy at all, with no more warmth than a professional hunter, or a killer in a slaughter house.

It seems men often deal with women in this way - even women who are their sisters or their wives.

My sense is that, terrible as this may be, the absense of empathy for OUTSIDERS is natural, just as empathy for members of one's own group is natural, a part of human instinctual equipment.

To think of OUTSIDERS as people, and not dehumanize them, takes teaching - and a kind of teaching that doesn't always take. But to avoid wars and opressions, and to permit the complex cooperations of civilization, people MUST learn, and must be expected, to deal with OUTSIDERS as human beings.

The most basic human instincts, I fear, go against this. Dealing with an "outsider" the instinct-based reflexes are to dehumanize, to exclude, to withold information from, and to misinform - just the proper things in dealing with an enemy who is a military threat, so that threat can be minimized.

But this pattern of dehumanization and misinformation is also just the thing to make the outsider into either a victim, or a real threat, when more humane responses could have done much better.

hayate - 09:01pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#9 of 138)

I don't believe humans have a natural brutal streak. I think this is learned behaviour. Most of the "uncivilized" societies I've read about were not very warlike or violent. This hatred of outsiders I believe comes from areas where resources are scarce and people begin to fight over them. In such cultures I've noticed that the immediate familly is central, while others are considered 2nd rate or worse depending how distantly related, with foreigners at the bottom. These people tend to be fighters and take over the other cultures near them, so spreading this philosophy further. People left to themselves with enough to be comfortable would become more gentle with each generation that passes as the need for violence disapears.

rshowalter - 09:46pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#10 of 138)  | 

hayate I wish I believed, with you, that

"People left to themselves with enough to be comfortable would become more gentle with each generation that passes as the need for violence disapears."

At any rate, if brutality is learned behavior, looking around, it seems to be EASILY learned behavior. And very widely distributed behavior.

I think your "noble savage" view falls down, if you look at the circumstances our ancestors lived in, as gathererss and big game hunters, for something over a million years. How does it make sense to deal with an outsider, if that outsider might be a physical threat?

One would want to withold from this outsider (or outsider group) the means to effectively attack your group. The imperatives would be the imperatives that intelligence agencies have to this day. You'd wish to exclude the outsider - hold him at a distance. You'd want to withhold sympathy from the outsider, lest you might listen to him, and he might misinform you, and set you up for physical destruction. You'd want to withhold information about your group from the outsider, or limit that information, or make that information obscure. You'd want to mislead (lie to) the outsider.

Very young children do all these things, and have to be taught not to. The performances surely seem natural.

Well, if ousiders are excluded, misled, and kept from information in this way, complex cooperation is essentially impossible, but conflict, or war, or the most gross sorts of exploitation can easily happen.

I'm saying that these exclusionary patterns, which made perfect sense in paleolithic times, are instictive now, and that civilization needs to build on, and modify the effects of, these instincts. And when civilization fails, brutality happens.

You don't think people have a natural brutal streak, and I'm saying that they do at the level of instinct. One could check data in sociology, and construct experiments. It seems to me that brutal performances, in situations where civilized accomodations don't exist, happen with monotonous regularity. And that the level of brutality that occurs can be gut-wrenching, and all too often is.

hayate - 10:17pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#11 of 138)

With the Native Americans of the N. Am. plains, war did not really exist. They had conflicts alright, but killing the opponent en mass was very, very unusual if ever practiced before contact with whites. Counting coup ( touching an opponent ) rather than killing was considered more important when fighting. Inter-nation marriage was very common. People lived in clans which crossed inter-national boundries. Rape of women was also unusual, women had a greater say in operation of the national affairs local and internationally, elected leaders or were the leaders in many N.Am. nations. The evidence for inate brutality is just not there with "pre-civilized" societies who did not live in areas of scarcity. They had to learn this from the "civilized" which contacted them.

KromeLizard - 10:19pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#12 of 138)

Violent expansionistic cultures are the kind that have the vitality to survive, without these tendencies we would all have gone the way of the dodo very quickly.

hayate - 10:59pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#13 of 138)

We Are.

KromeLizard - 11:04pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#14 of 138)

No just you.

KromeLizard - 11:05pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#15 of 138)

I'm gonna go find someplace new to conquer.

rshowalter - 11:41pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#16 of 138)  | 

havate perhaps I need a better word than "civilized." The Plains Indians didn't act on the basis of culturally unconstrained instincts - but on the basis of conventions that guided and shaped their basic biological responses.

So the indians did not live in a simple "war of all against all." They lived within patterns of complex cooperation - and within conventional arrangements, evolved among the tribes, they found ways to limit conflict. (Counting coup, a nonlethal form of competition substituted for more all-out war, is a good example.)

Indian brutality happened, even so. There are hair-raising stories of the Indians. (Roger Williams describes some Rhode Island Indians in the early 18th century as "Wolves with the minds of men" -- a phrase that fits a lot of human behavior, alas.)

There ARE no human cultures that are so "precivilized" that they lack conventions constraining conflict, and providing for complex cooperation.

But when those conventions break down, and they often do in wars, and as they sometimes do in other circumstances, including the academic circumstance of paradigm conflict, responses can be gruesome indeed. (See the Semmelweis story in b Paradigm Shift - whose getting there in the Science thread.)

Human "instincts for exclusion" must be, if they exist as I believe, as subject to cultural control as "instincts for language" are constrained by particular language usages. I think group exclusion instincts must exist, and believe I've described the basic brutality of them.

I'm afraid I do believe that humans have a natural brutal streak, when cultural conventions do not control it.

Thorfenris - 11:50pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#17 of 138)

hayate you seem to have a rather dated noble savage view of native americans.there was extreme brutality especially to prisoners and the apache were particuolarly known for their brutality to women.Unfortunately liberals assume that native americans share thier views for some reason but this is not so.

expat: we have far more prostitutes than monks in england too I guess australia as well.

rshowalter - 12:04am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#18 of 138)  | 

Because people are so warm, sensitive, and accomodating to people WITHIN their groups, one can look at them, and put together a "noble" picture.

These same people may be utterly merciless to outsiders.

A big point I'm trying to make (that doesn't hinge on the question of what's instinctive, so long as brutal group exclusion is widely and easily taught) is that horrifically immoral, gruesome, behavior, that can easily and rightly be called "evil" from a distance, can be entirely natural behavior of normal, healthy human beings.

We have every reason to want to change that sort of behavior, and find ways to avoid it having free play.

We may have a better chance of doing that, if we aren't surprised by it.

rshowalter - 12:16am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#19 of 138)  | 

I've cited this poem before, but want to do so again. Man is (putting it gently) "a little lower than the angels" - and a recounting of how military training goes, says something about how special the training is, and yet also how the training connects to assumptions about human instinct that work reliably enough for armies.

Here is a recounting, not at all sentimental, about military training.

THE 'EATHEN by Rudyard Kipling

The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone
'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own
'E keeps 'is side-arms awful: 'e leaves 'em all about
An' then comes up the Regiment an' pokes the 'eathen out.

All along o' dirtiness, all along o' mess
All along o' doin' things rather-more-or-less
All along of abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho
............ (Not now, tomorrow, wait a bit)
Mind you keep your rifle 'an yourself jus' so!

The young recruit is 'aughty - 'e draf's from Gawd knows where
They bid 'im show 'is stockin's an lay 'is matress square
'E calls it blooming nonsense - 'e doesn't know no more --
An' then up comes 'is Company an' kicks 'im round the floor !

The young recruit is 'ammered - 'e takes it very hard
'E 'angs 'is 'ead an' mutters - 'e sulks about the yard
'E talks o' "cruel tyrants" which 'e'll swing for by-an'-by
An' the others 'ears and mocks 'im, and the boy goes oerf to cry.

The young recruit is silly - 'e thinks o' suicide
'E's lost 'is gutter-devil; 'e 'asn't got his pride
But day by day they kicks him, which 'elps 'im on a bit
Till 'e finds 'isself one mornin' with a full and proper kit.

Gettin' clear o' dirtiness, gettin' done with mess
Gettin' shut of doin' things rather-more-or-less
Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho
Learns to keep 'is rifle 'an 'isself jus' so!

The young recruit is 'appy - 'e throws a chest to suit
You see 'im grow mustaches, you 'ear 'im slap 'is boot.
'E learns to drop the "bloodies" from every word he slings
An 'e shows an 'ealthy brisket when 'e strips for bars and rings.

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch 'im 'arf a year
They watch 'im with 'is comrades, they watch 'im with 'is beer
They watch 'im with the women at the regimental dance
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send 'is name along for "Lance."

An' now 'e's 'arf o' nothin', and all a private yet
'Is room they up an' rags 'im to see what they will get.
They rags 'im low an' cunnin', each dirty trick they can
But 'e learns to sweat 'is temper, and 'e learns to sweat 'is man.

An', last. a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed
'E schools 'is men at cricket, 'e tells 'em on parade
They see's im quick an 'andy, uncommon set an' smart
An' so 'e talks to orficers which have the corps at 'eart.

'E learns to do 'is watchin' without it showin' plain
'E learns to save a dummy, an' shove 'im straight again
'E learns to check a ranker that's buyin' leave to shirk
An 'e learns to make men like 'im, so they'll learn to like their work.

An' when it comes to marchin', he'll see their socks are right,
An' when it comes to action 'e shows 'em how to sight.
'E knows their ways of thinkin' and just what's on their mind;
'E knows when they are takin' on an' when they've fell be'ind.

'E knows each talkin' corp'ral taht leads a squad astray;
'E feels 'is innards 'eavin', 'is bowels givin' way;
'E sees the blue-white faces all tryin 'ard to grin,
An' 'e stands an' waits an' suffers till it's time to cap' em in.

An' now the hugly bullets come peckin' through the dust
An' no one wants to face them, but every beggar must
So like a man in irons, which isn't glad to go,
They moves 'em off by companies uncommon stiff an' slow.

Of all 'is five years schoolin' they don't remember much
Excep' the not retreating, the step an' keepin' touch.
It looks like teachin' wasted when they duck an' spread and hop -
But if 'e 'andn't learned 'em they'd be all about the shop.

An now it's "Oo goes backward?" an' now it's "Ooo comes on?"
An' now it's "Get the doolies," an' now the Captain's gone
An now it's bloody murder, but all the while they 'ear
'Is voice, the same as barrick-drill, a-shepherdin' the rear.

'E's just as sick as they are, 'is 'eart is like to split,
But 'e works 'em, works 'em, works 'em till he feels 'em take the bit,
The rest is 'oldin steady till the watchful bugles play,
An' he lifts 'em, lifts 'em, lifts 'em lifts 'em
through the charge that wins the day!

The 'Eathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone
'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own.
The 'eathen in 'is blindness must end where 'e began,
But the backbone of the army is the Non-commissioned Man!

Keep away from dirtiness - keep away from mess,
Don't get into doin' things rather-more-or-less!
Let's ha' done with abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho
Mind you keep your rifle and yourself jus' so!

rshowalter - 12:22am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#20 of 138)  | 

Well trained soldiers, in Julius Ceasar's day, and in ours, are trained in this fashion. The needs for affiliation coerce the soldier into group patterns,- nonconformity is punished severely by group exclusion reflexes that evoke emotions as strong as the desire for suicide. And in the end, soldiers are trained who will kill "others" efficiently on command, and risk death to do so. The Nazis had extremely good training at this level - and so does the United States Marine Corps, and so do the Israelis. Such soldiering is a matter of culture - it isn't raw untrained instinct. But instinctive responses, including the deep human need for affiliation, and group exclusion reflexes, too, go into the shaping of that training.

rshowalter - 12:28am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#21 of 138)  | 

Is there any limit to the brutality such soldiers are capable of - any limit to the damage they will do, on command, or on their own initiative, and with pleasure, to "others."

The limit is whatever limit is imposed by moral teachings and effective conventions. Without such limits, the willingness to kill may be limitless. In cultures where it is permitted, such as the culture that trained the Japanese troops who ran amok at Nanking, the willingness to rape, mutilate and kill for fun may be limitless. There would seem to be no apparent limits at all, except when some convention says "this is forbidden."

That is, to my mind, a strong argument for conventions, and yet also a strong argument for being unsurprised when people do their ugly worst.

An ugly worst that gets done with some regularity. For example, at the worst of the Balkan brutality. Or the very much worse horror that would occur if some of our well trained Air Force personnel do what they are so well trained to do, and murder millions of people by pushing a few buttons.

rshowalter - 12:31am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#22 of 138)  | 

Is there any limit to the damage that untrained people will do to "others?" Perhaps no more limit than the limit for the soldiers.

The limit is whatever limit is imposed by moral teachings and effective conventions.

The golden rule, unnatural as it may be when it is used to apply to "outsiders," is a saving grace that human decency very much requires.

bNice - 12:48am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#23 of 138)

So, quality of life, relates to our existing in a complex environment that has a woven webs/safetynets that keep us from falling into 'hell' ?

hayate - 01:08am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#24 of 138)


That is what I've been saying. People are not naturally brutal-THEY HAVE TO BE PUSHED TO IT.

By the 18th century, the Indians of Rhode Is. had about 100 yrs. of contact with the colonists. The Apache were in conflict with the Spanish and Mexicans from the 16th century on. These are examples of the brutal behaviours after contact with whites. I have seen no evidence that suggests they were as violent before this contact, in fact everything I've seen points them being much less violent. This is not belief in some noble savage concept, I've just not seen any evidence showing otherwise. Also the Apache lived in an area scarcity which would impose more competition amoung people, which pushes people to be more violent.

Something else to look at is religion. The typical Christian/Jewish/Moslem exclusionary believe this or you are evil style of view did not exist. Native American religion is very inclusive and tolerant of different beliefs. War based on religion did not exist.

If anyone can show any evidence to contrary, I'd love to see it.

bNice - 01:48am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#25 of 138)

So, quality of life, relates to our existing in a complex environment that has a woven webs/safetynets that keep us from falling into 'hell' ?

bNice - 01:52am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#26 of 138)

I've read accounts re AmIndians in which depicted a lot of intentional cruel behaviour - one towards another - unbelievable!

- - - - - - - -

Cruel behaviour arises when communities have high crime rates ...

The crimes are most often happening to community members ... theft, beatings, rape, car theft ... the list goes on ...

rshowalter - 02:04am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#27 of 138)  | 

I like bNice's formulation, and think it basically right.

I think, with bNice (and it would be nice to know her) that "quality of life, relates to our existing in a complex environment that has a woven webs/safetynets that keep us from falling into 'hell' ?"

That sounds right to me. Decency, kindness, and efficiency in complicated circumstances aren't "natural" in the sense of spontaneous. They are the result of careful crafting, and negotiation of standards, based on both intellect and the aesthetics and disciplines of the heart. If you look at the jobs involved in teaching young children, in wise mothering, in careful early childhood teaching, there is a great deal of this setting up of standards.

You don't have to teach children to lie, or to exclude, or to hurt "others" - you have to work to teach them to do better than that (and, I'd say, this is especially true of little boys.)

Whenever new complex cooperation is needed, and especially when intergroup connections are degenerating into hostility and war, there are webs of convention, and connection, that must be woven, to keep decent life ongoing - to keep people from going to "hell."

War, conflict, chaos, and hostility aren't surprises - they are human failures. When complicated cooperation works for the people involved - there you see triumphs of human social crafting. And when outcomes are not good, there is more social crafting to do.

Lest hell on earth descend.

bNice - 08:56am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#28 of 138)

From DailyMirror UK

JOHN NICHOL - BACK TO MY CELL RAF hero John Nichol's emotional return to Iraq

WITH trembling hands, John Nichol touches the graffiti scrawled on the four walls which once imprisoned him.

When he was last here, the former RAF navigator was a prisoner of war, suffering torture and interrogation at the hands of his Iraqi captors and afraid that he would never see his family again.

Now he has gone back to revisit the horrific past and try to make sense of what happened to him there.

"There were times I thought my life might have ended," he says. "I truly believed I was going to meet my maker. Words can't describe how I feel. Emotionally drained... my heart is pounding."

John was a 27-year-old flight lieutenant when his Tornado was shot down by a missile over the Iraqi desert during his first airborne mission of the Gulf war in 1991.

He and pilot John Peters ejected safely from the blazing jet, only to be captured and tortured until they agreed to appear on television and denounce their actions.

Their battered faces were flashed across the world - lasting images of the horrors of war.

Blindfolded and handcuffed, John was kicked, punched and whipped. Cigarette ends were extinguished on his face, tissue paper stuffed down his back and set alight.

Days after the humiliating TV appearance, John was brought here, to the Military Police HQ in the capital, Baghdad.

Today, returning with The Mirror and the BBC breakfast news, he crouches in the dust, examining the empty 9ft-square cell in minute detail.

The smell of decay is unbearable, but John doesn't notice as he slowly works his way around the discoloured, flaking walls.

Amid the Arabic graffiti left by other prisoners, pictures of women cut from newspapers have been glued to the plaster. He runs his hand over the rusting steel door - and jumps visibly at the sound of doors banging shut in the corridors.

The stone floor is covered with pieces of rubble and rags and the beige walls are pitted with holes which he used to fear were left by bullets.

Locked up for nearly 24 hours a day, he was allowed just 10 minutes' exercise every couple of days. His bed was a piece of foam and his one meal a day was bread, watery soup and occasionally meat or beans.

"I was terrified for my life. I was the most scared human in the world," he recalls. "In the middle of the night I was kicked awake and brought here. When they took the blindfold off, I was standing in front of a group of Iraqi military policemen."

The Iraqi military police who greet him today are smiling and shaking hands and offering tea.

The prison commander, Brigadier Sa'ad Minim, has offered to help find his old cell.

John's face flickers as his memory is triggered by a simple band of red, painted on the white walls.

"There was a small barred window high up in my cell," he explains. "If I jumped up, I could just make out this red band running around the tops of the buildings."

Then he stares through a tiny window and turns round, smiling. "Oh, my God! This is definitely it," he says.

The block has been empty for seven years and the key has long been lost. The brigadier orders his men to force their way in with sledgehammers.

Then the armed guards watch in amazement as John races around the corridors and finds his own cell.

Despite his ordeal as a PoW, his stay here was bearable, he says.

"I'm glad we came back to this prison, because I was treated with respect here," he tells the brigadier. "I wanted to come back and meet the Iraqi people as real people. It's amazing how friendly they've been.

"I'm pleased I've made myself do this, but I won't be sorry to leave. Seeing the prison again took me back to some of my darkest days. I don't think I could have faced revisiting the bad places."

There were a few lighter moments even then. He remembers being summoned by the guards to play football with them.

"We came out here into the courtyard and they put me in goal," he says. "They kept shouting: 'Gascoigne' and 'Kevin Keegan' at me, and I'd nod and say: 'Yes, they are good footballers.' It was bizarre."

Now the brigadier calls his guards - and another impromptu game begins.

It is a bizarre but emotional scene. John, in jeans and a shirt, kicks the ball to the guards, who throw themselves vigorously into the game despite the blistering heat and their heavy uniforms.

The courtyard echoes to shouts and laughter and dozens of other officers crowd in to cheer them on.

Afterwards. the guards hug and kiss John on both cheeks and ask to have their photograph taken with the curious British airman who was once their prisoner.

When we are invited to stay for lunch, John jokes: "If we say No, will you allow us to leave?"

"Of course," smiles the brigadier. "You are free to go."

The last time, John heard those words was on March 5, 1991. He remembers: "A guard came into the cell one morning and said: 'The war is over. You will be going home in 20 minutes.'

"I literally got down on my knees and said a prayer of thanks. I couldn't believe that I had survived. "

John has co-written an account of his ordeal and has left the RAF to write thrillers.

As he leaves his old prison, he says: "I encountered some very evil people when I was a prisoner who did some terrible things to me. But I never believed that all Iraqis were like that."

John Nichol's book Decisive Measure is out now (Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 16.99,).

infodogg - 09:18am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#29 of 138)

Arthur Koestler had some pretty strong views on this. Personally, I think it's a question of context, and all concepts of "good", "wrong" "evil" and so on, are absolutely relative.

As regards authority, see this:

stevegreaves - 09:46am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#30 of 138)

Did you ever consider that the difference between kindness and cruelty of the magnitude discussed in this thread may be God's grace?

infodogg - 10:01am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#31 of 138)


xpat - 11:31am Nov 13, 2000 BST (#32 of 138)

This classic raises the question --- could this happen today? Or, would modern people be 'individual' rather than herd thinkers ?

rshowalter - 12:27pm Nov 13, 2000 BST (#33 of 138)  | 

Superb posts. And supportive of the basic idea of this thread. People, who are so kind to people who, by actuality or convention are "members of their group", can be MONSTERS with respect to OUTSIDERS. Kind and moral human beings, in the first context, can be monsters in the second, unless morality and convention keep the second kind of behavior from happening.

bNice - (#25) Said it well: "So, quality of life, relates to our existing in a complex environment that has a woven webs/safetynets that keep us from falling into 'hell' ?

I agreed and went on:

" Whenever new complex cooperation is needed, and especially when intergroup connections are degenerating into hostility and war, there are webs of convention, and connection, that must be woven, to keep decent life ongoing

. . . .

"Lest hell on earth descend.

  • *********

    Then bNice posted a superb piece, exactly on the point (#28)

    JOHN NICHOL - BACK TO MY CELL RAF hero John Nichol's emotional return to Iraq Daily Mirror, UK

    The jailers who had tortured Nichol were the same people who were so decent to him when he returned. The difference was that in one case he was "the outsider" - manipulated as an object, and with hate, and in the case of the return, he was treated, by convention, as a human being - by convention, "one of us."

    It would be hard to find a more direct example of the dichotomy between human cruelty to outsiders, and kindness to "insiders" than this passage, but it would be straightforward to find MANY such examples, all over the world. In one sense, they are horrific.

    These cases are morally bracing. They also show how, against logic, and abstract notions of justice, peace between old enemies has often proved possible. The key is that they have to find ways to treat each other as human beings.

    stevegreaves -(#30) asks: "Did you ever consider that the difference between kindness and cruelty of the magnitude discussed in this thread may be God's grace?"

    Perhaps that difference is what we mean, very often, when we speak of "God's grace." But this "web of convention and decency" is a grace that we, as human beings, in dialog together, must work to maintain.

    The question "could these horrors happen again" has a bracing but definite answer -- these horrors happen all the time, and always have. The Milgram experiment, shows that MOST individual, put in a role where obedience to authority follows, will act monstrously.

    If we value peace, justice and complex cooperation, as we all do and as, for survival, we must, we must work to craft, and maintain, ways of dealing with each other as people, that permit complex cooperation between groups. We must do so, knowing that cruelty and bad conduct between groups is otherwise to be expected.

    A major point that my life experience has forced upon me is this -- for peace to be possible, basic facts, that connect to the interface relations between groups, have to be established so that these groups do not erect lying patterns of fiction, that make it impossible for them to communicate, and that cause them to dehumanize each other in intractable ways.

    infodogg - 03:17pm Nov 13, 2000 BST (#34 of 138)

    I kind of feel you're not getting to the root of the question, rshowalter.

    When people are forced into a situation where they are required to act in contradiction to what they think is morally right (for example, extermination camp guard), they may be obliged to choose between death or honour. What would make someone choose death in these circumstances?

    All I can think of with sufficient force is the peer pressure exercised by one's own tribe , which would ostracise anyone who did not follow the rules.

    Nevertheless, this kind of blind faith in one's own standards probably requires the existence of forces working in opposition to them.

    Leading me directly to the conclusion that the dream of eliminating the (subjective) cruelty and suffering perpetrated by man on his fellow man (and woman) is a chimera.

    rshowalter - 08:15pm Nov 13, 2000 BST (#35 of 138)  | 

    infodogg as I understand it, participants in the Nazi mass murders were mostly volunteers, or people given many chances to opt out (though the alternatives might have been the same combat other soldiers faced.) There seems little support for the idea that the German guards were FORCED to do any of the evil they did.

    When you say that "the dream of eliminating cruelty and suffering perpetrated by man on his fellow man (and woman) is a chemera" you're surely right.

    But the more we understand, and the less surprised we are by what people actually do, the better we can cope. If cruelty to outsiders is natural human behavior, there will always be some of it in the world. We can hope to arrange things, with work and care, so that the amount of it is reduced, and the damage done is reduced, as well.

    andy87 - 12:27am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#36 of 138)

    I'm not convinced cruelty to outsiders is instinctive in humans but I'm certain suspicion of outsiders is. All it then takes for savage cruelty to become a possibility is for some authority figure to identify them as being responsible for some ill of society.

    Humans can be very cruel to members of their own tribe as well. I'm thinking here of child abuse and domestic violence. Are these behaviours that are somehow "natural"? They have been around throughout human history and are not purely modern phenomena.

    I recently saw a documentary in which a group of chimpanzees viscously attacked another group which had intruded into their territory. Their human-like behaviour was truly striking. Perhaps violence is in our genes. Perhaps our only real hope of reducing such behaviour lies in the slow process of evolution. Any one for genetic engineering?

    rshowalter - 12:51am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#37 of 138)  | 

    As you say, the jump from suspicion to cruelty may be a short one - and given suspicion, it may not even take a leader to trigger cruelty, after suspiscion becomes fear.

    Suppose the suspected one persists in hanging around? And suppose, when someone tries to push him out, he resists. You have a fight right there. And if the "suspected one" happens to win that fight, and the next, and the fight after that, just watch suspicion change to fear. If the suspeced one loses, on the other hand, just watch the dehumanization proceed.

    Could I have the name of the documentary? I'd be interested.

    You can find more examples of violence, and hateful action than you have time or stomach for - plenty within families (who SAYS family members don't sometimes dehumanize each other?)

    All the same, the amount of human behavior that is kind, friendly, sensitive and helpful is enormous as well. If people didn't do a lot of things, just to be nice, just to be cooperative, most of the complex cooperations that do work in the world, would not.

    If violence is natural, the inclination to be kind and decent is natural as well.

    We need to find ways to emphasize to kind and efficient, and minimize the angry and destructive.

    We DO find ways to do so, very often.

    From any of OUR perspectives, there isn't TIME for anything else.

    xpat - 02:10am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#38 of 138)

    A story caught my eye this morning,

    a korean woman had a child to an American Serice Man in the Fifties. The Womans family determined to kill her - they hung her - the child watching, was torchured, then sent to an orphanage. Eventually taken by an American couple she had no identity, no birthdate, and was not allowed to grieve, nor was she given a socialworker 'friend' to ensure she was ok. At sixteen she was married off to a person who abused her. Here is a case of a child/woman who lived without being allowed to relate to herself, establish identiy, or be accepted for herself. The book may be called 'Ten Thousand Sorrows.'

    rshowalter - 02:27am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#39 of 138)  | 

    There must be countless stories like that.

    At many places, and at many times, a woman seems to be entirely subordinated to her sexual function - to sexual rules - and her death or torture seems less important than those rules.

    The feminists have plenty to fight about - plenty that is worth fighting for, both for decent lives for women, and for decency for men.

    There are reports, based on brain visualization, about how complicated, how ornate, how intimate, how compete human love, when it is real and warm, actually is. And how much a work in progress it is -- how much COURTSHIP and attention it takes.

    How can men, and societies, that treat women so, hope for real love?

    xpat - 04:07am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#40 of 138)

    Isn't it happening in the 'in group' yet they reject the 'outer group' especially where this involves taking a measure of respon$ibility.

    xpat - 06:52am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#41 of 138)

    Family & Political Correctness:

    xpat - 07:24am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#42 of 138)

    That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said "Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Frà Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat"; such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart . . . how shall I say? . . . too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace--all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good; but thanked Somehow . . . I know not how . . . as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, --E'en then would be some stooping; and I chuse Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count your Master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

    -- Robert Browning

    I think this one is Great. A dramatic monologue and also the aristocratic, unapologetic explanation of a poikilothermic murderer. You read this poem as partial victim of the Duke's chillingly warped sense of reality. This is not Evil revelling in itself- but Evil masquerading as Righteousness... Deliciously creepy. The brutal arrogance of the supremely egotistical Duke and his veneer of consummate refinement are brought out masterfully in that telling line- "..and I choose/ Never to stoop." The 'inconclusive-ness' of the piece leaves the reader in horrified suspense (a pretty innovative decision on Browning's part- the use of open-endings as a technique had yet to catch on). A virtuoso performance by a fascinating character,an exquisitely handled script, and a title that is a dangerous revelation in itself.

    Pavithra Krishnan


    Thew2000 - 07:41am Nov 14, 2000 BST (#43 of 138)

    The debate about lowering the concent age seems to have these concercerns at its heart. To protect the rights of the younger generation from abuse I believe a minimum concent age of 18 for hetero and homo people should be established. And a 21 year age limited for exploitation in so called industries of rape tutuiion, or porn which ever term you prefer.

    xpat - 09:07pm Nov 14, 2000 BST (#44 of 138)

    Possibly from the BBC (radio) i part heard docco re China. In China there has been no recognition of homosexuality. The western term 'gay' is being introduced re men. Yet for women their is no equivalent word for Lesbian. Raises a question regarding the timelyness of labels in relation to other social aspects. simmilar to the English usage 'confirmed bachelor' not having an equivalent re spinster.

    xpat - 09:28pm Nov 14, 2000 BST (#45 of 138)

    The decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

    The sucess of Empire Expansionism was to integrate the second generation into the 'inner-group', whilst their slave parents were generally 'outer-group'.

    If this is so, then, via ONE generation there was transition from an old cultural set of values, to recognition and acceptance of, a new set of values.

    xpat - 09:33pm Nov 14, 2000 BST (#46 of 138)

    East Germany.

    The minds of some young Nazi East Germans are said to contain a WALL.

    [A wall divided Berlin]

    Their value system of the 1930's has been fanned.

    They see migrants into East Germany as a 'threat', whereas a female German politician said they should be seeing the migrants as enhancement.

    A trial is current, reflecting the death of a black man beaten to death in a park by three NeoNatziSkinHeads.

    The exact spot has been marked, and the German Chancellor laid a wreath.

    The East Germans were never 'educated' out of the negative propaganda of the 1930's. This has still to be done.

    xpat - 09:45pm Nov 14, 2000 BST (#47 of 138)

    Ownership is an issue in industry/commerce.

    The acceptance of 'change' via the use of workers to determine problem(s) and devise solution(s), rather than appeal to an outside authority (time&motionExpert) is now regarded as a best approach. A business co. may be brought in to reveal the problems of a company via questions to : TopManagement, Employees, and Customers. The revelation of triangulated view points assists in devising new directions and repairing 'holes' in their systems process.

    Possumdag - 08:05pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#48 of 138)

    The Australian President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, Dr. Susan Wareham, talks about the the suffering the Iraqi sanctions inflict on the Iraqi population, particularly the children.

    Callidice - 08:18pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#49 of 138)

    Murder, rape and other "atrocities" make complete biological sense.

    wilsontown - 08:22pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#50 of 138)

    Hm, OK. So what?

    Callidice - 08:24pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#51 of 138)


    rshowalter - 08:24pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#52 of 138)  | 

    Re: 45-47 - GREAT POSTS !

    The conversion of people from group "outsiders" to "insiders" makes all the difference - in the difference between seeing new workers as sources of enhancement, compared to threats, and in all sort of socio-technical negotiations in business.

    Plenty of engineering, and the "social engineering" of business looks best optimized in terms of dehumanized, stark abstrarctions that put the proposer in the position of the "power" and put many who would have to implement in the role of "outsider." And such schemes, that may "look optimal" very often fail - because they violate basic patterns of human feeling. The efforts required to humanize, and find ways of conection and inclusion, are very often essential for function. If the effort to implement change is done by "outsiders" or "enemies" of the people who have to learn and participate in the change, the technical arguments aren't likely to be listened to, and aren't likely to succeed.

    The tasks of fitting things to human associations, and human institutions, is a very different task from the task of optimizing a logical or mathematical problem. Both are often absolutely essential. For difficult innovations, connections between the two patterns may be difficult, delicate, and crucial for success.

    And inventor who was trained and self trained to produce the starkest possible definitions of abstract optimality, and work from them, may therefore produce work that looks "technically perfect" and "wonderfully promising" and yet that work may be sterile, unless the jobs needed to take the starkness, and fit it to the perceptions of real human beings, can be done. I have been such an inventor, and have had some difficulties that trace to just that cause. How easy it is to elicit a fight with a suggestion for radical change - even a radical change in something small - even if the suggestion is in some sense "perfect !"

    rshowalter - 08:29pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#53 of 138)  | 

    Re: 48- 51 - More GREAT posts.

    Murder, rape and other "atrocities" make complete biological sense.

    Acts that produce grave damage (for instance, the Iraq sanctions) may make complete "logical" sense.

    So, for decency, and if people care for moral and aesthetic values, people have many jobs, that must engage both heads and hearts, finding ways to fashion social arrangements so that people are dealt with, and deal with each other, as human beings.

    rshowalter - 08:31pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#54 of 138)  | 

    And the question "are people being dealt with inclusively, as human beings rather than objects?" occurs again and again.

    There are costs of dealing with people as human beings, of course.

    But the costs of NOT doing so, though the may be hidden, may be much larger, not only aesthetically, but operationally, as well.

    hoib - 08:32pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#55 of 138)

    Hayate I believe you make the mistake of attributing to aboriginal cultures a level of equanamity they no more had than any other cultures.

    Tell a Lakota the Anishanabe are his "brothers" or the Cheyenne that Crows and Apache were kindred and you'd surely get some interesting answers.

    You excuse Apache and Commanche violence by blaming their contact with the Conquistadores. The main thing they got from them, I'd argue, was the horse. They already knew about rapine and slaughter from the Aztecs.

    Roger Williams was long dead in 18th C BTW. He left plymouth colony to start Rhode Island because of the Puritans obsession with religion. That was in roughly the 1640s.

    Cultures can and do evolve, devolve, wax and wane it's true. Blaming everything bad that befalls less evolved cultures on the more advanced is a bit more than simplistic. Your posts are often sparkling but your Caucasiophobia often blinds you to more apparent explainations.

    There's nothing really good or bad...tis thinking makes it so."

    rshowalter - 08:32pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#56 of 138)  | 

    And folks you've dehumanized may turn around and hurt you !

    rshowalter - 08:36pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#57 of 138)  | 

    There's plenty that's really good, or really bad, so long as you have a way of keeping score that you're sticking to.

    Some approaches generate fights, and the necessity of inflicting pain. Other approaches generate complex cooperation, often both pleasurable and productive.

    The approaches that generate fights are, by and large, bad . The approaches that generate peace are, by and large, good.

    Callidice - 09:31pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#58 of 138)

    >>The approaches that generate fights are, by and large, bad . The approaches that generate peace are, by and large, good.<<

    Care to expand? Funny how "fights" on a species level are so commonplace. Could they be "good"?

    rshowalter - 10:22pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#59 of 138)  | 

    Callidice , fights can be good, if they answer questions in a "biologically useful" way, and if they are cheap enough, in context.

    For example, in selective breeding, eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap. And so, in very many animals, there is sexual competition by males, with winners and losers. Some of this winning and losing is resolved with fights, some with conventional, nonviolent competitions.

    From an evolutionary point of view, the conflicts are "good" and the costs are what they happen to be.

    But the "good" from fighting comes with a definite biological cost. And the requirements of fighting sometimes drive evolution in directions that seem inefficient.

    In human affairs, there are conflicts, too, and sometimes they are solved in some sort of "fight"- generally fights according to conventional rules.

    Most interactions aren't this way - most human interactions that work are cooperative and peaceful.

    But at a few nodes in the logic, fights may be forcing.

    I'd never call fights "good" in any absolute sense, but they can be necessary expenses in some contexts. When that happens, it is important, and I'd say, wholly good, to limit the magnitude of the fights, so that the damage, always finite, is fairly small.

    For example, in paradigm conflict, when questions of fact need to be established, there may have to be "fights." They should be little and conventional fights, set up to minimize the damage to combatants, and to get right anwers.

    Callidice - 10:46pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#60 of 138)

    >>I'd never call fights "good" in any absolute sense,<<

    What "fights" what "good"? Would you not describe the cutthroat existence of bacteria in a Petri-dish as a "fight"? Would you deny that the human animal has more than a few connections biologically with the world of creatures with less cells?

    "fights" are "wrong" are they?

    Possumdag - 10:59pm Nov 15, 2000 BST (#61 of 138)

    Nepotism - Employing the in/inner group

    rshowalter - 11:38am Nov 16, 2000 BST (#62 of 138)  | 

    Callidice asks "What "fights" what "good"?"

    That depends on how people choose (and we're social animals, so that means, choose together) to keep score. It is in a sense arbitrary to say that death is bad, that pain is bad, that effort intended to a achieve a purpose, that fails, is unfortunate.

    But in that sense all human ethical beliefs are arbitrary. Somehow, as people make sense of the world, patterns of ideas converge in our heads - and, for most people within a culture, with a common experience, these ideas usually converge in ways that permit consensus.

    I was using "good" and "bad" in this arbitrary sense - a sense I can use, and others often choose to use, to guide choice.

    Callidice asks ..... "Would you deny that the human animal has more than a few connections biologically with the world of creatures with less cells?"

    No, of course not. But human beings are complex, and heirarchically structured, and at the level at which our minds work, there are aspects of us hat go above and go beyond what is to be found in "creatures with less cells."

    rshowalter - 11:44am Nov 16, 2000 BST (#63 of 138)  | 

    Possumdag's post on Nepotism shows that human beings, heirarchically structured and complex beings as single animals, live in a larger, and perhaps even more structured society -- in the cited example, a social structure where institutions issue guidelines and rules - to guide conduct, so that bad results, that might occur in "a state of nature" do not occur, or are less likely.

    I'd argue that most, or all, of the arrangements that permit complex cooperation between people who are "outsiders" to each other require the guidance of rules, implicit or explicit, from such social structures, and that when rules fail, human results may be bad, even horrific.

    Possumdag - 01:58pm Nov 16, 2000 BST (#64 of 138)

    An observation re nepotism is that many jobs are given to those known to the inner circle of those with power to appoint, either family members, friends of the appointee or people who fit the culture of the inner group.

    The fact that guidelines are developed re nepotism are an acknowledgement of it's existence. A question is - even with guidelines and policies - do people prefer to appoint from the inner rather than outer groups. Most job appointees assist a supervisor or manager with a set process.

    In 'monitored' appointments the guidelines may be deferred to, and 'the best and most appropriately qualifed and experienced person' may be allocated the position .. but ... does this ideal actally happen?

    Possumdag - 02:02pm Nov 16, 2000 BST (#65 of 138)

    Zimbabwean problems re the economy. The shift or distractor is the removal of the farms from white farmers who provide the country with exports and income, to the populus who may return to 'gardening' the land. Is this shift a temporary distractor to enable Mugabe to maintain dictatorial power. Inflation is currently 60%, and the country is recovering from a wartime engagement. Truth has been a casualty of dictatorial policy.

    Possumdag - 09:11am Nov 18, 2000 BST (#66 of 138)

    inner inbetween outer

    differences ?

    rshowalter - 10:58am Nov 18, 2000 BST (#67 of 138)  | 

    That's a huge question. How do people learn to percieve another as "one of the group" or "an outsider?"

    That could merit a LOT of study, from a lot of careful academics, that could be useful, for human feelings, for business, and for peacemaking.

    One thought I have is that affiliation may come fairly hard, and may, in its most "natural state" come from "shared and important things" and the animal inclination may be to turn away from people who don't "share something important" especially if they "disgree" about something important.

    Tolerance of difference comes hard. It must be learned, and nurtured. It can easily be suppressed.

    Intolerances of difference can be passionate and heartfelt. Pretty early in a child's life.

    I've spent a good deal of time watching kids, a lot of them between 4 and 7 years old. When they have a difference about what a word means, or what "the right thing to do" is about something they are invested about, how fast a fight can flare!

    A tremendous effort, teaching young children, goes into teaching open mindedness. Teaching kids to get along, and share. Teaching kids not to fight. Enormous effort goes into setting up situations where kids are expected to play together, and get along, so that the kids learn to. The people involved have to worry about this, and care about this, and exercise their minds and hearts about this, because this socialization of children comes hard.

    But it is essential for civilization.

    Tolerance for difference isn't easy for people, and maybe the neurological reasons are basic.

    The idea patterns in our heads are hard won - people in social groups jabber at each other, thousand of words a day, talking about "this and that" getting the furniture of their minds the same. And that means, in uncountable ways, they can cooperate easily.

    For someone who has NOT been included in all that "social construction of reality" communication is harder, and involves unforseen "bumps" where misunderstandings stop communication, and discomfort an confusion must be sorted out in the minds of the different people involved. That takes both more imagination, more disciplined knowledge, and a more open minded stance about one's own "reality" than people show spontaneously.

    And if a person is part of a group that values "rigor" -- a military group, an academic group, an academic training system, such as a graduate school, --- rigidity to tight standards may be valued, and insisted on, in ways that exclude people who are different, either in their person, or in their systems of ideas.

    Look at a business, as a social group. How rigidly any busines group can draw the line between "them" and "us." And for lots of function, anything else would be unworkable, even unthinkable.

    But complex cooperation requires cooperation between "outsiders" who are still, somehow, in ways that work, treated as "insiders." Treated as "insiders for a particular purpose" in the sense of treated as valid, full, human beings, at an interface, enough for cooperation.

    The skills, and feelings needed for this don't seem to be natural at all, but cultural. And sometimes, these feelings break down, or (in the case of Nazi Germany, or many other "rigorous" groups, in many other times and places, these feelings and patterns are suppressed, so that a group takes the stance of predator with respect to the other groups it interacts with.

    rshowalter - 11:11am Nov 18, 2000 BST (#68 of 138)  | 

    "Nice" comes hard.

    And sometimes "nice" is not the objective of a group. Military traing takes in "ousiders" treats them brutally (the first day of military training is sometimes as brutal as the people in charge can make it) to "whip them into shape" as a homogenous group of "insiders" for a specific, often warlike purpose, to the exclusion of all who are in any "significant" way different.

    Academic training can be similar. Especially when the idea of "rigor" is valued. If you go to a dictionary, and look up "rigor" many of the definitions are not only about discipline, but about cruelty.

    Inflexibility, too.

    Committments that produce the ability for complex dealmaking, complex cooperation, and peace, have to stand against patterns that are set up strongly for exclusion and rigidity.

    Tolstoy - 11:33am Nov 18, 2000 BST (#69 of 138)


    Cheers for the interesting thread. Anyway, all these problems could be relatively easily overcome if people were to accept the basic spiritual (NOT institutionalised religious) message promoted by all the great teachers of history - that there is an eternal dimension to life, and the speed of our progression to a condition of absolute bliss is dependent on our manifestation of the qualities of love, non-violence, tolerance etc. In other words, the rejection of all concepts of 'insiders' and 'outsiders' (and the abolition of all military and other violence-based institutions).

    This model combines self-interest with altruism, a win-win situation for everyone. It is also possible to argue the same case from a purely materialistic (i.e. non-spiritual) basis: at the end of the day, what we all really crave more than anything is companionship, respect and love from our fellow human beings - and common sense should tell us that what we want for ourselves we should give to others.

    On the fundamental question in the thread title - I believe that EVERYBODY is essentially good (indeed, perfect), but we all make lots of mistakes on our journeys towards ultimate enlightenment.

    Just some thoughts, hope they don't across as too pompous!

    Possumdag - 11:53am Nov 18, 2000 BST (#70 of 138)

    " ... at the end of the day, what we all really crave more than anything is companionship, respect and love from our fellow human beings - and common sense should tell us that what we want for ourselves we should give to others. ... "

    So, you're saying that everyone wants to belong to the ingroup. Yet when ideas that challenge the redundant knowlege of the ingroup arise, then, the messenger is shot, along with the message!

    It seems 'strange' that science people, ingoups, don't welcome 'new knowledge' when it more perfectly fits and assists their needs in relation to problem solving.

    Back to Plimsole: the company had sailors on contracts which they could not break. That ships went down, was the factor that eventually encouraged the company to think about 'not loosing them' ... insurance may have increased contract prices. That people were lost and died was of no consequence to the Shipping Companies .... a sunken ship was evenually recognised as bad planning rather than misfortune.

    (That lives were lost when ships sunk was of no consequence to Commerce.)

    Failure to adopt new paradigms may be a failure to contain loss of life .... but ... again ... this may be put down to luck and misfortune rather than planning and quality performances.

    Is there an 'inbetween' land, between the inner and outer groupings. Who lurks in the nether regions and when are they either accepted into the fold or cast to the wolves.

    The scienists in NSW (Australia) are in netherland and outerland. Their response has been to group. To determine to seek publicity. To use media. To continue to promote and voice their ideas. They felt the current method of gaining professional acceptance was out moded and a sham.

    A further matter to explore is the power of redundant knowledge and its empowerment. People who fade and die take with them their knowledge both useful (wisdom) and the redundant. Death in one way clears the decks of old knowledge to make way for the NEW and appropriate knowledge. Death in relation to this concept is Spring Cleaning. The old giving way (literally) to the new.

    rshowalter - 12:20pm Nov 18, 2000 BST (#71 of 138)  | 

    Tolstoy , I agree with the thrust of your ideals, though I've been a pugnacious person myself, on some occasions.

    But if peace and comity are the ideals , we better look clearly at how to get them in the world as it is, with real people.

    If essentially instinctual responses can easily lead to discord, exclusion, lies and wars (and I can't see the evidence any other way) then we'd best know it, and find the discipline and the wisdom to find ways, cultural ways, ways of both mind and heart, to get to complex cooperation and peace.

    The joy and love in the world are perfectly real, and powerful.

    But the horror and avoidable loss is, too, and I don't think looking away from that is the best way to reduce these things.

    rshowalter - 12:22pm Nov 18, 2000 BST (#72 of 138)  | 

    Right on, possumdag.

    Tolstoy - 12:23pm Nov 18, 2000 BST (#73 of 138)

    Possumbag - "So, you're saying that everyone wants to belong to the ingroup. Yet when ideas that challenge the redundant knowlege of the ingroup arise, then, the messenger is shot, along with the message"

    NO - I am saying that everyone ultimately wants to belong to the 'whole' group ('the family of man') - and that all intolerant, messenger-shooting 'ingroups' should be abolished.

    I accepted the down-side of (temporary) human nature in my posting, and am just trying to point a way forward.


    PS - Rshowalter, just saw your reply to me, thanks for that. Anyway, I hope my positing didn't give the wrong impression, I am certainly not advocating a turning away from the horrors of life - just, again, a possible way to overcome them.

    rshowalter - 06:47pm Nov 19, 2000 BST (#74 of 138)  | 

    Tolstoy, like your namesake, you're great!

    Tolstoy - 07:17pm Nov 19, 2000 BST (#75 of 138)

    Rshowalter, cheers for that, the compliment is reciprocated. I'm going through a bit of a gloomy time just now, so all kind words gratefully accepted!

    rshowalter - 10:49pm Nov 19, 2000 BST (#76 of 138)  | 

    Tolstoy, I hope you feel better. I DO think you're great, and represent a kind of tough, inclusive hopefulness the world needs, and that I find beautiful. And I DO think you're beautiful.

    I worry about making your fine and good ideals fit, gracefully, with some other needs. We need a sense of wholeness, a sense of oneness. But we also need a world small enough and simple enough to be our size. And not very threatening. So we need to be perceptive, to find ways to work out ways of having multiply structured, multiple level committments, so that, for a lot of purposes, we're both "outsiders" and "insiders" in various ways, and for various reasons. Negotiating that, so it works for head and heart, on an everyday basis, takes social perception, heart, and social inventions coming up with new conventions that work.

    For example, in #70, Possumdag cites some socially inventive, creative people

    "The scienists in NSW (Australia) are in netherland and outerland. Their response has been to group. To determine to seek publicity. To use media. To continue to promote and voice their ideas. They felt the current method of gaining professional acceptance was out moded and a sham."

    That's a creative response, though the last line is hostile, though the argument for an alternative is good. They're fashioning, bringing into focus, a system of social invention-accomodations that make for new possibilities, new kinds of hope.

    Seems to me, that with the world complicated, and people still "hunting animals" full of instincts that can misfire in ugly ways, finding hope, grace, peace, and prosperity takes plenty of heart, some guts, and a great deal of head. There's plenty of need for social inventiveness.

    Some people with astounding gifts of both head and heart (and plenty of guts) are around on these Guardian threads. And they can write, too! A creative place.

    Tolstoy, I hope your gloom lifts. I'll be thinking of you (and your namesake) and trying myself, to be more a person Tolstoy would approve of, and less of a reflex fighter.

    Tolstoy - 08:42am Nov 20, 2000 BST (#77 of 138)

    RSO, what can I say apart from many thanks again, and a big hug - you have singlehandedly blown away the blues! This is not just because of your (over) kind words, but also your thoughtful and incisive points re. the world's problems and the means to overcome them.

    Incidentally, I have no problem at all with people coming together in groups and associations, it is only the historically divisive, intolerant, and ultimately pro-violence ones (such as nations, 'races', most institutionalised religions etc.) which I was querying.

    Also re. the last sentence in your Possumdag quote - I have always felt that it was perfectly all right to use strongly critical language re. ideas, just not about actual people; I accept I could be wrong here, and that I should maybe moderate my tone across the board. On the other hand, perhaps being ideologically 'pugnacious' (and you are being far to hard on yourself there) is the way to go after all....?

    I also totally agree with you about the quality of gifts of a lot of the contributors to these Guardian talk sites (and I absolutely include yourself in this); in general I think that the Internet is already proving to be a force for enormous good (though with a few downsides) - pointing the way forward to a properly integrated, compassionate, barrier-free world.

    Anyway, many, many thanks again, your comments really couldn't have come at a better time.

    rshowalter - 11:33am Nov 29, 2000 BST (#78 of 138)  | 

    If human decency, and safety, in complex societies depends on cultural inventions and conventions acting against some basic dehumanizing influences with respect to "others" -there are many human consequences.

    Here is one. Academic output that is "obscure" from the point of view of outsiders may be made so because of ordinary human instinctive responses to exclude others, and the obscurity may NOT be due to logical necessity. Outsiders asking for clarity may have a right to ask for it, and in the asking may cleanse and sharpen the intellectual output of the academic group.

    If an academic group puts out painfully obscure intellectual product, descriptions after the manner of H.L. Menken may be fully justified. Painful obscurity, and pleasure in "difficulty" may be no more than ways to hide inadequacy from all concerned.

    That's one more reason why the literary and writerly virtues are important.

    rshowalter - 12:02am Dec 1, 2000 BST (#79 of 138)  | 

    from THE NEW YORK TIMES November 30, 2000 Horrors Behind Rebel Lines in Sierra Leone By NORIMITSU ONISHI

    UMBUNA, Sierra Leone — The villagers crept out of the bush on a recent morning, and although the soil here is among Africa's richest, some arrived with hollow cheeks and shrunken limbs.

    They were temporarily safe here in Bumbuna, a small town that offers a tiny haven in the heart of an area ruled by one of Africa's most brutal rebel groups. The tales they told offered some inkling of what life is like behind rebel lines, a peek into a broad region of thousands of square miles that is one of the grimmest and least accessible parts of the globe.

    A brother and sister, William and Sirah Kargbo, said rebels in their village had taken 10 young women as sex slaves, forced the village men to work and give them food and, until earlier this year, chopped off the hands of those who disobeyed.

    "If we don't contribute, they will take everything or kill you," said William Kargbo, 30, who taps palm trees for wine and has often been forced to carry goods for the rebels.

    A woman, Jemilatu Bangura, 30, arrived with her son, Samba Diallo, who was 4 years old but looked maybe 2. Her village, like the Kargbos', is only 15 miles from here. But so isolated was Ms. Bangura that she did not know whether Sierra Leone was at peace or at war. She did not know that such a thing as the United Nations existed, much less that it now had 12,500 troops in her country.

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    Horrors like this are probably as old as history, and the inhumanity may be as natural as human goodness.

    There are too many of them to be aberrations. But they remain horrors.

    Culture, and the disciplines of culture, are essential for us to avoid Hell on earth, and offer hope, in some times and places, for human experiences approaching the heavenly. For all the horror, beauty is possible and real, as well.

    An essential requirement is information, transferred effectively and quickly, among people. Without it, the possibilities for decency get rapidly less.

    Tolstoy - 02:47pm Dec 1, 2000 BST (#80 of 138)


    Hello again, hope you saw my thank you note above - still feeling much better!

    In any case, I liked your paragraph "Culture, and the disciplines of culture, are essential for us to avoid Hell on earth, and offer hope, in some times and places, for human experiences approaching the heavenly. For all the horror, beauty is possible and real, as well."

    As well as cultural and other interchanges, I think that it is important to counter and ultimately defeat ideological myths - such as the one which says that violence (always 'defensive' when it is being advocated) is sometimes necessary to make the world a better place. It is this illusion which is directly leading to tragedies such as the one in Sierre Leone (as well as similar conflicts in Chechnya, Serbia, Iraq etc,) you so graphically outlined.

    All the best.

    rshowalter - 08:34am Dec 2, 2000 BST (#81 of 138)  | 

    I hope sometime the world will have gotten entirely past violence.

    There are plenty of cases where oppression so severe that it must be enforced and reinforced by violence dominates and makes hell of human lives.

    There are 27 million slaves today.

    xpat - 09:51pm Dec 2, 2000 BST (#82 of 138)

    The misuse and brutalisation of people as slaves or surfs has been a factor of past centuries to present.

    I heard an interesting talk by a guy who's written a book on the 'Enlightenment...' that outlined the progress of thinking. England and Holland in the early 1700's were the places to be. In 1695 the political procedure of all printed matter in England having to have Royal approval lapsed and the use and availability of printed matter was cp to the use of the internet today enabling free discussion.

    Voltaire, freed from the Bastille, went to London and interacted with the intellectuals in the Coffee and Chocolate houses. Ideas were discussed and papers written to advance knowledge and ideas. Voltaire wrote a book re his impressions 'letters from England' and was influenced by them.

    The Bogey today is the clamps placed on free thinking and discussion by 'institutions' ... New Zealand has free thought, whereas Australia demands that all publically said by Academics are mediated via their Media controls.

    That Academics be free to talk and discuss and push new ideas, or comment on community happenings, is imperative. The move from Tenure to Contracts is another means of 'undoing' freedom of expression.

    Institutional 'inhumanity to man' stagnates progress. The Academic regime might be compared to a political dictatorship ... how does a multi-headed institution 'think'?

    xpat - 10:00pm Dec 2, 2000 BST (#83 of 138)


    The 18th century European Enlightenment has long been regarded as the domain of French thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Diderot - rather than earlier British thinkers such as Newton, Locke and Hume.

    After the French Revolution, few in Britain would have wanted to claim that the Enlightenment originated there. Edmund Burke's conviction that the ideas of the Enlightenment had led directly to the violent overthrow of the established order in France was widely shared.

    ROY PORTER believes that this prejudice, coupled with a national distrust of intellectuals, has meant that the role of the British Enlightenment in the creation of the modern world has gone largely unrecognised... as he explained at the recent CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE.

    Publications: Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World. Author: ROY PORTER Price: $60 Publisher: Allen Lane The Penguin Press. + this also looks interesting

    rshowalter - 09:28pm Dec 3, 2000 BST (#84 of 138)  | 

    The needs of institutions housing "communities of practice" to fit the needs of these communities of practice are real. For academic institutions, which compete intensely for academic reputation (decided on the basis of something like votes or surveys by members of the "communities of practice" itself) to ignore the strong prejudices and interests of communities of practice is too much to ask.

    A university, confronted with a threat to its reputation, must be expected to respond vigorously.

    So, for similar reasons, can a government institution, or a private foundation.

    That can stultify debate, and institutionalize false answers for decades, if the university is the ONLY arbiter of academic status, under all conditions.

    A key question is procedural - what do the "invisible colleges" owe to other invisible colleges that depend on their results, and what do they owe to the public at large, that pays for their maintenance and trusts their results? Currently, the operational answer seems to be "nothing" - at least whenever a question is raised that REALLY disrupts some established interest of the "invisible college."

    Disruptive questions, including ones which carry the seeds of great progress, aren't adressed. The questioner of status quo is branded as an outcast. The practical effect of the shunning is attribution of insanity. The case that needs to be made is never made in a way that can stand.

    This is in line with the thesis of this thread - it fits the patterns of natural "insiders" dealing with "outsiders" as enemies in an essentially military sense, on the basis of sponteneous responses that may be instictual for humans.

    The solution, as in the case of other circumstances where more effective complex competition is needed, than a "state of nature" permits, is the establishment of conventions, and/or institutions, that can deal with situations that produce bad results in the "natural state of man."

    rshowalter - 09:33pm Dec 3, 2000 BST (#85 of 138)  | 

    The issue matters most under conditons discussed in "Paradigm Shift - whose getting there? <xpat "Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there?" Fri 28/07/2000 21:55>

    Here are #242 and #243 from that thread:

    When progress is delayed due to paradigm conflicts, the loss, in retrospect, are often huge. In the case of Semmelweis, millions died horribly and much sooner than they might have. Other cases are almost as bad. Sometimes progress is delayed for generations. Sometimes the human dramas involve very ugly behavior, and real tragedies.

    But though the stakes can be high, and acceptance of correct answers can be long delayed, the questions involved in paradigm conflicts are starkly simple. In the cases of Semmelwies, and McCully, the questions were:

    1. When going from patient to patient, does sanitation matter, or not? (It matters.)

    2.Does homocysteine relate causally to artheriosclerosis, or not? (It does.)

    In the recent revolution in fluid mechanics, the question was

    3. When a flow becomes turbulent, are the laws of Newtonian physics adjourned, so that only statistics applies, or does causality continue? (It continues.)

    In my case, the key question is

    4. Do the axioms of pure math have a domain of definition, or not? If they do, and you are outside that domain of definition, can you do experiments (symbolic and model-physical system matching) or not? (This isn’t settled in the profession - but YES YOU CAN.)

    These questions are simple, and have simple answers. But these questions are not simple in human terms, for the people most concerned with them.

    When these questions are nested in a mass of cultural-social-emotional construction, they may be invisible, or emotionally charged to a prohibitive degree, and resolution of them may be humanly impossible.

    For example, to see Semmelweis’s point, doctors had to rethink what they were doing, and admit that they were inadvertently killing patients.

    To see McCully’s point, a team of cardiologists who had organized themselves around one research subject (chloresterol) had to admit that another issue might matter as well.

    In my case, procedures that have become embedded in three centuries of mathematical physics practice have to be re-examined.

    My late partner, S.J. Kline, one of the few people who successfully worked through a paradigm shift (in fluid mechanics, after a fifteen year fight) put it this way:

    "One cannot reasonably expect successful peer review of a proposition, or acceptance of it later, if people in the profession wince at the ideas in it so much that they look away. ..... Ideas, to work, have to fit in people's heads, and in their institutions."

    Here’s another statement of the “abstractly easy” but “humanly hard” point that’s taken me and Steve so much time and effort. The key point, the “showstopper” point, is at least as much a matter of recognition as of formality. The measurable world and the axiomatic "world" of math are DIFFERENT. Mathematical models represent physical circumstances by a kind of ANALOGY. The arithmetical mechanics by which we form these analogies CAN BE TESTED FOR SYMBOLIC CONSISTENCY and CAN BE TESTED BY PHYSICAL EXPERIMENT. The analogy formation mechanism, itself, is entirely beyond the axioms of formal math as it is now taught. It is EXPERIMENTAL tests, not proof by axiomatic usages, that must be applied to evaluate the completeness and correctness of the analogy-forming procedures.

    There’s a “territorial” issue that arises. At the stage where the analogy is being formed as a good representation, is “formal math” in the professional sense being done, or not? I put it this way”

    The point isn't that I'm doing formal math. The point is that I'm not doing formal math, and for where I'm working, and what I'm doing, that's all right.

    My objective has never been to short circuit peer review, but to get checking done, prior to peer review, that gets people past the wincing stage, so that our arguments, right or wrong, can stand on their own.

    In abstract terms, the issues are easy. For the community of practice involved, this time, mathematicians, and people who have math as part of their conceptual equipment, the issue is not easy, because three centuries of practice and doctrine are called into question. Sometimes the issues are “only conceptual” - and quantitative implications are negligible. Other times, in neurophysiology, turbulent fluid mechanics, and some other complex coupled problems, the quantitative implications are huge, and explain the failures of past approaches.

    tethys2 - 09:40pm Dec 3, 2000 BST (#86 of 138)

    You are very difficult to read for the layperson rso and maybe the people you have to try to convince are lacking in the lateral thinking required purely by the nature of the beast they are involved in, is it not unusual to find persons at that level who function in such detail in several disciplines and therefore the easiest way to protect themselves from something which requires a dimension of thought they are incapable of is to ignore it?

    (just some nonsense from someone functioning on a lower intellectual level here :O)

    rshowalter - 09:42pm Dec 3, 2000 BST (#87 of 138)  | 

    #243: Questions of value of the results, questions of “who objects” are very interesting questions.

    In the past, HUGE amounts of money, and values people would value in money, have been at stake, and that's true in the S-K case, as well.

    It is worth remembering something very easy to forget. The core questions on which paradigm conflict hinge are SIMPLE . It is the human relations, and the psychology, and the social usages, that are hard.

    Here’s an essential reason why they are hard.

    Under paradigm conflict, new ideas, that are right, are “obviously wrong” to the working group of professionals who judge them.

    “Obviously wrong” , for most people, means something like i--- “in tension with the current body of socially (and logically) constructed ideas and “working knowledge.” That tension can cause extreme emotional and territorial responses, including blindness to evidence, and enough tension to produce tics, shaking body parts, and generally averse, angry responses.

    When that happens, abstractly simple questions aren’t practically simple for real people. And answering these "simple" questions is problematic for real societies.

    (end of quote from Paradigm Shift - whose getting there )

  • *******

    Under a "state of nature" - responses to the "boat rocker" in the paradigm conflict case can be ugly indeed -- the treatment of Semmelweis set out in BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF MEDICINE (J.E.Bendiner and E. Bendiner -- Facts of File, NY and Oxford) is as ugly as many of the worst atrocity stories I've encountered.

    At the same time, the very same people, facing the same logical situation under conventions that required them to deal with the questioner as a provisional "insider by convention" or subject to umpiring, might behave in much better fashion.

    In the Semmelweis case, the doctors who hounded Semmelweis to his death, and caused so many millions of unnecessary deaths because they could not listen, really were concerned with the preservation of life. If there had been a way to communicate key ideas to them, how much would have been saved!

    Here, as elsewhere where man's inhumanity to man occurs, it is conventions and institutions on which our hope must rest. A blind faith in "human nature" can be sadly misguided otherwise.

    I think I'm beginning to see evidence of the formation of conventions and institutional adjustments that will get my case a technically competent hearing, which, given the billions of dollars and many lives at stake, it deserves.

    In the course of this, the very same people who in the past might have behaved comparably to Semmelweis' tormenters may - I'm beginning to think, will, behave in public spirited fashion, with concern for technical truth. If my hope here turns out to be real, I'll owe a substantial debt of thanks to the Guardian, to the fora of the NYT, and to collaborators who have posted with me here.

    rshowalter - 09:57pm Dec 3, 2000 BST (#88 of 138)  | 

    tethys2 you might be right, but I don't think so. We haven't seen problems with clarity in such a simple sense. Steve and I have often enough gotten technical people (not laypersons) to understand what we're discussing - and sometimes to look at results.

    There's a well documented and extensive history that bears this out.

    Nobody's found counterexamples. Objections to the logic haven't been prominant or problematic either. Some people have plainly looked hard, and have understood.

    The difficulty has been that the CONSEQUENCES of the results have been held to be horrifying. Uniformly and intensely horrifying to members of the invisible colleges effected. We've seen truly violent and intense averse responses.

    Identification of a 350 year old oversight, even one that faces no counterexamples and solves big problems, is methodologically horrifying (as it would not be to "laypersons") to people who fear that their own intellectual furniture will have to be changed. That response is entirely reasonable - one reason I know that is that Steve and I had similar responses to the result ourselves - it scared us very thoroughly, simple as it is.

    The position taken in the "Paradigm Shift" thread is that, for such impasses, one needs umpires, or some set of conventions, that make checking morally forcing even when the results are distasteful to specialists, once there is sufficient good evidence that the impasse involves real and important issues.

    I think that adjustments are being made so that the checking occurs in my case. I wish Steve Kline were still alive to see the progress. We'll see how things progress.

    xpat - 01:46pm Dec 12, 2000 BST (#89 of 138)

    I think there's a chance that people we're connected to do hang around after death .... if we 'call' them. They sometimes 'walk over and through us' at significant junctures in our progress, even when we don't 'call them' !

    xpat - 01:51pm Dec 12, 2000 BST (#90 of 138)

    Inhumanity to man .... perhaps the American expectation that 'an other' should prepare and kill prisoners

    tethys2 - 06:22pm Dec 12, 2000 BST (#91 of 138)

    #89 xpat

    I believe special people haven't left us. All that is important is what one believes personally, it doesn't matter if no one else agrees.

    rshowalter - 04:31pm Dec 13, 2000 BST (#92 of 138)  | 

    thethys2 , it matters if we have to live in the world, and if we are to hope to make the world better.

    tethys2 - 08:49pm Dec 13, 2000 BST (#93 of 138)

    I was just referring to whether one believes that people can still be with you after they have died...... that was all rso

    ( & the name's not got a "th" at the start)

    xpat - 08:52pm Dec 13, 2000 BST (#94 of 138)

    Interesting name The Thys .... very hip!

    tethys2 - 08:53pm Dec 13, 2000 BST (#95 of 138)

    oh lol xpat.......don't you start!

    infodogg - 08:37am Dec 14, 2000 BST (#96 of 138)

    rshowalter - Have you read Koestler? I know he had some fairly questionable ideas, but for me, his essay Ad Majorem Gloriam deals with this subject in an admirably straight, lucid way.

    rshowalter - 08:40am Dec 14, 2000 BST (#97 of 138)  | 

    No. I'll look. Thanks!

    rshowalter - 07:05pm Dec 17, 2000 BST (#98 of 138)  | 

    Art and Sexual Selection by Denis Dutton an essay discussing Geoffrey Miller's The Mating Mind discusses the use of evolutionary psychology as a way of looking at human nature.

    This thread deals with whether "mankind's inhumanity to man is as natural as human goodness, while The Mating Mind deals with evolution of the mind, and especially aesthetics from a sexual selection perspective. But the connections to evolutionary psychology make the piece worth reading for reference to this thread.

    Dutton's essay starts:

    "Followers of evolutionary psychology have marveled in the last few years on the capacity of this discipline to throw new light on aspects of human life, both the obvious and the curious. The Swiss Army Knife metaphor of the mind as a multipurpose instrument fitted by evolution to solve Pleistocene problems with natural ease has great attractiveness. It offers a significantly more powerful way to view our specialized mental capacities than the older model that tries to see us as creatures with general abilities to learn whatever parents or society teach us. We're not usually as motivated to learn the calculus, or as adept at it, as we are in figuring out who's sleeping with whom in the neighborhood, and these differential interests and capacities are not socially constructed. Striking empirical findings, such as the statistic that a small child or infant is roughly a hundred times more likely to die at the hands of a stepfather than at the hands of a biological father, defy explanation in terms cultural imperatives but are consistent with evolutionary psychology and explained by it. And persistent average sex differences, like the superior detail noticing capacities of women and the better map-reading abilities of men, nicely fit with evolutionary psychology's account of Pleistocene adaptations. "

    In Natalie Angier's Woman: An intimate Geography there's an interesting counterpoint in Chapter 18 "Hoggamus and Hogwash: Putting Evolutionary Psychology on the Couch"

    Here's one of her lines: i"Evolutionary psychology professes to have discovered the fundamental modules of human nature .. " Of course, this is more than evolutionary psychology can reliably claim.

    The thought patterns of evolutionary psychology may be fine sources of inspiration - but they are suggestive, not self checking.

    We've used them to be suggestive, and to fit patterns in this thread. The suggestions seem to fit a good deal, and have broad applicability, but they could, and should, be subject to further testing of various sorts.

    rshowalter - 01:52pm Dec 21, 2000 BST (#99 of 138)  | 

    December 21, 2000 Japanese Veteran Testifies in War Atrocity Lawsuit By HOWARD W. FRENCH


    TOKYO, Dec. 20 — Under the code of his secret wartime army unit, which experimented with chemical weapons on live prisoners and dropped bombs to spread plague bacteria through northern China, Yoshio Shinozuka should not be alive today.


    As a member of the Japanese Army youth corps, it was his duty to wash the victims with a hose and a deck brush before the operations began. "When I finished, the surgeon applied a stethoscope to his chest and listened to his heartbeat," he said, describing his first experience of such an experiment. "As soon as he lifted the stethoscope, the dissection began."

    Mr. Shinozuka was the first of several veterans of the unit who in the last month have described their actions. They also testified that some prisoners had been deliberately frozen to death and some had been injected with lethal chemicals and germs to study the efficacy of those agents as weapons.

  • * * * *

    Last week in Tokyo, private Japanese and international organizations convened a war tribunal that found Japan's military leaders, including Emperor Hirohito, guilty of crimes against humanity for the sexual slavery imposed on tens of thousands of women in countries controlled by Japan during World War II.

    The tribunal has no legal power to exact reparations for the survivors among these so-called comfort women. But with its judges and lawyers drawn from official international tribunals for the countries that once were part of Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, it brought unparalleled moral authority to an issue scarcely discussed or taught about in Japan.

  • * * * *

    . "During the cold war situation, Japan just didn't have to face the issues of the past," said Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor of history at Ryukoku University. "We could always get by just ignoring it. Japan was under the umbrella of the United States, and America settled Japan's Asian issues."

    Others, meanwhile, are focusing on the "comfort woman" issue, saying that since war crimes against women were not even taken into consideration by the international tribunal that tried Japan's leaders after the war, they should not be covered by the San Francisco Treaty.

    Yuan Zhulin, 78, a Chinese woman who was one of several former sex slaves to testify, explained that she had been kidnapped at age 16 after being told she would be given a job washing dishes at a hotel.

    "Every day there was a line of soldiers, with ticket in hand, waiting to have sex with me," she said. "All of the soldiers were simply inhumane. I used to hurt so badly that I couldn't sit down, or even sleep."

    Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, a former leader of the international Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said the San Francisco Treaty "was designed to resolve property issues." She said Japan's leaders, including Emperor Hirohito, knew of the "comfort stations" for Japanese soldiers, which involved the effective sexual slavery of 200,000 or more women, by some estimates.

    "The notion of command responsibility was established at the Nuremberg Trials and holds commanders responsible either when they knew of, or should have known of, atrocities being committed," she said.

    Asked why he had wanted to cooperate with the continuing trial involving Unit 731, Mr. Shinozuka delivered a long and highly personal meditation on guilt and forgiveness. "The government made no apology at the time," he said, "and has kept the same attitude ever since. They remain silent.

    "But all these years I've thought about who received the germs I created, and how much they must have suffered. I thought about the bereaved, and about the survivors, people whose lives were forever damaged. I thought about the victims of vivisection, and I felt these acts must not be buried away, or else we are condemned to go from darkness to darkness."

    rshowalter - 01:56pm Dec 21, 2000 BST (#100 of 138)  | 

    These things were done by ordinary people, organized in ordinary ways in ordinary organizations, by societies that were humane, competent and perceptive to the "insiders" in their societies in many ways. It is too comforting to think of these things as done by "monsters." Once people become "outsiders" -- man's inhumanity to man may, indeed, be as "natural as human goodness."

    Cultural conventions, and insight, may be the only defense we have against horror. If we know that, we can strenthen the conventions, and concentrate on them. And concentrate on the moral need to imagine human consequence of what is done. If that happens, people may learn to avoid much of the horror and inefficiency in the world.

    Possumdag - 04:49pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#101 of 138)

    I don't understand the 'misnomer' usage of the word 'comfort' in relation to the rape, abuse, and KILLINGS of women .... a japanese guy on radio, interviewed only this month said (wrongly) that the women were 'recruited' from the 'lower ranks of prostitutes' ..... he still would not admit to the 'serious nature' of this war crime.

    These women have lived with the 'shame' of their torture for up to sixty years, and have never been adequately acknowledged nor compensated.

    The BIG MOVIE on this is yet to be made ?

    Possumdag - 04:50pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#102 of 138)

    In the light of POST ONE:

    " rshowalter - 06:11pm Nov 12, 2000 BST (#1 of 101)

    But is this behavior so strange? Or is it the NATURAL state of people, dealing with outsiders, outsiders who they naturally dehumanize, and deal with as heartless, exploitive predators? Is it civilization and mercy that are the "unnatural" things - the things that have to be taught, and negotiated into being, and strived for?

    I'm coming to think that it is just as natural for people to act "inhumanly" - that is cruelly, and in a dehumanizing way, towards OUTSIDERS, as it is natural for people to act warmly, and with accommodation and mutual support, for people WITHIN their group.

    I'm coming to the view that, just as there is an instinct for language, and an instinct for becoming a part of a group, inborn in humans, there is an instinct to exclude outsiders, to dehumanize them, to withhold cooperation from them, and to treat them as animals, subject to manipulation an predation. I'm coming to believe that this treatment of outsiders is an instinctive species characteristic, evolved over the millions of years when people lived as gatherers and team hunters.

    If this is true, we all have the basic instincts to be kind, sensitive, and good, within our groups, but at the same time are naturally "monsters" in our behavior toward outsiders.

    If this is right, the role of civilization is to find ways of peace and effective cooperation where isolation, conflict, duplicity, and merciless manipulation, including murder, might otherwise occur. "

    Possumdag - 04:55pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#103 of 138)

    I'd comment here that the Japanese culture was a cruel one.

    Lifting the Japanese from the preWWII perception of themselves - as against others - has still not been done ... especially with regard to the Of-Korean-Origin peoples who are 3generations Japanese. This is why the Koreans beating the Japanese on the Sports' field is so welcomed by the Koreans. It is a means of 'showing the Japanese' who is (sporting) master.

    The women who were mal-treated, have never had the opportunity to do this, excepting a MOCK court case was held Dec2000 that condemned and found the war-time Emperor GUILTY of a war crime - with respected to the multi-raped women.

    cyclist - 05:06pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#104 of 138)


    "I'd comment here that the Japanese culture was a cruel one."

    As the recent TV documentary showed, the cruelty we associate with WW2 Japanese militarism was very recent - German prisoners of the Japanese in WWI commented on how well they were treated by the Japanese.

    The needs of Japanese capitalism to compete with the western colonialisation of SE Asia led to the growth of a very cruel military regime, which dehumanised its own troops in preparation for the coming war.

    It took only 10 years or so to turn Japanese soldiers from reasonable humans to monsters.

    I think that can be achieved with any nation given the appropriate social conditions and training.

    I am still amazed by how fast Yugoslavia degenerated from the holiday destination of the late 70s, full of friendly people, to what we have seen in the last decade.

    rshowalter - 05:51pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#105 of 138)  | 

    That means we need to be suspiscious of HUMAN nature, and carefully concerned for the cultural patterns, both in terms of ideals and human arrangement, on which kindness, decency, and tolerable decency depend. What happenen in Nanking at the beginning of WWII should be remembered, and especially when people consider the (very great deal) that there is to admired about Japanese culture.

    Similar things can be said about people in other cultures. If man's inhumanity is as natural as human goodness, and the evidence suggests so, it is safer if we know it.

    paulq1 - 05:53pm Dec 22, 2000 BST (#106 of 138)

    Anyone remember the old psych study carried out years ago in which the subjects thought they were giving people electric shocks? The results were quite surprising in that a significant number of the subjects were prepared to go on delivering painful and near lethal shocks (or so they thought)to the actors. They did it on direction but no one had to hold guns to their heads to continue. I think it showed that a significant number of people will do anything if directed to by a higher authority. Or understood another way, a significant proportion of the population have no real moral priciples.

    rshowalter - 12:35am Dec 31, 2000 BST (#107 of 138)  | 

    Erica Goode wrote an article, connected to that study, and I reacted to it in the NYT Science in the News thread, relating it to a question people often ask.

    rshowalter - 07:26am Aug 29, 2000 EST (#1422 of 2535)

    It starts:

    Erica Goode's IDEAS AND TRENDS piece Hey, What if Contestants Give Each Other Shocks? deals with issues of concern to most people I know, and shows a case where scientific information can give evidence on an issue about humanity, and one particularly troubling. During WWII, what did the Germans know, and when did they know it?

    I key the argument to a great Rudyard Kipling poem

    and ended with a discussion of military and civilian responsibility and knowledge, keyed to the Germans, that I was proud to write.

    Shortly afterward, there followed posts, written indirectly but usefully for their purpose, that meant a great deal to me, and were of practical help, in a circumstance where my humanity had been called into question.

    That posting sequence represented something of a turning point in my life.

    rshowalter - 12:49am Dec 31, 2000 BST (#108 of 138)  | 

    ERICA GOODE's article was Hey, What if Contestants Give Each Other Shocks? August 27, 2000, NYT

    It includes the following passages:

    "... psychologists, who carried out a variety of experiments at prestigious universities from the 1950's and into the 1970's, were fascinated by the power of situations to influence people's behavior, sometimes even overriding individual personality traits and the dictates of personal conscience.

    "The experiments were compelling, and still enthrall undergraduates when they are taught in introductory psychology courses. In perhaps the most famous, Dr. Stanley Milgram's study of obedience to authority, the subjects meekly delivered what they believed were potentially fatal electric shocks to another person when ordered to do so by an experimenter in a white coat.

    "In another, student volunteers at Stanford University who were randomly assigned to play prisoners or guards for a two-week stay in a simulated prison became so caught up in their roles that the study had to be halted after a week.

    . . . . . . .

    "By the late 1970's, ethical guidelines discouraged the use of most deception in psychological research, and required thorough debriefing of subjects. As a result, neither the Milgram study nor the Stanford prison experiment could be carried out today.

    Ugly as these results are, it is good that we know them. It is very easy for human beings to behave monstrously, and very common.

    rshowalter - 01:06am Dec 31, 2000 BST (#109 of 138)  | 

    We can "easily" think about Nazi responsibility. It is harder to think of our own.

    Here's a key question, that I have come to think more and more important. The Russians agree about the basic importance of this question:

    How do you make people properly appalled and ashamed of people willing to use nuclear weapons?

    If this is an "unnatural" question, we have to arrange social patterns, and explanations, that make it a common question. If this question was as widely asked, and as clearly faced, as it should be, full nuclear disarmament would be a practical proposition.

    rshowalter - 12:07am Jan 1, 2001 BST (#110 of 138)  | 

    ". In perhaps the most famous, Dr. Stanley Milgram's study of obedience to authority, the subjects meekly delivered what they believed were potentially fatal electric shocks to another person when ordered to do so by an experimenter in a white coat."

    That's an ORDER! Milgram (1963) - the classic study that showed that people would follow orders, even if it inflicted damage, or even death, on an innocent, pleading human being:

    Thanks to Lunarchick of the NYT forums.

    rshowalter - 03:01pm Jan 1, 2001 BST (#111 of 138)  | 

    In the Science in the News forum of the The New York Times I posted this, and I think it fits here

    Here it is in part:

    "rshowalt - 05:00am Sep 27, 2000 EST (#1648 of 2549)

    "As a mathematician, I've used a pattern, that is as old as the perfection of scientific instruments, that may be called the "loop test." Things are supposed to add up. Proportionalities are supposed to yeild consistent results . . . . . . .

    "How about "getting things to add up" in moral conduct? Isn't it necessary to our function as social animals, in practical ways?

    "Nobody can say "it is all right, under some circumstances, to make a first strike with nuclear weapons" and have things add up, according to any SELF CONSISTENT ethical standard at all. Try it, and try sequences of reasoning, and you'll find that the consistency of your moral universe self destructs.

    "In some of the literary forums, people talk about the death of culture, the death of any standards at all. I think it starts here, and think that it is profoundly important. Our culture has been corroding, degrading, eating into itself, and making the moral instruction of children foundationless, by staying committed to the proposition - a basic stance of our national policy, that the U.S. President can, and will, use nuclear weapons when he chooses, and that "morality is not applicable to the actions of nation states."

    "Americans insist on that in international conferences and negotiations.

    "It is a horrific stance. If morality doesn't apply to nation states, how does one object to Adolph Hitler, or Eichmann, or their like? Logically, one cannot. Even so, to justify the use of first strikes with nuclear weapons, one logically has to take this stance. The United States Government that we'd like to be so proud of does this.

    "I feel that, even if the dangers with nucs were small (and they are HUGE) this would be too high a price for us to pay for keeping them.

    ". . . . . . . the United States of America insists that it has the right to use nuclear weapons when it chooses, and it has coerced silence on the point from the Russians and the rest of the world.

    "If we're trying to get even rough senses of proportionality in morality, and if we presume to make moral judgements of others, how can we make this stick?

    "And if we want to comfortably do the complex negotiating that our society needs to work, don't we need some moral common ground amongst ourselves, that people can agree on?

    "We're paying far too high a price for keeping nuclear weapons, and for justifying our past actions, which may have been necessary during the Cold War, but are surely not justified now. We should get rid of them, and admit the obvious fact that they are reprehensible, shameful, weapons - the ultimate no-nos by reasonable moral standards. Things to be forbidden.

  • ** The thread continues, with some interesting contributions by Lunarchick .

    Moral questions are practical questions. Moral beliefs shape human action.

    The arguments for outlawing nuclear weapons have been set out by many people -- it is worth noting that some very careful consideration of them has been given by a number of Islamic clerics. The moral justification of terrorism depends, in large part, on comparisons with the "moral justification" of nuclear weapons.

    Then there's another issue. What, from a totally "morals-free" point of view, are nuclear weapons good for? As bTony50 points out above, they are worse than useless in "limited" engagements -- they are good for the extermination of nation states (with all the allies those nation states may happen to have) -- and nothing more. Such extermination is not a practical policy, even for terrorists or monsters.

    The confusion about the morality of nuclear weapons, which is now almost solely the responsibility of the United States, is the greatest barrier to nuclear disarmament. Breach that, and set out clearly that the U.S. is not justified in acting as if first strikes with nuclear weapons are workable, and widespread nuclear disarmament becomes a practical proposition -- far more practical than missile defense, for example, which cannot work, and has absorbed huge amounts of resources.

    I'll be back on the issue of "threat." Confusions about what threat is good for, confusions that concern questions of fact, are central to discussions of the practicality of nuclear disarmament.

    Pakistan and India can't use the nuclear weapons they have, or could reasonably be expected to build. If they understood that, getting rid of these holocaust makers would be doable.

    Jenny28 - 12:17am Jan 6, 2001 BST (#112 of 138)

    Fear and the desire for self-preservation are what makes it impossible at the moment, IMO, to put this particular genie completely back in the bottle. For example, it is said that Iraq is on track to build a nuclear weapon. Would you care for Saddam Hussein to be the only world leader with a functioning nuclear weapon?

    Nuclear weapons are certainly deadly, but a functioning weapon would not have to be world-destroying to be a sufficient threat. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki only affected Japan. A determined dictator would only have to have the power to destroy a couple of cities to wield power out of all proportion to the size of his country.

    I absolutely agree about the useless missile defence programme, but I'm not convinced that unilateral disarmament on the part of the current nuclear powers is wise, though a 'no first strike' policy should be a given.

    rshowalter - 12:38am Jan 6, 2001 BST (#113 of 138)  | 

    There have to be EFFECTIVE ways to outlaw nuclear weapons, for complete disarmament to work. I think there are.

    A central issue is establishing a more sensible sense of what nuclear weapons are "good for". They work as extermination weapons, and they are good for nothing else. It would do Saddam, or any other dictator, no good at all to use "a few" nuclear weapons. If a nuclear attack is not successful at exterminating and enemy, and that enemies effective allies, it does the agressor no good, unless the agressor already has the victim at SUCH a disadvantage the the nuclear explosions are entirely irrelevant.

    That's a fact, and if that fact were widely understood, the world would be far safer.

    But there's a way to go before FULL disarmament. If the superpowers had only "a few hundred" nukes, instead of the thousands, then control would be far better - and the world would survive.

    That's worthwhile.

    Possumdag - 12:42am Jan 8, 2001 BST (#114 of 138)

    Balkan Syndrome: the uranium scattered around from the war: is causing problems affecting the EC civillian population - Lukemia. For 'peacekeepers' are often civillians who went to work in a war zone to aid peace.

    The use of uranium on bullets has effected 'Shooting Ranges' in the Uk.

    "There are no ill effects" is the official line!

    Common Sense - says there are effects. Yet logic seems to be lost when war-thinking-caps are worn.

    The moral is ... don't get into a war situation the first place.

    rshowalter - 12:51am Jan 8, 2001 BST (#115 of 138)  | 

    Another moral is CHECK what military people say.

    Deception is essential for any reasonably effective attack -- that is an unchangeable fact of war.

    It means that disciplined patterns of deception are inextricably linked to military organizations and cultures.

    Soldiers lie. To be effective soldiers, they have to.

    When things are inconvenient, or when careful accounting is in some sense embarrassing, military people, in both war and peace, decieve.

    I don't think anyone can hold it against them, or call it "dishonorable" - but when a soldier looks you straight in the eye, and tells you something is true, where deception might hold a tactical advantage, it is not reasonable to believe her totally.

    That means that outrageous lies get told, and propagated, and often grow and mestastisize in the retelling. Obvious stupidities such as "there are no ill effects from depleted uranium rounds" get perpetrated.

    When journalists believe what senior military officers tell them, without reservation, as they do with monotonous regularity, shame on them.

    Jenny28 - 08:21am Jan 8, 2001 BST (#116 of 138)

    Until you can outlaw fear, or find a way of making it unnecessary, there will be conflict. 'Perfect love casts out fear' we know - and in the ideal world we'd no doubt all like to see, that's what would happen.

    But until then, we have to recognise that that is the basis from which people and nations operate. Along with greed, it's at the root of all conflict.

    Possumdag - 07:52am Jan 11, 2001 BST (#117 of 138)

    The chickens have come home to roost ... with lukemia and cancer ... and the Europeans don't like it, that is, don't like being lied to by the military .... but they did little about the same problem now a decade old

    rshowalter - 06:46pm Jan 17, 2001 BST (#118 of 138)  | 

    No one needs to doubt the primal, fundamental fact of human fear, and human fear of "outsiders." Nor is that fear irrational. But the better our conceptual abilities, the more we can apply "the golden rule", even to our enemies, the more complex cooperation is possible, and the fewer horrors are inevitable.

    The fewer "enemies" there need to be, and the more limited the conflicts can be.

    Tolstoy - 06:59pm Jan 17, 2001 BST (#119 of 138)

    Rso - Hi there, and a very happy New Year to you (and everyone else)! Anyway, I am not sure why you think that dishonesty on the part of the military is not dishonourable (or, indeed, the mass murder which is their stock in trade).

    It is only through a process of deep, millennia-old indoctrination that the violent agencies of nation-states have somehow managed to persuade people that they are exempt from normal moral codes. They are not (in my opinion, anyway).

    Jenny, like RSHO, very good points well expressed. I can only say that (again, in my opinion) love is ultimately MUCH stronger than fear - and that is why I am a complete optimist! It is only a matter of time before mankind spiritually evolves out of its current, confused, partially pro-violence state. Let's just make it as soon as possible!

    All the best

    rshowalter - 10:48pm Jan 24, 2001 BST (#120 of 138)  | 

    I've been looking at a number of citations involving the Semmelweis case. Amazingly rough story. And yet, the same doctors who were so inhumane in that case, were surely paragons of kindness and consideration in many others. I'll be posting more on this.

    rshowalter - 11:21am Jan 26, 2001 BST (#121 of 138)  | 

    In the Is there such a thing as truth, and if so, how can we find a new Spiritual Path for our era? thread, Boog, in Re #192 quoted a full Newsweek article Searching For the God Within: The way our brains are wired may explain the origin and power of religious beliefs

    By Sharon Begley

    A wonderful article.

    Begley ends with -

    "If brain wiring explains the feelings believers get from prayer and ritual, are spiritual experiences mere creations of our neurons? Neuro-theology at least suggests that spiritual experiences are no more meaningful than, say, the fear the brain is hard-wired to feel in response to a strange noise at night. Believers, of course, have a retort: the brain’s wiring may explain religious feelings—but who do you think was the master electrician?

    © 2001 Newsweek, Inc.

    Well, whether the "master electrician" is God, or a VERY FANCY evolution, far more sophisticated than the current reductinist model, there are emergent properties involved that DO provide MEANING to human beings, and without which, humanity would be impossible. For a God, working with physical materials, how else could you do it? And if there is no God, mankind still exists, and insight into how the brain embodies and generates these collective yet intensely personal feelings might make it more possible for us to cooperate, both because we are the same, and because we are different.

    If the question of religious feelings as natural brain function makes sense, then the question raised by the title of this thread, and discussed here, is an emotionally and practically important one.

    rshowalter - 07:52pm Jan 30, 2001 BST (#122 of 138)  | 


    makes bracing reading, but if it is as credible as it seems to be, ought to give people sentimental about the "inherent goodness or mankind" pause.

    rshowalter - 12:18pm Feb 2, 2001 BST (#123 of 138)  | 

    When I read DeMause, I thought this --- if what he says is true, the catalepsy of some countries and cultures - their inability to show the economic growth one would expect, may be in large part due to having such a huge framework of lies and brutal usages, that there is just not the common ground, and respect for truth, that the complex cooperation of modern economic life takes.

    Jenny28 - 01:34pm Feb 2, 2001 BST (#124 of 138)

    Bracing indeed rshowalter. I had to go away and recover from that one.

    I'm not sentimental about the 'inherent goodness of mankind', but I do think most of its evils spring from ignorance and a lack of love. This is an excellent illustration of both those. Nobody can wave a magic wand and make the whole world better, but if those who have that level of awareness in their own hearts take it upon themselves to decrease ignorance and increase love in what they do and how they interact with the world, things will slowly get better - slowly, as in generation upon generation, being the operative word.

    rshowalter - 06:44pm Feb 2, 2001 BST (#125 of 138)  | 

    Maybe, if people get better at persuasion, and with better ways at getting truth to be morally forcing when it really matters enough, we can get progress faster than that.

    I'm with you at the level of the heart. I've come to feel, however, that practical morality can reasonably repay some careful study, and improvement, at the level of mechanics.

    Jenny28 - 07:01pm Feb 2, 2001 BST (#126 of 138)

    Good point.

    bNice2NoU - 06:22am Feb 4, 2001 BST (#127 of 138)


    rshowalter - 08:16pm Feb 5, 2001 BST (#128 of 138)  | 

    I posted this on There's Poetry -and I'm posting it here. It comes from the "hypothesis ...." thread in Europe, started by Beckvaa . It represents, we believe, a reframing of the notion of scientific theory, that, if it were adopted, might much reduce the probablility and seriousness of paradigm conflict impasses. In it, I refer to "my beloved partner." She, under a number of pseudonyms, has been my main co-author in this thread. We fell in love with each other (platonically so far - we have never so much as touched hands ) in the writing of this thread, and the basic idea in this thread was an idea that came to us, together, working as partners.

    rshowalter - 09:44am Feb 4, 2001 BST (#95 )

    My beloved parter and I dance together in our work as partners.

    Here is something we did as partners. And it shows reasons why I love her as a partner, adore her as a partner, long for her as a partner, and think she's beautiful as a partner.

    WE did this.

    I couldn't have done it without her.

    She couldn't have done it without me.

    I'm proud of it, and think it is is important.

    rshowalter - 08:17pm Feb 5, 2001 BST (#129 of 138)  | 

    rshowalter - 09:44am Feb 4, 2001 BST (#96 )

    I'll call it, for now:

    An operational definition of Good Theory in real sciences for real people. "Partnership output of a beloved lady partner, not yet named, and Robert Showalter.

    In "Beauty" Mark Anderson quotes Heisenberg's definition of beauty in the exact sciences:

    "Beauty is the proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole."

    SUGGESTED DEFINITION: Good theory is an attempt to produce beauty in Heisenberg's sense in a SPECIFIC context of assumption and data.

    Goodness can be judged in terms of that context,

    and also the fit with other contexts
    that, for logical reasons,
    have to fit together.

    The beauty, and ugliness, of a theory can be judged,

    in terms of the context it was built for, and other contexts, including
    the context provided by data not previously considered.

    Words, pictures
    and math have to fit together
    comfortably and workably,


    as far as
    internal consistency goes,

    and in terms of fit
    to what the theory
    is supposed to describe.

    Theories that are useful work comfortably in people's heads.

    Both the "beauty" and "ugliness" of theory are

    Both notions are contextual, and cultural.

    Ugliness is an especially interesting notion.

    To make theory better,
    you have to look for ways
    that the theory is ugly,
    study these, and fix them.

    The ugly parts are where new beauty is to be found.

    ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    ( Note: my beloved thinks "dissonant" is nicer than "ugly", and she's right, and I think that "ugly" is sharper, and closer to the human interest, and that seems right, too. So we're weighing word choices here. )


    A lot of people think Bob Showalter is ugly. He's always pointing out weaknesses, uglinesses, of other people's theories.

    But the reason Bob gives (which is maybe, from some perspectives, a rationalization, but may be right in onther ways) is that the ugly parts provide clues to new progress -- hope that new, more powerful kinds of theoretical and practical beauty can be found.


    And I think by beloved partner is beautiful, something I first felt, thinking of her as a partner.

    rshowalter - 08:19pm Feb 5, 2001 BST (#130 of 138)  | 

    rshowalter - 09:58am Feb 4, 2001 BST (#97)

    Here's a part were I did more work than she, though she was indispensible:

    To make good theory, in complex circumstances, beauty coming into focus must be judged, and shaped, in a priority ordering - and even though the priorities may be shifted for different attempts at beauty, the priorities need to be remembered, and questions of "what is beautiful" and "what ugly" have to be asked in terms of these priorities.

    She has been completely indispensible, and mostly responsible, here, and has been a world intellectual leader, here, for years:

    Intellectual work, and scientific work, is an effort to find previously hidden beauty , and this is what moves people, and warms people. This need for beauty must be remembered, and not stripped away.

  • * * * * * *

    For a long time, I loved her as a partner, and only really thought of her as a partner. When I thought of her, I mostly compared her to Steve Kline, my old partner, and friend, who died three years ago. ( How beautiful she was viewed in that light ! Though Steve was beautiful and special too. )

    And then, with overwhelming force, I found myself in love with her as a woman ... a beautiful woman in all the ways that mattered most to me.

    We feel that, if people paid more attention to aesthetics, and paid especial attention to the notion of ugliness set out here, we might have improved guidance for crafting a world of social relations where "man's inhumanity to man and woman" was less in evidence.

    rshowalter - 11:42pm Feb 7, 2001 BST (#131 of 138)  | 

    In the Europe folder, there is a thread

    "We need an international missile system now - Why "son of Star Wars" is a good idea."

    started by Beckvaa that discusses nuclear dangers, and refers to this thread. Especially insert #9.

    rshowalter - 11:45pm Feb 7, 2001 BST (#132 of 138)  | 

    In the History folder, there's another thread, also started by Beckvaa , If Jesus were alive today . . .

    That refers, extensively, to this thread, and the expanded notions of "the golden rule" that it contains.

    rshowalter - 08:11am Feb 10, 2001 BST (#133 of 138)  | 

    Some of the harshist, but perhaps most hopeful, insights my partner and I have come to are on this thread.

    When we wrote the first and most essential part of it, the notion of "disciplined beauty" that we've come to was not yet focused, though we were moving that way.

    Getting the ideas here more clearly expressed, more widely understood, might go a long way towards making complex cooperation more likely, and cruelty and ugliness less likely, for real people in the real world.

    But I think the expression here, though improvable is pretty clear.

    Comments on how the ideas might be clarified, or better connected to existing notions, would be welcome.

    xpat - 08:22am Feb 10, 2001 BST (#134 of 138)

    The same 'ugly' mistakes are repeated generation after generation, handed down so to speak, the victim becomes the perpertrator.


    Which are the successful frameworks that do break cycles ... which don't.

    rshowalter - 06:37pm Feb 12, 2001 BST (#135 of 138)  | 

    In the last few days, the Missile Defense thread of New York Times on the Web Forums ,,, Science has had interesting, hopeful discussions.

    I believe these discussions have been noticed by government officials.

    This thread has been referenced.

    SeekerOfTruth - 11:27pm Feb 13, 2001 BST (#136 of 138)

    China has about a thousand bactrian camels that live on the Mongolia-china borders where nuclear testing events happened. Were there to be an escalation of nuclear arms these unique animals would be under severe threat in relation to the furhter pollution of their habitat.

    ""The wild camels in the Gashun Gobi are members of the first stock of camels that were domesticated 4,000 years ago, and have been proven to be genetically distinct from the common domestic Bactrian camel. ""

    ON inhumanity to man, the situation in China is of interest to me. There is the bid for 'The Games 2008' and additionally the safety of people in China - working and visiting later.

    China is keen get the games, and sign any necessary international treaties regarding humanity. The reality is though that it sanctions torture of individuals via allowing police to detain and torture people ... in order to extract false confessions and dollars!! If China is incapable of setting 'quality standards' from the top regarding behaviour of the inhumaine variety ... then travellers into China have reason to fear .. especially with regard to 'The Games'.

    rshowalter - 01:00am Feb 14, 2001 BST (#137 of 138)  | 

    Seeker, you're right. Rule of law is very important.

    Beckvaa set up a thread, titled Men are naturally good in The Haven.

    I've referred to this thread there, and rephrased some of my arguments.

    I think this thread may have some of the most interesting ideas that have come from my partnership with Dawn Riley -- who knows a lot about sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and such things.

    Were certain kinds of ugly behavior towards outsiders adaptive for our ancestors? Are these patterns built into human instincts that can cause trouble now?

    We argue yes. And also argue that, once this is known, social conventions, and applications of the Golden Rule that deal with complexity, and show a search for disciplined beauty, may make it possible to avoid, and reduce, some ugly, dangerous, expensive patterns that cause difficulties now.

    Perhaps the most interesting single thing that comes from this argument is that it implies that ..

    Lying to outsiders is natural.

    Deception of outsiders is natural.

    That might explain a lot, pretty compactly.

    rshowalter - 01:04am Feb 14, 2001 BST (#138 of 138)  | 

    If lies are to be expected between adversaries, if we were to become less puritanical about the notion that "everybody lies" .... then it might be possible to sort out a lot of things in the world that are only partly "honest mistakes" -- things that are, in some significant part, the product of inclinations to decieve that are natural to human beings.

    rshowalter - 01:04am Feb 14, 2001 GMT (#138 of 256)  | 

    If lies are to be expected between adversaries, if we were to become less puritanical about the notion that "everybody lies" .... then it might be possible to sort out a lot of things in the world that are only partly "honest mistakes" -- things that are, in some significant part, the product of inclinations to decieve that are natural to human beings.

    rshowalter - 01:10pm Feb 14, 2001 GMT (#139 of 256)  | 

    A point essential to complex applications of the Golden Rule .

    Honesty is better than deception, and honesty, with careful thought and a few conventions, can be safer than people think. In nuclear arms negotiations, we need more honesty, more openness, and fewer lies.

    Generally: To live to together, in peace and prosperity, and comfort, we need more honesty, more openness, and fewer lies. We can all stay well defended, and even become better defended, if we are more open, in ways consistent with disciplined beauty as we see it, and as we expect others to see it.

    I referred to these things, in a place where I believe some people concerned with nuclear arms may be looking.

    wildorchid - 11:48am Feb 16, 2001 GMT (#140 of 256)

    Black and white is really not a issue for me with you. It is a big issue in the world, because of the way things are. Or if other people other want to see it that way.

    rshowalter - 03:38pm Feb 16, 2001 GMT (#141 of 256)  | 

    Sometimes, at the change of an assumption (or the turning off or on of a deception) black turns to white - beautiful to ugly - moral to immoral - right to wrong. I think it helps to be able to see that switching, to savor it, and to question one's judgements of "black" or "white" on the basis of the aesthetics of outcomes.

    If results (or matches to reality) are ugly - something's wrong. When we see ugly results in human interactions, we should look for wrong switching.

    Lies are much more common than people are often willing to think. Including our own.

    Helps to be able to see the yin and yang of things, both at once, as a matter of discipline, and the choose "the good" with a sense of what one means when one does the valuing, and the choosing.

    captainz - 03:44pm Feb 16, 2001 GMT (#142 of 256)

    The Golden Rule is a last resort. Sensitivity is more useful generally. I am not offended by the use of the left hand, but others are.

    rshowalter - 04:05pm Feb 16, 2001 GMT (#143 of 256)  | 

    Given sensitivity, one knows how to apply the golden rule. Without it, one cannot.

    As far as deception is concerned, --- it is a standard part of the grammar of conversation -- want to terminate a string of logic, an area of dialog? As a matter of grammar, say something evasive, something off point, something counterfactual. People do it, they do it all the time, and it is often very graceful. The "social lie" can, and usually does, mean no more than "Let's not talk about that."

    There is a problem, though, when the deception is passed off, not as logical termination (something we'd be paralyzed without) but as TRUTH. -- then we may be leading people, quite intentionally, to conclusions that will HURT them.

    rshowalter - 04:08pm Feb 16, 2001 GMT (#144 of 256)  | 

    If I were to pick a wrenching, damaging fiction - the one I'd pick would be the notion that

    "I never lie .... "

    and its close relative

    "Liars are subhuman -- liars are the other."

    The idea seems pathetic, amazingly counterfactual - yet people feel that, to call someone a "liar" is to dismiss him completely.

    We are all liars - very frequently and unavoidably in the grammatical sense, and sometimes in the agressive, harmful sense, as well.

    rshowalter - 02:09pm Feb 17, 2001 GMT (#145 of 256)  | 

    Notes on deception, and primate characteristics that make "mankind's inhumanity to man and woman" possible -- and understandable -- and might make ways of reducing that inhumanity more clear. We need social interactions that permit complex cooperation -- not mutual destruction.

    New York Times on the Web Forums Science ...... Missile Defense

    "Stanley Milgrams experiment ought to be required reading for all trying to form judgements about the probable "rationality" of our current nuclear arrangements. ........ Here are other references relevant to how willing we ought to be to say

    ...."the authorities say trust us so we should surely trust them. "

    The (11) references below (more, available through a hotkey) were gathered by Dawn Riley and posted on this (NYT MD) thread #317-322

    bNice2NoU - 12:35pm Feb 20, 2001 GMT (#146 of 256)

    Black and White; true or false; are dyadactic viewpoints. Sometimes arriving at truth is via an incremental process.

    bNice2NoU - 12:51pm Feb 20, 2001 GMT (#147 of 256)

    Looking at inhumanity there is often a 'commercial_gain' aspect. To designate minorities as 'other' offers the thought or actuality of gain to the 'in crowd'.

    rshowalter - 02:58pm Feb 20, 2001 GMT (#148 of 256)  | 

    But the gains from complex cooperation can be greater, if people can actually find the sophistication and decency that make the cooperation possible.

    bNice2NoU - 02:57am Feb 21, 2001 GMT (#149 of 256)

    Falun Gong

    I'm surprised the Chinese Government haven't thought to set up a similar mass movement to the Cult Falun Gong ... giving outlet for spiritual needs and exercise to maintain the temple of the spirit. This would be strategically-logical and collect revenue.

    The cult Falun Gong undoubtedly makes the organiser extremely rich ... and cult leaders with excessive bank accounts can and do propergate evil (if they so desire).

    The methods employed by China to dissuade are examples of inhumanity to man ... excesses of torture and designation to psychiatric hospital-prisons.

    Perhaps there's an official move to clean China up ... in an effort to make a clean bid for the Games in 2008.

    rshowalter - 04:22pm Feb 22, 2001 GMT (#150 of 256)  | 

    This kind of inhumanity has been all-too common hisorically:

    U.N. War Crimes Court Convicts Bosnian Serbs in Rape Case By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 9:38 a.m. ET .....February 22, 2001

    "THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- A U.N. war crimes tribunal Thursday convicted three Bosnian Serbs standing trial on charges of rape and torture, the first case of wartime sexual enslavement to come before an international court.

    "The tribunal convicted Dragoljub Kunarac and Radomir Kovac of sexually assaulting and torturing Muslim women at rape camps during the Bosnian war. Kunaric was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, and Kovac got 20 years.

    "The court said Kunarac was involved in a ``nightmarish scheme of sexual exploitation'' that was ``especially repugnant.''

    ".....``You abused and ravaged Muslim women because of their ethnicity, and from among their number you picked whomsoever you fancied,'' said the presiding judge, reading the first verdict.

    "The third defendant, Zoran Vukovic, was convicted of raping and torturing a 15-year-old girl -- who was about the same age as his own daughter -- but acquitted him of most other charges for lack of evidence. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

    "Presiding judge Florence Mumba went through the testimony of woman after woman who had given horrendous accounts of rape and torture in the Bosnian town of Foca, a city southeast of Sarajevo, after it was overrun in April 1992, when Muslims were herded into separate prison camps for men and women.

    "The women, both in their testimony and in the verdict, were identified by numbers rather than names to avoid further shame.

    "The defendants stood in silence, wearing headphones as the judgment was read in somber tones.

    "Dirk Ryneveld, the lead prosecutor in the case, welcomed the verdicts and commended ``the bravery of the victims who came forward to tell their stories.'' Peggy Kuo, another prosecutor, said ``the length of the sentences shows that the court takes these kinds of crimes seriously.''

    "Mumba said the defendants carried out their rape in full knowledge of the systematic attack against the Muslim population ordered by the Bosnian Serb leadership.

    "They were not ``political or military masterminds behind the conflicts and atrocities,'' she said. ``However, they thrived in the dark atmosphere of the dehumanization of those believed to be enemies.''

    I "The verdict in the Foca case follows months of testimony from dozens of witnesses, including 16 former rape victims who came to The Hague to confront their alleged former tormentors. The trial began March 20.

    "The women told how Bosnian Serb paramilitary soldiers entered detention centers and selected women and girls as young as 12 for nightly gang-rapes and sexual torture.

    "They were charged with about 50 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, torture, enslavement and outrages upon personal dignity. The crimes carried maximum life sentences.

    "The tribunal was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1993 to go after the alleged architects of the Bosnian war's bloody ``ethnic cleansing'' campaigns, including the former Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic, and his military chief, Ratko Mladic, who remain at large.

    "However, prosecutors indicted the three irregular soldiers to spotlight the widespread use of rape as a weapon throughout the 1992-1995 war.

    "Human rights groups have estimated that tens of thousands of people, mainly Muslim woman and girls, were raped in the war. The sexual assaults were designed to intimidate Muslim families into flight and force women to bear Serb babies.

    "In their testimony, some witnesses sobbed and others shrieked with rage as they recalled being assaulted by up to 10 soldiers at a time in classrooms of the high school where they were detained, or in soldiers' private apartments -- so-called ``rape camps.''

    "The women attested to the long-lasting gynecological damage and other injuries that resulted, in many cases, in permanent infertility.

    . . . . " ``I remember he was very forceful. He wanted to hurt me,'' one witness said, referring to Kunarac. ``But he could never hurt me as much as my soul was hurting me.''

    ".....``I think that for the whole of my life, all my life, I will feel the pain that I felt then,'' said another woman, who was 15 at the time.

    "Last July, Bosnian Serb lawyers opened their defense, seeking unsuccessfully to get the torture counts thrown out. They did not deny the occurrence of widespread rapes in Foca, but maintained the women who testified had been willing partners.

    "The case has been followed closely by women's rights groups, who contrast the tribunal's progressiveness on sex crimes to other omissions, in particular Japan's reluctance to fully recognize the suffering of the ``comfort women'' who were forced to serve as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers in World War II.

    Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company


    Perhaps, slowly, the world is getting more decent. This behavior should be punished, and acknowledged, more often --- so that ways can be found to make it MUCH less likely.

    The hardest thing, to many, is to acknowledge that these rapists were "normal human beings."

    But they were.

    rshowalter - 08:38pm Feb 26, 2001 GMT (#151 of 256)  | 

    Initiation of nuclear war must be, realistically considered, the ultimate war crime - the ultimate example of man's irrationality, and inhumanity to man. And man's recklessness.

    I have the priviledge of posting a sermon, When the Foundations are Shaking by Dr. James Slatton of the River Road Church (Baptist) in Richmond, Va. - a church I grew up in, a church where my parents have both been deacons, and active in other ways. This church is much like the one Jimmy Carter goes to, theologically, though it is much richer, and more republican, and perhaps basically more conservative. River Road Church has resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention, for various reasons, but is well within the conservative Protestant tradition. I have deep intellectual, moral, and personal respect for the people at River Road Church.

    I believe that most people of good will, including exalted ones, could benefit from the 21 minutes this sermon takes.

    WHEN THE FOUNDATIONS ARE SHAKING ..... by James Slatton . . . . available in RealMedia, Quicktime, and Windows Media7 formats

    I think any military leader, or political leader, who ever attends any kind of religious service, anywhere in the world, could relate to this work.

    I think any member of the clergy, of any faith or creed, anywhere in the world, could relate to this work. I wish religious people in a position of leadership WOULD listen to it.

    People of a more secular view might want to skip ahead to 9:27 in the sermon . Thereafter, it is a tribute to a Russian colonel, who kept nuclear war from destroying us all, during the Reagan administration. And a teaching of lessons that most people know, and live well by, that are important to the preservation of our world. I believe that people of enough good will to be human would be interested, and moved, by this part of the sermon, no matter how secular their views.

    bNice2NoU - 01:49pm Mar 3, 2001 GMT (#152 of 256)

    The world think the Taliban destruction of Afghan people and cultural history is an example of inhumanity to man.

    The issue re Isalm : mohamed couldn't write .. so the books were put together after him, and don't contain, necessarily issues being touted by Talibanimals.

    rshowalter - 04:06pm Mar 3, 2001 GMT (#153 of 256)  | 

    Taking from any book, and then applying to a real situation, requires judgements of context that don't come from the book.

    The Taliban are fine examples of human beings, finding excuses for hateful behavior in books that deserve a more respectful, decent reading.

    Or a willingness to SEE when things don't fit.

    rshowalter - 05:54pm Mar 7, 2001 GMT (#154 of 256)  | 

    The story of Henry Kissinger, great shaper of american foreign policy, setter of style, hypocrite, and war criminal, has been developing for a long time, with some major contributions from the Guardian-Observer.

    Here is a man who has lived in a COMPLICATED world - and often tried to do well. Looking at the stories I see - it isn't easy to even look.

    But here is man who had much good, and much bad, in his character. Or so we must assume - the notion of Kissinger as monster doesn't fit all we know.

    He seems to have acted naturally, by the standards of this thread, for good and ill. And so, too, did many around him.

    rshowalter - 12:08pm Mar 13, 2001 GMT (#155 of 256)  | 

    Looking at the world, there are so many cases of "unthinkable" and "unexplainable" evil and negligence, that the mind and heart recoils. People recall such behavior among the Nazis, and recoil, as well they might. How could "civilized, aesthetically sensitive, cultured people" ALSO act so monstrously, and with such clear and sophisticated murderous intent.

    I think it is probable that, in the United States, many respected men have been willing to risk the destruction of the world, and have acted in ways that have killed many innocents. They have done so in order to make money illicitly, and to cover that up.

    I haven't proved it -- but it seems consistent with the facts, and with the facts of human behavior discussed in this thread.

    rshowalter - 12:09pm Mar 13, 2001 GMT (#156 of 256)  | ends: "A strong circumstantial case for massive fraud and deception, involving massive violation of trust and law, is constructable now."

    "It is possible to show, now, beyond reasonable question, that the means for this have been in place, and that, unless you happen to defer to the ethical purity of the people involved, massive fraud, including very large conflicts of personal interest close to the current administration, are consistent with the facts."

    Concerns about Missile Defense, and nuclear disarmament, are crucial here. With Dawn Riley, I've done very extensive work on this, in many TALK threads, and in a NYT Science forum thread - Missile Defense . . . . . . . . set out in #153-162, Psychwar, Casablanca, and terror , with many hotkeys to that NYT thread.

    A basic point is that classified military expenditures are NOT REALLY SUBJECT TO CLEAR ACCOUNTING --- and so are subject to the possibility of MASSIVE fraud. ---- enough, over 50 years, to subvert the whole economy.

    . " Now, we all know the standard usages of "front operations. . . . If one assumes those usages, what might be done with an enterprise such as the Carlyle Group , or a number of similar investment businesses?

    "one could do a great deal. . . How much would a substantial change in military policy change the current market value of Carlyles equity (currently about 3.5 billion.) ? . . . . Relatively minor changes might cut that equity by 2/3 or more. . . .. James Baker's share of that equity may be of the order of 180 million dollars. The share of the current presidents father is likely to be substantial, as well.

    "These influential people have very direct, and very specific monetary interests in military policy. They may have other interests and liabilities at stake, as well. . . . . Their interests are broad, and many --

    H"ow fast, within such a structure, would it be possible to convey information untraceably, or move money nobody knew they had?

    "How fast could you motivate a change in oil supply or price? How untraceably? How easily?

    "How fast could you buy a baseball team? How untraceably? How easily?

    Fast..... Untraceably. .......Easily.

    This isn't proof -- it is leads -- with motive, means, and opportunity. A lot of "coincidences" could be explained.

    rshowalter - 12:10pm Mar 13, 2001 GMT (#157 of 256)  | 

    Especially in the last two days,there are discussions with "almarst2001 --- who I believe to be an influential Russian, possibly Vladimir Putin.

    Highlights: 925: "China and Russia are afraid that the US is preparing a first strike, or preparing to to invade them -- because they can imagine no other explanation for what is being done.

    "And so they assume the worst.

    "They ought to imagine another explanation. A combination of a snafu, a "good" policy that involved so many lies that no one knew how to turn it off, and a fraud.

    "From the point of view of Russia, China, and many other countries -- how comforting that thought should be !

    "I'll be posting soon with more details -- enough to assist in the imagination -- an attempt at disciplined beauty to replace "explanations" that are so ugly and disproportionate that they don't seem to make sense to anyone.



    956: "It seems that nobody has anwers to our most basic questions about nuclear weapons, then the world needs them. . . . Answers can be gotten by press people -- more might be accomplished Goals:

    "Establishing FACTS beyond reasonable doubt - and explaining these facts very broadly.


    "Crafting a fully workable, fully complete, fully explained "draft treaty proposal" for nuclear disarmament and a more militarily stable world. Such drafting would, at the least, make for stunningly good journalism -- that could be widely syndicated among papers. Useful as that would be, I think the drafting would serve a much more useful purpose. That purpose would be actually getting the points that need to be worked out for nuclear disarmament set out coherently - - to a level where closure actually occurs. That would involve a great deal of staff work done coherently, quickly, and in coordinated fashion.

    "work . . . . done IN PUBLIC --- say if some Moscow Times staff, and people from a couple of US papers, some Guardian staff, and people from some interested governments, started an OPEN dialog together.

    closing last night:

    "Historically, presidents left a power vacuum in American nuclear policy, and people like LeMay and his proteges, and people in the CIA, and some contractors, filled it. And now, that conspiracy, long past any legitimate usefulness, and long since financially corrupt, is menacing the peace of the whole world, and imposing huge costs on innocent people.

    adamlb - 01:27pm Mar 13, 2001 GMT (#158 of 256)


    To get back to your original issue posting, I feel it to be a spiritual truth that those who strive towards their full potential as human beings can develop rich spiritual lives, and their potential as agents of positive change multiplies.


    They also become more vulnerable to our darkest impulses, spiritual negation, evil, call it what you will.

    In opening their hearts to the light, in creeps a bit more of the shadow.

    As CS Lewis would say, the enemy steps up his attack.

    Hence the disintegration and ruin of brilliant minds, and cultured, civilzed, aesthetic groups becoming barbaric.

    rshowalter - 04:48pm Mar 13, 2001 GMT (#159 of 256)  | 

    Yes, and when it happens, one needs to take care, to reverse the bad decisions, cleanse what one can, and establish conventions (which have to be based on facts not fictions to be safe) that let the good things in humanity function, with reasonable limits on the bad.

    In nuclear policy, it is as if the United States has made a sign change error, and joined "the Dark side." The United States is, in many, many other ways, better than that.

    Still, the mistake, and the fraud, may destroy us all. It could easily do so.

    rshowalter - 04:57pm Mar 15, 2001 GMT (#160 of 256)  | 

    Man's inhumanity, very often, is made possible by denial. Australian Broadcast Corporation The World Today - Thursday 15 March 2001 Pakistan's women forced to sell sex to survive

    [audio] There are many troubling problems facing Pakistan. Many of them to do with the position that women find themselves in. And not all of them so easy to talk about.

    The full transcript includes this:

      The United Nations survey of the country's notorious north-west province paints an horrific picture of widespread child abuse.
    . A third of those who took part in the survey, did not even believe child sexual abuse was a bad thing. Let alone a crime.
      Add to the mix an infamously corrupt and incompetent police force, and there's little cause for optimism.
        Islamabad's Inspector General of Police, Major Zahee Ahmad, says Pakistan must first learn to talk about its problems before it can tackle them.
          "MAJOR ZAHEE AHMAD: There's too much of hypocrisy. The majority of people are hypocrites. They don't have the courage to speak up.
            "JONATHAN HARLEY: Among the vast challenges facing Pakistan, perhaps its inability to speak openly about many of them, is the most troubling of all.
              by ABC's South Asia correspondent, Jonathan Harley.

              rshowalter - 04:51pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#161 of 256)  | 

              From "H-NET List on the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology" <H-SCI-MED-TECH@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

              REPLY: Spurling on Nikolic-Ristanovic, _Women, Violence, and , War_

              Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 16:09:13 +0200 From: Stowell Kessler <>

              Dear Colleagues: It is, of course, questionable that such terrible atrocities against women and also men in war can be written about so soon after the events described in an objective way. But even so there is something to be said for doing it. If such quasi-emotional writings do anything they alert the other corners of the world to the ravages of war.

              Because my own work is pressing I only wish to comment on one statement regarding rape in warfare.To say that the same motivations generate rape outside of the conditions of war is blatantly in error. War-vain glorious war gives silent approval to every sin on the face of the earth. It justifies acts against the "enemy" that are precisely anti-thetical to what is accepted inside the society. Homosexual rape in prisons is made more prevalent by placing men in a situation where normal sexually activity is precluded. War also does that. No doubt some men hear war giving them permission for this terrible act of hatred toward women. And I do not doubt that at least some have a propensity to rape outside the war zone. However the conditions of war like the prison create some very different kinds of pressures. I have served in a war and I have also counseled rape victims and abuse victims. In the Korean War I never experienced a situation in which rape was taking place. I think that the nature of the Yugoslavia situation were and are quite different. In my work I bend over backwards not to engage in oversimplification. Writing about the concentration camps in the South African War I often comment to the media and other interested persons that in the case of atrocities it is sufficient to narrate what happened. The reader can see the horrible nature of warfare and the atrocities of war.

              If our purpose is to relate the history and also to interpret it, and interpret we must, we must be restrained and very ethical in our statements. And we must not make statements like this unless they are well documented in a non-selective research model. Otherwise the ho rrors we describe will be lost in a sea of our own lack of credibility. The truth is bad enough and in some respects we must allow the truth hold center stage.

              Stowell Kessler (male)

              ruth1954 - 05:10pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#162 of 256)

              The terrible things we do when we abdicate responsiblity for own actions to others. I dont know if its natural or not ...... I dont want to think it is. If love of self was acceptable in society then we wouldnt do these to ourselves would we? In many cultures (I dont know if it applies to all) to be 'yourself' has been/is unacceptable. I suppose we are all always want to put our interpretations of truth onto everyone else ............

              rhs if you do know something we dont know if there is a conspiracy .... would I be surprised would the knowledge of it make me feel impotent ... yes ... what a tangled web we weave..

              rshowalter - 07:14pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#163 of 256)  | 

              We need to untangle many of the webs - and we can.

              But there are patterns, so common that, in a sense, we don't notice them, that make thing very, very hard.

              I can only take action, when there is SOME chance of success. I take risks, and serious ones, but I'm not suicidal.

              You'd think, from where I am, that it would be EASY to move things forward. But in some very imporant ways, I'm facing "Chain Breakers" -- and very big ones. I need help, and in a sense, the help I need looks easy -- but it is harder to get than it looks -- much, much harder to get.

              Do you know how few people, in the last year, have been willing to talk to me face to face? Or to use their real names? I need help. I'm trying to think out how to get it.

              It would seem simple. Once, it hasn't been so long ago, I thought it made sense to talk to a major newspaper. I went to their office -- used a name that should have worked, -- some conversation ensued -- and I was thrown out -- to come back at a later time. When I did so, I was greeted by the Press Secretary of the woman who was then Secretary of State of the United States of America. I had come, in the hope of smoothing out the entry, with some flowers, as a gesture of thanks at a time when I felt a certain insecurity -- this government official, and the news people around him, were so threatened by the unexpected presence of these flowers that I was escorted to the door -- in something that looked for all the world like a mix of panic and aversion -- thrown out -- and nobody let me tell them anything. They didn't want to know. They were afraid to so much as hear the first word. Their reactions were stark with fear. Not so very long ago.

              Such reactions, and themes and variations of them, are a common part of my experience, and they are personally hard to bear, and mean that I live in more danger than one might otherwise expect.

              I neeed help, to be able to do things, like talk to people, that ought to be possible. Somehow, much too often, even by people who seem to care for me, I'm treated like a monster.

              So much, that looks so possible, is barred for that reason. And the reactions that I get make me hesitate to do what might seem like easy things.

              How do I break past the "forum" level of public discourse. It is harder than it looks, because in ways that count, nobody will vouch for me.

              A poem on exactly that point, from my personal experience, is in "There's Always Poetry" in Guardian Talk. That poem, and two others of interest, are linked in the NYT Science News Poetry #265

              the poem is CHAIN BREAKERS.

              For the Secular Redemption that is needed here, I need to get past some chain breakers that might seem, from a distance, unbelievable. These barriers, so far, have also been almost unbelievably severe. I need some help. I'm thinking hard, about how to ask for it, in a way that could actually work, in my world as it is.

              ruth1954 - 07:43pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#164 of 256)

              I havent read your poems rsh. I admit I dont even really understand the problem.

              People wont hear what the dont want to hear. I dont know how desperate this mission of yours is. You cannot take it all on your own shoulders. If your family find it hard to understand I think you're going to find it even harder to get others to take notice.

              I suggest you try meditation and allow the inspiration to come to you. If its meant to be its meant to be. If not stop torturing yourself and your family and let it pass. Things have a way of working out.

              rshowalter - 08:50pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#165 of 256)  | 

              "rhs if you do know something we dont know if there is a conspiracy ...."

              How do I know what you don't know? Anyway, maybe life is looking up.

              One thing is clear. Some problems beyond a certain level of complexity take staff work to solve. That's just how it is.

              That is especially true, for situations where the pattern by which things are hidden is "hiding in plain sight under very complicated circumstances."

              Ask the questions:

                "Who benefits?"
              "How nonrandom do the benefits appear to be?
                "What are the mechanisms, that can be seen and inferred, by which the benefits accrue?

                    "How can this seem to be proper (or improper.)"
                  I'll be thinking about ways to pursue the matter further -- but most of them have something of "detective work" about them.

                  If people take the position "we don't ever have to listen to conspiracy theories" any coordinated explanation has been classified out of existence.

                  It doesn't seem to me that there is any terrible hurry. Before "things have a way of working out" the people who "work them out" have to assimilate, and integrate what they know, and react.

                  ruth1954 - 09:09pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#166 of 256)

                  exactly I just get so fed up with everything being a conspiracy and nothing being down to plain incompetence.

                  somebody somewhere I am sure is pulling together all the purported conspiracies and putting them into an even more convoluted conspiracy which they will publish as a bestseller at some point....just give it a sexy enough title

                  and I dont see what proper and improper have to do with it. Proper and improper from what or who's perspective??

                  rshowalter - 09:11pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#167 of 256)  | 

                  People who share a paradigm, a way of thinking, can LOOK LIKE an illicit conspiracy (maybe it is helpful to think of people who share a paradigm as being part of a "licit" conspiracy.)

                  So there's always a "null hypothesis" associated with a conspiracy theory.

                  But when the issue is GROSS conflict of interest -- where people know that there are strong money reasons for distorting thought and decision --- the question of conspiracy, though it can be very impotant, isn't essential.

                  It may also be true that redemptive solutions may occur where people are allowed to "cover their tracks" when the evil that the conspiracy did is stopped, especially with adjustments that get the important things done.

                  I'll be thinking about "uncovering conspiracy" -- though, for me, by far the more important thing is getting the nukes under control -- and ideally effectively outlawed, in a workable way.

                  rshowalter - 09:19pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#168 of 256)  | 

                  Ruth, wrote my last without seeing yours. Let me respond.

                    ..." I just get so fed up with everything being a conspiracy and nothing being down to plain incompetence."
                  Me too, and the Russians have a BIG problem with this - sometimes it seems that, to them, everything is a "conspiracy" -- and they mean an illicit conspiracy -- even when they are looking at quite standard complex cooperation in Western societies. But it makes sense to ask, with disciplined beauty, whether the notion of a conspiracy happens to fit a particular circumstance -- so long as it fits, and makes financial sense, it shouldn't be ruled out.

                  You say that you

                    "dont see what proper and improper have to do with it."
                  You ask:

                    Proper and improper from what or who's perspective?
                  In general, those are the right questions, and in specific cases, those questions, quite often, have specific answers.

                  For example, if a significant number of very close associates of the President of the United States have financial stakes, in the tens of millions each, that hinge on the support of specific military expenditures that is, by very broadly shared standards, an improper circumstance.

                  rshowalter - 09:29pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#169 of 256)  | 


                  A lot can be done, pretty safely, in clear in this situation, because so much is "hiding in plain sight" -- and on the public record.

                  But it is also true that very much of it is BUILT so that it does not comfortably fit newspaper usages -- so you have to give the matter some thought.

                  Thing DO have a way of working out.

                  ruth1954 - 09:43pm Mar 17, 2001 GMT (#170 of 256)

                  :) ok rsh

                  Of course I wont disagree that it is improper for the president to be influenced by his friends on matters of state but doesnt the american process have a system for critqueing military expenditure ........

                  The electoral system itself is so expensive only rich people with rich backers can become president anyway. And who are some of the wealthiest people in the world... people connected with the arms industry.

                  The nuclear issue has become so complex now that I wonder if anyone can actually control the outcome. You may know something different but I believe its out of the US control now. The US has had its chances to exert influence on the control of nuclear power and stopped short at every instance because of the influence of money usually for short term gain.

                  No one is given the medium term never mind the long term to sort out problems every thing has to be done now immediately or its not good enough. The people influencing nuclear proliferation at the moment have longer time horizons and know how to wait. Americans need to stop and think but I dont know if they're capable of doing that. The culture is so tied up with material wealth. The links to other longer traditions have been cut. I wonder if societies with longer traditions actually see that. They maybe think a Chinese American is at a heart Chinese or an Anglo American is at heart English but of course they are at heart American and inheritors of a different tradition.

                  :) by the way the more I think about natural good and evil if you accept those concepts the more I think its nothing to do with being natural more to do with failure to understand cultural differences. The Nazi rise made sense in the context of events leading up to it in the early 1900s. It was the failure of other European governments to see that rise in the context of German culture that allowed Hitler to act out his inhuman policies.


                  bNice2NoU - 07:08am Mar 23, 2001 GMT (#171 of 256)

                  Yes that's a point .. only the RICH can stand for president ... and to become rich might involve some sort of corruption or compromise back when.

                  rshowalter - 09:05pm Mar 28, 2001 GMT (#172 of 256)  | 

                  We need more openness. Campaign finance reform, which is making headway in the US, would help.

                  ruth1954 - 09:45pm Mar 28, 2001 GMT (#173 of 256)

                  even if there was a more open political system in the states do you think the size of the country and the diversity of populations could produce anymore choice than exists at present? I get the impression that the States is quite happy to allow the rich to inherit the earth because thats why most of their forefathers or even their current fathers and mothers went there. The freedom thing is a useful veneer to cover that basic commonality of purpose.

                  The 'evil' acts that pervade the world in the name of politics or religion are relative to the doers and recipients at the end of the day. We can look on in horror at the tit for tat evils in the Middle East or the absurdities in Afghanistan and use those examples to support a view of natural evil but I look at the vast majority of people in this world and see them trying to live thier lives and keep thier families alive. Most of those people are basically good people but their lives are never reported unless they're blown up by accident or used for propaganda by some regime or other. The majority of these people dont support the loonies in their midst or if they do its part of their culture and so from thier point of view evil is not involved.

                  Whats my point .... same as my last posting I suppose ... until as groups we are prepared to allow another group with different beliefs/cultures to coexist the acts usually carried out in the name of truth will continue... maybe as individuals we can be naturally good but as a group the sum of that good is evil. I know ....I'm probably spouting rubbish here ... just thinking aloud ! And I know I've spelt their incorrectly several times (talk about what really matters !! spelling wheres the thread for demanding spell check on the message board!!)

                  bNice2NoU - 08:07pm Mar 31, 2001 GMT (#174 of 256)

                  S I L E N C E

                  is a weapon of inhumanity ... silence is keeping people 'in the dark' ... having secrets, locking people out, keeping secrets secret.

                  Silence can be a weapon against other 'people' .. who may be taxpayers and voters --- and should have 'rights'

                  bNice2NoU - 09:02am Apr 13, 2001 GMT (#175 of 256)

                  A doco on the German invasion of Paris WWII showed examples of inhumanity to man - torture. People died rather than implicate others.

                  The torture part of the plan to re-locate the resources of France (including labour) towards fueling the German war machine.

                  Memory of better times, own culture, need for future generations to have a better future, revenge for enemy crimes etc would be motivators to overthrow an enemy driven by a 'madman'.

                  rshowalter - 08:31pm Apr 14, 2001 GMT (#176 of 256)  | 

                  Since the time of Confucious, in 550 BC, the idea of "the Golden Rule" has been enunciated --- and it may be as old as mankind itself, in one form or another. And yet, the Golden Rule has often failed. An essential reason, Dawn Riley and I believe, is that inhumanity to "outsiders" is natural, too.

                  And people are more fragile than is sometimes thought. The Nazis did degrade and exploit the Kapos as they did in the death camps. And they were able to do so.


                  rshowalter - 08:32pm Apr 14, 2001 GMT (#177 of 256)  | 

                  There's tangible progress in the mutual practice of "the golden rule" between the US, Russia, and other countries

                  Powell, on Balkans Trip, Warns Against Fresh Violence by Jane Perlez
                    Boeing and Russia to Study Making Planes by Sabrina Tavernise
                      The question... "How do you create a system of international ethics that is transcultural? is being discussed, with reference to this thread and other Guardian Talk threads. and

                      bNice2NoU - 04:18am Apr 18, 2001 GMT (#178 of 256)

                      will follow up

                      rshowalter - 05:12pm Apr 19, 2001 GMT (#179 of 256)  | 

                      Here is a partial follow up.

                      I've commented on recent news on the Osprey program in the NYT Missile Defense Tread -- and the first of my postings was accepted, while the following was not:

                      "I think the case, including Mr Augustine's involvement in it, connect well to concerns about deception, and imbalances of evidence presented and considered, with respect to some government matters, notably Missile Defense.

                      The Osprey issue hinges in large measure on an issue of vortex ring state , as Dao's piece makes clear. With Steve Kline, I've done a great deal of work on the engineering of vortex flow fields, particulary for mixing, and have several patents on the subject, and much successful technical experience.

                      The technical area involved does not lend itself, nor is it likely to lend itself in the near future, to adequate computational study for Osprey's purpose.

                      Nor is it clear now that ANY experimental fluid mechanical investigation can assure that Osprey passangers will be safe for vortex ring state caused fatalities.

                      The reasons were partialy reviewed in a recommendation letter Steve Kline wrote about me and a visual sense of the difficulties in dealing with the matter experimentally can be gotten in reference to Van Dyke's An Album of Fluid Motion , referred to also in that letter.

                      Can the military-industrial complex evade clear answers, and, in practical effect, lie to the American people? I believe that this affair shows, rather clearly, that it can do so, and shows the essential means.

                      Casts of characters are chosen.

                      Someone of "total authority and integrity" lies, or evades in a way that has the effect of a lie, and does so in public.

                      And he is trusted.

                      rshowalter - 05:14pm Apr 19, 2001 GMT (#180 of 256)  | 

                      It seems to me that this case illustrates, rather clearly in some ways, some techniquest that can be used for diversion and deception. Used to defend against inquiry. Used to set the stage for predatory behavior, or the taking of money under false pretenses. Used to cause mechanisms trusted to make sound balanced judgements "judge the worse to be the better cause."

                      catdude - 12:23am Apr 21, 2001 GMT (#181 of 256)


                      I think that most people have some "inherent good" in them. Yet, there are some "natural psychopaths" who are going to do terrible bad without remorse due to a terribly messed-up brain. At the same time, there are people such as the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele who have what I would call "psychopathic leanings" who, given the right (wrong?) environment, are willing to commit atrocious acts. This leads to the Nazi atrocities as a whole. How could something like the Holocaust happen? It is true that in ancient and medieval societies, a lot of killing and torture wasn't exactly unknown. However, the people being oppressed or attacked generally often made good serfs or slaves. And, just as the germ theory of disease was unknown during those times, people didn't know about causes of heredity or worry about it excessively (except in crude agricultural experiments). I feel it really took the modern nation-state, subject to modern economic crises, coupled with pathological views of racial superiority and modern technology, to make something like the Holocaust possible. Modern mass communications (radio and newspapers) and modern education really helped in this regard, too, especially when they were tightly controlled by the state. Put all this in a blender, along with a "starter agent" of a minority of fanatical Nazis in the 1920s, and a populace that was largely willing to "give their program a try" in the 1930s, and you could have a Holocaust. (Anger at defeat in WWI and required reparations from it probably also helped the Nazis gain power.) Indeed, it took something wrong in Germans' thinking in the early 20th century to get the disease to germinate, but to really get it to blossom, the modern nation-state, technology, modern communication and education, and warped racial theories and rabid anger were needed, the latter also serving as a convenient scapegoat for Germany's problems as well. BTW, I'm not a Luddite; modern technology, education, medicine, etc. have brought many people wonderful things that have greatly enhanced the quality of their lives. I'm just trying to explain how these ingredients, when combined with a very sour economy and pathological thinking, could create a Holocaust. A Holocaust is the most horrible thing that an industrial revolution could produce; we found out in the late 1930s and especially in the early 1940s that indeed, it could be produced. And, it took a "modern, cultured" country with the technological know-how to carry it out. (Also, BTW, I don't hate modern Germany if anybody has drawn this conclusion.)

                      rshowalter - 09:04pm Apr 21, 2001 GMT (#182 of 256)  | 

                      Catdude -- the point of this thread, especially the first part of it, is that people are BOTH good (to members of their own group) and EVIL (to outsiders percieved in some way as threatening.)

                      In the Nazi case the homogeneity of the response of a whole nation makes it hard for me to excuse the majority of Germans -- though it was a particularly evil and monstrous groupd of bad actors who converted a whole nation to the predator band that Nazi Germany was.

                      The apparatus of nuclear war is more terrible than anything the Germans contemplated -- and so I can't give a pass to the "benevolent" americans, either.

                      Even Hitler did SOME good things, and was gracious and attractive SOME of the time. So your point that

                        "most people have some "inherent good" in them"
                      may be true, but is a limited comfort.

                      catdude - 04:07am Apr 22, 2001 GMT (#183 of 256)


                      First of all, it takes a sensitive person to start this type of thread. And, it's true that the horrors of something like Nazi Germany and Japanese collaboration were met with the horror of atomic weapons to try to put a quick end to the war.

                      I know you may not agree here, but given the ruthlessness of the Axis, I feel that those bombs were less evil than, say, Nazis at Auschwitz dumping truckloads of children into a fire to quickly exterminate them because the gas chambers and crematoria were becoming overloaded.

                      If there is a God, I think it wants people to be happy, not miserable, despite the existence of misery in the world. I don't think we need to feel "guilty" about trying to find happiness, despite all this misery. However, in a small way, there are things that we can do to try to make the world a better place and ameliorate torture and suffering. For example, through my membership in Amnesty International, I feel I have done a small part in trying to stop torture and executions.

                      Maybe the day will come when we have such a good understanding of the human genome and environmental influence that we can truly "eliminate evil." (How much we should tamper with genes would, of course, open up a can of worms in itself to bioethicists and the public.) However, we can only work with what we have at our disposal at this time, and as I just mentioned, I think that it is morally okay to try to be happy, and that we should try to achieve this.

                      It can be most difficult for a person as sensitive as you are at first, but talking out the dilemma with others (as you are doing on this board) and helping others where you can will hopefully allow you to find peace.

                      rshowalter - 02:19am Apr 23, 2001 GMT (#184 of 256)  | 

                      I'm finding some peace, and some satisfaction -- I've been very concerned about nuclear weapons, all my life, and I've had something of an education in evil.

                      But it seems to me that things are getting more hopeful, that the number of reasons for ugliness and sufferering are basically few, and that things can be a lot more beautiful.

                      I've got some hope about finding peace -- real contentment. Some things, it seems to me, are going hopefully.

                      I believe that, if a relatively few things are understood (including the naturalness of evil - for human "hunting groups" ) we can make the world a happier and more graceful place.

                      And the last year of my life, since Dawn Riley took me in hand, has been, everything considered, the best and happiest of my life. And I've got a lot of hope that things will get better -- I hope for both of us, and ideally, for both of us, together.

                      You're sure right that "the pursuit of happiness" is vital. Thanks.

                      Fact is, I'm getting a big charge out of a lot of things, stress and all, these days.

                      catdude - 03:25am Apr 23, 2001 GMT (#185 of 256)


                      Good to hear that last positive note! And BTW, with my own bouts with anxiety and depression, finding happiness has been difficult. However, I have improved considerably over the last two years.

                      Finding things in life that have meaning to them, which have both a creative ingredient as well as a social ingredient of helping others, has been some of the most powerful medicine available to me.

                      Someone once described the search for human meaning as trying to visualize a four-dimensional cube. We, being merely human, can only see the outlines of such a cube. These outlines were metaphorically referred to as "meaning lines." The best we mere mortals can do is travel along these meaning lines to find meaning, and ultimately happiness, in our lives.

                      And the real kicker one can really do it for us. Not even the world's best therapist, although he/she can serve as mentor and guide. We have to take the journey ourselves and explore into the scary environment along those lines to catch that meaning and happiness.

                      I'll admit that with my anxiety and depression, medicine did help a hell of a lot. I don't feel it changed who I simply transformed me into "the healthy version of myself," which allowed me to find the strength to walk along those meaning lines. If you feel that you are chronically anxious or depressed, you may want to talk about it with a health practitioner, who could probably be of assistance.

                      I wish you the best journey possible in your quest for meaning and happiness. I know that you can reach it and obtain it, although sometimes it can seem like trying to grab hold of a slippery snake. And, as you are doing, always feel free to talk to others when you need's such a powerful healer. Take care and find peace.

                      bNice2NoU - 07:15am Apr 23, 2001 GMT (#186 of 256)

                      Sounds as if some of you guys have been to Talibhan and back .. one hell of a journey!

                      rshowalter - 02:35am Apr 30, 2001 GMT (#187 of 256)  | 

                      In these Guardian Talk threads and in the NYT Missile Defense thread, Dawn Riley and I have worked to focus patterns of human reasoning and persuasion, and problems with human reasoning and persuasion.

                      These citations deal with that:

                      We believe that controversies that could not be resolved before may be resolvable now.

                      The techniques we (and so many other people on the net) are using to get things to closure are the same techniques that often work in well conducted jury trials.

                      Perhaps we're too optimistic, but we feel that, in small part because of our efforts, and in large part due to the wonderful resources of the Guardian Observer that we've been grateful to use, the risk of nuclear destruction may be coming down.

                      At least sometimes, we get that happy feeling.

                      American opinion may, alas, probably will, have to lag opinion outside America on issues here. That makes the Guardian Observer, which is respected all over the world, an especially vital force.

                      rshowalter - 02:38am Apr 30, 2001 GMT (#188 of 256)  | 

                      The death of about 20 unarmed women and children in Vietnam more than 30 years ago is a clear example of many of the issues in this thread -- including the anguish of people trying to come to terms with what they have done.

                        Reader Discussion: 'One Awful Night in Thanh Phong'
                      Dawn Riley and I, and some other people, including a Russian figure who seems to think like a Russian leader, have been discussing issues of nuclear balances, and missile defense, in the NYT - Science - Missile Defense Thread.

                      As readers here know, the thread is extensive, and represents an effort to set down, using techniques the internet makes possible, an open corpus, with many crosslinks, adapted to assist in the focusing of issue toward closure. A summary of the thread, which is too large for easy reading, but not for sampling, is set out in a few pages with many links from #153 on in -- International Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 16:35

                      The Kerrey matter is related to the larger atrocity of nuclear terror through his very good NYT OpED piece ARMED TO EXCESS ... March 2, 2001 . Nuclear war involves atrocity on an almost unthinkable scale, and the Kerrey story tends to make that more thinkable.

             <br> <br> <br> <br> <br>

             ends > " If more Americans could rise to (Kerrey's) level of moral sensitivity, current grave risks to the survival of the whole world could be ended."

                      rshowalter - 02:02pm May 1, 2001 GMT (#189 of 256)  | 

                      People and things need to be checked, and some things can be. Sometimes some progress gets made.

                      rshowalter - 08:53pm May 12, 2001 GMT (#190 of 256)  | 

                      I'm grateful that this thread is being left up - - it makes an argument that I believe may be essential, if we as human animals are to learn to make peace, so that it works.

                      I'm posting this note in Guardian Threads I'm personally very interested in, as a matter of pride, and to keep them current.

                      The New York Times - Science - MISSILE DEFENSE thread would total about ten 1 1/2' looseleaf notebooks by now. I summarized it, in a way you might find interesting, and could read quickly, in 3532: , which reads in part:

                        "We've had outstanding contributors -- who have furthered discussion by taking a special "stand-in" role.
                      "We've had "stand-ins" who have imitated, or tried to imitate, the thought processes of important world figures, so that the discourse here could progress, and simulate more important dialogs to be hoped for. We've had extremely well written, thoughtful, and extensive contributions with a "Bill Clinton -stand in" a "Vladimir Putin -- stand in" , and a " Bush Administration Sr Advisor -- stand in" . Sometimes I've been in personal doubt whether these people have been stand-ins, because the work of these people has been so good. If you sample the work of these people, you may agree with how good their work is.
                        Here are links to directories , each with many links and highlights summarized, for these stand-ins --- a massive amount of correspondence in all.
                          I personally believe that correspondence between senior people in communication with their governments is going on in this Missile Defense thread. My opinion is only my own. The postings are, by intention of all concerned, provisional and deniable.

                          Work on the NYT Missile Defense is ongoing, at a fast pace, and I feel things are happening that are sometimes wrenching, as deep disagreements are being made clear, but yet very constructive.

                          I believe that the Guardian-Observer , and The New York Times , using the new possibilities of the internet, are making real world progress possible. Dawn Riley and I are trying to participate in some of that.

                          rshowalter - 01:03am May 13, 2001 GMT (#191 of 256)  | 


                          I feel that a great deal of progress has been made since gisterme's debut #2997:

                          ....and my response to gisterme's direct question ... #2999: .

                          Especially since gisterme's 3319 -

                 which I responded in .. 3327-3328 : with the citation THREATS TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS: The Sixteen Known Nuclear Crises of the Cold War, 1946-1985 by David R. Morgan

                          We've come long way since - common ground is being established, differences are being clarified, thoughts and ideas are coming into focus.

                          Dawn Riley and I believe that, especially with the augmented memory of the internet, controversies that could not be resolved before may be resolvable now.




                          It seems to me that the NYT Missile Defense thread, and the wonderful threads here, contain steps toward showing that.

                          I've been heartened by how much progress is being made in these thread -- even in the four days, and 235 posting, since #3532 - .

                          A lot has changed about the prospects for world peace and world nuclear safety in the last 100 days, and not all of it is bad, by any means. If we're more scared than before, and more frustrated, that could be all to the good -- some people are paying attention.

                          rshowalter - 02:37pm May 13, 2001 GMT (#192 of 256)  | 

                          Cited this thread, to "Putin stand in" almarst , who I believe is well connected to the Russian government.

                          rshowalter - 10:34pm May 14, 2001 GMT (#193 of 256)  | 

                          In NYT Missile Defense #3839 almarst_2001 , our "Putin-Stand in" asked a key question - and in context, it is an example of good faith, and of difficulties to be faced:

                          As I mentioned before, the nuclear wearpons and the MAD deterrance may be the only hope of any country not ready to submit to US or being treated like Yugoslavia or Iraq.
                            Do you have any dought the Moscow would be bombed just like Belgrad a long time ago, if not for the MAD?
                              What assurances can anyone have in a current state of the conventional ballance of power and the way, the Washington politics works?

                                A great question, that I'm trying to answer, with people listening.

                                rshowalter - 08:36pm May 17, 2001 GMT (#194 of 256)  | 

                                Many citations from Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there? Guardian Talk , Science, are cited, and are playing a crucial part, in dialog on the NYT Missile Defense thread that appears to be involving representatives of governments.

                                MD 4048:


                                I deeply appreciate Guardian Talk -- and anything Dawn and I are lucky enough to accomplish will be, in large part, due to the the wonderful resources and readers here.

                                jihadij - 03:11pm May 20, 2001 GMT (#195 of 256)

                                Germ warfare is on the Bush agenda

                                rshowalter - 05:40pm May 23, 2001 GMT (#196 of 256)  | 

                                Last weekend, I went to a small scientific meeting, and discussed both missile defense issues and some personal science. What I displayed is discussed and linked at NYT-Science- Missile Defense MD 4080-4081

                                I was pleased with the meeting. Paradigm conflicts are resolving on the scientific side. Some of the social-psychological-institutional conditions for workable discussions on reduction of nuclear risks seem to me to be promising.

                                Partly because they fit the MD discussions, I've reposted parts of an old thread started by Beckvaa -- "If Jesus Was Alive Today" in Detail and the Golden Rule -- Guardian Talk, Issues , and discuss it a little in MD 4159

                                The start of this tread is an organic part - now at the end, of Detail and The Golden Rule . A poster in the NYT MD thread, who I have reason to think is a thoughtful, well connected Russian, seems to have found the argument good.

                                I'm hopeful. And also very thankful for the Guardian Talk community.

                                rshowalter - 03:42pm May 25, 2001 GMT (#197 of 256)  | 

                                Mankind's inhumanity to Man and Woman -- in spades.

                                If the information here were more widely known, and faced, in the USA and the world, much good would follow, and much deception and misfortune avoided.

                                CIA's Worst-Kept Secret by Martin A. Lee May 16, 2001

                                rshowalter - 12:25pm May 27, 2001 GMT (#198 of 256)  | 

                                Deception, self deception, group deception, all come easily, and can reinforce and "justify" man's inhumanity to man and woman.

                                Putting Your Faith in Science? by GINA KOLATA is, I believe, a fine contribution to the culture. What it says reinforces, and reinforces strongly, the arguments Dawn Riley and I have been making, about the need for checking , in Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there? Guardian Talk, Science .

                                Kolata's piece, which makes essential arguments beautifully, and takes them into the mainstream culture with a grace I could never muster, and from the commanding position of the NYT Week In Review, ought to make a dent in many minds. It ends:

                                  " Dr. McDonald said he wrote a paper 18 years ago that concluded that the placebo effect did not exist. But, he said, the New England Journal of Medicine rejected the manuscript, saying that everyone knew the effect existed. The paper was eventually published, in Statistics in Medicine. But he met with such disbelief that he gave up even talking about his findings.
                                " It wasn't the right time," he said. "But the good thing about science is that sooner or later the truth comes out."
                                  'Subject to safeguards and checking, sooner is better than later. How many doctors, in this 18 years time, have comforted themselves that they've "done something" when they've prescribed a placebo -- when, without the comfort of a misconception, they might have thought harder?

                                  sn1337: rshowalt 8/22/00 3:29pm

                                  sn1342: markk46b 8/23/00 2:44am

                                  sn1343: rshowalt 8/23/00 7:31am

                                  MD4210: rshowalter "Missile Defense" 5/25/01 6:04pm

                                  xpat - 02:00am May 31, 2001 GMT (#199 of 256)

                                  This inhumanity to man thing is happening again in Macedonia ....

                                  ... are packs of men with guns 'just selfish?'

                                  rshowalter - 03:13pm Jun 2, 2001 GMT (#200 of 256)  | 

                                  The politics in the US is shifting so that the basic ideas on this thread are becoming more acceptable. If the ideas about "man and outsiders" become more widely accepted, there will be new, practical opportunities for peace. I've been heartened by political happenings this last week.

                                  rshowalter - 12:39pm Jun 6, 2001 GMT (#201 of 256)  | 

                                  A big story, with wrenching consequences, and all aspects of mankind's humanity and inhumanity -- wisdom and folly -- the ongoing tragedy and struggle with AIDS.

                                  How much better the world would be, how much less agony there would now be, if lies and self deception about AIDS could have been less, and discipline in the common good could have been greater.

                                  See an admirable NYT Special AIDS at 20 --

                                  and especially a stunning graphic THE SIZE OF AIDS ON A (NATIONAL AND GLOBAL) SCALE

                                  jihadij - 03:25pm Jun 7, 2001 GMT (#202 of 256)

                                  Important to educate and re-educate .... that's the only protection - truth!

                                  rshowalter - 10:40pm Jun 8, 2001 GMT (#203 of 256)  | 

                                  Thoughts about getting more good done, and less bad, using internet discourse.


                                  bNice - 03:12am Jun 13, 2001 GMT (#204 of 256)

                                  Knowledge used to double every ten years .. with improved communications systems .. enabling discourse .. wonder how many years to double the volume of knowledge now ... at least some can be cyber-stored, accessed and distributed.

                                  bNice - 03:55am Jun 13, 2001 GMT (#205 of 256)

                                  Outlawing use of child soldiers ...

                                  UK USA deploy under 18's

                                  Africa - children made to go back to own villages and kill their families ... so they have no where to run back to; children raped - used as bounty.

                                  Lightweight weapons - enable children to be used!

                                  5 countries have signed international treaty re child soldiers -- including the Congo.

                                  rshowalter - 05:41pm Jun 15, 2001 GMT (#206 of 256)  | 

                                  I'm about to cite #163, this thread, on the NYT Missile Defense board, where, it seems to me, some folks may be paying attention.

                                  rshowalter - 07:18pm Jun 19, 2001 GMT (#207 of 256)  | 

                                  Some folks continue to pay attention.

                                  Since Missile Defense 4433 there have been 906 postings.

                                  The NYT forums have now reinstalled a search function, after a long time -- and it seems to be the same one the Guardian uses, with search page lengths the same as in these TALK threads.

                                  The NYT Missile Defense thread is being extensively used, and discussion and controversy are continuing. Main contributers are:

                                  almarst_2001, previously almarstel2001 who, since March 5 has acted as a "Putin stand-in" in the Missile Defense forum, and shows extensive connections to literature, and to Russian government ways of thought.

                                  gisterme , who since May 2nd has acted as a "Senior Bush administration advisor stand in" who shows some plausible connections to the Bush administration.

                                  Posters ( beckq , cookies ) who, according to the dialog, are the same poster, who I'd interpret as "stand-ins" for former President Clinton since August 2000

                                  Me, and Dawn Riley, who have been arguing for improved communication, and as much nuclear disarmament as possible within the imperatives of military balances, since September 25, 2000

                                  Counting search pages, for characters, gives some sense of the participation. Here are the number of search pages for these posters:

                                  Putin stand-in, Almarst --- 55 search pages.

                                  Bush Advisor stand-in, gisterme ----- 35 search pages

                                  Clinton stand-in, beckq, or cookies2 ----- 7 search pages

                                  Dawn Riley - - - - 85 search pages

                                  Robert Showalter - - - - 166 search pages.

                                  I've contributed the most words to the MD thread, and Dawn the most citations and the most connection to the news.

                                  But the involvement of the "stand-ins" has been very extensive, too, represents an enormous work committment on thier part, and their postings are, I think, very impressive. The involvement of these "stand-ins" continues. I believe that their work has assisted in the focusing of problems where neither the US nor the Russians were clear about how to make contact with each other before.

                                  The thread is an ongoing attempt to show that internet usages can be a format for negotiation and communication, between staffed organizations, capable of handling more complexity, with more clarity and more complete memory, than could happen otherwise.

                                  I believe that is something relatively new, in need of development, and clearly needed.

                                  I feel that progress is being made, and that impasses that were intractable before may be more tractable now.

                                  These Guardian threads are more flexible than the NYT threads, and stylistically freer. Many of the ideas at play in the MD thread originated and were focused here, and these TALK threads are extensively cited in the Missile Defense thread. For discussing an idea, over under around and through, these TALK threads are the most impressive place for discourse that I have ever seen, and I appreciate them very much.

                                  rshowalter - 01:20pm Jun 24, 2001 GMT (#208 of 256)  | 

                                  Work on the New York Times ... Science ... Missile Defense thread continues.

                                  MD5913 includes this:

                                    " If one looks at the history of the Cold War, I believe that this issue of auditing becomes a central one -- some VERY agressive patterns, VERY different from the patterns of personal kindness and tolerance widely distributed among Americans, have been VERY well funded, and well protected, and surprisingly unquestioned, since the 1950's.
                                  " This is an issue where, for anything like workable understanding, research would have to be staffed , and consistency relations organized -- with the fundamental logical operator for research guidance the one that dominates human thought --
                                    . . .
                                      " I believe political parties, legislative groups, journalistic organizations, and nation states, in their own stark objective interest, and for moral and aesthetic reasons, too, should staff this, and see to it that the values that the people the United States and the other countries in the world share are not systematically violated, in ways that are degrading, and could destroy the world.
                                        " Is there a "vast right wing conspiracy" controlled, inspired, and funded, in decisive ways, by illicit money flows from the military establishment, and particularly the small part of that establishment that has controlled US nuclear policy since shortly after the end of the Eisenhower administration?
                                          " Looks that way to me -- though that is only my opinion, and it needs to be checked.



                                            If one wants to see the enormous usefulness of the Guardian TALK section for the NYT Missile Defense thread, go to the thread, and search "guardian" -- there are 14 search page (the same size as TALK search pages) of citations - and I'm personally grateful to be able to make those citations.

                                            rshowalter - 07:02pm Jul 1, 2001 GMT (#209 of 256)  | 

                                            There have been 461 postings since MD5917 , some that seem important to me.



                                            tell a story, from my own perspective, about the Cold War, and plans to end it with which I became involved.

                                            The connections to mankind's inhumanity to man seem direct to me.

                                            rshowalter - 04:35pm Jul 8, 2001 GMT (#210 of 256)  | 

                                            I was glad, on July 4th, our Independence Day , to have a chance to post some of the things I feel are important for the welfare of the US, UK, and the world, in these postings, many of which include other links:









                                            Some who've followed my work may find the background interesting.

                                            I'm posting them here, because I hope some may find them interesting, and because I feel that the more people read them, and the more widely this information is spread, the safer the world may be, and the safer I may be personally.

                                            Progress is continuing on the NYT Missile Defense board, and I've got hopes that, with the help of Dawn Riley, and some others, we may make a positive difference for peace.

                                            We need to reduce mankind's inhumanity to man.

                                            hayate0 - 06:31am Jul 16, 2001 GMT (#211 of 256)


                                            Don't see you over here on the Talk much, too bad, miss your insights.

                                            rshowalter - 07:58pm Jul 18, 2001 GMT (#212 of 256)  | 

                                            Thanks, hayate0.

                                            Since July 4th, The New York Times -- Science -- Missile Defense forum has had 611 postings - many extensive. These include useful comments from almarst , our "Putin stand in", and gisterme , our "Bush administration high official stand-in."

                                            Has the thread been influential? Worth the trouble? As successful as I'd hoped?

                                            Perhaps yes, on all these points, though the work seems inconclusive in some ways. In the end, I'm hoping to set out many arguments, like a case to a jury, subject to crossexamination, and then "pick a fight" - in some way that can work in public -- to establish truths that remain, so far "somehow too weak." The case is far along. On the MD thread, and many other places. Getting to a place where a fight in public is possible is not far along -- though progress toward that goal may not be so far away.

                                            MD7097 .. includes high praise for the Guardian-Observer , and especially its interactive specials, including

                                            MD7098 .. contains a critique and a challenge. I point out the power that one person, willing to be at risk, can sometimes have, by means of a famous picture of defiance more eloquent than any words I could muster.

                                            MD7100 sets out directories, and the key story set out in I'd like to post links to a Guardian thread where I've said many of the most important things I'd like people to know. Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror ... rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 21:57

                                            including the key story, #13.. ... to #23.. ands note #26 ... <a href="/WebX?14@@.ee7a163/25">rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 23:13</a>

                                            Summaries and links to the Missile Defense thread are set out from #153 in rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 16:35

                                            MD7144-48 contain working summaries, and a working objective of the MD thread:

                                              To clean up the messes left by the Cold War, and make better security possible, communication has to happen between the staffs of nation states. The Missile Defense thread is built as an example of what would be required to meet the needs of this staffed communication.
                                            Does the format work? Is the thread worth the effort? In some ways, I think the answer is yes.

                                            Truths, that seem perfectly clear, are not being sufficiently influential -- they remain "somehow, too weak." ...MD6670

                                            Bertotdt Brecht's essay, WRITING THE TRUTH, FIVE DIFFICULTIES is in my version of his play, GALILEO , set into English by Charles Laughton, and includes this:

                                              " It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak."
                                            When the truth is too weak, we have to ask: why? Was it indeed the truth? Or were there systematic barriers to the propagation of the truth -- chain breakers?

                                            Fear is a problem, and a deeply embedded one, all through the system, for journalists, for members of the government, and for people who depend on the government (that is, all of us.) And reluctance to face new ideas is, as well.

                                            I think some may enjoy "Chain Breakers" rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 20:05 in this regard. Some might enjoy it more in terms of the information linked to MD6613

                                            MD6671 .... contains this phrase:

                                              " Hitler went unchecked. "
                                            Hitler subverted an entire society based on nonsense and lies, many ornately detailed, and destroyed much of the world in doing so. He hoped, in the senses that matter to most of us, to destroy the whole world. In the ways that mattered, he wasn't effectively checked at the level of ideas.

                                            Could the situation be as serious as that now? I think so -- I've long believed that the world could easily end, on the basis of things I believe I understand from a more grounded perspective than many have, that the world could end. I'm not alone in that fear:

                                            In MD6024 I asked gisterme, who I believe represents high officers of state, the following question "What have I said that is not in the national interest?" The issue was whether I had committed, or was proposing to commit, treason.

                                            gisterme replied to the question directly in these posting, and doing so conceded that issues of technical feasibility and probablility of projects, based on the open literature, can be discussed in the United States.

                                            MD6028 MD6033 MD6060

                                            That concession is important, in part because of the mechanics of discourse in these affairs. The shroud of classification, even when only used as a threat, can slow discourse down to a crawl. For example, the Coyle Report, . . . NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE DEPLOYMENT READINESS REVIEW 10 August 2000 . . . . , though not formally classified, has been restricted informally. It took months for Congressman Tierney to get it released -- something plainly in the public interest. Working outside of classification rules could be much faster -- and could happen in public -- ideally, recorded in streaming video on the net, with key calculations also on the net, and the whole world invited to see and check those calculations.

                                            If this were done, and somehow made public -- some key points, now supressed, might stand out - - and some good decisions might come. I've been trying to find ways to force that checking -- with someone from the administration - with a real name, a real face, and real engineering creditials at risk - on the other side. People often will not attend to fancy arguments -- especially these, where it is so often numbers that are far fetched -- not qualitative ideas alone.

                                            Perhaps, if it could be arranged, more might attend to a umpired fight. I might lose such an umpired, public fight, but I'm prepared to risk that.

                                            The NYT Missile Defense thread is ungainly, in the same kind of way that human memory is ungainly, in the same way that trial transcripts are ungainly. In part because there is so much in it. But with the net, the details in it can be brought up -- it is a sort of "associative memory." Things come into focus -- and extensive focused evidence, subject to supplementation and critique, is there to be brought to bear. Perhaps the format can be useful.

                                            My background is unusual. It is a source of both insight and difficulties for myself and people who have to deal with me.

                                            My technical background and orientation: MD6397-99
                                              I'm trying, with enormous and distinguished help from Dawn Riley, within the limits of my strength and resources, to get some facts checked.

                                              I'm hoping to set out many arguments, like a case to a jury, subject to crossexamination, and then "pick a fight" - in some way that can work in public -- to establish truths that remain, so far "somehow too weak." The case is far along. On the MD thread, and many other places. Getting to a place where a fight in public is possible is not yet far along -- but perhaps not be so far away as it was.

                                              I deeply appreciate the fact that these talk boards are here -- and am grateful for the existence of the Guardian - Observer

                                              hayate0 - 04:35am Jul 20, 2001 GMT (#213 of 256)

                                              Your welcome

                                              rshowalter - 05:28pm Jul 25, 2001 GMT (#214 of 256)  | 

                                              There have been 262 postings on The New York Times -- Science -- Missile Defense thread since July 18th, and I believe that things have gone well - and hopefully.

                                              Dawn and I have worked hard.

                                              Postings that may interest some of you start with this:

                                                " I've often thought, writing on these forums, about whether I've been keeping faith with Bill Casey -- doing things that, on balance, he would have thought reasonable, and right . . .
                                              and includes this:

                                                " (Dawn and I) were especially interested in dialog with almarst after we read "Muddle in Moscow" ..... ... When we read that story, we imagined that we really were dealing with a powerful man who had taken time, with a staff, to do some listening."





                                              Minds are opening to the possiblility that the US may be fallible. Outside the US, and in America, as well. I take that as a good sign, for the sake of the world, and the United States itself. . . . . . Pollution deal leaves US cold by Charles Clover in Bonn

                                                " Margot Wallstrom, the European environment commissioner, said: "We can go home and look our children in the eyes. Something has changed in the balance of power between the United States and the EU."
                                              Perhaps a time is coming where it will be possible to get some key things checked.

                                              Probitas - 08:36pm Jul 25, 2001 GMT (#215 of 256)

                                              At every moment, each person choses who they are going to become, and every choice is a step away from ones animal existence and heritage.

                                              What does one choose? How does it augment or diminish creation?

                                              Nature may be 'red in tooth and claw', but personhood is not.

                                              Persons are halfway between the Animals and the Angels according to Aquinas - every person has to choose to which they aspire:

                                              Is one going to be merely human 'being' (human existing) or aspire to the realms of personhood (human living)?

                                              One knows only that the first path is easier...


                                              rshowalter - 10:31pm Jul 25, 2001 GMT (#216 of 256)  | 

                                              But the second more hopeful.

                                              rshowalter - 10:26pm Aug 1, 2001 GMT (#217 of 256)  | 

                                              Man's inhumanity to man might be less if we became more clear about some problems on display in the US concerning the US military-industrial complex. I'm asking for some advice.

                                              I know that I've posted a lot here, but I'd like to ask some help from any Talk folks who might be interested. I've felt, for a long time, that it should be possible to check the crucial technical issues involved with the US Missile Defense programs, in public, on the basis of what's known in the open literature. And, by doing so, show that, whatever one may think of them as strategic programs, they are also deeply flawed technically.

                                              I've been under some pressure about that, but have also gotten a good deal of attention - perhaps including some attention from people associated with governments. Perhaps some of you may be interested in some aspects of that, as background, set out in the following links.

                                                    I'm wondering if anyone might have comments, especially involving technical issues (but also issues of exposition) about the specific issues in the following postings, which deal with technical aspects of the space based lasar weapons programs , and refer to a dialog between me and gisterme , the NYT - Science _ Missile Defense thread's Bush Administration Official "stand-in" and almarst , the thread's "Putin stand-in."

                                                    I'm trying to make an argument that can stand in public -- that can be set out on the web, and that might be illustrated, for clarity, in the sort of detail that would work for a jury -- including perhaps the "jury of public opinion." Here are the links I hope someone might comment on:




                                                    Thanks so much.

                                                    Bob Showalter


                                                    rshowalter - 12:36am Aug 9, 2001 GMT (#218 of 256)  | 

                                                    With more insights like those set out by Rumsfeld here, man's inhumanity might get perceptively less, and we might become both safer and richer.

                                                    U.S., Russian Defense Officials Meet By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS includes this from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

                                                    "WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. and Russian defense officials are meeting behind closed doors at the Pentagon to explore the prospects for an agreement on building missile defenses and cutting nuclear forces.

                                                    . . . . . "

                                                    " Rumsfeld said there are psychological barriers to creating a new security relationship with Russia.

                                                    "``There is an awful lot of baggage left over in the relationship, the old relationship, the Cold War relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union,'' he said.

                                                    " ``It is baggage that exists in people's minds, it exists in treaties, it exists in the structure of relationships, the degree of formality of them,'' he added. ``And it will require, I think, some time to work through these things and see if we can't set the relationship on a different basis.''

                                                    One doesn't have to approve of everything Rumsfeld has done, or even much of it, to be glad that, as a leader and working politician, he said these words. It means that many people, including military people, have these words in mind. Perhaps some things can get better.





                                                    Perhaps we'll even come to some technical clarity -- something I hope for.

                                                    To really end the Cold War, the United States would have to work itself through some fictions, and Russia would have to do so as well. That may take a while, as Secretary Rumsfeld suggests

                                                    But perhaps some limited progress is being made, and more can be made, as more and more people draw reasonable conclusions from facts.

                                                    Many of those facts well reported in the Guardian Observer.

                                                    And just for beauty, and appreciation of good things, some nice sites found by Dawn Riley:

                                                    xpat - 03:11am Aug 13, 2001 GMT (#219 of 256)

                                           Plutonium: USA :

                                                    rshowalter - 02:31pm Aug 21, 2001 GMT (#220 of 256)  | 

                                                    If people understood how human beings normally treat "others" -- we'd all be safer.

                                                    Facts are essential to right action. Toward that end, I've made a proposal, that might work.



                                                    The proposal, for checking of key technical points by professional engineers, with writers of PE exams serving as umpires, would involve some action by people with some power and independence. I've had contacts with such people that may be promising. On matters central to world peace, and balances, there should be "islands of fact" that all concerned are morally and socially bound to respect. Hard to get, but perhaps not impossible.



                                                    Some things about military balances and security procedures in general could use some review.


                                                    xpat - 08:27pm Aug 21, 2001 GMT (#221 of 256)

                                          ,7369,539945,00.html Subsidy - can hide real costs - affecting decision making.

                                                    rshowalter - 01:30am Aug 29, 2001 GMT (#222 of 256)  | 

                                                    If the basic insight of this thread -- that "nice people" can naturally act like monsters to "outsiders" were more widely understood, the world would be a more hopeful place than it is.

                                                    A nice quote from Envisioning Information by Eward Tuftie and some illustration and explanation jobs I'm hoping to help get done.

                                                    Some standards that have evolved in court practice:

                                                    Some points by Dawn Riley need to be widely explained.

                                                    We need some "islands of technical fact" for practical and moral reasons. <br>

                                                    I'm hoping to find some resources. That is difficult in a world where I've been very effectivly blackballed for decades. Some key questions are going to have to be answered, including the question whether the NYT Missile Defense thread, for all its "deniability, has been influential or not. Given social barriers, usages in place, and legal concerns, that can be difficult.

                                                    But there is some reason to hope that, after some "due diligence" - - some resources can be brought to bear, so that some fundamental questions of fact and proportion may be prepared well enough "so that they can be put before a jury."

                                                    Well enough, perhaps, to influence events.

                                                    It seems to me that the world is polarizing. That makes this a dangerous time. But a hopeful one, as well.

                                                    rshowalter - 10:02am Sep 4, 2001 GMT (#223 of 256)  | 

                                                    Some progress, and hard work, on the MD thread. The key insight of this thread, if it were widely understood, would do great good.

                                                    Here is some great coverage: The Fortunes of Russia and China, as Told Through the Pages of The New York Times

                                                    The New York Times is a major source of information about missile defense. Discussion of that corpus, and the complexity, richness, and challenge of it, and link to many articles on missile defense that have been discussed on this thread. Listings of missile defense articles in the NYT, with working no-charge links MD8309 MD8310

                                                    Colin Powell, and his TIME magazine cover story MD8392

                                                    Some history, going back almost a year now, that may interest some who have been following the MD thread, and wondered about barriers to news coverage in the United States. It includes events set out in Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness? #163 . MD8393-8395

                                                    We shouldn't miss what even a monkey could see: MD8289

                                                    On issues of military and nuclear balances, "no solution as stated:" ... We need a reframing: MD8300-3

                                                      Perhaps it is important that the "word" of the United States, and of US military officers, comes to be discounted -- and senses of obligation to the United States, among, allies, come to be diluted with mistrust. . . . the rest of the world has to stop deferring to the US, or being intimidated in every way by the US, and handle their own responsibilities themselves. MD8317-8318
                                                    All responsible leaders elsewhere in the world have to do, to move things distinctly and clearly in the direction of peace, is to ask that essential technical facts about missile defense, that can be evaluated in public, actually get competently and clearly evaluated in public. ..... If they asked that it be done, directly or through back channels, it would happen. MD8319
                                                      Getting core technical things about "missile defense" difficulties explained well enough for American political purposes, and for wider world politics could be done in terms of the open literature -- and the explanation would establish "islands of technical fact" that are needed for reasonable decisions. MD8343

                                                      MD thread summary and background: MD8344

                                                      The world could still end -- and we could fix that -- reasons for concern: MD8377-89

                                                      Has all this work been useful? Dawn and I have tried to make it so. MD8386

                                                      In any case, some stances are being taken by Putin that are just as Dawn and I would wish. MD8243 MD8380-82

                                                      Perhaps, along with all the things there are to fear, there are reasons for hope. If some "islands of technical fact" could be established, I believe that things might go a great deal better. MD8343

                                                      Fools - 12:29am Sep 6, 2001 GMT (#224 of 256)

                                             I notice you do that on many threads you post on. I find it overloading and read none of it. Maybe one URL at a time with your comments will help me see what you want to say in this case. Thank you and sorry for any hurt I may cause.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:58pm Sep 6, 2001 GMT (#225 of 256)  | 

                                                      Thank you for your comment.

                                                      One thing I'm trying to do is build an "associative case" -- where a number of things, over a period of time, fit together in a checkable, coherent whole. Sometimes a ref, cited much later, in a different and richer context, gains force.

                                                      All the same, I'm sorry for the overkill.

                                                      rshowalter - 04:02pm Sep 12, 2001 GMT (#226 of 256)  | 

                                                      Since September 4th there have been 400+ postings on the MD thread.

                                                      A few may interest some people here. I'm grateful for the chance to post links here, for the record.

                                                      Postings dealing with the current tragedy in New York and Washington, and its relations to larger risks, involve postings Dawn Riley and I have done on these wonderful Guardian Talk threads: MD8827

                                                      Points were raised by gisterme , the MD board's "Bush administration stand in" that led me to repost Detail and the Golden Rule here: MD8737 MD8743

                                                      I made the point that American institutional and intellectual traditions, shaped by the Cold War, may be standing in the way of safety now, in

                                                      Perhaps, ugly though things are, we can find some practical ways of making them better.

                                                      rshowalter - 02:20am Sep 19, 2001 GMT (#227 of 256)  | 

                                                      The problems considered on this thread are central to world survival now.

                                                      The Big Terrible by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


                                                      To cooperate, we must act on the basis of ideals that work for our friends, and that can convert many people, against us now, to our side. To do that, we have to be the good guys.

                                                      As a species, we are beautiful, but ugly, too.

                                                      There were 714 postings on the NYT Missile Defense board this week.

                                                      chef16 - 06:53am Sep 26, 2001 GMT (#228 of 256)

                                                      chef16 - 06:07pm Sep 25, 2001 BST (#23 of 80) | Delete mattdiamond - Here in Britain we have a collection of newspapers, regardless of their quality, most follow, or support, either of the main political parties (they have been known to change allegiance when their particular party as no possible when labour took control from tories in 97 or whatever). In doing so they quite often paint a false picture just to further the agenda of the particular party they are supporting, this happens. Why is it therefore not possible for a media that is on the whole totally controlled by Jews to paint a picture to favour Israel? I am talking about the main media here, as I know there are some Jewish agencies that try to get at the truth. It seems even stranger to me that as soon as you mention any thing critical about Israel or mention that Israel has a hell of allot to gain by what happened in US (not least to mention the death of allot of Muslims) that they all come out with the vitroil, ignoring the truth and searching little discrepancies to which have no relevance to the big picture. Is it really so wrong of me to ask such a question? If you can answer that without the personal abuse I'd be willing to listen. AND SO TO Muzeo - 02:55pm Sep 25, 2001 BST (#16 of 17) < I would like to know if serious debate on the subject is possible? > As soon as serious debate is in sight you may be sure that we will respond. I'm still waiting for something other than cobbled together quotes from very old / obsolete articles, spurious arguments, racist slanders, etc etc. I noticed there muzeo, you may want to read yourself even, begins to chuckle, that you're not interested in old stories, even when they come from nahem Begin, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Chaim Weizmann. Anyway they are not really that old, are they? Do you hold even older stories in the same regard? Because if you don't where does the justificacation of the Zionist dream come from? So I'll say it again again..................................................I read on a thread, by someone else, that to be anti Zionist was to be anti Jew. Which I thought was a bit much because I know allot of Jews who don't support Zionism. But I started to think what if it is true; the media, which is mainly controlled by Jews, does not represent a true picture of what is happening. Politicians seem not to address the problem fully and I wondered if maybe it was worth some discussion. That is all, this is a very confusing time for all of us we do not know who was behind the attacks on US yet some people don't seem to worry about that as long as someone else gets out there and bombs them. We know why the problems in Palestine exist and yet no body with the ability to do so is speaking about them. The problem in Palestine could be resolved. It will be hard for Israel to accept (but possibly not for all Jews) but it has to be done or this apocalyptical spiral we are on is going to lead to something far worse.

                                                      chef16 - 06:29pm Sep 25, 2001 BST (#24 of 80) | Delete Azor When things look confusing he does help a bit. The problem with students is they think they are clever, and so they should, society tells them they are. Most know allot about a little. They have to study take exams find people to have sex with ect.........They think they are intelligent, one only has to spend time with them and that myth can soon be disproved. They are lucky; they have a potentially bright future (or so we are led to believe). They leave education; some of them go on to good jobs like a politician for example. Some may work in the media even. All the time knowing how clever they are. But seeing as the world is in the verge of a catastrophe, was the education really worth the tax payers money? Don't try and knock me for what I read it's quite pathetic of you

                                                      rshowalter - 03:08am Sep 27, 2001 GMT (#229 of 256)  | 

                                                      If the key lesson of this thread were learned, the world would be much safer.

                                                      There have been 430 postings on the NYT Missile Defense Board since I last posted here, and since this posting, which cites a number of warning references posted on the Guardian: MD9421

                                                      Dawn Riley and I have done most of them, but there have been many interesting ones from almarst and gisterme , people we have reason to think are associated with the Russian and US governments.

                                                      In MD9757 I made the hopeful point that

                                                        in very complex systems, patterns of solutions that exist and seem at all satisfactory, within a system of constraints, are likely to be few or unique. And often easy for people to think about and focus on in ways where they all agree.
                                                      That's makes considering real complexities not just daunting, but hopeful, too.

                                                      - - - - - -

                                                      I review links discussing a proposal that I've made from time to time since March, and discussed with almarst and Dawn Riley extensively in - - - MD9842-9844

                                                      The proposal deals with the idea of

                                                        " Crafting a fully workable, fully complete, fully explained "draft treaty proposal" for nuclear disarmament and a more militarily stable world. Such drafting would, at the least, make for stunningly good journalism -- that could be widely syndicated among papers. Useful as that would be, I think the drafting would serve a much more useful purpose. That purpose would be actually getting the points that need to be worked out for nuclear disarmament set out coherently - - to a level where closure actually occurs. That would involve a great deal of staff work done coherently, quickly, and in coordinated fashion.
                                                      "I wonder how much might be done IN PUBLIC --- say if some Moscow Times staff, and people from a couple of US papers, some Guardian staff, and people from some interested governments, started an OPEN dialog together? . . .. With all the government involvement possible, from all the nations concerned, and with "shadow" governments set up when the government in power did not participate.

                                                      Conditions favorable for something like this may be ripening, among journalists, world leaders, and their publics. I personally believe that such a thing could solve a lot of problems, especially if the Russian, German and UK governments took an interest. I feel that chances of Russian interest might be substantial, though this is, of course, only a guess. If leaders were interested in such a thing, I believe some people of means, proud to support some of the expenses of the effort, would be likely to be available. I also feel that the work would be first rate journalism, justifying the effort of journalists on that basis.

                                                      _ _ _ _

                                                      Postings on the NYT Missile Defense board are often held for a while before they are displayed. People who make postings that are held can see such ongoing postings. The posting below was displayed prominantly for almost seven hours after it was removed from the ongoing (but hidden) part by the moderator. I'm sorry that it was removed, but glad that is was on display, at a time when I think people were looking, for those hours.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:37pm Sep 25, 2001 EST (#9849 of 9849)

                                                        "I've been making a working assumption, and Dawn Riley has as well, that almarst had good contacts, perhaps very close contacts, with Putin's staff. Counting postings, and looking at context, I believe it reasonable that gisterme and others have made similar assumptions. Whether the assumptions are exactly true, at the level of ideas, there are analogies that would be almost as useful as contacts, for some purposes. .
                                                        "Missile defense is one issue, a very important issue, among a number in Russian - American relations. .
                                                        "If my assumptions are correct, and I believe that they are at least reasonable, it seems to me that one can argue that this board has done good service to the interests of the United States of America. .
                                                        "And been of some help to Russia, as well. .
                                                      _ _ _ _ _

                                                      I believe that, terribly unfortunate as the WTC and Pentagon tragedy-crimes were, they have given political actors a sense of urgency and reality that may be very useful. My own view is that with more discussion, and checking of key facts, some of the ugliest and most dangerous messes in the world could be handled much better.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:08pm Sep 27, 2001 GMT (#230 of 256)  | 

                                                      The world is interconnected, and one issue recurs with monotonous, but deadly serious regularity.

                                                      It is that sequences where lies are involved are likely to go wrong in ugly, expensive, unjust, unpredictable ways.




                                                      This isn't much reading, and perhaps some who looked at these pieces would find them boring. But perhaps some might be interested. I'm posting them on the off-chance that some people of responsibility, directly or indirectly, might find them interesting.

                                                      rshowalter - 11:33pm Oct 5, 2001 GMT (#231 of 256)  | 

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense board is going on, at high intensity, and I've had reason to think it may be being influential. And perhaps constructive.

                                                      Some of the dialog , which I found revealing, and that may have influenced judgements of staffed organizations, has been deleted. I think that may be just as well. The dialog was up long enough, I feel, to have served a purpose. The board is being carefully censored. Under the circumstances, I'm grateful for that.

                                                      Some movement toward closure on some technical points about missile defense has, I believe, occurred.

                                                      For all the ugliness and stress, and despite the mourning and the fear, I think we may, perhaps, be living through a time where things get better.

                                                      This thread has been cited on the MD board 5 times this week.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:38pm Oct 10, 2001 GMT (#232 of 256)  | 

                                                      Toward a New Security Framework

                                                      Remarks of Sam Nunn
                                                      Co-Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
                                                      October 3, 2001
                                             is a piece I find wonderful.

                                                      It is a thoughtful, proactive response to events from September 11th to date. I think some approaches different from those he now has in mind might condense from the processes Senator Nunn gracefully envisions. I've not always been 100% on Senator Nunn's side, or an advocate of his associates, and perhaps I've been unfair.

                                                      But I want to point this speech out. I feel that it is beautiful, and a beautiful integration of issues, coming form where the United States' "security elite" is, and has been.

                                                      I like Nunn's ending remarks especially:

                                                        " If the United States and Russia begin working together as partners in fighting terror and the weapons of mass destruction threat, and encourage others to join, the world will be a different place for our children and grandchildren. We face major challenges, but an historic opportunity. We must seize it now. .
                                                        " Time and circumstance have given us a chance to shape new relationships and to build a new security framework, so that the pain of today will not be known by the children of tomorrow.

                                                      I made a suggestion, on September 25, 2001

                                                      in a day "web meeting" that ended with an offer:

                                                      Senator Nunn would know all the reasons why the suggestion is impractical.

                                                      If only the world were that simple.

                                                      Sometimes, even now, I think it is.

                                                      I believe that if the fundamental lesson of this thread were learned, things that have gone badly in the past might go better.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:11pm Oct 12, 2001 GMT (#233 of 256)  | 

                                                      Advice I got once:

                                                        " There is no one standard, no one rule, no one pattern that fits all the time, and if you have a system that you need to check, the checking system, for complicated circumstances, has to be structurally different from the system checked, and has to "violate" some "rules" built into the other system, so as to get things that have to be checked checked." "What's the best advice you've ever been given?" Wed 10/10/2001
                                                      Checking involves doubt, but after enough checking there are some times when answers, and right actions, are clear in terms of well defined priorities. Including right answers and right actions that would never have been arrived at, without the checking.

                                                      I think

                                                      is wonderful. Hope bin Laden reads it. Hope Bush does, too.

                                                      Possumdag - 01:33am Oct 25, 2001 GMT (#234 of 256)

                                                      Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness? rshowalter " I'm trying to float and idea here - and that's something these forums are good for.

                                                      Looking at the world, there are so many cases of "unthinkable" and "unexplainable" evil and negligence, that the mind and heart recoils. People recall such behavior among the Nazis, and recoil, as well they might. How could "civilized, aesthetically sensitive, cultured people" ALSO act so monstrously, and with such clear and sophisticated murderous intent.

                                                      But is this behavior so strange? Or is it the NATURAL?"


                                                      Isn't the common call 'Sometimes a military solution IS necessary' ?

                                                      SeekerOfTruth - 02:51am Nov 2, 2001 GMT (#235 of 256)

                                                      Is goodness a quality process?

                                                      SeekerOfTruth - 10:32am Nov 9, 2001 GMT (#236 of 256)

                                                        .. same guard who wanted to listen to music was indignant when shown a propaganda leaflet dropped by an American plane. "Is this really the future you want for your women and children?" the leaflet asked. It showed a photograph of Taliban religious police beating a woman.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:24pm Nov 18, 2001 GMT (#237 of 256)  | 

                                                      I review links discussing a proposal that I've made from time to time since March, and discussed with almarst and Dawn Riley extensively in - - - MD9842-9844

                                                      The proposal deals with the idea of

                                                        " Crafting a fully workable, fully complete, fully explained "draft treaty proposal" for nuclear disarmament and a more militarily stable world. Such drafting would, at the least, make for stunningly good journalism -- that could be widely syndicated among papers. Useful as that would be, I think the drafting would serve a much more useful purpose. That purpose would be actually getting the points that need to be worked out for nuclear disarmament set out coherently - - to a level where closure actually occurs. That would involve a great deal of staff work done coherently, quickly, and in coordinated fashion."
                                                        " I wonder how much might be done IN PUBLIC --- say if some Moscow Times staff, and people from a couple of US papers, some Guardian staff, and people from some interested governments, started an OPEN dialog together? . . .. With all the government involvement possible, from all the nations concerned, and with "shadow" governments set up when the government in power did not participate."

                                                      Conditions favorable for something like this may be ripening, among journalists, world leaders, and their publics. I personally believe that such a thing could solve a lot of problems, especially if the Russian, German and UK governments took an interest. I feel that chances of Russian interest might be substantial, though this is, of course, only a guess.

                                                      If leaders were interested in such a thing, I believe some people of means, proud to support some of the expenses of the effort, would be likely to be available. I also feel that the work would be first rate journalism, justifying the effort of journalists on that basis.

                                                      The rest of the world is organizing in ways that should permit the United States to be held to reasonable account - - - and in important ways, the United States is behaving in ways more accountable to world opinion than it did before September 11. - The time may be ripe for reviewing the reasons why the current nuclear terror occurred, and coming to understand how we may, responsibly and carefully, get out of that horrible situation. It makes no sense to have thousands of obsolete and terribly dangerous nuclear weapons around for decades more, when they serve (especially at such high levels) no military purpose. The misunderstandings and terrible patterns that caused these weapons to come into being should be better understood, and the reasons for them examined and deconstructed.

                                                      xpat - 06:34am Nov 27, 2001 GMT (#238 of 256)

                                                      Interesting to note the Afghan settlement gets down to basics

                                                      Food water clothing shelter

                                                      Having a job - getting an income
                                                      farming, industry, commerce, trade

                                                      Re women being accepted as equals there

                                                      The question is being raised re women in other arab countries - should they be allowed to DRIVE in Saudi - will America 'fight' for that right

                                                      The lid on an squirmy can of inequitable worms has been RAISED.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:31am Dec 5, 2001 GMT (#239 of 256)  | 

                                                      That lid has been raised -- and applications of "the golden rule" have to be considered -- in the complicated world people are actually in.

                                                      We don't, after all, have to agree about that much - but we need to communicate well enough so that economic cooperation is possible, and so that cruelties are avoided.

                                                      A set of rules "dictated" by ancient texts, interpreted by minds steeped in medieval traditions, isn't good enough.

                                                      The question

                                                        What are the CONSEQUENCES in human terms?
                                                      needs to be asked again and again. When the consequences of dicta are out of line, one needs to question the "wisdom" and "morality" of those dicta. Whatever religious tradition they happen to come from.

                                                      MalcolmMcm - 02:25pm Dec 10, 2001 GMT (#240 of 256)

                                                      Personally I believe in Evil as a direct motivating force. Humans have an appetite for destruction which isn't found in any kind of wild animal. It's a consequence of our domestication and the resultant tension between our animal instincts and our conditioned behaviour.

                                                      We resent the responsibilities that go with being human. From that resentment emerges a desire to destroy what contrains us. (See

                                                      That's why individuals, or whole nations go on the rampage from time to time. That's why disaster movies are good box-office. That's why it's so easy to recruite suicide bombers.

                                                      That isn't the case with the apparent injustices of society, though. Most of those are directly traceable to the needs of society itself. For example woman couldn't be in charge of their own sexuality while child birth was such a highly dangerous excersise or there wouldn't have been further generations. Women's lib became possible only with improvements in gynocology.

                                                      OptimusPrime - 07:18am Dec 12, 2001 GMT (#241 of 256)

                                                      "Nature is red in tooth and claw." And it's only arrogance that persuades us that we're more than very clever monkeys. I feel that our capacity for inhumanity is inherent (rather than the result of some external corrupting spiritual influence), but that we can and should try to rise above it (we're professionals...).

                                                      I don't know if we're "worse" than other animals; maybe just cleverer enough, so that the difference between the consequences of our "good" and "evil" actions is a little more marked (see war, terrorism, ethnic cleansing etc. etc.). Or just a little more imaginative...

                                                      rshowalter - 03:44pm Dec 12, 2001 GMT (#242 of 256)  | 

                                                      If we were wiser, and more able to get rid of unintended consequences --- we'd do better.

                                                      After all, as a species, for all the carnage and ungliness, we sometimes do both well and beautifully.

                                                      There ought to be awareness of our limitations as "clever monkeys" -- but given the beauty and accomplishment people often achieve, hope too.

                                                      OptimusPrime - 04:29am Dec 13, 2001 GMT (#243 of 256)

                                                      I couldn't sleep last night, and thought of a bit more...

                                                      Nice Monkey; Shares banana.

                                                      Mean Monkey; Doesn't share banana.

                                                      Nice Man; Gives up life of riches and luxury to nurse in a Calcutta convent. Runs back into a burning building to save a trapped baby.

                                                      Mean Man; Flies planes into skyscrapers. Drops A-bombs. Rapes. Ethnically cleanses.

                                                      I think our intelligence just gives us greater scope to do very very nice or very very nasty things.

                                                      MalcolmMcm - 09:47am Dec 13, 2001 GMT (#244 of 256)

                                                      I think our intelligence just gives us greater scope to do very very nice or very very nasty things.

                                                      I don't think wild animals have an actual appetite for destruction. If they kill it's a matter of indifference, not pleasure.

                                                      OptimusPrime - 12:46pm Dec 13, 2001 GMT (#245 of 256)

                                                      Could be. But I wonder; I live well outside the M25, and often see lambs etc. with entrails torn out, completely uneaten, just lying in fields. Now, I'm not an animal psychologist, and maybe Fantastic Mr Fox could provide an excellent justification for his misdeed were he gifted with the capacity for speech. But it does look like they do it for fun, whatever that means for a fox.

                                                      MalcolmMcm - 11:08am Dec 14, 2001 GMT (#246 of 256)

                                                      But it does look like they do it for fun, whatever that means for a fox.

                                                      Predators kill when the oppertunity arrises. When Mr. fox gets into the henhouse you can't really expect him to count the dead chickens and think "Well that's as many as I can eat today".

                                                      And of course cats are imfamous for toying with their play. That's how kittens learn to control prey. But the cat can't be expected to empathise with the mouse. He doesn't see the mouse as something suffering, just something that reacts in an interesting way.

                                                      Humans, on the other hand, do empathise with suffering and, sometimes, do their best to maximise it.

                                                      That's genuine cruelty.

                                                      OptimusPrime - 06:22am Dec 15, 2001 GMT (#247 of 256)

                                                      True (about genuine cruelty). But maybe that's a development from the cat and mouse. Cruelty must have roots in animal behaviour, even if we can't see what we would call "genuine cruelty" among animals.

                                                      Back to Fantastic Mr Fox... I wouldn't expect him to assess the exact nutritional value of each chicken relative to his own requirements at the time. But when he's wandering through a field at night, and sees a lamb, and thinks "Well I'm not hungry*, but hey, I'll kill it anyway...", maybe that is the seed of what, in a more "developed" creature, could be seen as cruelty, or an "appetite for destruction".

                                                      I've also seen predators pass up opportunities to kill, for reasons best known to themselves, but which may include lack of hunger, self-preservation, etc. ... I don't accept that a predator will kill WHENEVER it gets the chance to do so.

                                                    • or he would have eaten something. I know he doesn't have this inner monologue. But you see my point?

                                                      SeekerOfTruth - 07:49am Dec 21, 2001 GMT (#248 of 256)

                                                      Inhumanity is often praised, or ignored and thereby approved in war.

                                                      Many wars are run by MADMEN ...

                                                      Under Madmen many men go mad ...

                                                      Inhumanity if failure to humanise and visualise the numbers .. as individuals.

                                                      Games that traumatise - should be despised.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:39pm Dec 23, 2001 GMT (#249 of 256)  | 

                                                      The fact of tragedy -- set out day by day in the "A Nation Challenged" section of the New York Times -- is serving a great purpose. Look at the faces, with enough words associated -- they are real -- and too many to comfortably count, or attend to.

                                                      In wars, especially with nukes, THOUSANDS of times that many can die --- and with nukes, with controls as they are, and vulnerabilities as they are ... MILLIONS of times more can die.

                                                      It helps to "look at" a few thousand.

                                                      And then try to count to a few thousand, one at a time - yourself -- with each a GROUP of similar tragedies.

                                                      The world could use more perspective like that -- quantitative, at least a little bit, and touched by the humanity of the lives lost and at stake.

                                                      SeekerOfTruth - 09:04am Dec 24, 2001 GMT (#250 of 256)

                                                      ah! like the wtc equates to 3 standard highschools on the numbers basis ... that's 100+ classes (30) deleted! Their near and extended famlies left void.

                                                      So if the event were nuclear then WOW ... the world would take a long time to recover.

                                                      Note the UK put the NucPowerstations up for sale ... no buyers showed .. says there's concern re the fuller aspects of accounting. 2050 is the date the UK have set to close down all NucPower ... there's a move to renewable energy.

                                                      MalcolmMcm - 01:39pm Jan 2, 2002 GMT (#251 of 256)

                                                      Cruelty must have roots in animal behaviour

                                                      I think deliberate cruelty is a perversion in the true sense of the word. A perversion is something done because you believe it to be, in some sense, wrong. An act of defiance against conscience, God or society and it's taboos.

                                                      I've also seen predators pass up opportunities to kill, for reasons best known to themselves,

                                                      In a natural situation predation is very rarely free of risk and energy expenditure. Our domestic animals, rendered incapable of effective flight or fight for the convenience of our own predation, create a special circumstance.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:36pm Jan 3, 2002 GMT (#252 of 256)  | 

                                                      From an undelivered speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, written shortly before his death:

                                                        "Today, we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships --- the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace."
                                                      This quote was on the last page of the American Heritage Picture History of World War II , by C.L. Sulzberger and the editors of American Heritage , published in 1966.

                                                      Fletching - 12:10am Jan 4, 2002 GMT (#253 of 256)

                                                      I don't think humans behave much different from other predatory species. It is worth watching wild life programmes to see that they all behave much the same. They will defend their own young and members of their own tribe, pride, pack, school, whatever.

                                                      We like to think of ourselves of top of the pile but perhaps only for now as in reality in behaviour we are no different. Just a bit lucky (from development) with a cortex. That can soon change especially as we still have not become sophisticated enough in our behaviour to be tolerant of our own species. Just a blip in the chemical soup that supplies us with air which we are so careless with and bye, bye homo sapiens welcome new species!

                                                      rshowalter - 12:49am Jan 4, 2002 GMT (#254 of 256)  | 

                                                      If humans "don't behave much differently from other predatory species" then the weight of responsibility of culture is very heavy.

                                                      We are animals, all right. Beautiful animals, sometimes. I hope the species goes on.

                                                      We can hope, and fear, based on the idea based things that people do. People will die and kill for ideas and ideals. Maybe, with work, they'll learn to come up with workable arrangements, too.

                                                      Often, it happens.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:01pm Jan 4, 2002 GMT (#255 of 256)  | 

                                                      I was glad to see by gisterme , a person who I suspect has high connections with the Bush administration.

                                                      Gisterme said that

                                                        " The massive nuclear arsenals are already on their way out, Robert. That's because there's way more trust between their possesors than there was prior to 1991. Be patient. We'll both likely live to see the largest strategic nuclear arsenals no larger than a few dozen missiles or perhaps even less. Maybe none. The things are obsolete as rational tools of political leverage because they are too terrible for any sane leader to ever use except as last-ditch defense. .
                                                        " I'm entirely with you in wanting to see strategic nuclear arsenals reduced to the point where even the worst case would still allow survival of the species. That might not take as long as we may think. "
                                                      I hope not.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:00pm Jan 12, 2002 GMT (#256 of 256)  | 

                                                      The Collapse of Enron-- Moderated is a very interesting forum - pretty short, with excellent stuff throughout.

                                                      Postings on the MD board so far this year, though too many to interest the casual, involve things I believe ought to be of great interest to staffed organizations, all over the world, interested in military stability, and reduction of nuclear and other risks.

                                                      HOW TO SEARCH THE NYT MISSILE DEFENSE FORUM



                                                      bNice - 03:38am Jan 19, 2002 BST (#255 of 317)

                                                      Is it the Collapse of Enron


                                                      The Collapse of lapsed government?

                                                      rshowalter - 12:28am Jan 20, 2002 BST (#256 of 317)  | 

                                                      Here are wonderful NYT Op. Ed Pieces:

                                                      ENRON AND THE GRAMMS by Bob Herbert

                                                      THE UNITED STATES OF ENRON by Frank Rich

                                                      rshowalter - 12:29am Jan 20, 2002 BST (#257 of 317)  | 

                                                      MD10870 :

                                                      Last year, Russia hosted a meeting on the militarization of space - something like 104 countries attended. The United States did not. Laser weapons were centrally involved in the issues of concern. Take away the laser weapons, and the other offensive ideas for space weapons don't amount to much.

                                                      Reflective decal countermeasures (which would certainly occur to any engineer seriously thinking about defending against laser weapons) are so easy that these laser weapon systems, either on airplanes or in space - just don't make sense as weapons.

                                                      The point, long discussed on the NYT Missile Defense thread, was discussed in detail, with respect to the ABL ("AirBornLaser) in





                                                        A quote in Hitt's article is worth noting, when judging space weapons - "it costs a bar of gold to put up a coke can." If you know that, you know that "smart rocks" proposed to intercept missiles, starting from one orbit, and intercepting some trajectory not on that orbit, aren't very "smart."
                                                      We need some "islands of technical fact" to be determined, beyond reasonable doubt, in a clear context beyond politics. MD10764

                                                      I believe that if representatives of some of the countries concerned with the weaponization of space asked for clarification, on basic technical questions of feasibility beyond politics, the clarifications would happen. If this were done, I believe that some wrong assumptions, that now stand in the way of world safety, could be swept away.

                                                      Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror #207-210 , linked in MD10882 , offers background on things that might be understood, and done.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:10pm Jan 27, 2002 BST (#258 of 317)  | 

                                                      The New York Times has been doing a remarkable job covering the Enron scandal, and a collection of their coverage is linked here:

                                                      There is a moderated discussion on the topic "The Collapse of Enron."

                                                      "lchic" has many especially useful contributions.

                                                      Perhaps " enron " should become a verb.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:27pm Jan 27, 2002 BST (#259 of 317)  | 

                                                      I was very glad to see Organizing the World to Fight Terror by IGOR S. IVANOV , Russian Foreign Minister

                                                      Much of the NYT Missile Defense thread deals with subjects related to those that Minister Ivanov speaks of. MD11068

                                                      The need for openness, and international relations built on trust is very great. Towards that end, it is useful that things be checked. MD11071

                                                      People and nations do make their systems work better. Russia has made great progress since "Muddle in Moscow" .....

                                                      Efforts on the NYT MD thread may not have had anything to do with any of that progress, but lchic and I have tried to be constructive. md7389

                                                      ExGuardianReader - 11:48am Feb 5, 2002 BST (#260 of 317)

                                                      People are naturally aggressive to weaker people.

                                                      Just like wolves and our closer cousins the chimps. They have strictly, and physically enforced social heiarchies, and aggressively defend their groups from outsiders.

                                                      There is no inherent universal human kindness to the world, we can all be cruel. This is why the more utopian leftist visions of the world are so unrealistic.

                                                      I suppose you've heard of Milgram's experiment where subjects were willing to electrocute people?


                                                      Have you heard of Zimbardo's prison experiment which gave volunteer student subjects the power of prison warders over other volunteer student subjects? The violence got so out of hand, so quickly that the experiment had to be stopped:


                                                      rshowalter - 07:55pm Feb 6, 2002 BST (#261 of 317)  | 

                                                      Great references. Erica Goode did a good article in the NYT science section keyed off those pieces, about two years back.

                                                      There are those who think the current US defense budget proposal is excessive and misshapen, and I'm one of them. The NYT is of the same opinion.

                                                      My own special interest is nuclear disarmament,and that has meant special attention to the NYT Missile Defense message board -- which remains quite active. I believe that it is being demonstrated that the basic technical parts of the Bush administrations's MD program are tactically useless. An interesting example is the Airborne Laser system (ABL) -- which depends on adaptive optics that requires a feedback path that does not exist. Key numbers are classified, but what is possible (and impossible) can be seen from widely known data in the open literature.

                                                      Some days, I feel the MD board is productive -- I'm stuck there, to some extent, because of a "credentialling problem" that can be viewed from several perspectives.

                                                      In the last week, I've had a subjective sense of progress.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:31pm Feb 13, 2002 BST (#262 of 317)  | 

                                                      The NYT MD board has been active this week -- with a great many postings by " gisterme ", a personage I've sometimes suspected of high US government connections.

                                                      Dawn Riley pointed out that

                                                      Within amorphous organisations some projects
                                                      start-up and then take on a life of their own.
                                                      The history, rational, and reasoning are lost
                                                      as the initiators move on
                                                      abandoning these ever-funded,
                                                      now orphaned projects.

                                                      That's happened, to a significant extent, to projects in the US military establishment.

                                                      I was most interested in Margaret Thatcher's Advice to a Superpower MD11481

                                                      With Enron much on the mind of the country, there have been some most interesting speeches by distinguished US Senators in and issues that have not been "second guessed" before, but deferred to, may be subject to more scrutiny. US credibility is being questioned, and that's being pointed out by Friedman, along with a very important point, on which Friedman and I agree with the Bush andministration -- deterrance has to be credible, and that means sometimes you do have to fight. Crazier Than Thou By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.

                                                      MD11526-11527 Some key issues on the functionality of the US missile defense systems were set out in MD11502 , with some partial agreement (on what matters, not what the facts are) from gisterme.

                                                      For each weapons system, key questions are:

                                                        Can it see the target? .
                                                        Can it hit the target? .
                                                        Can it hit the target hard enough to kill it?
                                                      These questions apply for "best possible test conditions" and also for tactical conditions, including conditions with the existence of particular, defined countermeasures.

                                                      I don't believe that the missile defense programs could stand careful, organized scrutiny about these questions, at the level suggested in MD10764 , and feel that it would serve the interest of virtually all people of good faith concerned with world security to get some key facts checked, in some way that went beyond "trust me" -- and got down to specific, clear cases.

                                                      TiggerTheBouncy - 09:46pm Feb 13, 2002 BST (#263 of 317)


                                                      rshowalter - 05:31pm Feb 20, 2002 BST (#264 of 317)  | 

                                                      Inhumanity is often justified, and permitted, by lies.

                                                      Concerns about the Bush administration are widespread -- very often, things are done for reasons that don't make sense, in terms that are explained. Perhaps things cannot be explained in terms that can stand the light of day. The Enron scandal may illustrate a great deal about the role of "information control" (aka fraud) in current US government policy, foreign and domestic.

                                                      The emotive slogan in "Superman" comics, and movies, is

                                                        . Truth, justice, and the American way . . .
                                                      For any workable way of life, truth has to be fundamental-- because decisions have to be made, and people have to be able to cooperate and act in good faith. An editorial and OpEd piece in the New York Times could harrdly be more serious.

                                                      Managing the News

                                                        The new Office of Strategic Influence's plans to plant false stories in the foreign press would undermine rather than reinforce the government's broader efforts to build international support for the war on terrorism.
                                                      Office of Strategic Mendacity By MAUREEN DOWD

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense thread is extensive, and represents an effort to set down, using techniques the internet makes possible, an open corpus, with many crosslinks, adapted to assist in the focusing of a complex, difficult issue toward closure. It is set up as a prototype - illustrating patterns that may be useful for communication between staffed organizations.

                                                      A fairly compact ongoing summary of this thread from September 25, 2000 to date, which is too large for easy reading, but not for sampling, is set out with many links in Psychwar, Casablanca, and Terror -- from #151 on

                                                      MD690 seems particularly appropriate here.


                                                      MD 111656

                                                      The administration's "missile defense" program is essentially a fraud - - based on what seems to be an assumption of a "right to lie and evade" built into current American arrangements in the course of fighting the Cold War. If facts, repeatedly pointed out by people with credentials, were taken into account, the "missile defense" fraud, and all its foreign policy implications, would simply be impossible.

                                                      For practical reasons, important in America, and important elsewhere in the world, there have to be limits on the "right to lie" about subject matter that is of consequence.

                                                      People need to expect decent action. It cannot be taken for granted, and has been too often - - something well illustrated in a piece today:

                                                      An Enron Unit Chief Warned, and Was Rebuffed By JOHN SCHWARTZ

                                                      rshowalter - 01:33am Feb 28, 2002 BST (#265 of 317)  | 

                                                      In analogy to

                                                        " Truth, justice, and the American way . . .
                                                      TRUTH, RIGHT AND THE AMERICAN WAY A Nation Defined by Its Enemies By ROBERT F. WORTH

                                                      rshowalter - 01:33am Feb 28, 2002 BST (#266 of 317)  | 

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense thread, which now fills 28 notebooks of text, is being rebooted - continued, but without holding previous text on the database. The last ten days have been especially active, with our "Putin stand in, almarst", and the "Bush administration stand-ins" quite active. I've saved the thread. I posted the following summary of the thread to date. (MD11896)

                                                      . . .

                                                      "This thread has made some progress. The "missile defense" programs are technically much less tenable than they used to be. I think the discourse on this thread has been part of that. Very serious efforts to defend BMD have been made here - and they have taken up much space, and involved many evasions. But they have made no specific and detailed technical points that have been able to stand about technical feasibility.

                                                      The "lasar weapon" programs have been significantly discredited -- because countermeasures are easy, because adaptive optics is not easy, and because a fundamental misunderstanding about the "perfect coherence" of lasers has been made.

                                                        " Alignment good enough for lasing" has been confused with the far more difficult alignment needed for laser beam coherence for destroying targets over long distances.
                                                      "This has probably undermined every single BMD laser program in existence. (To be good enough for lasing, one needs alighnments so that the cosine of alignment angle is almost exactly 1 -- which is fairly easy -- to be good enough for aiming, alignment, already difficult for lasing - has to be thousands of times better -- probably impossible, even for a lab curiosity - certainly impossible for a high powered, tactical laser subject to system vibration.)

                                                      "There are other key errors in the laser systems, too -- including a "feedback loop" in the ABL system without enough signal to function at all.

                                                      "Whether these oversights have anything to do with a hostile takeover effort of TRW Corportion, I can only speculate -- but hostile takeovers of major US. military contractors are generally consistent with DOD policy.

                                                      "The midcourse interception program that has taken up so much diplomatic space has always been vulnerable to extraordinarily easy countermeasures. This thread has reinforced points that should already have been clear. Points much of the technical community has long insisted on. It costs perhaps a ten thousandth as much to defeat the system as it costs to build it. Perhaps much less. Some facts are based on physics of the sending, reflection, and recieving of electromagnetic radiation (light, radio waves, or any other) are now well known, and inescapable.

                                                      "Arguments on this thread recently have favored BMD as psychological warfare -- as bluff. In my view, the bluff is grotesquely more expensive than can be justified -- and fools almost no one, any more, but the American public.

                                                      I feel that the technical credibility of ballistic missile defense ought to be questioned, in detail, and to closure -- because so much diplomacy, and so much of the current rationale for Bush administration policy, hinges on it.

                                                      We need some islands of technical fact to be determined, beyond reasonable doubt, in a clear context. It is possible to do that now.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:46am Mar 7, 2002 BST (#267 of 317)  | 

                                                      Just a thought for a happy ending, based on the pattern in How a Story is Shaped

                                                      Status Quo . . .

                                                      Initial Problem . . .

                                                      Exposition . . .

                                                      Complications . . .

                                                      Crisis . . . A superpower out of hand - - with plenty of muddle and danger.

                                                      Climax boom, crash -- . . . A few world leaders say, in public, "this is an intolerable mess -- there are muddles here -- we want the key facts and relations sorted out -- staffed to closure -- beyond question . . ."

                                                      to be continued .

                                                      Denouement . . .

                                                      Description of New Status Quo . . .

                                                      New Status Quo

                                                      I think some pretty satisfactory resolutions would occur, pretty naturally, once there was enough "news value" for public scrutiny -- along with formats that were able to handle the logical problems involved.




                                                      I think many of the questions raised by almarst , the NYT Missile Defense thread's "Putin stand-in" are interesting, and I've collected some of them in MD183 to MD186 are worth a lot of respect, attention, and concern.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:44am Mar 13, 2002 BST (#268 of 317)  | 

                                                      I believe, for reasons of context that you can judge for yourself below, that manjumicha2001 either is, or represents, a major player in the Bush adminstration defense establishment. That is, of course, deniable, unless some journalists do some work.

                                                      manjumicha2001's posted MD401 rather than respond, or have a cohort respond, to a challenge of mine explicit enough that it could not be run away from. MD393

                                                      In MD401 manjumicha2001 says this:

                                                        " I agree with you that NMD is a program that is 50 years old and has proven to be terminally challenged by the laws of physics.
                                                      That's a key question of fact that needs to be widely, persuasively explained , so that the people who have to make decisions relating to that fact can do so. If my guess about the identity of manjumicha2001 is correct - - the admission should be a matter of wide interest.

                                                      in MD401 manjumicha2001 continues:

                                                        "Having said that, however, I do not believe the world turns based on merits alone. Pathos (either of a nation or people) matter and more often than not, it is the driving force of the events that shape history. "
                                                      Pathos and folly may be understandable, but still regrettable, when matters of life, death, and agony are at stake. Here's a piece of my MD382

                                                        "Facts and ideas, combined together in space and time so that people can "connect the dots", as Erica Goode says in Finding Answers In Secret Plots form the ideas that people and groups have. -- These ideas are patterns, which work well enough to sustain action and belief in some ways, though they may be totally invalid otherwise. These ideas, constructed by "connecting the dots" may produce grossly pathological results -- . . . Or they may be correct.
                                                        "To judge that, one checks the "facts" "connected together" and one sees if the pattern conjured up fits more facts - - including many more facts. The process of judging this, like the process of putting the "explanation" together - happens in people's minds - and can't be forced. But the matching process -- the "connecting of the dots" -- is what effective persuasion is all about. And the internet offers new ways, some shown here, of connecting information in space and time that would otherwise be diffused and unconnectable.
                                                      Because the carnage and loss from "pathos" can be so serious it seems worthwhile to set out postings from manjumicha2001 - so that if anyone wishes to "connect some dots" they may form some judgements about who (s)he is, and who (s)he converses with. My sense is that manjumicha2001 is a senior Bush administration official -- you may develop your own sense on the basis of manjumicha2001's posting - linked below:
















                                                      Wouldn't it be dramatic if "easy inferences" from such dot-connecting happened to be right - - and people in positions of power and trust took the stances in manjumicha2001's MD401 ?

                                                      If people responsible for making the United States a "Nuclear Rogue" know the technical things that they must know, and that manjumicha2001 acknowledges -- scandal ought to be fully justified.

                                                      lchic - 05:37pm Mar 16, 2002 BST (#269 of 317)

                                                      Bush didn't get the conservative judge .. what is 'conservative' decision making ... is it make the decisions that satisfy an unchanged 'yesterday' rather than the new reality of today.

                                                      Bush was disappointed !

                                                      At least. if Bush makes an 'appearance' before the bench - it won't necessarily be before one of his hench men !

                                                      rshowalter - 08:58pm Mar 20, 2002 BST (#270 of 317)  | 

                                                      Lead article in MIT's Technology Review Why Missile Defense Won't Work by Theodore A. Postol April 2002

                                                      From -GEN. GEORGE LEE BUTLER former commander, Strategic Air Command

                                                        " Nuclear weapons are irrational devices. They were rationalized and accepted as a desperate measure in the face of circumstances that were unimaginable. Now as the world evolves rapidly, I think that the vast majority of people on the face of the earth will endorse the proposition that such weapons have no place among us.
                                                      The technical issues are clear - missile defense is a sham. The arguments have been well presented for a long time, by many people. But the US military-industrial complex has its own reasons to want to continue the fraud. To get to closure, there has to be a fight about facts and relations. Some of the analogies to the Enron case are close. Enron was dominant - deferred to -- respected -- on the basis of a pattern of ornate but blatant deceptions. But the lies were unstable - - and once some key facts solidified - with clarity - and with many of the facts presented together in space and time, so people could see -- the fraud collapsed. An admirable collection of facts and circumstances, contributing to that instability is here:

                                                      Some key aspects of the US military-industrial-complex deserve analogous scrutiny. For it to happen, for it to be news, world leaders are going to have to ask for checking.



                                                      There may be some reason to hope for that.

                                                      I misjudged manjumicha2001 MD717 - - - and may have underestimated the amount of hard work, and brilliance, that NYT people are putting into the MD thread.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:37pm Mar 28, 2002 BST (#271 of 317)  | 

                                                      Debate? Dissent? Discussion? Oh, Don't Go There! By MICHIKO KAKUTANI contains a lot of wonderful stuff -- I was struck especially with this line:

                                                        " the Internet, which instead of leading to a global village, has created a multitude of self-contained tribes - niche cultures in which like-minded people can talk to like-minded people and filter out information that might undermine their views."
                                                      That explains a great deal about how the optimistic, bouyant argument in Thomas L. Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree falls short -- and the optimistic, simplistic claims for "globalization" have fallen short. Friedman and many others didn't think enough about the barriers to communication that the new communication technologies do not strip away.

                                                      We have to think about them now.

                                                      When groups of people can "filter out" key pieces of information, the truth can be too weak, and results can be disastrous.

                                                      When things are complicated enough, truth is our only hope of finding our ways to decent solutions. That means we have to find ways to keep people from "filter(ing) out information that might undermine their views."

                                                      Challenge, questions, and invokation of the need for force:


                                                      Comment and response:

                                                      Betraying Humanity By BOB HERBERT

                                                        . . . ultimately the many tribes that inhabit this earth are going to have to figure out a way to forge some workable agreements on how we treat one another.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:26am Apr 5, 2002 BST (#272 of 317)  | 

                                                      All Roads Lead to D.C. by EMILY EAKIN

                                                        " Today, America is no mere superpower or hegemon but a full-blown empire in the Roman and British sense"
                                                      Britain's Imperial Lessons by ALAN COWELL

                                                      Almarst , the NYT Missile Defense thread's "Putin stand-in" has been asking "why so much American military power?" - - since March a year ago. Questions of "why?" and "in whose interest" are vital, in the old sense of "matters of life and death" because some of the easy answers, that Americans have been comfortable with, aren't working in America's interest, and aren't pleasing the other governments in the world.

                                                      The question of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" is raised, and given focus, in .

                                                      The Smoke Machine and Connect the Dots by PAUL KRUGMAN

                                                      I believe that the "American Empire" is as large as it is, and has some of the characteristics that it does, because the interest of the United States, as a nation, has diverged from the interests of a "military-industrial-political complex" constructed to fight the Cold War, that has taken a dangerous degree of control over US government affairs since that time. The American "missile defense" program is interesting for some of the same reasons that the Enron affair . . . is interesting. The "missile defense" programs are nonsensical and corrupt, in the senses that ought to matter either technically or militarily, and illustrates broader corruptions that concern the whole world, because American power is as great as it now is, and is used as it now is.

                                                      Checking on these issues is important - but for it to happen, some leaders of nation states are going to have to be interested - as I believe they should be, because it is risky to be led, and to defer, to an administration that is taking positions that go wrong, and produce unnecessary risks, costs, and fighting, again and again.


                                                      MD1077 contains references to a Guardian talk, and ends with this:

                                                        "I believe that I'm doing, as nearly as it possibly can be done, exactly what Bill Casey would want me to do now, for the good of the United States of America and the decency of the world.

                                                      JudgeJustice - 10:58pm Apr 6, 2002 BST (#273 of 317)

                                                      Some people are born sick, some are not. Some people become twisted, others live outside London. Some people are sheep and follow the mass hysteria.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:56pm Apr 12, 2002 BST (#274 of 317)  | 

                                                      Movie makers have to "play god".

                                                      rshowalter - 10:49pm Apr 25, 2002 BST (#275 of 317)  | 

                                                      To sort out problems, including problems of peace (and the smaller related muddles of the missile defense boongoggle) people have to face the truth, tell the truth, and avoid misinformation. When right answers really count, they have to "connect the dots" ( MD1055 so that patterns emerge -- and to check those patterns.

                                                      Here are some OpEd pieces by Paul Krugman quoted on the NYT Missile Defense thread:

                                                      The Big Lie

                                                      Bad Heir Day

                                                      The Great Divide

                                                      The Smoke Machine

                                                      Connect the Dots

                                                      At Long Last?

                                                      The White Stuff

                                                      Losing Latin America

                                                      The Angry People

                                                      A number of links discussing Krugman's pieces are set out in MD1741

                                                      I'm so glad Guardian Talk is back!

                                                      rshowalter - 10:54pm Apr 25, 2002 BST (#276 of 317)  | 

                                                      Hatred - and LIES.



                                                      Revenge - book review



                                                      rshowalter - 10:51pm May 3, 2002 BST (#277 of 317)  | 

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense thread has been very active, and I sometimes think that it may have been influential.

                                                      U.S., in Surprise, Announces Global Talks for Mideast By TODD S. PURDUM and DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      shows a situation where, if complications can be faced - - and resolved, enormous good could come. lunarchick's MD1972 includes key questions:

                                                        "In one years time - where do we ALL want to be?" .
                                                        "In five years time - where do we ALL want to be?" .
                                                        "In ten years time - where do we ALL want to be?" .
                                                        "In twenty years time - where do we ALL want to be?"
                                                      "Planning should match the aspirations of those publics with a visionary future."

                                                      For that matching to be possible, there have to be mechanics in place that make it possible, for the real people involved. I've suggested simple things, practical things -- mechanically easy things -- that I believe would increase the chances for real success in the middle east. They involve internet usages, for communication, condensation, clarification, and closure. For all sorts of complex cooperation, we need to do better getting to closure than we have done. We can.





                                                      Opportunities for a safer, more prosperous world are very great -- but they depend on openness, and correct decisions. I believe some of the most essential opportunities were set out eloquently and well in Organizing the World to Fight Terror by IGOR S. IVANOV , Russian Foreign Minister . The reasons that the hopes expressed there have been lagely dashed (or at least postponed) bear looking at. U.S. and Russia Fall Short on Nuclear Deal by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS . . . I think that important hopes Ivanov expresses, and patterns or human cooperation he expresses, could be revived if the mechanics of complex negotiation were improved.

                                                      If our techniques improved --- and they could, if people used the net as it can be used - - we might learn to deal more humanely and effectively with each other.

                                                      rshowalter - 02:39pm May 6, 2002 BST (#278 of 317)  | 

                                                      I've asked

                                                        " When large news organizations such as The New York Times or the Guardian-Observer cannot solve problems by covering the facts about them -- why don't the solutions happen, when they often seem very clear?
                                                      A lot of the time, the problems can't be solved because the "dots" are not collected so that people, as they are, can actually connect them.


                                                      Lchic and I just had a two hour, 70 post session on negotiation in the middle east in the Guardian thread Anything on Anything from lchic "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 02:39 to rshowalter "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 04:37 that includes many links to this thread.

                                                      We considered the question -- if Thomas Friedman wanted to use web resources (with a staff) to facilitate the search for peace in the Middle East, what could he do?

                                                      MD2043 MD2047

                                                      MalcolmMcm - 04:44pm May 7, 2002 BST (#279 of 317)

                                                      A lot of the time, the problems can't be solved because the "dots" are not collected so that people, as they are, can actually connect them.

                                                      More often the problems of the world are based on genuine conflicts of interest and the solution is that one side gets screwed.

                                                      rshowalter - 04:49pm May 7, 2002 BST (#280 of 317)  | 

                                                      Genuine conflicts of interest do in fact happen a lot -- and sometimes there "has to be a fight."

                                                      At some level.

                                                      But limitless, escalating conflicts - such as wars - almost always involve "terrible oversimplification" - or costs and moral positions that can't stand the light of day.

                                                      I stand by what I said, particularly about soluble problems that are not solved:

                                                        A lot of the time, the problems can't be solved because the "dots" are not collected so that people, as they are, can actually connect them.
                                                      Solutions often aren't found because they can't be seen, and agreed to. With better communication and specification - they often could be.

                                                      You can't "change human nature" - but sometimes better ways of "collecting the dots" and "connecting the dots" can be found. In fact, over then last few years, better ways are being found - and we there's more progress to be made in that direction.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:18am May 17, 2002 BST (#281 of 317)  | 

                                                      A Wider Atlantic: Europe Sees a Grotesque U.S. by TODD S. PURDUM illustrates some of the challenges.

                                                      "To travel across the Atlantic with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is to catch a brief glimpse of the unilateralist America seen by many European eyes."

                                                      lchic - 02:52pm May 20, 2002 BST (#282 of 317)

                                                      ... Secretary Powell came to a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers here to press Europeans to modernize their military machinery and spend more on defense

                                                      In a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington last week, Mr. Straw offered some reasons for the differing world views. "Americans, correctly and rightly, consider that it is they as Americans who created the modern world's greatest democracy," Mr. Straw said.
                                                        But Europeans, he added, tend to see "a U.S. born out of Europe, born from those with the courage, imagination, iconoclasm to break away from the straitjacket not just of poverty but of institutional and political constraints in Europe, to form what has long represented, in an almost idealized form, the best of European values and institutions."
                                                        As an example of "what might have been," Mr. Straw said, "the U.S. is a source of more absorbing fascination to Europeans than ever an individual European country could be to the U.S."

                                                      rshowalter - 12:26am May 24, 2002 BST (#283 of 317)  | 

                                                      I believe that Erica Goode has made a contribution to the culture, and that the NYT Missile Defense thread may also have done so. I'm only basing my jugement on statistics, and what I myself have noticed, and may be wrong. But the matter could be checked, pretty readily, by searching the net. It concerns the phrase "connect the dots." -- and whether that phrase has gained in meaning, and frequency, since Erica Goode's Finding Answers In Secret Plots . . which speaks of:

                                                        "a basic human urge to connect the dots and form a coherent picture."

                                                      lchic - 12:38am May 28, 2002 BST (#284 of 317)


                                                      lchic - 04:45pm Jun 6, 2002 BST (#285 of 317)

                                                      War is the culdisac

                                                      Climbing out - how to?
                                                      Moving on - when to?

                                                      Why 'war' ... sheer waste!

                                                      lchic - 01:14pm Jun 13, 2002 BST (#286 of 317)

                                                      War Crimes - Afghanistan

                                                      USA (Taliban)

                                                      rshowalter - 08:25pm Jun 20, 2002 BST (#287 of 317)  | 

                                                      Work on the NYT Missile Defense thread has been busy, and I feel that some of that work might interest many readers of the Guardian-Observer, and participants on this thread. In that thread, Guardian articles, and TALK threads, are often referred to, and are important and much appreciated sources.

                                                      A number of pieces have run in the NYT that I've been glad to see, perhaps this one most of all:

                                                      Playing Know and Tell by John Schwartz .

                                                      Schwartz's piece ends:

                                                        " Listen."

                                                      I sent a fax to an officer at the C.I.A., and at the same time, sent the identity of that officer to some senior NYT people. That officer and I have not conversed since - but a phone call between us was almost certainly recorded. That conversation contains nothing at all that can concievably justify classification. I think that conversation also involved a sort of "voice stress analysis" -- a sort of "lie detector test" over the telephone. It would be interesting to see what the test showed, and on what basis. For the record, during that conversation I was VERY disappointed, VERY upset, VERY scared, and too busy being careful to bother about being angry. MD2621


                                                      MD2631 cites MD262, which includes this:

                                                        "I'm thinking that a very few simple things, not embarrassing, not expensive, not difficult, would be good to do now. If some journalists could hear some recordings -- one from last week, between me and the C.I.A. - which NYT could get to if it wished -- and another that I'm guessing exists of a meeting between me and a trusted officer of the University of Wisconsin, Madison - - that could set things up for some graceful, simple steps."
                                                      Gisterme responded in MD2633 and the response was especially interesting in light of the statistical argument about gisterme's interest embodied in postings MD2574-2590

                                                      I think people who follow "missile defense" and related military and geopolitical issues, or any work of mine, might be interested in MD2637 to MD 2641 today.

                                                      MD2637 includes this:

                                                        I think that my concerns, and the reasonable concerns of the other parties in interest could be well served if the U.S. government agreed to do what Bill Casey promised me and the AEA investors, or something equivalent in the ways that matter. I personally think that's true, whether the government is willing to admit the truth of my story or not. .
                                                        I personally think that an accomodation along those lines would serve, gracefully and well, the reasonable interests of the NYT, the federal government, people who've dealt with me, and people concerned with fairness and safety from various perspecitves. It would permit me to solve Robert Showalter problems, and sell them, without being too disruptive, and without having to pretend or claim to be anything other than what I really am - an ordinary person with a somewhat unconventional background and education. I think such a deal would fit comfortably within the traditions of the United States, and be an arrangement that could be reasonably explained to anyone reasonably interested.
                                                      I think perhaps the Guardian-Observer, as a paper, might be interested in this. I'd be grateful for a chance to talk to any Guardian-Observer staffer who might take and interest. You might be "warned off" of me by a call to the NYT - but might not be. M.R. Showalter (608)-829-3657 . . . .

                                                      I think what I'm asking is reasonable, and might reduce the incidence of horror in the world.

                                                      lchic - 11:53am Jun 28, 2002 BST (#288 of 317)

                                                      Bush-y has a new plan

                                                      Give everybody access to 'the button' !

                                                      rshowalter - 05:32pm Jun 30, 2002 BST (#289 of 317)  | 

                                                      Bush can get himself turned around even when he's trying to do right - and that can be disastrous.

                                                      For the record:

                                                      I do not now see any errors in MD2770

                                                        Verbal deal between M. Robert Showalter and William J. Casey for Showalter's work situation, as set out, to the what he claims is the best of his knowledge and belief, by Showalter. - - which is an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY, with details added in later postings . . .
                                                      MD2771 is correct in the ways that matter most substantially to me, but includes errors about dates corrected in MD2775

                                                      Those errors matter when they matter, and are big or small from different points of view. Did I make an inadvertent error - make an "error" setting up a "trap door" or "ambush" -- or set up a teaching device, to illustrate a point?

                                                      Things be exactly right for some purposes, and treacherously wrong for other purposes.

                                                      Systems built for stability, and systems that are explosively unstable, can look much the same.

                                                      I appreciated Debuting: One Spy, Unshaken was an interesting, but not exactly balanced, review of The Bourne Identity.

                                                      Am I trying to debut, as one spy, unshaken? Yes. I feel some progress has been made - and some work on making clear warnings made.

                                                      Thought problem: You're Bourne - how do you "come in" -- gracefully, and in a way that is in the reasonable interest of the United States, and decency?

                                                      Thought problem: You're me. It seems to me that there are solutions "all over the place" if some facts can be straighted out. Graceful ones, maybe.

                                                      Progress has been made. What a wonder the NYT is!

                                                      I've been working on this thread, and lchic has been working on this thread, for good reasons - - and motivated by strong concerns. MD2000

                                                      With current usages, nothing can be checked in the face of opposition from "authorities."

                                                      This is very dangerous. There are things to get straight, important in themselves - - and important because of the patterns that they show.



                                                      Flavors of Fraud By PAUL KRUGMAN includes this:

                                                      "I'm not saying that all U.S. corporations are corrupt. But it's clear that executives who want to be corrupt have faced few obstacles. Auditors weren't interested in giving a hard time to companies that gave them lots of consulting income; bank executives weren't interested in giving a hard time to companies that, as we've learned in the Enron case, let them in on some of those lucrative side deals. And elected officials, kept compliant by campaign contributions and other inducements, kept the regulators from doing their job - starving their agencies for funds, creating regulatory "black holes" in which shady practices could flourish.

                                                      A reason it is easy to be corrupt is that our discourse, and our contracts, are full of gestalt switches and people need to check - and don't.

                                                      It is terribly easy for us to come to believe wrong answers, unless we check more, and more systematically, than we have in the past. But with better checking, things can get much better. Things are so dangerous that they have to.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:11am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#290 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 03:13pm May 22, 2001 EST 4157

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      There are some important, hopeful issues here -- and I'm wanting to emphasize them again.

                                                      gisterme 5/21/01 6:27pm asked if I think murder is OK -- and alluded again to my comment that the US military, in other eyes, too often looks too much like Major Strasser, the Nazi villian in Casablanca . --- I think death is unfortunate, and prefer aimed fire to random murder. I don't think the distinction between "murder" and "death by reason of military action" is a particularly interesting distinction, for a lot of purposes. I bet gisterme knew those things.

                                                      4121: rshowalter 5/21/01 8:54pm says these things among others.

                                                        We need to get things clear - and we need to fashion deals that make sense and are correct from the viewpoint of all concerned. That includes the interests of Russia as well as the United States. And the interests of many other countries, too. .
                                                        We need solutions that fit cases, and are proportionate - from a lot of points of view. We need solutions in the real, complex circumstances, where fear levels and distrust levels are justifiably high - though there are substantial areas of limited but real trust and good will, too.
                                                      "I'm going to take time .............. In hope of offering steps toward solutions that work.

                                                      Here is 4123: rshowalter 5/21/01 9:01pm , which I think is essential:

                                                        . . . Russia can't be asked to agree to nuclear safety for the world, at the cost of sacrificing HER interests, from HER point of view. Neither can other nations. .
                                                        The deal has to work for everybody. On their terms. With circumstances, including history and human feelings, as they are, and not as we might wish them to be. .
                                                        This doesn't look easy to me, but it does look possible. For a stable solution to be possible, feelings between people can be very different, but key facts have to be the same for all concerned.
                                                      gisterme , I hope you don't think I'm being too windy -- I'm compiling a list of nuts and bolts suggestions - you've heard them before, but I think they're worth considering. Not highflown, but maybe doable.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:29pm May 22, 2001 EST 4158 <br>

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I think almarst's

                                                      4148: almarst-2001 5/22/01 1:48pm .... 4149: almarst-2001 5/22/01 2:06pm <br> 4150: almarst-2001 5/22/01 2:14pm

                                                      are superb, and the more widely they were understood, in America, and among nations and people all over the world, the safer, more comfortable, and richer we'd all be.

                                                      It seems to me that the best thing I can do, just now, is put up a thread on the Guardian, a condensation of another Guardian thread I let expire -- dealing with the Golden Rule, and some intellectual issues fitting it to complex cases and real people, not as we might like to think of ourselves, but as the animals we are. I think I'll have it done in less than 40 minutes.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:20pm May 22, 2001 EST 4159 <br>

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Detail, and the Golden Rule Guardian Talk Issues is about 10 printed pages. It deals with issues that I believe matter for complex cooperation -- the Golden Rule, its interpretation in terms of notions of disciplined beauty, and the notion that man's inhumanity to man can sometimes be instinctual. Man's inhumanity to man, therefore, has to be guarded against by culture and learned wisdom.

                                                      The basic message is closely related to things that people, all over the world, already know well, and often use gracefully.

                                                      I'm not a church-goer, myself, and Dawn isn't either. I feel that the ideas here make sense in secular terms, and ought to be common ground among religions that work well for people.

                                                      Almarst , Dawn, and I have discussed these ideas on this thread extensively. Here the notions are set out as concisely as I've known how to make them on short notice. I hope they are clear.

                                                      I believe that these ideas, applied in detail to real cases, and combined with the new internet tools for enhanced human memory and complexity tolerance, may make it possible to cut deals that work well for people that would have been more difficult before.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:12am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#291 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 01:48pm Jun 6, 2001 EST #4532 <br>

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      lunarchick 6/6/01 1:02am

                                                        " ... take a look at an historical time line .. looking for the good things .. and you'll see how far forward the world has come."
                                                      Dawn's right. And I feel that this thread, because of very hard work, and much good faith, under ambivalent motivations from many quarters, has taken steps forward. Some painful, but many hopeful too.

                                                      But you can also say

                                                        " ... take a look at an historical time line .. looking for the bad things .. and you'll see, again and again, monotonously, wrenchingly, how reasonable hopes have been dashed, how people have done badly by themselves and each other -- how horror and loss and injustice that should have been avoided happened. Again and again, you'll see how accomodations that should have been constructable were not, and how forces of ugliness and evil have triumphed, in many places, and for long times - producing more horror and pain than any human mind can begin to comprehend. " This thread has been a response to that, too.
                                                      We need to find ways to get more of the good of which man is capable, and get more wisdom, and better accomodations, so that we can more often avoid the bad. There are ways to do it.

                                                      Some of the techniques evolving on this thread offer some hope in that direction -- this thread is an attempt at something new -- a format for workable, traceable, checkable communication and negotiation between staffed organizations, with openness, and more effective memory and accomodation of complexity than was possible before.

                                                      There are many horrors. But there is some common ground, and there are some common goods. The good things that Putin hopes for, and the good things that Bush hopes for, even with all the differences, have much common ground, as well. And those good things, in the complex world that permits so much more than the over-simple models we have in our heads - ought to be, and logically can be compatible and not contradictory -- with careful accomodation - and some toughness and honesty sensibly applied by the many capable people, capable of honor, who are involved.

                                                      rshowalter - 02:22pm Jun 6, 2001 EST

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I thought Missile Shield Realities was beautiful and constructive. The piece proposes reasonable accomodations, and credit is given where credit is due.

                                                        "The Bush administration seems to recognize that an agreement with Russia on missile defenses would help dispel European and Congressional misgivings. In recent weeks, Washington has made constructive proposals for cooperation with Moscow on related issues like early-warning radar and tactical missile defenses. But the administration has not yet addressed Russia's core concerns. .
                                                        "There is ample time to pursue further diplomacy with Moscow before any defensive system is built. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is soon to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has rightly stated that whatever technology the Pentagon decides on must be thoroughly tested and shown to be reliable before funds are appropriated for construction. But some increased financing would be justified over the next few years for expanded research and testing. . . . .
                                                        " That would allow the Pentagon to explore sea- based systems designed to shoot down missiles soon after they are launched, as well as refining the land- based approach pursued by the Clinton administration that is designed to intercept enemy warheads in mid-flight. Both technologies hold some promise of successful development. But neither is yet far enough advanced to justify construction of a system within the next several years, a step that would breach the ABM treaty. Space-based interceptors are a bad idea. As the country most dependent on satellites for reconnaisance and communications, America has the most to lose if space becomes a potential battlefield. . . . . .
                                                        " The time needed for further testing and research should be used to try to negotiate a deal with Moscow. The administration also ought to consult further with its NATO allies and begin serious discussions with China. . . .
                                                        " A narrowly targeted, technologically reliable missile defense is desirable and may be possible to develop. To produce such a system, the Bush administration must set aside its exaggerated expectations and commit itself to a program of careful testing and patient diplomacy.
                                                      Great stuff. Compatible with the interests of all concerned, as far as it goes. Respectful of fact. If we could proceed in that way -- we'd be moving in the direction of real peace.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:13am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#292 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 07:22am Jun 26, 2001 EST #6057

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I say here that I knew Bill Casey a little.

                                                      And of course, everything's deniable - I'm not sure anybody has any records at all. Maybe I'm a literary figure -- call me Ishmael.

                                                      The story I like best about me, in this regard, is that I'm just a guy who got interested in logic, and military issues. A guy who got concerned about nuclear danger, and related military balances, and tried to do something about it. Based on what he knew - with no access to special information of any kind, he made an effort to keep the world from blowing up, using the best literary devices he could fashion, consistent with what he knew or could guess.

                                                      Let me go on with another story.

                                                      I don't think of Casey as a critter, a phrase Dawn used above -- though he was capable of almost any evil at all. In fact, though I have mixed feelings, some of those feelings for Casey are of great respect. In significant ways, Casey's sophistication and morality seem to me to much exceed the sophistication and morality of the leaders who succeeded him.

                                                      I didn't talk to Casey often, but during the '70's and 80's we had a number of meetings, each about 2 hours long, each at the Hotel Pierre in New York.

                                                      They were intense, careful, interesting meetings -- and I left them, every time, with a lot of respect for Casey's intelligence and sophistication. I also left with real feelings, but not unmixed ones, that Casey had a real and intense desire to act in good faith when he felt he could. I also left those meetings relieved. But still afraid, though not so afraid as I was when I went into them.

                                                      In my interaction with The New York Times , I've been doing just exactly what Casey coached me to do -- ordered me to do -- what I promised Casey I would do.

                                                      When I got a problem solved (really several problems solved) after giving people a chance to take me in through other channels -- I was to come in through The New York Times . Casey thought that was what was going to have to happen -- but thought it had to be a last resort .. I should try other things -- things I did try -- first. ... But Casey felt that the TIMES was a last resort that would work. The TIMES would have the connections, when the situation seemed right, to get things moving gracefully and well -- the way America, in Casey's view, and mine, was supposed to work.

                                                      When I figured out the "buried problem" in applied mathematics, and "figured out how to really talk to the Russians" -- and figured out what a stable stand-down of nuclear terror was to be like -- I was to come in. They wanted the answers, but weren't sure how they'd accomodate them, and would have to sort it out at the time.

                                                      Its been rougher than that, for reasons, I believe, that Casey might be ashamed of.

                                                      I've been doing my duty, I believe -- making decisions I've felt I had to. In this regard, a phrase that Casey used in an answer to me occurs. He said, with a twinkle in his eye -- but a menacing twinkle (people who knew Casey may remember such twinkles) that, under difficult circumstances "it was easier to get forgiveness, than it was to get permission."

                                                      I've often thought, writing on these forums, about whether I've been keeping faith with Bill Casey -- doing things that, on balance, he would have thought reasonable, and right, on balance, under the circumstances. So far, weighing what I've known and believed -- I've always judged that I have. I believe that now.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:23am Jun 26, 2001 EST #6058

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I'm needing to weigh what to do - and while I do so, I'd like to post links to a Guardian thread where I've said many of the most important things I'd like people to know. Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 21:57

                                                        note #26 ... rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 23:13 To see many references to this that thread, and to the movie Casablanca , search "casablanca" for this thread.
                                                      Here are some postings connected to the Casablanca story that interest me especially today.

                                                      MD3044 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:31pm .... MD3045 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:31pm MD3046 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:32pm ...

                                                      MD3831rshowalter 5/14/01 12:09pm .... MD3523 rshowalter 5/8/01 4:12pm

                                                      Summaries and links to this Missile Defense thread are set out from #153 in rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 16:35 MD4778 rshowalter 6/11/01 7:31pm

                                                      gisterme , raises the threat that I'm committing treason. I think not. I also think that the people saying so have been in such violation of the real interests of the United States, for so long, that they may not know what treason is --- because they have come to embody it themselves.

                                                      They may have much good in them, too. The world is a complex place.

                                                      We shouldn't let the world blow up. As of now, it could.

                                                      And the world is far, far uglier than it needs to be, because people don't face up to facts, and deal, as responsible human beings, with things as they are.

                                                      Lies are dangerous. We need to deal with some of them, that keep the Cold War going, when we should put it behind us.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:14am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#293 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      lunarchick - 05:04am Jul 1, 2001 EST #6368

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      America boasts itself as being a democracy, the land of the free, having open media, having an open press. It pushes Putin on feedom of the press, and yet America falls on it's face with respect to Showalter asking:

                                                        " Why doesn't the military, or Lockheed Martin, or some other reputable source of engineering talent, get a real person, with a name and a face, in front of a video camera, with me or any of a number of other people who could do the job, with UMPIRES there so he couldn't lie ---- and establish, beyond any reasonable doubt at all, that these missile defense schemes aren't respectable engineering, but are a fraud instead. "
                                                      In Europe elected politicans 'lead' the people into higher humaine standards. Whereas in the US, there are many indepth legal firsts. Yet, when it comes to political leadership .. the 'Polies' don't want to offend the C19th right of right redneck voters. The irony is that so many of the Politicans have legal backgrounds .. yet, take them out of the courtroom and they totally loose perspective .. forgetting that the new Client is 'the people'. How can voters have respect for politicians when they are too timid to grasp the nettle and take society forward.

                                                      lunarchick - 05:26am Jul 1, 2001 EST #6369


                                                      2008 games :,10604,514467,00.html

                                                      But officials will not be boasting of how China publicly executed more than 1,000 people last year for a range of criminal offences; last week alone more than 60 men and women were put to death, just minutes after their sentences were passed

                                                      rshowalter - 07:19am Jul 1, 2001 EST #6370

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Dawn, there were some important extenuating circumstances -- in many minds, including mine at the time -- about the way the US fought to Cold War -- ugly as it was. That is, there were before the fall of the Soviet Union.

                                                      Bill Casey felt passionate about this - agonized about this. Yes - it had been and was going to be necessary to do terrible, morally indefensible things. Yes, gross injustice had been and was going to be done to many people. Yes, it had been and was going to be necessary to subvert the Constitution, and many of the most dearly held values of the American people and our allies.

                                                      These things had been, and would continue to be necessary -- to fight the Cold War, against forces of totalitarianism that, Casey sincerely felt, had to be stopped at all costs - including both practical and moral costs.

                                                      Yes, it had been and was going to be necessary to lie and cheat and steal -- and kill innocent people beyond the ability of any individual human being to count.

                                                      (Ever tried to physically count to five million?) Yes, it was ugly -- ugly beyond anything you could get in your head -- ugly beyond telling.

                                                      But the US, Casey felt, could do these things. Do them in secret, concealed in elaborate patterns of lies. With the secrecy and the lies justified, not only by expediency, but because there was a real desire to preserve the good things about America -- the kindness, the flexibility -- the opportunity -- the beauty. Preserve them by isolating them from the ugliness.

                                                      Bill Casey deserved, I believe, the same criticism as Kissinger and his colleagues and proteges deserve -- that he took positions that "made Machiavelli seem like one of the Sisters of Mercy."

                                                      And acted on them.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:19am Jul 1, 2001 EST #6371

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      HOWEVER, Bill Casey also not only respected -- he revered , the standards of decency, and openness, and flexibility -- that THE NEW YORK TIMES tries to stand for -- and usually does.

                                                      When I talked to Casey, he was very clear about the conflict -- and his sense of the terrible moral box he and others had gotten the United States into. When he talked to me, a special asset who, it had been provisionally decided, was not to be killed -- (at every meeting I had with Casey, I was sure he was re-evaluating that decision) -- what we talked about was finding an end game -- finding a way out of the horror .

                                                      Perhaps, if Casey hadn't had the brain tumor he had, and died in 1989, the terrible tragedy of the last decade might not have happened quite as it did. Perhaps some grace not found could have been found. I don't know. This happened.

                                                      When the Soviet Union fell, and everyone, on all sides, had so much hope, we didn't have an end game -- and the United States was so tied up with lies, that it could not sort out problems before it -- or help the Russians sort out their problems.

                                                      Now, the country (those Americans led by the current Administration) is slam-banging into disaster -- throwing every decency imaginable overboard, one by one, in a doomed attempt to avoid having to face what has been done.

                                                      If we faced it, as we must -- there'd be much hope.

                                                      As it is now, --- America is being degraded, besmirched, made ugly - betrayed -- by the people now in control of the Federal government -- with but very few people standing up at all.

                                                      Few are pointing to the obvious, pervasive lies that are so clearly before us.

                                                      There simply is no alternative but for us to put the Cold War behind us. And that means that some core facts - that must be clear, for any reasonable shaping of the future --- must be set out.

                                                      I think that this thread is part of that.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:14am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#294 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 08:00am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6397

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      MD6376 lunarchick 7/1/01 8:23am . . .

                                                        Is there anything regarding this specialist problem solving approach that would be of interest to this board ?
                                                      I think so.

                                                      I don't think I'm doing US security any harm, or telling anyone anything very surprising, when I say that in the late 1950's and early 1960's, work at Fort Deitrich on biological warfare also included much work on "animal intelligence" -- especially as it related to guidance. How was it that birds or bats had so much greater ability to intercept moving tartgets than the best missiles? The idea crystalized - and it was an entirely reasonable idea, that there must be a gross mistake in the mathematics being used in our guidance systems -- the disparity between the clumsiness of manmade missiles, and the relatively fantastic grace and accuracy made this idea seem compelling. There were somewhat similar huge disparities involved in language processing and cryptography, as well. We had fast, powerful actuators, and plenty of speed and accelleration on our missiles -- but control was very problematic - and the instabilities encountered when tight control was attempted (a problem that was still central last year in MD experiments) were stunning and embarrassing, beside what animals such as bats could routinely do. It became clear that, if animal level control facility, or anything close to it, were achieved in our air to air missiles (or the Russian missiles) combat balances would shift radically. Then, as now, air to air missiles often missed. With good controls, they wouldn't.

                                                      The story I heard is that McGeorge Bundy got interested in finding ways to get breakthrough math, and one of his initiatives, very informal, was to have the Ford Foundation fund the Cornell Six Year Ph.D. Program -- which brought together a lot of high test score, high achievement kids. I was one of these.

                                                      In ways that were informal but highly disciplined I got recruited for a very unconventional, intense education. My impression was that I was told anything that I could use searching for answers people wanted, got all the instruction people could arrange for me, and was pushed as hard as they found it humanly possible to push me. My impression also was that my technical output earned my keep, from a fairly early stage. Kids are impressionable, and during this time, people found that the more they could tell me I was unusually smart, the more they could justify working me unmercifully, with my agreement. In many ways, I knew most of what was interesting before I came to Cornell -- I'd been deeply influenced by the Patent Office, by the process of invention, and by the questions involved in finding out how to do real, effective optimal invention, not in Edison's world, but in the much more complex and differently challenging, world of today.

                                                      Perhaps the only really unusual part of my training was that I was taught to identify and solve differential equations in my head, using the series method. It was arduous to do this - but it did give me an ability to spot mathematical structures, and classify problems, that was useful. I believe that, before 1972, I knew every mathematical stumper that the government knew about -- had a sense of most technical anxieties -- and knew in some detail why the problems mattered. I also solved some problems, and I believe more than earned my keep -- most of these problems I solved, I believe, mostly because of my patent training.

                                                      My intention was to work for the government for my lifetime, solving problems I was specialized to do, giving answers that other people could and would use, concentrating on problems of importance that were thought to be, in some sense (in retrospect, usually a social sense) "too hard" for others. People around me emphasized thes problems were "Robert Showalter problems." I was to make breakthrough inventions, on call, of a stark analytical nature -- and hand off he solutions when other people could use them. That was something I wanted to do -- and still want to do.

                                                      I refused to lie, at a decisive time, on a matter connected to the discourse of the 1972 nuclear arms talks. I was to exaggerate how close I was to a solution of the tracking problem that made the difference between animal and human technical function on interception controls. I thought that do do so, in context, would be destabilizing.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:02am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6399

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Here's a snapshot of what I set out to do, with some encouragement and support, after stopping daily association with military matters. -- It is from a piece of writing I did some years ago. It gives a sense of what I knew at that time -- partly due to more-or-less formal education and work, partly due to attention to specific problems of concern to the government -- especially problems of system control and guidance, and partly due to an interest in inventions and patents that started when I was fourteen years old.

                                                        "In my early twenties, I set out to make "analytical invention" a possibility and to make "analytical engineering" more efficient. I was interested in questions like "How do you define and design an optimal structure in a fully specified, complicated, fully commercial circumstance?" For instance, suppose an airplane design needs a wing, to mount an engine and connect to a specific fuselage. How do you arrive at a FULLY optimized design for that wing, in a case of real technical complexity, with "optimal" a defensible word in terms of all the technical considerations that pertain at all the levels that matter in the case (aerodynamics, structure, fabrication, maintenance, cost)? How do you even approach such a job?
                                                      That's been my core interest -- and it relates to a special approach to doing problems referred to in MD6376 lunarchick 7/1/01 8:23am ... much of the detailed work I've done has related to issues discussed in references in MD6381rshowalter 7/1/01 12:05pm Some of that work has related to things of interest to the military, some not.

                                                      You can say that I've tried to find ways to invent in ways that have disciplined beauty, in the real, complex socio-technical world in which we live. By training (perhaps mistraining) I've tended to concentrate on problems that are large, and that have, in some clear sense, stumped a field of endeavor. I can talk about nuts and bolts of that sort of work.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:15am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#295 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 08:02am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6400

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I think for this thread, it is more interest to talk of output I've gotten from this "optimal invention" approach that might offer examples of things that the military industrial complex might do, more profitable for all concerned than missile defense efforts that technically cannot work, and perhaps, for world peace, should not work.

                                                      Here are things that I believe can be achieved --

                                                        Very large area solar cells on the equatorial oceans. It should be possible to generate enough hydrogen to serve all word energy needs, forever. Hydrogen would interface well with existing energy sources and capital installations, from early prototype stage to the largest possible scale. This would be a practical and permanent advance in the human condition, and would reduce some major and chronic causes of war and conflict between nations. .
                                                        Very large area aquaculture on the equatorial oceans. With shallow layers of ocean surface water isolated so that they can be fertilized and harvested, aquaculture could could be used for carbon sequestration for full control of global warming. Aquaculture could also supply essentially unlimited nutrition for animals and people. This would be a practical and permanent advance in the human condition, and would reduce causes of conflict and war. .
                                                        Seawater distillation could be achieved at an energy cost not much more than twice the thermodynamic limit cost. I believe that cost per liter might be 1/10 to 1/50th the cost today. Scaling to serve cities and countries would be feasible. Much of the United States is short of water, and could benefit. This would be a practical and permanent advance in the human condition, and would reduce a major cause of conflict and war. .
                                                        (at a lower level of certainty) :A much more efficient way of getting large masses into space (if not in orbit around the earth, then in moon, sun or plantary orbits) appears to be possible -- and would be a good cooperative job for Americans and Russians - - the Russians would be better on the basic design, the Americans better on some of the execution. If this were possible, a major constraint on space exploration, which has almost stopped progress for many years, could be blasted through.
                                                      In my judgement, many other useful things could be done. -- and many of them would take the resources that the military industrial complex is now squandering on projects that barely work or cannot work.

                                                      These are just "back of the envelope" thoughts I have -- comparable in many ways to the "back of the envelope" designs DOD is not backing on Missile Defense. But there is a difference. These are all well within the realm of the possible, and subject to reasonable cost estimation, with information in the open literature.

                                                      I've suggested that the impossibility of the administration's missile defense proposals (which are far fetched indeed given what's known about signal resolutions and controls) be examined, in public, by setting out the miracles that DOD would have to achieve, in the sense of very large advances on what could be done with established knowledge in the open literature.

                                                      The very same approach would show how possible -- in context, even easy, it would be to get global warming, human energy needs, and other basic human needs under far better control than they are now -- for less money than the administration is proposing to squander - to the reckless endangerment of the world, on missile defense programs that are, as I've used the phrase before, shucks .

                                                      rshowalter - 08:04am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6401

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      With just a little honesty, the US, and the whole world, can do much better than it is now doing. The US military industrial complex can have plenty to do -- honorable work --without the need for lying -- work within the capacities of the technical people there.

                                                      Currently, things are much worse, they are corrupt and uncomfortable for the people involved, and they are unacceptably dangerous.

                                                      I've been prepared to answer questions many times before, and am still prepared to do so. On September 25, 2000, after a long and interesting dialog that started with a proposal in

                                                      MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am . . . MD267 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:33am MD268 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:35am ... MD269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:36am

                                                      I made an offer MD304 rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm . . . That offer stands.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:10am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6402

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I have some promises to keep to gisterme , but must go to a meeting, and tend to some things, before I keep them.

                                                      The mechanism of getting full peace with the Russians, and sorting things out in other ways-- is available.

                                                      There are many ways to do it.

                                                      But the people involved have to be talking about what matters, in the contexts that are really there.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:12am Jul 2, 2001 EST #6403

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      In my view, this is worth listening to, for those who have not done so. We need to attend to what matters, and we need to exercise judgement.

                                                      After the first 9 minutes, the message is mostly secular. It is preached in a Baptist Church where many are of Jimmy Carter's persuasion on many issues. Most of the people in that church are Republicans -- some active, and ranking, in Republican organizations.


                                                      rshowalter - 10:29am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#296 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 07:09pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7384

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      " Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., criticized Russia even as he stressed that the ABM Treaty should be scrapped as ``a relic of a bygone era.''

                                                      " ``While Russia's government is still autocratic and undemocratic, and its war on the Chechen people is an abomination, nevertheless the world is now a long way from the days when the Soviet Union wrapped its tentacles virtually around the globe,'' Helms said.

                                                      " Helms insisted no one was bowled over by the Russians.

                                                      " ``We are short of Pollyannas in the Bush administration,'' Bolton assured him, adding later, ``We're a group of pretty hardheaded realists.''

                                                      " Many missile defense critics, including allies, have worried that it might prompt a new arms race.

                                                      " ``The reason the Russians object to this, the reason the Chinese are apoplectic about their 23 missiles perhaps being completely rendered useless by a defensive system, is because they know it alters the balance,'' Kerry said.

                                                      " ``If you change a country's perception of its safety, ... aren't you also then inviting them to alter the balance of power in order to secure a greater level of safety?'' he asked.

                                                      " ``If their perception is inaccurate, ... it is our task to disabuse them of their misperception,'' Bolton replied.

                                                      " Said Biden: ``The bottom line for me is: At the end of the day, are we more or less secure?''

                                                      " The United States could violate the ABM Treaty with any of a variety of planned steps, and Feith said a group studying the treaty should make that determination Monday."

                                                      rshowalter - 08:13pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7385

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      MD6057 rshowalter 6/26/01 7:22am

                                                        " I've often thought, writing on these forums, about whether I've been keeping faith with Bill Casey -- doing things that, on balance, he would have thought reasonable, and right, on balance, under the circumstances. So far, weighing what I've known and believed -- I've always judged that I have. I believe that now.
                                                      These days, it seems to me that, if Bill Casey was looking down, he might be smiling. For one thing, I've had a helluva time, and knowing the old pirate, that might cheer him.

                                                      But more than that, there was an admonition, an order, that he repeated again and again, when we met. If I had to come in, and things were awkward in various ways, there was one thing, Casey felt, that I had to remember. That was to "preserve infrastructure."

                                                      He was very definite about what he meant by "preserving infrastructure." He meant that it was necessary to arrange actions, messages, and pacings, so that adjustments that needed to be made could be made, without unnecessary damage to people and institutions, with people moving at their own pace - in ways that worked for the human organizations, and the sunk investments, in place.

                                                      I was told to "come in through the TIMES," and I've tried to do that, and done so making minimal waves -- just setting messages out, and letting people read them, think about them, and check them.

                                                      Has it been a waste? If only the past matters, not much but hope has been accumulated. But some things have been hopeful.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:30am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#297 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 08:14pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7386

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I was glad to be able to have a one day meeting on this thread with becq on September 25, 2000 between MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am and MD304 rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm . I still think the short suggestion MD266-269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am makes human and practical sense, and the offer of rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm still stands. Did this accomplish anything? Maybe it sowed the seeds of some ideas. Anyway, I think Casey would have approved. He wouldn't have known of the internet channel, dying when he did, but he would have liked it, and approved of the usages. "Outside of channels" in some ways, but plainly "through channels" in some others.

                                                      With Dawn Riley, there was a lot of work from September to March, summarized in MD813-818 rshowalter 3/1/01 4:08pm . . . and I set out some motivating background in rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 3/1/01 11:58am . . . and rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 3/1/01 2:07pm

                                                      Perhaps after some initiative on the part of the TIMES, MD827 armel7 3/4/01 3:04pm ... there was the first of many hundreds of good posts by the person I've taken to calling this thread's "Putin - stand in" -- almarst . . . MD 829 almarstel2001 3/5/01 12:17am

                                                      rshowalter - 08:17pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7388

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Dawn and I were proud to interact with almarst , and I think we both were fascinated with his passionate, angry arguments that, dealing with the United States, Russia needed nuclear weapons. It was like talking to a very smart, responsible person, living in a different conceptual world from the one I came from.

                                                      Part of my job, for years, strongly encouraged by Casey, was to work on negotiation dynamics, and especially to try to figure out "why we couldn't talk to the Russians." Casey was clear that, even when we tried to avoid fights with the Russians, we got into them. The Russians had corresponding problems with us. I'd spent a good deal of time, working with Steve Kline, thinking about problems of complex cooperation -- and the idea of complexity itself -- partly because of a sense of those problems, and partly because of related difficulties with "paradigm conflict" that Steve and I had become interested in, that Dawn Riley and I have clarified this last year.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:18pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7389

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      We were especially interested in dialog with almarst after we read "Muddle in Moscow" ..... cited in MD1126 rshowalter 3/17/01 4:57pm ... When we read that story, we imagined that we really were dealing with a powerful man who had taken time, with a staff, to do some listening. Or perhaps we were in a "dry run" that that powerful person might be interested in. And for the next week, Dawn and I worked hard to tell almarst things we thought President Putin might be able to use, and got a lot of perceptive dialog back from almarst while we were doing it.

                                                      MD1127 rshowalter 3/17/01 5:06pm ... MD1128 rshowalter 3/17/01 5:31pm MD1129 rshowalter 3/17/01 5:38pm ... MD1130 rshowalter 3/17/01 5:38pm

                                                      MD1131 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:02pm ... MD1132 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:10pm

                                                      Kline's Index of complexity -- V + P + L < C < V times P times L ... a key reason why truth is critical for good function in complex systems.

                                                      MD1133 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:13pm ... MD1134 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:17pm MD1135 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:19pm ... MD1136 rshowalter 3/17/01 6:24pm MD1138 rshowalter 3/17/01 7:20pm ... MD1139 lunarchick 3/17/01 7:47pm MD1140 lunarchick 3/17/01 7:52pm ...

                                                      The need for 3 views -- the need to account for positions that have "some of the truth, but not all of it."

                                                      MD1143 rshowalter 3/17/01 8:03pm ... MD1144 rshowalter 3/17/01 8:04pm MD1145 rshowalter 3/17/01 8:22pm

                                                      MD1150 rshowalter 3/17/01 9:57pm

                                                      The dialog went on, and we got onto some crucial information, I felt, about economic efficiency, which I set out in:

                                                      MD1394 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:30pm ... MD1395 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:36pm MD1396 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:38pm ... MD1397 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:41pm MD1398 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:43pm ... MD1399 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:51pm MD1400 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:53pm . and, for emphasis, ... MD 1401 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:56pm

                                                      It is important for Russians to talk more informatively and reliably among themselves, and with others.

                                                      MD1402 rshowalter 3/23/01 5:58pm ... MD1403 rshowalter 3/23/01 6:22pm MD1404 rshowalter 3/23/01 6:33pm ...

                                                      MD1405-8 rshowalter 3/23/01 6:37pm

                                                      A key point that should be common ground, for all the disappointment and bitterness: MD1409 rshowalter 3/23/01 7:10pm

                                                      And I suggested an exercise in MD1410-1415 rshowalter 3/23/01 7:30pm

                                                      rshowalter - 08:20pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7390

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      After that week of dialog, I felt I understood the Russians better, and hoped that, if the Russians could understand these things, they might be able to sort out some of their internal and international problems better than before.

                                                      I don't know if it has worked. But it seems to me that the Russians have done pretty well in a lot of areas since March, and almarst , Dawn and I have kept talking. (There have been 6258 postings since we cited "Muddle in Moscow" )

                                                      We've also had a lot of dialog with our "Bush administration stand-in" gisterme , starting with a powerful one in his first posting .. MD2997 gisterme 5/2/01 1:09pm ... that has clarified a lot. almarst has paid attention to that dialog.

                                                      Has all this work been useful? Dawn and I have tried to make it so.

                                                      It seems me that, if Bill Casey was looking down, he might be smiling.

                                                      Maybe laughing at me. Hard to know.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:31am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#298 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      lunarchick - 09:04pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7391


                                                      People, good-bad ideas, money ..

                                                      Interesting American - General Reinhard Gehlen center stage. 'Over the years, the diminutive dynamo helped amass $50 million in political war chests' $50m could probably put to more interesting uses than ensuring an electoral candidate.

                                                      lunarchick - 09:22pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7392


                                                      The Nazi's who were attracted into and influenced, and still influence, USA political international thinking have a philosophy that is unacceptable to most.

                                                      On history, Adams said lunarchick 7/20/01 8:02pm history is NOW. Not yesterday, rather NOW ... which will become yesterday. So we look at the future, live in the present making history, and reflect back upon it when social historians pick it for patterns and focus.

                                                      The most important now group who forge both future and past are engineers, of whom there is always a shortage. Talking with an Aussie engineer i learned this: "Tell an Engineer the problem - and s/he will set out to find a solution" So Engineers are problem solvers. There are lots of problems to be fixed. This raises the question - 'Why does the USA lasoo in so many, only to tie them up in MD knots and deny them to the world communities who have problems and needs - that can easily be fixed?'.

                                                      Listening to a speaker regarding the world 'clean-up' conferences happening this week, she said, we were told that to fix this or that problem was 'too expensive' ... reports were produced to back up figures. Eventually the clean-up legislation went through in an individual country (say re air pollution), and it was found that the cost was far, far, less than the rebuttal suggestion - additional to which there were beneficial spin offs.

                                                      lunarchick - 10:01pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7393


                                                      Engineers need to work within financed frameworks, solutions are expensive, yet inexpensive, but people need steady salaries. A steady wage, a steady job ... yet little job satisfaction ... occurs when people are tied into a non-functional 'big picture'.

                                                      ...' try to ensure a minimisation of mindless labour in order to maximise the time available for creative activity both inside and outside "work." This is to be achieved by free cooperation between equals, for while competition may be the "law" of the jungle, cooperation is the law of civilisation. This cooperation is not based on "altruism," but self-interest As Proudhon argued,

                                                        "Mutuality, reciprocity exists '
                                                      Cooperative engineering efforts that fit into a known, progressive, socially approved big picture will appeal to professionals.

                                                        "Goods, as now, will be produced in greater variety, for workers like producing different kinds, and new models, of goods. Now if some goods are unpopular, they will be left on the shelves. . . Of other goods more popular, the shops will be emptied. Surely it is obvious that the assistant will decrease his order of the unpopular line and increase his order of the popular." [Syndicalism, p. 55]
                                                      An interesting point re missiles is that they are all still on the shelf - rusting in silos. These goods may be ordered yet may never be used. Working on these projects that go nowhere will produce boredom.

                                                      The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Ellen Parr

                                                      rshowalter - 10:04pm Jul 24, 2001 EST #7394

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      They ought never to be used. The damn things are unbearably ugly, unthinkably dangerous -- and we should junk them.

                                                      If Russians and Americans agreed on some key things ---- after some hard work, we could.

                                                      I made a suggestion, that I liked for practical and ceremonial reasons, on September 25th.

                                                      People, both young and old, could understand what I'm suggesting, and people, including children, could remember it.

                                                      MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am ... MD267 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:33am MD268 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:35am ... MD269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:36am

                                                      rshowalter - 10:32am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#299 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 11:56am Sep 9, 2001 EST #8698 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      The CSIS Board, Counselors, and Advisers include people of overwhelming influence, achievement, and experience in an established, interlocking system of trusted and tested people.


                                                        Sam Nunn, David M. Abshire, Anne Armstrong
                                                        George L. Argyros, Carla A. Hills, Betty Beene, Ray L. Hunt, Reginald K. Brack, Henry A. Kissinger, William E. Brock, Donald B. Marron, Harold Brown, Felix G. Rohatyn, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Charles A. Sanders, William S. Cohen, James R. Schlesinger, J. Michael Cook, William A. Schreyer, Ralph Cossa, Brent Scowcroft, Douglas N. Daft, Murray Weidenbaum, Robert A. Day, Dolores D. Wharton, Richard Fairbanks, Frederick B. Whittemore, Michael P. Galvin, James Woolsey, Joseph T. Gorman, Amos A. Jordan, John J. Hamre, Leonard H. Marks, Robert S. Strauss
                                                        William E. Brock, Henry A. Kissinger, Harold Brown, Sam Nunn, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James R. Schlesinger, William S. Cohen, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Fairbanks
                                                      Senior Advisers:
                                                        J. Carter Beese, Amos A. Jordan, Bradley D. Belt, John Kornblum, James M. Bodner, Robert H. Kupperman, Stanton H. Burnett, Laurence Martin, Richard R. Burt, Thomas F. (Mack) McLarty, Wesley K. Clark, Walter Slocombe, William K. Clark, Jr. Robert Tyrer, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Anthony Zinni, Diana Lady Dougan, Luis E. Giusti, Fred C. Iklé (Distinguished Scholar in Residence)
                                                      Corporate Officers:
                                                        John J. Hamre, Robin Niblett, Kurt Campbell, Brenda W. Palmer, Erik R. Peterson, Judy L. Harbaugh, Jay C. Farrar, M. Jon Vondracek
                                                        Bob Ebel, Paul Hewitt, Sherman E. Katz, Shireen T. Hunter, James A. Lewis, Joseph V. Montville, Erik R. Peterson, William A. Schreyer, Anne Solomon, Sidney Weintraub
                                                      International Security:
                                                        Anthony H. Cordesman, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Kurt Campbell, Michèle Flournoy, Anne Witkowsky, Walter Laqueur
                                                        J. Stephen Morrison, Director Georges A. Fauriol, Gerrit Gong, William T. Breer, Ralph Cossa, Simon Serfaty, Janusz Bugajski, Judith Kipper, Celeste A. Wallander, Teresita C. Schaffer, Bulent Aliriza, Director
                                                      Could these people, who must be, in essential ways "part of the solution" also be, in other ways, "part of the problem." ?

                                                      With patterns of secrecy and intricate defense in place, the issue is not effectively discussable.

                                                      In dialog with gisterme I've been struck, again and again, by what I've regarded as an amazing reluctance to admit that Americans could be even partially at fault for the ills of the world, or for the agonies of people. I've seen what I've felt to be a stunning reluctance to consider the possibility that Americans might have to rethink patterns, and change.

                                                      Could such a view be common in the American "establishment"?

                                                      If it is, is this position in the national interest of the United States as a country?

                                                      rshowalter - 10:33am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#300 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 01:11pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8699

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Do American patterns now endanger the world?

                                                      Many of the patterns that the elite members of CSIS regard as most beautiful are exemplified, I believe, in the NUNN-WOLFOWITZ TASK FORCE REPORT: INDUSTRY "BEST PRACTICES" REGARDING EXPORT COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS . . . but are these the patterns we need now, or the patterns we need to get away from?

                                                      Here is Ted Turner's statement on January 8, 2001, announcing the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Turner personally stands for the complete elimination nuclear weapons, and makes that clear. And he has committed 250 million dollars to the effort -- a huge sum, compared to other sums available from foundations - for the cause of peace.

                                                      Are Turner's hopes impossible, now, because he is asking for things that are "impossible" of the American establishment CSIS represents?

                                                      When a man does a wonderful, generous thing, he has some reason to expect that he'll be praised. (There is a nice scene about that, when Rick is generous, in Casablanca . )

                                                      Since January 8, Turner has been afflicted. And, still today, the Nuclear Threat Initiative has not set up a web site, and when I asked for their mission statement, I got the distinct impression that they didn't have any definition of what they were about, and had to take time to write it. Whenever it was written, their mission statement is a beautiful one: MD8426 rshowalter 9/4/01 11:11am

                                                        “ To strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. We will also work to build the trust, transparency, and security which are preconditions to the ultimate fulfillment of the Nonproliferation Treaty's goals and ambitions.”
                                                      But is it possible for that committment to be honored in America, without a willingness to admit that some basic American ways of dealing with military matters are going to have to change?

                                                      My own view is that some basic admissions are going to have to be made by people who have worked, their whole lives long, to harden their hearts, and been very successful in that, and in other things.

                                                      Dawn Riley and I have worked hard to try to find and focus insights that will make levels of peace and collaboration that have been impossible before possible. I believe that one of our basic insights, set out in the beginning of Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness? fits, and is on point, here. rshowalter Sun 12/11/2000 18:11

                                                      MD8552 rshowalter 9/6/01 6:24am ... MD8553 rshowalter 9/6/01 6:26am MD8554 rshowalter 9/6/01 6:49am ...

                                                      MD8503 rshowalter 9/5/01 4:18pm

                                                      rgbrasel - 01:51pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8700

                                                      re: nonproliferation, test bans, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and other issues

                                                      Before we can expect transparency from other nations that have developed or are developing deliverable weapons of mass destruction, we ourselves should be transparent. Under the current security paradigm, the US military and other agencies involved in weapons r&d still operate under an umbrella of paranoia. First of all, there is no accountability to the people, under the guise of national security. I believe that programs such as stealth, etc. should retain their complete secrecy for the reason that those technologies will save the lives of American and allied soldiers. However, I also believe that the books should be opened on our own mass destruction weapons research--past and present. Neutron bombs, bioweapons, etc., are not defensive weapons, nor are they weapons to "neutralize" military targets. They exist for one reason: to kill large numbers of human beings, military and civilian.

                                                      We have lived too long under the shadow of annihilation. Disclosure on the part of our country is the most important step in ensuring a world free of weapons that threaten our very existence.

                                                      lunarchick - 02:43pm Sep 9, 2001 EST (#8701

                                                      believe that programs such as stealth, etc. should retain their complete secrecy for the reason that those technologies will save the lives of 'no one' ... in that a plane 1/4 the size of a football field creates distortion patterns as it moves --- and can be 'seen'

                                                      rshowalter - 08:03pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8726 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      wrcooper 9/9/01 7:30pm I agree with you. Sometimes, I think community standards do very well. Usually when the facts are clearly and truthfully represented.

                                                      In terms of the reasonable sense of proportion of the people I know -- the missile defense program looks so dispropotionate as to be wrenchingly ugly.

                                                      All the same, I don't think it makes sense to dehumanize people like Rumsfeld, without some more information. Quite often "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions." -- and the question is -- when somebody asks you to "stop and check" -- what do you do?

                                                      I think we've got whole subcultures of people living in delusional structures, and living within systems that classify some very important values out of existence.

                                                      I personally believe that there is serious corruption, too.

                                                      That, I believe, needs to be shown in detail.

                                                      I believe it can be.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:34am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#301 of 317)  | 

                                                      lunarchick - 10:26pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8727

                                                      .... and the winner is ...

                                                        . "In our country," one of the Russians is quoted as saying, "we wouldn't let judges pick the president." Kaplan writes: "The justice added that he knew that, in various nations, judges were in the pocket of executive officials - he just didn't know that was so in the United States.
                                                      rshowalter - 10:29pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8728
                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      There are a lot of things that we're having to learn. And there are reasons for change in the United States. We can't just keep telling others to change, to fit our views, without meeting some standards of decency and efficiency ourselves.

                                                      I've tried pretty hard today, but there were a lot of things I hoped to get to that I just have to leave for tomorrow. But I'd like, in case anybody is interested in looking back, to emphasize

                                                      MD8696 rshowalter 9/9/01 7:32am ... MD8698 rshowalter 9/9/01 1:10pm MD8699 rshowalter 9/9/01 1:11pm

                                                      rshowalter - 10:33pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8729

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Have to go.

                                                      Things are moving so that they could get a lot worse, or a lot better, pretty soon.

                                                      Time to stay awake.

                                                      Back tomorrow.

                                                      My comment about "same connective structure, different coefficients" wasn't casual.

                                                      It works in the "logic of international relations" as well. The things that look to me and many other people like corruptions and indecencies change the values in a lot of decision sequences. It seems to me that Bush is not only degrading, but impoverishing, the United States, by lying in a world where, most often, life is so complicated that the truth is the only real hope for improvement.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:43pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8730

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Brave man: ....

                                                      MD7946 rshowalter 8/20/01 11:34pm

                                                      rshowalter - 10:35am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#302 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      gisterme - 11:49pm Sep 9, 2001 EST #8731

                                                      rswhoalter wrote ( rshowalter 9/9/01 7:56pm ): "...In terms of my assumptions, aesthetic judgements based on those assumptions, and emotions connected to the assumptions and aesthetic feelings, (it) feels right to me to say that..."


                                                      "...If I made other substitutions,..."

                                                      Robert, you might also consider substituting words like " prudent " or " responsible "; but, knowing you, I doubt that ever crossed your mind.

                                                      Of course, you have every right to believe what you want to believe. We all do. After all, what differentiates our society from the structures of enforced socialism, as they exist in China today and used to exist in the Soviet Union, is that we can also freely express our personal beliefs.

                                                      But what is the relationship of personal belief to reality? Is the relationship causal? I'll bet that (at least in your own mind) you'd strongly argue against causality when it comes to the beliefs of religious folks, who may present an identical basis for their faith as you've presented above for yours. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

                                                      From a strictly causal view, one might argue that the faith of the religious is based only on ancedotal evidence and "emotion"; yet, by your own statement above, you've concisely defined, as the foundation of your own equally fervent faith, an equally intangible basis. You've summed it up very nicely in the first paragraph above. I commend you for your honesty...for the first time I'm beginning to have a clue as to your motivation. This is the foundation of your faith... " assumptions, aesthetic judgements based on those assumptions, and emotions connected to the assumptions and aesthetic feelings, (it) feels right to me to say...". Hmmm. A lot of people feel the same way about Moses, Jesus and others.

                                                      I'll bet you've spent more time on this thread every week, at least since I've been noticing, than just about any clergyman spends preparing his weekly sermon. Certainly more time than the most devoted layman spends on his/her religious faith. Robert, this seems to be your religion. To each his own. I haven't noticed that God has appointed me anybody's judge. I do have to wonder though if you'd object if others tried as hard as you do to dominate a forum like this with their religious beliefs. You really do spend most of your effort talking about things not related to missile defense but rather related to demonizing the United States government, particularly people who haven't had any significant influence for decades. It's just an observation, Robert; but, give it some thought...that's the way it looks to me.

                                                      I also wonder if some of those other religous zelots honestly don't realize they're talking about religion... :-)

                                                      rshowalter - 10:36am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#303 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      gisterme - 12:11am Sep 10, 2001 EST #8732

                                                      wrcooper wrote( wrcooper 9/9/01 4:13pm ): "...Why is the Pentagon and its friends placing so much political capital in this flawed scheme? Who really believes that it will work?..."

                                                      I do WR, I'm certain that BMD will work and that your assumption that the idea is "flawed" is one that is entirely faith-based. There's far more evidence that BMD will work than that it won't. I was neutral on the topic when I first got involved with this thread but I've been inspired to study the topic in considerable depth. I'm now convinced that BMD is quite doable. We've been over that in detail several times on this thread. We could do it without any great technological leaps...just some re-integration of already exisisting stuff. With some additional incremental improvements to existing technology (not an unreasonable expectation) a successful limited BMD should be a slam-dunk. Bob has often and loudly responded to analytical presentation of physical facts (that I spent a good bit of time on at his request) with "it requires miracles". I'm beginning to realize that he's a man of faith. Facts are facts. Not believing will not change change the facts...and we're not moving backward in the technological capability department.

                                                      lunarchick - 12:49am Sep 10, 2001 EST #8733

                                                      take time by the forelock.. King of New York

                                                      lunarchick - 01:05am Sep 10, 2001 EST #8734

                                                      The NYT report re the Flushing Meadows match ommitted an important point, simply this:

                                                      The Aussie beat Sampras this time, last time and the time before when they met. This Aussie at age 14 also beat Agassi - which may have inspired that guy to shape-up again - which he did.


                                                      WRT our spirituality Gisterm the story runs thus:

                                                      Tribal communities - where ever express spirituallity - via their environment in the rocks, the birds the shadows.

                                                      With the advent of the horse and travel - god was thrown skywards - thus accompanying a believer anywhere they went.

                                                      The Taliban ridded us of the 'mud' statues of yore because they weren't sky gods.

                                                      WRT Showalter and his dedication to MD reduction .. it might be viewed from the HEALTH AND SAFETY aspect - missles are neither safe nor healthy! The weekly literature seach noted that 10,000 missiles are 'launch ready' continuously ... Showalter has pointed out the statistical possibility that these might just 'fire' ... and indeed on the thread we have an example above of Russian operators seeing a missile coming at them (on their monitors), these guys had to determine whether to retaliate and start a massive nuclear war ... or ... to discount it as an error - this they did - overriding the system!

                                                      rshowalter - 10:36am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#304 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 12:53pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8738

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I take religlious matters, including ideas about religious causation, quite seriously. But I take practical matter seriously, and on the issues involved with this thread, see no contradictions.

                                                      I've written about issues of morality, which I think are essential for decent and practical action, on this thread for a long time, and on the Guardian Talk threads as well.

                                                      MD816 rshowalter 3/1/01 4:25pm ... MD817 rshowalter 3/1/01 4:27pm MD818 rshowalter 3/1/01 4:32pm ...

                                                      MD2203 lunarchick 4/13/01 9:24am ... MD2204 lunarchick 4/13/01 9:28am MD2205 lunarchick 4/13/01 9:30am ... MD2206 lunarchick 4/13/01 9:35am

                                                      MD4157 rshowalter 5/22/01 3:13pm .... MD4158 rshowalter 5/22/01 3:29pm MD4159 rshowalter 5/22/01 5:20pm ...

                                                      Now, I've had some personal background that I've tried to be clear about, and asked people to check, and it is consistent with either an entirely secular or a quite religious view. I don't think the right answers, for me, at the level of action, depend much on whether I'm considering things in terms of religious belief, or in secular terms. And I don't feel that the right answers for other people depend much on that either.

                                                      MD6057 rshowalter 6/26/01 7:22am

                                                      MD6370 rshowalter 7/1/01 7:19am ... MD6371 rshowalter 7/1/01 7:19am

                                                      MD6397 rshowalter 7/2/01 8:00am ... MD6398 rshowalter 7/2/01 8:00am MD6399 rshowalter 7/2/01 8:02am ... MD6400 rshowalter 7/2/01 8:02am

                                                      MD7385 rshowalter 7/24/01 8:13pm ... MD7386 rshowalter 7/24/01 8:14pm MD7388 rshowalter 7/24/01 8:17pm ... MD7389 rshowalter 7/24/01 8:18pm MD7390 rshowalter 7/24/01 8:20pm ...

                                                      These experiences do give me a strong sense of duty , and a sense, that I think many people would appreciate, of a calling on the subject matter of this board -- which is getting rid of nuclear weapons, and getting to a more workable and productive peace -- with missile defense one issue among a number of fundamentally coupled issues.

                                                      When I was routed to this board by "kate_nyt" , my interest in nuclear disarmament was not in question, and was made clear from my first postings MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am ... MD267 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:33am MD268 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:35am ... MD269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:36am on that day to an offer that still stands MD304 rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm

                                                      I think there's a significant chance of the world ending because of people like you gisterme , and that seems to me to be sufficient motivation to work on this board, backslider and doubter though I am. From an entirely secular point of view, it seems a good reason to me.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:54pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8739

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      My own view is that I'm doing just exactly what Bill Casey told me to do, and that, to an extent that I sometimes find surprising, it seems to be working.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:37am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#305 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 12:56pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8740

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I believe that Dawn and I are delivering "good news." Which productive professionals, after hard work, are expected to do. The good news (and warnings) includes these things:

                                                      Some issues involving the interface between physical modeling and math.

                                                      New techniques and insights that make it possible to "talk to the Russians" at a level that wasn't possible before, and to adress, define, and focus problems more than before. So that people have a chance of solving problems that were insoluble before, that can now be solved by hard work.

                                                      Explanations of how to address paradigm conflict , a very serous problem

                                                      The importance of understanding details if "the golden rule" is to be practical and operational, especially under difficult circumstances. and

                                                      A basic insight about how people function in groups, set out in the first pages of Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness? rshowalter Sun 12/11/2000 18:11 that I believe is essential if people are to more effectively adress problems of complex cooperation, and the avoidance of explosive fights.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:58pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8741

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I let a Guardian thread referred to in MD4159 rshowalter 5/22/01 5:20pm lapse. I will be modifying it in terms of things that have happened, and reposting it . . hopefully today.

                                                      There's also an excellent thread on the Guardian, where I have only a few postings, God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss gjowilson "God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss" Sat 06/07/2002 21:07 that I think is very good. Discussions there make the point that, on many issues of morality and practicality, people with very different backgrounds and beliefs should be able to find common ground on some basic things.

                                                      I believe that Dawn Riley has some posts in there that she should be very proud of - - that represent intellectually first rate and aesthetically beautiful work. Some other people have contributed some really find posts in that thread, as well.

                                                      But I also want to say more about the points in MD8717 wrcooper 9/9/01 5:05pm to MD8726 rshowalter 9/9/01 8:03pm

                                                      rshowalter - 01:01pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8742

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      I'll have other things to say about MD8731 gisterme 9/9/01 11:49pm ... MD8732 gisterme 9/10/01 12:11am as well.

                                                      gisterme makes one point, where we have an essential disagreement, and a disagreement that matters very much:

                                                      "You really do spend most of your effort talking about things not related to missile defense but rather related to demonizing the United States government, particularly people who haven't had any significant influence for decades. " Things that have happened over decades matter still.

                                                      On the matter of "demonization" .... I believe that there are many, many beautiful, credible things about my country, the United States. And I love my country. But for the good of the United States itself, and for the safety of the whole world, people both inside the US and outside it need to understand that there are ugly things about the United States, and need to know what they are.

                                                      These ugly things need to be tended to, and made better in the future, rather than denied.

                                                      If that happened, the United States would be a much more efficient, comfortable, safer place. With considerably less reason to be afraid than she now has.

                                                      There are significant and entirely avoidable risks that the world may end, and the world is far uglier than it needs to be, because the United States government, in some essential ways, has been so evasive, so predatory, and so dishonest.

                                                      There are things that need to be fixed.

                                                      And facts that need to be checked. Including some basically simple technical ones, that gisterme has worked long and hard to evade and avoid.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:37am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#306 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 06:43pm Sep 10, 2001 EST #8743

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Repost, as promised in rshowalter 9/10/01 12:58pm

                                                      Detail, and the Golden Rule


                                                      In a sense, yes.

                                                      In another sense, maybe not. Either way, I have no apologies for it. I'm proud of it, in fact.

                                                      gisterme , perhaps you may have objections to the piece when you read it. I think it is intensely practical.

                                                      Also, for most people, inoffensive.

                                                      I don't think my maternal grandfather, who was a Baptist preacher, would have objected. Nor granddaddy's best fishing buddy, who was a Rabbi.

                                                      Nor another good fishing buddy of his, a scoffer.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:26pm Sep 10, 2001 EST (#8744 of 8748) Robert Showalter

                                                      Nazi war criminals in Britain .


                                                      almarst represent thoughts of the RUSSIAN culture -- and Russians, having watched the coddling of Nazi war criminals for fifty years, are likely to respond cynically to selective prosecution of war crimes.

                                                      We, as a nation, and the British, and NATO, ought to build a single standard here.

                                                      I think there should be many more prosecutions for war crimes. Not fewer.

                                                      But the decisions of the past need to be accomodated. And if the standard is "severe prosecution of all war criminals with Communist ties - - - almost no prosecution of war criminals with Nazi ties" that is a problem.

                                                      We have that problem. In our dealings with the Russians, we need to know, as they know, that we have it. We can't change the past. But we can remember it, as we move into the future.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:38am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#307 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      rshowalter - 09:08am Sep 12, 2001 EST #8827 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      It seems to me, still today, where so much of human concern, and human hatred is on view, that the concerns in Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human goodness? 1-3 , rshowalter Sun 12/11/2000 18:11 make sense.

                                                      We need to be able to think about our enemies as people -- either to defeat them, or to make the people who support them less likely to remain active enemies. To do this, we have to be able to understand how they think -- and how they feel.

                                                      The terrorists who did so much damage yesterday did something that was, to them, a beautiful thing.

                                                        . Detail, and the Golden Rule 16-19 By my standards, and I believe the standards of most people in the world, what they did was wrenchingly ugly . But it is worth seeing that on the basis of their assumptions, and their beliefs , what they did was heroic, and beautiful -- something they willingly gave their lives for.
                                                      We need to find ways to adress, and change, the bases of those assumptions. Which may require that we understand, communicate, and perhaps modify some of our own.

                                                      There are plenty of things about our society, and its connection to other societies, that need to be thought through more carefully. Almarst , Dawn Riley, and I have been involved in extensive discussions of these, involving both journalism and the performance of intelligence agencies. MD8754 rshowalter 9/11/01 8:30am

                                                      wrcooper - 10:20am Sep 12, 2001 EST #8828

                                                      Yesterday's attacks point up the wrongheadedness of Bush's NMD plan. Terrorist groups or rogue nations won't use nuclear-tipped ICBMs to strike at the U.S. They'll use what one commentator called "low-tech, high concept" weapons, such as commandeered commercial airliners loaded with jet fuel to kill Americans. If they obtain nukes, they'll carry them on their backs and land on our shores in the dead of night on a remote beach; they won't launchan easily trackable missile from their homeland, inviting retaliation. These horrifying events show the madness and futility of bush's plan.

                                                      rshowalter - 11:51am Sep 12, 2001 EST #8829 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      I made some references to this Missile Defense forum on some Guardian Talk threads, including this one in Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 04/09/2001 10:01

                                                      logician3 - 12:03pm Sep 12, 2001 EST #8830 Bush is an idiot.

                                                      wrcooper 9/12/01 10:20am

                                                      Quite true, only a large country with a significant nuclear presence could hope to have any success in a traditional nuclear strike scenario - "rogue" states just don't have the wherewithall to pull something like that off.

                                                      Nontraditional modes of delivery, however, could be tried by a rogue state.

                                                      fructidor_18 - 12:03pm Sep 12, 2001 EST #8831

                                                      ``The cause of the Arab people… has never been worse served than by terrorism against civilians, now practiced systematically by Arab movements. Terrorism delays, perhaps irremediably, the solution of justice that will eventually come''. -Albert Camus, circa 1950s

                                                      DISASTER RELIEF LINKS

                                                      BLOOD DONATION CENTERS

                                                      EMERGENCY INFORMATION HOTLINE

                                                      THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

                                                      Donors who wish to give blood in the coming days to replenish the nation's blood supply are encouraged to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

                                                      American Tragedy - Find out how you can help the victims.

                                                      America Under Attack--GOVERNMENT GUIDE

                                                      rshowalter - 10:39am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#308 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      gisterme - 01:48pm Sep 12, 2001 EST #8832

                                                      logician3 wrote (WRT the possibility of a terrorist nuclear missile attack, logician3 9/12/01 12:03pm ): Quite true, only a large country with a significant nuclear presence could hope to have any success in a traditional nuclear strike scenario - "rogue" states just don't have the wherewithall to pull something like that off.

                                                      Those sound like famous last words, logician3. Before yesterday, few thought a horror like the one we witnessed was possible either. That attack scenario is now used-up. It's obvious that these folks are attacking as much for symbolic impact as to do real damage...and few things evoke greater symobolic visions of grandure than nuclear missiles. They were the Cold War phallic symbols of the superpowers. What these animals don't seem to comprehend is that, like Pearl Harbor, the WTC murders will be the symbol that focuses the entire western world against their cause and leads to their ultimate destruction.

                                                      No amount of negotiating or "understanding", as Robert puts it, would have prevented yesterday's tragedy. These mass-murderers are no more interested in those things than Hitler was. They want to kill Jews just like Hitler did. Same spirit. They hate the US because it has prevented them from doing that. It's as simple as that. They are not rational...and in an irrational enviornment, conventional wisdom does not apply.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:39am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#309 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> lunarchick - 01:49pm Jan 8, 2001 EST #2178

                                                      Code Breakers would see it at first glance. I note you had either a time deadline, or, so much confidence in your output that 'checking' and a read through (by yourself) didn't happen.

                                                      You are no doubt, hinting that the logic of the 1/6/01 posting would have been enhanced, had it been read it through!

                                                      One notes that although possibly 80% of Australians no longer live outside the City - it is the most urbanised country in the world - When it comes to promoting products, the back to nature astpect has massive appeal to buyers who wish to identify with The Land and traditional values.

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> rshowalter - 07:49am Jan 9, 2001 EST #2179 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      On code breaking - a central assumption code-breakers make is that the "code machine" does what it is known to do. The braint does some wonderful things!

                                                      There are two beautiful articles in Science Times today that relate to animal sound processing:

                                                      Eavesdropping on Secrets of Elephant Society By ANDREW C. REVKIN

                                                      and Sonata for Humans, Birds and Humpback Whales By NATALIE ANGIER

                                                      the musicality of brain would be inherent in the anatomy of neural structure, according to a suggestion I've made, connected to resonance, including organ pipe resonances that would show many harmonies. rshowalter 12/26/00 10:55am

                                                      The argument depends on the arithmetic of representation of physical circumstanes by dimensional numbers in coupled cases, where more than one physical effect is at play in the same space at the same time. Both math and experiments are now being dealt with in a way that I believe will lead to right answers. I'm doing my imperfect best to facilitate that, and it seems to me that things are proceeding, just now, in a scientifically and institutionally proper way.

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> rshowalter - 07:55am Jan 9, 2001 EST #2180 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      Another aspect of looking at the code of the brain is not directly musical. But it may be related to resonance (and ideas that somehow ring a bell). Ive written a passage on the connection of associative thought, and intuition, to statistics, and perhaps to resonance in the Guardian. God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential-#202

                                                      It refers to Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) , a technique now used in all successful web search engines. Landauer and Dumais suggest that LSA is in some ways close to things that must be happening in brain. #202 includes this, about associative and aesthetic aspects of our mental function:

                                                        "Whether these aspects are God-given, or natural, they still seem to be profound and central aspects of what it means to be human, and what we, as humans have to feel with, relate with, and hope with.
                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> rshowalter - 08:06am Jan 9, 2001 EST #2181 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      There are people, some of whom may read these forums, who believe that I've been unreasonably slow, and indirect, putting others to unnecessary and unjust trouble. Some may feel that I owe them both explanations, and apologies. I know I feel that I do owe them such explanations and apologies - and also, some clear and properly proportioned thanks. I'm trying to set these things out - insofar as I can. I'm not finding it easy. There are things I wish I could have done differently. But I think progress is being made, and that things may resolve in ways that justify and redeem much of the hard work, and institutional tolerance, on show in the NYT forums I've been luck enough to be involved with.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:40am Jul 7, 2002 BST (#310 of 317)  | 

                                                      Links cited in DETAIL AND THE GOLDEN RULE

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> thenutcracker1 - 03:46pm Feb 25, 2001 EST #2255

                                                      One difference King points out is that the brain is more likely to be an anticpation system than a computation system. High speed computation isn't necessary because the variables are infinite or almost infinite. High speed decision making of viable alternatives would be necessary.

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> rshowalter - 04:06pm Feb 25, 2001 EST #2256 <br> Robert Showalter

                                                      Decision making is computation - often very fancy computation.

                                                      Somehow, someway, people have to be fast enough to read, and see, and hear, and reason, as fast as they do.

                                                      HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> lunarchick - 04:19pm Feb 25, 2001 EST #2257

                                                    • HOW THE BRAIN WORKS <br> rshowalter - 12:02pm Feb 26, 2001 EST #2258

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      Sometimes, academics set up territorial conflicts, and fights, with real losers, and effective tendencies to keep people from listening to each other, for reasons that aren't logically necessary.

                                                      Here is Nick Chater, referring to the contrast and false conflict between statistical and symbol processing approaches to mind:

                                                        “. . . . The advocate of statistical methods pursues the possibility that aspects of cognition can be understood in terms of the apparatus of probability, statistics, information theory, and decision theory. The advocate of symbolic methods pursues the claim that aspects of cognition involve the formal manipulation of structured symbolic representations. . . These are independent and entirely compatible claims about the nature of mind; they do not stand in competition. . . . . . If the debate between statistical and symbolic ideas seems ill conceived, the debate between neural networks (a special case of statistics) and symbolic ideas seems equally ill conceived. “
                                                      Cater, N. “Neural Networks: The New Statistical Models of Mind” in CONNECTIONIST MODELS OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE J.P.Levy, D. Bairaktaris, J.A.Bullinaria, P.Cairns, eds University College London Press , 1995, p. 221

                                                      The debate Chater speaks of has had some of the characteristics of a war.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:09pm Feb 26, 2001 EST #2259

                                                      Robert Showalter

                                                      In the middle 1990's a major advance was made, forming a connection between statistics and symbolics. It is Latent Semantic Analysis. I discuss some of the implications, or possible implications, of LSA, from an aesthetic, or mystical, or literary, or religious perspective in LSA from a broad intellectual-aesthetic-literary-religious perspective

                                                      Here is a draft of a Psychology Review paper explaining LSA: A Solution to Platos Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction and Representation of Knowledge .......Thomas K. Landauer and Susan T. Dumais

                                                      I comment on LSA and connect it to the connectionist tradition in Statistical-Associational Correllation and Symbol Reasoning are mutually reinforcing.

                                                      On the basis of connections in time and similarities in statistical-contextual context, LSA connects words. LSA programs can do so well enough to score impressively (~ 50% correct) on the multiple choice synonym tests that are the usual tests for human word knowledge. LSA does so with no definitions at all.

                                                      Landauer and Dumais draw this basic conclusion:

                                                        " . . . with respect to (correlations) supposed to allow the learning of language and other large bodies of complexly structured knowledge, domains in which there are very many facts each weakly related to very many others, effective simulation may require data sets of the same size and content as those encountered by human learners. Formally, that is because weak local constraints can combine to produce strong local effects in aggregate(9). Landauer and Dumais state:
                                                        " We, of course, intend no claim that the mind or brain actually computes a singular value decomposition on a perfectly remembered event-by-context matrix of its lifetime experience using the mathematical machinery of complex sparse-matrix manipulation algorithms. What we suppose is merely that the mind-brain stores and reprocessed its input in some manner that has approximately the same effect(10)." I believe that the associative logic near-inherent in a S-K model might have that approximate effect, and with the power needed.
                                                        LSA is the best illustration I have encountered of the potential power of correlation (that is, the potential power of complicated association) with nearly unlimited computational resources devoted to it. That power is great. That power also seems strongly complementary to inherently sequential and inherently symbolic logical processes.

                                                      lchic - 07:08am Jul 9, 2002 BST (#311 of 317)

                                                      Data warehousing / BELL - comprehensive 100+ ppt slides - mathematical hows and whys

                                                      Tutorial: Data Mining meets the Internet


                                                      lchic - 07:47pm Jul 13, 2002 BST (#312 of 317)

                                                      Riefenstahl [Helene (Leni) Riefenstahl (1902- ) ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD] was an artist whose personal preoccupations were primarily artistic and technical, not political, but that her films were used by Hitler and the Nazi party for their own political games.

                                                      If you've seen 'The triumph of the will' ... would you realise that you're watching a cut of the film from the CIA? Not her original version!

                                                      Shot in September and October 1934.

                                                      Original length: 3,109 meters; 114 minutes.1 35mm. Black and white. 1:1.33.

                                                      Recognitions: German National Film Prize 1934/35; International Film Festival Venice 1935: Best Foreign Documentary Film; Gold Medal and Grand French Prize, 1937.



                                                      rshowalter - 09:35am Jul 22, 2002 BST (#313 of 317)  | 

                                                      The NYT-Missile Defense forum is extensive, and with the help of an excellent computer professional, I'm organizing it into the form of a CD, with indexing and some searches and search capability. I believe that copyright issues can be reasonably, fairly adressed. MD3155-57 There's plenty there to check - - the CD includes 5000 html text files (120mb of text files -- 5.7 million words.) It would take some effort to check the facts presented -- but there are enough of these facts, connected and crosslinked clearly enough to a checkable outside world, that it should be possible to establish a lot. And rule out the "fiction hypotheis" on a number of key points.



                                                      MD3160 ... MD3158 ... MD2646 ...

                                                      Sometimes the coverage in the NYT is so distinguished that it revives my sometimes-wavering confidence in Bill Casey's judgement and advice on a key issue. I think the following coverage is really distinguished.

                                                      NEWS ANALYSIS Investor Confidence Ebbs as Market Keeps Dropping By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

                                                      As the Dow Jones careened to a loss of almost 400 points by Friday, it became clear that many investors may have finally stopped believing in the stock market.

                                                      Related Articles:

                                                      News Analysis: No Strong Voice on Bush's Team

                                                      Week in Review: Hold On for a Wild Ride

                                                      I was especially impressed with this:

                                                      INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC The Incredible Shrinking Stock Market More Than $7 Trillion Gone By SETH W. FEASTER

                                                      What follows are various ways of looking at the market's continuing contraction.

                                                      Here's a beautiful technique -- graphs under graphs:

                                                        Click on the graph above to learn more.
                                                      And what wonderful graphs!

                                                      Market Value: 17.25 Trillion - March 24, 2000

                                                      Market Value: 10.03 Trillion - July 18, 2002

                                                      Market Structure:

                                                      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                      FRANK RICH is right in The Road to Perdition . . . "Everything is connected."

                                                      When Bill Casey advised me that, after easier options were exhausted, my best chance was to "come in through The New York Times - - he had good reasons. When exposition is difficult, and depth is needed - it is the best newspaper in the world. Surely the best in the U.S. Though not, perhaps, as good as Casey thought in every respect.

                                                      The Times can't and won't break a story that is too difficult all alone -- and for pretty good reasons. But some situations are unstable - maybe even ready to "break" -- and break into print.

                                                      If anybody wants a copy of the CD, which is presentable now, though it will be in better form later - please email me at with your mailing adress, so that I can mail you a copy.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:18pm Jul 31, 2002 BST (#314 of 317)  | 

                                                      I believe I'm justified in posting this due to the quite exceptional circumstances involved.

                                                      3377^3825406@.f28e622/4240 includes this:

                                                      "Lchic's point about "crowd's that don't even know their own staff list" refers to the CIA, but may also apply, in some measure, to a newspaper and institution I respect and revere - The New York Times

                                                      "Am I, after all, wrong about George Johnson, and his interactions with me, on the boards and in private correspondence, over the last four years?

                                                      "Is it possible that George was doing what he was told to do, or what people at NYT knew he was doing?

                                                      "Was Johnson, who MRCOOPER pointed out is a "family man" with a family to support, being paid by the government to resist and defame me, with the NYT's knowledge?

                                                      "It wouldn't necessarily be right for the public, or for Congressional people to know (thought that might make sense)

                                                      "It wouldn't necessarily be right for me to know (though I think it would be.)

                                                      "But it seems to me that it would be right for the top people of the NYT, near the masthead, to get themselves informed about this.

                                                      "If I've connected some dots wrongly, I also believe I've done so reasonably here. If I happen to be wrong, on anything of significance, and can be shown that, I'll hasten to apologize.


                                                      Repeated for emphasis:


                                                      Almarst2002 , the NYT MD thread's "Putin stand-in" then rejoined the forum, after an absence. I was very glad that he did that, and made such interesting postings.

                                                      3365 includes a number of citations to the Guardian Talk thread Psychwar, Casablanca, and terror - - -

                                                      I'm asking that some things be checked. I believe that I deserve that much -- in the national interest, the world interest, and my own.

                                                      - - - - -

                                                      For some purposes, I feel that the NYT Missile defense forum has worked extremely well . . . .

                                                      In very large part, it is valuable because it involves lchic - - probably the most valuable mind I've ever had the honor of being in contact with.

                                                      And a first-rate animal and human being, as well !



                                                      rshowalter - 06:57pm Jul 31, 2002 BST (#315 of 317)  | 

                                                      MD3365^3829411@.f28e622/4227 includes a number of references to postings in the TALK thread Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror . . and includes this:

                                                        It would be worth money, a great deal of safety, and worth honor too for leaders of nation states, all over the world, to ask that some key things about the history of the Cold War be checked. .
                                                        Lies are unstable. Because they are unstable, there is a great deal of hope, if people show some reasonable courage.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:56pm Aug 5, 2002 BST (#316 of 317)  | 

                                                      Polls are shifting in the US. That could be important. Stanley Greenberg's What Voters Want includes this:

                                                        "A public consensus is emerging that the behavior evident in the Enron and other scandals reflects a bigger problem: people in powerful positions now feel free to act irresponsibly and hurt ordinary people, without fear of being held accountable."
                                                      In The Great Divide , Paul Krugman suggests that we're at "the ending of an era of laxity."

                                                      Pity that markets have to dive to provide the discipline. All the same, US politicians who have felt immune to "arguments about details" before may be immune no longer. Some things that need to be attended to, and checked, may get checked. Problems that have festered may get addressed.

                                                      Questions that people outside the United States have asked to be answered are more likely to be addressed thoughtfully now.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:53pm Aug 12, 2002 BST (#317 of 317)  | 

                                                      I'm finding this thread most useful for reference on the NYT MD thread. My estimate now is that, putting my own work aside (and much more reluctantly, lchic's work aside) the NYT Missile Defense thread now represents something more than a million dollars, US, worth of staff work. And is maybe worth the cost.

                                                      MD3668 -Aug 12, 2002 EST^0@.f28e622/4621 references a previous posting that read:

                                                      Ann Coulter's new book (now #1 on the NYT "nonfiction list) includes a passage - that she's had to defend on television - where she asserts that "liberals hate the flag." I love the United States, and our flag.

                                                      Reasons that I've had to believe that Ann Coulter has posted on the NYT Missile Defense thread extensively, as "kangdawei" are set out between MD3640^0@.f28e622/4586 and MD3643^0@.f28e622/4589 . . . There were 44 postings by kangdawei . Perhaps I'm incorrect in my inference that Coulter was kangdawei. But if so, I've drawn my conclusion for clear reasons - stated so that others can judge for themselves. My key evidence is that kangdawei posted a web link to Coulter -- and that it was removed quickly after I attempted to contact Coulter.

                                                      Given the interaction in its totality, I think it is fair game for me to post this here, as well as on the NYT MD thread.

                                                      Probabilities link. For a year of very extensive postings, gisterme knew that I'd been referring to (him-her), on this thread and on the Guardian, as a Bush administration stand-in - - and gisterme's postings played that role admirably, for more than a thousand postings. By Washington standards, I feel that those postings represented a million dollars worth of staff work. Almarst also knew that I'd been referring to (him-her) as this thread's "Putin stand in" and almarst's postings seemed to me to play that role admirably. They also reprented impressive and extensive staff work.

                                                      Perhaps I'm guilty of jumping to some conclusions about who posters are. Playing a "game" - - one may forget that it is a game. But it seems to me I stated the case reasonably in MD1999^0@.f28e622/2484 whether I've made some "connections that aren't there" or not. MD3639^0@.f28e622/4585

                                                      If I feel that I have apologies to make (and that is surely a possibility) I'll hasten to make them - but don't feel right about doing so now, on the basis of information that I have. I'm not sure any are warranted - though I'm willing to be convinced.

                                                      The Odds of That by LISA BELKIN is a very interesting piece.

                                                      The process by which human beings "connect the dots" -- form patterns in their minds -- is the same process - - whether the particular relationship "seen" happens to be real or coincidental. You have to check.

                                                      Our culture, these days - is in a lot of serious and unnecessary trouble because checking has become so difficult. I believe that this is an especially large problem in the United States -- and an especially large problem in the Bush administration.

                                                      Here are facts that it seems to me are basic - things that we all know - and have to know at some level - from about the time we learn to talk. In the United States, and elsewhere, it seems to me that these basic things are too often ignored.

                                                        . People say and do things.
                                                        . What people say and do have consequences, for themselves and for other people.
                                                        . People need to deal with and understand these consequences, for all sorts of practical, down to earth reasons.
                                                      Every individual, and every group, has a stake in right answers on questions of fact that they have to use as assumptions for what they say and do.

                                                      Too often, it seems to me, the Bush administration forgets these simple facts -- on which some basic human needs rest. But much too much of the rest of America does, too -- and the failings are strictly bipartisan.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:10pm Aug 19, 2002 BST (#318 of 339)  | 

                                                      I believe that Patrick E. Tyler's Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas should be read carefully and repeatedly by citizens and nation states, all over the world. And by news organizations, too. There is a lot of substance, and, with a little thought, there are a lot of implications and leads from Tyler's story. MD3804 August 18, 2002

                                                      rshowalter - 02:47am Aug 28, 2002 BST (#319 of 339)  | 

                                                      The questions

                                                        " how do people figure things out?

                                                        " how does the process fail or mislead?
                                                      have been central questions in philosophy for 2500 years - and we can make progress here. Not on the broadest part of the question of how human reasoning works - but on a related question.

                                                        "What are the odds that we can figure things out in more orderly, more useful ways?"
                                                      They are very good, and getting better. We can do MANY things a LOT better - when we learn more about how "connecting the dots" works - and how it goes wrong.

                                                      I'm trying to get things organized to explain some simple facts that elementary school kids and teachers should know -- and statesmen, too. I've blocked out the explanatin in terms of reading instruction - an area of wider interest and more lasting importance than the missile defense boondoggle.

                                                      Both to explain how technical solutions that get breakthrough results can be found and proven - - and how the processes of finding these solutions can be learned and taught.

                                                      And to explain how socio-technical aspects of these problems are hard. Hard, but not hopeless. The social and psychological difficulties with getting solutions implemented can be handled more easily than they are handled now --- because of thigs that lchic and I have worked out.


                                                      Since Socrates' time, at the latest, philosophers and ordinary people have discussed questions close to these questions:

                                                      How can "connecting the dots" work as well as it most often does? (This is "Plato's problem." )

                                                      We know a prodigious amount, and everybody agrees on an enormous body of common ground, about the meaning of words and many other things. How can the process work as badly as it sometimes does? When the process goes wrong, how can we know that it has gone wrong?

                                                      We don't agree on even very basic things about how human reason works when it works well. Or how it sometimes fails.

                                                      How can we know that one answer is better than another?

                                                      Landauer, Dumais, and co-workers made a big contribution - that had precedents, of course - but that made a big difference.

                                                        Landauer T.K. and Dumais, S.T. “A Solution to Plato’s Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction, and Representation of Knowledge” Psychological Review, v 104, n.2, 211-240, 1997 --- draft:
                                                      Even so, I'd have chosen a different title . . . something like - "a BIG STEP toward the solution of Plato's problem . . . "

                                                      I'm trying to clarify -- and simplify - - and generalize some of the basic points of Landauer, Dumais, and co-workers - and carry them further.

                                                      What's new is a clear sense of HOW VERY BIG the payoffs with simplification usually are -- how VERY likely checked sequences are to converge on useful (if imperfect) order. And how VERY large the number of checks often are.

                                                      Looking hard at the statistics of induction is worthwhile. That hard look lets us think about induction in a more orderly, hopeful way.

                                                      I have tremendous respect for the references cited in 3936-3945

                                                      But it seems to me that as far as human welfare goes, lchic's rhyme, widely taught, might do as much good as all those references put together. In part by summarizing much of what those references teach. With an added "sense of the odds" that hasn't been taught enough.

                                                      Adults need secrets, lies and fictions
                                                      To live within their contradictions

                                                      If children and adults understood that - we'd be more humane, and solve more practical problems.

                                                      Before adults would let children learn lchic's little rhyme -- they'd have to learn some things themselves.

                                                      Things that would make the world more humane.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:45pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#320 of 339)  | 

                                                      Countdown to a Collision President Bush's promise to seek Congressional approval for action against Iraq was heartening but does not substitute for a comprehensible policy.

                                                      No Action on Iraq Until Congress Approves, Bush Says By ALISON MITCHELL and DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      President to Seek Congress’s Assent Over Iraq Action By ELISABETH BUMILLER

                                                      Bid to Justify a First Strike By DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      Implicitly, President Bush has agreed to engage the country in a discussion over a fundamental change in national security.

                                                      German Leader's Warning: War Plan Is a Huge Mistake By STEVEN ERLANGER

                                                      These are perilous times. From discussion - if there is enough care to get facts and ideas sorted to something decently resembling closure - we'll get to better outcomes.

                                                      I've wondered whether the work on the NYT Missile Defense thread has in any way contributed to the discourse involved in the decisions being made - whether it has made a difference in Bush's decision to finally discuss more openly what he is doing - and share some powers the Us Constitution plains means have to be shared. Can't know, of course. But I do think that there are things that can be applied from the MD thread, and things that are coming into focus - that will permit better closure, and better outcomes - if people are willing to use them. Too often, we give up on even the pretense of a common culture - - we give up on the idea that we may agree about facts -- we give up on the idea that we can share basic ideas about right and wrong (in the linked objective and moral senses of "right and wrong.) Sometimes, when it matters, we can do better than that. Getting clearer on the mechanics and logic of "connecting the dots" can further that. Working through some key facts about missile defense would be a fine way to work out many problems that the whole world needs solved. 1076-77^4029732@.f28e622/1369 . . . . If the key points about the "missile defense" boondoggle can't be taken to clarity and sensible closure it is because, under current rules and usages -- nothing can be. I've had a personal concern - I feel that the current US policy of keeping me under effective house arrest, by keeping me in an intolerable security situation - - isn't in the US national interest - and if anybody is watching, isn't even good politics.

                                                      There's room for improvement, people are stumped, problems are real, and President obviously has sense enough to know that he doesn't have all the answers exactly right. On the 3d, there was this. A Silence That Coolidge Would Envy By DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      Now there's less silence.

                                                      Perhaps concerns about humanity can be heard.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:45pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#321 of 339)  | 

                                                      4135^4078662@.f28e622/5216 . sets out Piaget's developmental stages 4136^4078662@.f28e622/5217 contains a good poem, and asks:

                                                      I asked these questions after Friedman and Dowd filed the following pieces - but I'm so glad that they were thinking along similar lines. They were the two most e-mailed stories today.

                                                      9/11 Lesson Plan by Thomas Friedman

                                                        "The Times just ran an article about the trouble teachers were having in deciding what to tell students on Sept. 11. That's a serious question. This is a moment for moral clarity, and here are the three lessons I would teach:
                                                        While evil people hate us for who we are, many good people dislike us for what we do. (summary)
                                                      Superb instruction! Key ideas that everyone needs to know - needs to understand - and can't reasonably be expected to figure out for themselves on such a coherent basis.

                                                      Who's Your Daddy? by Maureen Dowd

                                                        In the Bush family, the gravest insult is to be called a wimp.
                                                      Dowd makes the argument that the Bushes are acting childish - in plain language Piaget would admire. I wonder if Dowd has read Piaget's The Moral Judgement of the Child ? Seems to me that a lot of political operatives might profit from reading it. Have Karl Rove and his operatives evolved a system that reduces the American people to children with all the flaws Piaget describes? Both Republicans and Democrats might have fun thinking about the question. It is the sort of question that might, with a little wordsmithing, be understood by nearly all voters.

                                                      It is also a question that I believe the whole world should be asking. Gerhard Shroder is asking similar questions. The US needs to treat other nations as grown ups -- not children. Nor should consultation be mere notification.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:47pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#322 of 339)  | 

                                                      4140^4079964@.f28e622/5223 reads as follows. wrcooper - 08:37pm Sep 2, 2002 EST (# 4140 of 4141)

                                                      "This is George Johnson this time.

                                                      "You can examine me in light of Piaget all you want, but it's not going to change how I think, and it's not going to change the fact that your opinions represent a dangerous aberration that requires the strongest possible refutation.

                                                      "You will be checked and checked thoroughly.

                                                      "It is not for naught that we saw to it that you began posting here in the New York Times. This is a controlled venue. We know who you are and where you are.

                                                      "Don't call the CIA again. It won't do you any good. If you want to talk to us, just whisper into your pillow.

                                                      That posting was in response to this from me: "And it will be worthwhile to discuss the work of George Johnson (not that he's Cooper at all - but he does have a certain point of view) in terms of Piaget. And truth that is, somehow, too weak."

                                                      As for the substance of 4140^4079964@.f28e622/5223 it seems to me fair to opine that

                                                        Looking at this from a Republican and national interest point of view exclusively - it seems to me that "Johnson's" position is bad policy and bad politics - to say no more.
                                                      If wrcooper is Johnson, that can't be hidden if anybody cares much about getting at the truth. Especially for the TIMES, but for others, as well.

                                                      After some long hesitation, "wrcooper" now dismisses 4140 and related postings as jokes. My view is that cooper is George Johnson, that he lost his temper, and that he now needs a shed of deniability because -- once it is clear that cooper is Johnson -- there's a chain of evidence, some of it embarrassing, that leads quite clearly up to the oval office, and the President of the United States.


                                                      Although my personal concerns are secondary to others - I care about this: The U.S. government owes the AEA investors something around forty million dollars (the number depends on interest rates) and even if that can't be worked out, a number of things should be.

                                                      There's a lot more at stake than that - that involves the US national and world interest.

                                                      I was assigned to solve some trillion dollar problems. And to find ways to avoid mistakes that were putting the whole world at risk. I've solved some problems. I've kept my promises - and done difficult duty. Whether Casey was murdered or not, whether I'm liked or not -- I should be talked to.

                                                      When "cooper" imitated G.W.Bush in 4138^4391504@.f28e622/5221 - - Almarst noticed. On the speculation that if almarst noticed, some others could have, as well - - that could be embarrassing.

                                                      This thread has many of the characteristics of pretrial discovery , 4146^4391504@.f28e622/5230

                                                      When people are watching, lies are unstable. That can be bad politics - and, of course, in the long run it is almost always against the national interest, unless we're talking very short range tactical deception against enemies. Perhaps we can get some things sorted out. Consulting with Congress about Iraq is a step in the right direction.

                                                      No Action on Iraq Until Congress Approves, Bush Says By ALISON MITCHELL and DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      Flag waving: 4128^4391504@.f28e622/5205

                                                      There are some links right up to the oval office 4106^4391504@.f28e622/5174 and they are getting stronger.

                                                      Honorable conduct is usually the sensible thing - especially when people are watching.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:48pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#323 of 339)  | 

                                                      A rather complete record of the NYT MD thread exists, has been improved since 3145-48^4029989@.f28e622/3936 , and is being made available.

                                                      4057-4059^3784635@.f28e622/5108 includes this:

                                                      "Casey knew very well that he was participating in decisions that were killing millions of entirely innocent people -- decisions that were degrading values that he held dear - - and yet he went ahead.

                                                      "And talked to me about it. Casey wanted better answers.

                                                      "He didn't know how to do any better than he did, given the risks he saw, the situation he was in - and the terrible stupidity and ignorance both around him and within him.

                                                      " He was stumped.

                                                      "So were the Russians.

                                                      "We can do a lot better now.

                                                      Why don't we?

                                                      . . . . . . . . .

                                                      If Bill Casey were looking down, I think he'd be very proud of me. Though not of his old agency. The key things that Eisenhower warned against in his Farewell Address have happened - - and we need to fix them.

                                                      Republicans could take the lead. That wouldn't be hard. Some prominant Wisconsin republicans, who were old friends and AEA investors, and who have met George Bush and some of his senior officers, know me well. With one call from the White House, a lot could be sorted out. . . . . . I'd do my very best if that happened. And I'll do the best I can, under the circumstances, if it doesn't.

                                                      Key things that we need to do to sort out many of the world's problems can be illustrated with respect to reading instruction. An area where we ought all to be on the same side. A field of endeavor where I expect I can continue to work on in jail, if need be. 3923-3947^4318415@.f28e622/4946 deal with reading instruction, from a partly statistical perspective, with a new numerical insight in mind. Especially 3935_3946^4318415@.f28e622/4958

                                                      3946^4318415@.f28e622/4971 asks "is it possible to do much better than we've done?" - - and suggests that it is. Lchic and I feel we're onto something new and hopeful.

                                                      On the NYT MD thread, the notion of "connecting the dots" has been much discussed - and maybe we've made advances. 3991_4001^4318415@.f28e622/5024

                                                      In a world where weapons of mass destruction are not going to go away completely - and where crazy hatred is real - interdiction has to be an option for nation states.

                                                      Bid to Justify a First Strike By DAVID E. SANGER

                                                      Implicitly, President Bush has agreed to engage the country in a discussion over a fundamental change in national security.

                                                      The Bush administration is right that interdiction has to be an option - and it is a major point. It is a point that I've been arguing, in detail (but also in context) since September 25, 2000^1846609@.f28e622/2008 - . But interdiction has to be a last resort -- and it has to be justified (preferably before the fact, at least after the fact) in credible ways - lest the world get far worse than it is. For stability, interdictions that can be justified , and that make sense in terms of balance, may have to be an option for many or all nation states. The United States can't ask for a right to interdict for itself and long deny this.

                                                      For credibility, a number of things have to be better done - by the United States, and other countries, too.

                                                      Is interdiction really the best option available with respect to Iraq, now?

                                                      The Bush administration is working to make the case that it is.

                                                      I don't know enough to judge the situation for sure -- but it seems clear that people and nations on the other side have to carefully, but in ways that matter, also forcefully, make the case that it isn't.

                                                      lchic - 11:44pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#324 of 339)

                                                      Mulgabe - encourages 'rascals' from his side to 'rape' women of opposition.

                                                      1 in 4 have HIV in that place.

                                                      Women mass raped then to have AIDS

                                                      Mulgabe encourages GENOCIDE

                                                      Mulgabe is inhumane

                                                      and 'totally illogical' to boot!

                                                      rshowalter - 11:56pm Sep 5, 2002 BST (#325 of 339)  | 

                                                      Casey, and a lot of people around him, were stumped on the question of how people could possibly be as ugly and stupid and treacherous as they are.

                                                      We need answers to that - - and I don't think they are so far away. With those answers -- we can do better - and be beautiful more often -- and ugly less.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:13pm Sep 13, 2002 BST (#326 of 339)  | 

                                                      Lchic and I have worked hard on the NYT Missile Defense board. I've also had the pleasure of meeting with some people face-to-face, and will meet with more.









                                                      Here are articles cited in these postings - every one of them impressive in its way, with some comments of my own:

                                                      Reflections on an America Transformed Tom Daschle, Muhammad Ali, William J. Bennett and 9 others explain their views on the most significant change the country has undergone since Sept. 11.

                                                      9/11/00: Air Congestion, a Hot Enron and Unhung Chads By ANDRÉS MARTINEZ

                                                        "Americans in that fall of 2000 were poised to suffer three cataclysmic shocks over the next year that would challenge their sense of invulnerability."
                                                      Thinking about 9/11/00, and chances wasted between then and 9/11/2001 got me to thinking back about wasted chances over a decade. 9/11/1990 the Soviet Union was at the edge of collapse. By late August 1991 it had collapsed. We didn't have an end game. Things have gone far, far worse, and terribly differently from what we've hoped.

                                                      From Powell Defends a First Strike as Iraq Option By JAMES DAO

                                                      Smart People Believe Weird Things Rarely does anyone weigh facts before deciding what to believe By Michael Shermer

                                                      'Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century' by ROBERT S. McNAMARA and JAMES G. BLIGHT

                                                      Condemnation Without Absolutes by Stanley Fish

                                                      These are key things to check, patterns that generalize relationships that "condense out of the chaos of human relations" again and again. They are stability conditions. They should be checked, every which way, when stability matters enough to think hard about, for real systems involving real human beings, and real stakes:

                                                      Berle's Laws of Power
                                                      Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs
                                                      The Golden Rule


                                                      Think about these constraints, and sometimes "impossibly complex' problems become "simple." And practical. ... Technical constraints that are entirely inanimate matter, too.



                                                      Maslow image: 2749 - - -

                                                      These things are important, but people don't automatically know them, or think about them. They need to be checked, understood, learned, and taught.

                                                      Lchic's simple lines need to be understood, too. They are basic, and people who don't know them should.

                                                      Adults need secrets, lies, and fictions
                                                      To live within their contradictions.

                                                      So do children. So do we all. But when things go wrong -- we need to look and think - even though it does not come naturally. The middle east is full of horrors that look unresolvable unless our simple humanity and fallibility is recognized - and, when it matters enough - decently dealt with.

                                                      Requiem for an Honorable Profession By GRETCHEN MORGENSON


                                                      From lchic -- Times writer looks at Iraq attack 09-09-2002 -- New York Times writer Tom Friedman . . since the events of September 11 last year, he now has the freedom to explore what he has called "the biggest single news story in my life". [Hear the audio] (notably the "pottery shop model -- "if you break it, you own it" -- applied to Iraq and elsewhere.)

                                                      Securing Freedom's Triumph By GEORGE W. BUSH

                                                      Anger at U.S. Said to Be at New High By JANE PERLEZ

                                                      Foreigners Ache for U.S., but Also Take Issue With It By FRANK BRUNI

                                                      Echo of the Bullhorn By MAUREEN DOWD

                                                      Noah and 9/11 By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

                                                      Bush to Warn U.N.: Act on Iraq or U.S. Will by DAVID E. SANGER and JULIA PRESTON

                                                      We can easily make mistakes, and often do.

                                                      Piaget and communication models: 4129 lchic - - logic comes hard - and comes late - and for all of us - only comes imperfectly. We have to check, to avoid serious mistakes. And that is a basic piece of information that is not now an adequately emphasized part of our culture.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:13pm Sep 13, 2002 BST (#327 of 339)  | 

                                                      People respond better to stories than statistics - and that can be fine, so long as the stories convey messages that make sense -- that teach things in the interest of the listener, and not just the teller of tales.

                                                      How a Story is Shaped.

                                                      But lessons, to be effective - have to fit in a shared space, and within the shared reality of the people involved. A Communication Model

                                                      Does the "story" the Bush administration now tells make sense -- if it is set out in detail?

                                                      Does it work for other people who have to be involved?

                                                      I wonder how difficult it would be to "tell the administration's story" -- about what it intends to do, and what it hopes for, using disney characters ?

                                                      Bush's Pilgrimage Ends With Vow to Prevail Over 'Terrorist or Tyrant' By ELISABETH BUMILLER

                                                      Kofi Annan's Speech to the General Assembly

                                                      The human race is in a struggle to accomodate modernity - including science, engineering, and modern sociotechnical systems -- with the human condition, and humane values. Including religious values. Including national and tribe values. In a way that can work, from childhood up - a way that works emotionally, practically - comfortably - sustainably. That struggle's gone on a long time - for centuries in the west. That struggle has been HARD for us, and remains so.

                                                      That same struggle is especially hard for the people of the Islamic nations, locked into, ambivalently trying to emerge from, a medieval mind-set that has shut out challenges rather than respond to them since the 14th century. Enriched in the last century with a windfall of oil wealth that cannot last - unable to block out the effects of mass communication and technology - the islamic world is full of tensions - some of them desperate tensions. They are trying, often, to make accommodations. They are, too often, paralyzed by lies and deference to false assumptions.

                                                      That can happen to us, too.

                                                      Doing nothing is not an option. But we have to be sensible in what we do. History is full of craziness. Is the United States making some crazy decisions now - making a bad situation, which needs to be made better, much worse?

                                                      Pakistan Wants No Part in an Attack on Iraq By PATRICK E. TYLER

                                                      Foreigners Ache for U.S., but Also Take Issue With It By FRANK BRUNI

                                                      President Bush's speech to the United Nations - September 12

                                                      If all the points and implications of President Bush's speech were clearly discussed - so that all the nation states in the UN were clear about what intended meanings were - now and in ways that would be clear in the future - that would be great progress.

                                                      Not only points and standards with respect to Iraq, but with respect to the United States and other nations as well.

                                                      Not only promises made by Iraq, but promises and statements made over the years by the United States, as well. (For instance, statements made, and agreements signed, about nuclear weapons reductions.) If these questions were asked and answered, very many of the concerns almarst and lchic have raised on this thread would become much clearer.

                                                      The power of the United States (not only Iraq) would be clear - but also clearly limited. And we'd live in a safer world.

                                                      We're a long way from that clarity, but the president's speech took steps toward it, if the United States is willing to stand up to questions about American national behavior. Perfection isn't possible and wouldn't be necessary.

                                                      Adults need secrets, lies and fictions
                                                      To live within their contradictions

                                                      Chidren and nations need to tolerate some logical tensions, too. But when consequences matter enough - clarity is important enough to insist on. Not just from Iraq. From ourselves, as well.

                                                      If we lied less -- if truth broke out -- peace might break out, too.

                                                      At the level of technique - - the sorts of procedures discussed in MD1076-77 with respect to missile defense might be useful. These discussions describe a pattern of fighting to a finish - a pattern for settling things. Nobody has to be killed or, with honorable conduct, even much embarrassed.

                                                      When situations are desperate enough, perhaps we could think more carefully. I'm haunted by Michael Shermer's lines:

                                                        " Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. . . . . . . . . We ...sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not. " . . . . Smart People Believe Weird Things
                                                      On matter on which human welfare depends, we need to find the will and the means to do better. We'd handle our problems better if we weren't so often muddled. Perhaps I'm naive, but it seems to me that we might be able to make practical progress on this - from where we are - - without disproportionate pain, trouble, or expense.

                                                      goldwing3 - 01:35pm Sep 13, 2002 BST (#328 of 339)

                                                      Surley to become fully developed individuals we really should experience all the emotions which we were born with love, hate, fear, anger, joy and the fact that some societies try to protect its citizens from the more unpleasant ones is one of the reasons why some think the west has gone soft and mediocre in the same way as children can be spoiled. By trying to close off certain parts of the the spectrum of human emotion may in fact put us at a disadvantage to other less sophisticated societies leaving us less able to hold our place in the world.

                                                      Man is more than just a rational being by virtue of the nature of the way we were conceived.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:25pm Sep 13, 2002 BST (#329 of 339)  | 

                                                      Much more than just a rational being.

                                                      But if the rational part screws up - - all the emotional values can be forfeited. So the rational counts - and needs, sometimes, to be passionately pursued, and passionately defended.

                                                      Here's a sermon that I like for a lot of reasons - it connects to the ancient world, to the founding of the middle ages - and to all our emotions - including the need for fear, and for judgement. Many might not share the religious views - but the humanity is something to value - to me, especially because it combines the values and emotions of specific times, and the timeless -with imperatives, including logical imperatives, of the here and now.


                                                      lchic - 01:40am Sep 22, 2002 BST (#330 of 339)

                                                      Conceived in an Automobile and terribly perceptive - voom voom V8 - powerful thinker .. excuse me as I change UP a gear!

                                                      lchic - 12:42am Sep 30, 2002 BST (#331 of 339)

                                                      Now i'm in overdrive :)

                                                      rshowalter - 12:16pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#332 of 339)  | 

                                                      We live in a too wretched world - and need to learn ways to act more decently - - in a big world - where 250,000 people die, day after day. It takes empathy - and also a clear head.

                                                      I've been arguing for the necessity of interdiction (with respect to nuclear missiles in the hands of "rogue nations) on the NYT Missile Defense thread for two years. Interdiction, I've argued, makes sense as a last resort in the face of a clear threat. Not that interdiction was pretty. But that the "technical fix" of "missile defense" was an illusion - while interdiction, as a technical matter could work.

                                                      "The National Security Strategy of the United States," does indeed make explicit a policy that is at variance with some old agreements. The US, under the leadership of G.W. Bush (no angel) is abrogating and renegotiating the key deal that the US has made with the rest of the nations of the world.

                                                      The "new deal" could be far worse for all concerned, or better for all concerned. That depends on many details, many of them crucial.

                                                      The "deal" proposed implicitly and explicitly in isn't cut yet - and for inescapable reasons, acknowledged in , is a multilateral deal.

                                                      The new parts of the deal, as proposed in , seem to me to be this. Terrorism as a tactic is to be outlawed. Nation states led by people who do not conform to the hard won and fragile usages of modernity - as the United States defines it - aren't to be permitted to hold weapons of mass destruction.

                                                      If the United Nations can't see to that, the United States will.

                                                      In the last two weeks, the NYT Missile Defense thread has been very active - and discussed issues of international importance, including much discussion on Iraq. Links to the Guardian-Talk threads -- Psychwar, Casablanca, and terror ; Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman ; and others have been frequent, and useful. I'm grateful that the Guardian permits me to post here - on threads that are somewhat unconventional - because of somewhat unconventional circumstances.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:17pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#333 of 339)  | 

                                                      For a little while I've been distributing a sheet to a few key people that reads as follows:

                                                      Here is a copy of a CD -- “Missile Defense - New York Times on the Web - Science Forum - by distinguished anonymous posters and M. Robert Showalter.” Some of the anonymous posters are very distinguished - by their writing, and by their role - as “stand-ins” for the Bush administration, and for Vladimir Putin, of Russia. I believe that:

                                                        . this project and work closely related to it now represents a sunk cost to the New York Times of more than $100,000 ; .
                                                        . the work involves major efforts by the Guardian-Observer of London; .
                                                        . the work represents a probable cost to U.S. and Russian government staffs of more than a million dollars; .
                                                        . for an extended time this forum has probably been (or has prototyped) the largest bandwidth, clearest line of political-military communication that has ever existed between the U.S. and Russia.
                                                      I believe that these things are very probably true - insofar as I'm able to find out from my postion. There's reason to believe that some capable, placed people believe it. Related matters can be checked, in ways described in . . . . . the situation is awkward, but I'm handling it as responsibly as I can, keeping promises I made to Bill Casey, and acting, to the best of my knowledge and judgement, in the real interest of both the United States and the world.

                                                      I believe that there are issues that need to be checked to closure - facts that need to be established, and I'm trying to work to see if that can be done. If journalistic organizations wanted it to be done - though it might take some external funding and some unusual cooperation, it could be.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:18pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#334 of 339)  | 

                                                      Lchic and I have been proceeding with our work on the NYT MD forum on the assumption (or fiction) that it is monitored by staffed organizations - and I'm posting this selection of links on the basis of that assumption. (for details, click rshowalter ). At a time when basic patterns of international law are being renegotiated, the discourse may be of interest to specialists - and the channel it represents may be of international use. If we're proceeding on the basis of a fiction, it is a fiction that may protype patterns that are not fictional at some later time.

                                                      Big papers like the Guardian and the NYT are pushing the limits of what they can do, excellent as they are - without some additional initiatives, broader cooperation - and special funding




                                                      references to Psychwar, Casablance . . . and terror:


                                                      Iraq may be a quagmire: 4308-9


                                                      Issues of humanity are practical concerns if we are to make peace stable. We're human beings 4364-4367

                                                      4369-70 :

                                                        Enough is going badly enough - things are out of balance enough -- there's enough crazy behavior - that people ought to seriously consider getting some key facts established - so that we'd know enough - about the past, and about ourselves - so that stable, peaceful relations might have a decent chance.
                                                        If world leaders want some things clarified - they need to ask.
                                                      4420 :

                                                      "Here's a quote from a mystery story writer, Dashiell Hammet in The Thin Man , 1933. Hammet's speaking of a sexy, interesting, treacherous character named "Mimi". He's asked by a police detective what to make of what she says:

                                                        " The chief thing," I advised him, "is not to let her wear you out. When you catch her in a lie, she admits it and gives you another lie to take its place, and when you catch he in that one, admits it, and gives you still another, and so on. Most people . . . get discouraged after you've caught them in the third or fourth straight lie and fall back on the truth or silence, but not Mimi. She keeps trying, and you've got to be careful or you'll find yourself believing her, not because she seems to be telling the truth, but simply because you're tired of disbelieving her. "
                                                      The United States, in its diplomatic and military fuctions, can be too much like that.

                                                      If world leaders want some things clarified, questions of US veracity are going to have to be adressed. If leaders want these matters clarified, these issues can be -- and I believe that it would be greatly to the benefit of the United States to have them clarified.

                                                      The "missile defense" boondoggle is one fine place to start, because so many of the technical issues are so clear.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:19pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#335 of 339)  | 

                                                      Lchic and I have been proceeding with our work on the NYT MD forum on the assumption (or fiction) that it is monitored by staffed organizations - and I'm posting this selection of links on the basis of that assumption. (for details, click rshowalter ). At a time when basic patterns of international law are being renegotiated, the discourse may be of interest to specialists - and the channel it represents may be of international use. If we're proceeding on the basis of a fiction, it is a fiction that may protype patterns that are not fictional at some later time.

                                                      Explosive instabilities: 4427^0@.f28e622/5591

                                                      Neuro refs: 4428-29

                                                      I've been doing my duty: 4430

                                                      Links to CIA and my security problems: 3774-3779

                                                      There are some good things in Bush's National Security Strategy - if there is balance 4451

                                                      If other nation states wanted answers, that report would be an important one to refer to. 4455-6

                                                      The United States is renegotiating the basic terms of international law with the rest of the world. 4467-71

                                                      Religious crisis, and weapons 4474

                                                      Lchic and I have been working on the NYT thread for two years: 4486-88

                                                      Almost everybody else in the world approaches problems with some big parts of the communication tasks involved included in their work at all times. I've tried to specialize in working out solutions in isolation from these communication issues - in isolation from emotional issues - concentrating as strictly as I can, during this specialized work, on the logical problems that seem to have been stumpers, again and again.

                                                      I've done so because I've felt (and been told, and seen) that there were very common logical problems when human affairs went wrong.

                                                      On the NYT MD thread, I've worked with lchic , the most able communicator I've ever been close to - to solve complicated, unsolved problems in communication and problem solving. Particularly problems with communication between staffed organizations.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:20pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#336 of 339)  | 

                                                      Lchic and I have been proceeding with our work on the NYT MD forum on the assumption (or fiction) that it is monitored by staffed organizations - and I'm posting this selection of links on the basis of that assumption. (for details, click rshowalter ). At a time when basic patterns of international law are being renegotiated, the discourse may be of interest to specialists - and the channel it represents may be of international use. If we're proceeding on the basis of a fiction, it is a fiction that may protype patterns that are not fictional at some later time.

                                                      Recalling efforts by many high status people in 2000 - efforts that have gone before, and reasons our NYT- MD thread effort was undertaken - concentrating on a new approach


                                                      I often ask what I ought to do - how I can do my duty - in ways that Bill Casey would approve of - placed as I am, knowing what I know, with the skills I have, and concerned as I am that the United States government is making serious mistakes, recklessly endangering the security and the prosperity of this nation - and imposing grave risks and costs on the world, as well.

                                                      I have a duty to warn 4508-11

                                                      technical and moral issues: 4516

                                                      A key point about stability, and a story connected to Nash's background, mine, and Psychwar, Casablanca . . . and terror 4530-4531

                                                      As of now, we'd be quite close to stability - with military technology and human patterns in place -- if we didn't have bombing.

                                                      No one would question US dominance if there was no bombing (or if Americans understood bombing to carry the expenses and exposures that it carried for most of the 20th century.) But the idea that the United States could kill, at a distance, with complete impunity would be gone.

                                                      If that idea was gone - we'd be pretty close to the conditions a stable peace requires --- now.

                                                      If missiles were as agile as bats or birds -- bombing would be obsolete.

                                                      Game of "dogfighting" - intercollegiate competition problem:

                                                      The US is making some very bad bets - and some trillion dollar procurement errors.

                                                      Reprise on reading: 4564

                                                      Keeping a clear head - C.P. Snow's perspective: 4565-66

                                                      The corruption, waste, and damage involved in the US military-industrial complex, in missile defense and elsewhere is far greater than in the case of Enron and all the other business scandals. 4568

                                                      If anybody with some rank, some independence and a name wanted to help - a lot could be sorted out - just by asking questions.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:21pm Sep 30, 2002 BST (#337 of 339)  | 

                                                      Lchic and I have been proceeding with our work on the NYT MD forum on the assumption (or fiction) that it is monitored by staffed organizations - and I'm posting this selection of links on the basis of that assumption. (for details, click rshowalter ). At a time when basic patterns of international law are being renegotiated, the discourse may be of interest to specialists - and the channel it represents may be of international use. If we're proceeding on the basis of a fiction, it is a fiction that may protype patterns that are not fictional at some later time.

                                                      Was JFK murdered - the matter should finally be checked to closure -- because so much historical interpretation hinges on it 4570

                                                      Philosophical limerick: 4575

                                                      This is a dangerous, but a hopeful time 4600 - - the costs of getting right answers established are tiny compared to the stakes.

                                                      Links to CIA and my security problems, on the NYT MD thread: 3774-3779 . . . and an interesting response from a professional:

                                                      Condoleezza Rice for VP or President? University background and guardian links: 4616

                                                      Question of an "ad hoc committee": 4618-19

                                                      Here's part of an undelivered speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, written shortly before his death:

                                                        " Today, we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships --- the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at peace."
                                                      This quote was on the last page of the American Heritage Picture History of World War II , by C.L. Sulzberger and the editors of American Heritage , published in 1966.

                                                      Among other things, the Vietnam War showed that the science of human relations still had important things to learn - that people did not yet understand. Some of those problems are still not understood.

                                                      Working systems need rules, and patterns of exception handling (more or less ordered) - often in stages. Complex circumstances can dictate this. We seem to be in a circumstance now where exceptions to the basic rule of the U.N. -- "no territorial aggression" - -are being renegotiated. Given circumstances, that negotiation may be necessary. The United States is not abrogating all international order - nor could it. US military power is constrained by circumstances, including circumstances of ideas. But it is time for great care - and risk - and we need clear heads, and courage. 4308 Sometimes, for unavoidable reasons - that will require us to learn to acknowledge some shared facts. Human relationships, often enough, cannot be peacefully sustained without them. 4297-8

                                                      I deeply appreciate the openness and courage of the Guardian-Observer !

                                                      rshowalter - 09:23pm Oct 3, 2002 BST (#338 of 339)  | 

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense board has been busy since my last posting here, which I summarized in MD4680

                                                      Today I posted this: MD4739-40

                                                      To give a sense of my sense of my situation and my problems - here's a sheet I've given to some people over the last few weeks . . .

                                                      4572 sets out that sheet, also referred to in <a href="/WebX?14@@.ee7a163/346">rshowalter Mon 30/09/2002 11:46</a>

                                                      Links to CIA and my security problems, this thread: 3774-3779

                                                      I very much appreciate gisterme's hard work on this thread, after some absence, between 5:13 pm yesterday and 3:00 in the morning today.

                                                      If gisterme is not Rice, (s)he has many of the same capabilities - including those of both clean and dirty academic administrative discourse.

                                                      The analogies between US military policy and patterns of enronation are uncomfortably close. Perhaps some things are coming to a head. . . . .

                                                      If I'm right about who gisterme is, some politicians know about this thread, and are asking questions. If those questions are sensible and responsible, that means that some things long hidden - sometimes "hidden in plain sight" - are going to be understood and exposed.

                                                      Gary Hart is profoundly right that the democrats need a defense policy based on rationality and truth. Republicans need one, too.


                                                      For some purposes, it is the logic that matters - and identies don't matter. For example, the logic of the technical arguments on this thread don't change, whether you believe the story I've given of my background, or "call me Ishmael" <a href="/WebX?14@@.ee7a163/289">rshowalter Wed 27/03/2002 21:11</a> . But some things do depend on my background.

                                                      For example, the seriousness of my personal situation - the question of whether or not the U.S. government owes the AEA investors about forty million dollars -- and the question of whether I have a right to say that the United States is making serious mistakes - including technical mistakes that are wasting vast amounts of money - and making the world far more dangerous than it has to be.

                                                      For example, I say that I've worked hard in important ways since 1991 to get some key messages to the government - under careful, reasonable, classification constraints. Since September 2000, whether you believe my story or not - I've been working at it full time - and asking for a chance to debrief. Whether you "call me Ishmael" or not makes a difference.

                                                      I've now set out the key message that I felt must be most classified - in a way that professionals ought to be able to read -- and it is this - it is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures. I've finally set that message out in public, because, finally - that is what the reasonable security of the United States requires. The costs and risks of keeping this secret are justified no longer.

                                                      In judging that message, it makes a difference whether I'm carrying on a literary exercise - if I'm Ishmael - of if I'm telling the truth. I've been working very hard, trying to get my country to check on that.

                                                      Identities do make some difference. Because weights make a difference - and socio-logical connections make a difference.

                                                      For example, if gisterme is Rice, then this thread is something that the President of the United States knows something about, and pays some attention to.

                                                      When National Security Adviser Rice wrote this, I believe she wrote something profound and hopeful. I'm doing the best I can to help make it true.

                                                        " Today, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war. . . . . . The United States will build on these common interests to promote global security. " "The National Security Strategy of the United States," . page 2.
                                                      For that to be true - we need to make decisions based on correct information .

                                                      I'm doing my duty, as best I can. If I'm correct, and senior people are watching - I hope they care enough about what I've said to check on some key things. It wouldn't be hard to do.

                                                      commondata - 11:53am Oct 3, 2002 EST 4743^0@49758d@.f28e622/5995

                                                      Understood, but if Gisterme is Rice then the president's not listening, he's laughing.

                                                      _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

                                                      I thought some who read this thread might be interested in this key information. I've been cut off from my email, for a time - but can be reached by phone.

                                                      - - - - - -

                                                        . It is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US or any other nation has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures.
                                                      That's a judgement - a statement about potential. I believe that the world would be safer and more stable if some key countries (say GB, Germany, France, Russia, China, and Japan) set up a cooperative program to design all the necessary equipment to convert this potential to a reality - and put the full designs, including workable manufacturing drawings and specifications, on the internet. Unless I've missed something, everything necessary could be accomplished using equipment that was militarily operational prior to 1970 (manufacturing drawings are available for such equipment), combined with the few new insights in 4533-4547

                                                      Design work, competently done, might cost ten million dollars. Deployment for a country the size of Russia should cost between 2 and ten billion. These are substantial sums, and perhaps I underestimate them, but the probable costs do seem large in comparison to the US military budget of 350 billion/yr.

                                                      The idea of doing this design work openly and collectively may seem naive - but I believe that it would be both practical and efficient.

                                                      This beautiful, profound (and award-winning) article says true things about human beings.

                                                      Of Altruism, Heroism and Nature's Gifts in the Face of Terror By NATALIE ANGIER

                                                      We all know that altruism has its limits. Even so, if the human ability to cooperate could extend this far - - the way would be clear for a much safer world - with very large resources freed up for human needs.

                                                      Militaries would still be necessary - and have plenty to do. But I believe that if this were done the technical conditions for a much more peaceful, more stable and less wasteful world would be in place.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:17pm Oct 7, 2002 BST (#339 of 339)  | 

                                                      The NYT forums (all of them) are down - the word is, down for maintenance - and have been since Oct 3d, shortly after I said this on the Missile Defense forum. Perhaps this is a coincidence. However, I was cut off from the forums in something less than an hour after I posted this.

                                                        " It is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US or any other nation has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures. "
                                                      The forums all closed down for "urgent maintenance" shortly thereafter.

                                                      I've worked hard in important ways since 1991 to get some key messages to the government - the bolded message above chief among them - under careful, reasonable, classification constraints. Since September 2000, - I've been working at it full time - and asking for a chance to debrief, again and again, through a number of channels that should have worked.

                                                      I've now set out the key message, bolded above, that I felt must be most classified - in a way that professionals ought to be able to read. I've finally set that message out in public, because, finally - that is what the reasonable security of the United States requires. The costs and risks of keeping this secret are justified no longer.

                                                      A good deal of discussion of this subject matter is posted since September 30th, and especially since Oct 3 in Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . . and terror - - an International thread linked in a number of places available if you click my moniker , rshowalter .

                                                      These threads have been cited, again and again, in the NYT Missile Defense forums - and I deeply appreciate the chance I've been given to post here.

                                                      rshowalter - 11:10pm Oct 12, 2002 BST (#339 of 367)  | 

                                                      On October 3, there was a sequence of postings on the NYT Missile Defense forum - and all the NYT forums were closed down thereafter for four days. I was cut off sometime less than an hour after I posted this

                                                        " it is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures."
                                                      All of the NYT forums were shut down for "urgent maintenance" shortly thereafter. Some of the material involved in that day's posting was set out, with supporting technical detail, in postings #330-338 of Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror , an International Talk thread (for links, click " rshowalter" ). Postings #330-338 of Psychwarfare have been referred to repeatedly on the NYT MD forum since it reappeared on the 7th.

                                                      When the NYT forums reappeared, I was pleased that only a few postings after 9:14 am NY time were deleted, and that the last postings permitted to remain when the forums reappeared on the 7th were my 4739 and 4740

                                                      4740 contained a reference I was glad was included - one that I feel sure was not missed by NYT staff: "4572 sets out a sheet . . that includes this: "On July 14th, 7:24 pm I asked this on the Missile Defense board – and the matter has been much discussed.

                                                        " " Could things be arranged so that I could talk to ______, or some other professional, on technical matters, in a way so that I had reasonable confidence, and _________ had reasonable confidence, that, whatever other problems we might have, our conversation did not violate US national security laws?
                                                      "It isn't possible yet. Assurances given me verbally by CIA, if they were really clear and checkable, would meet that need. But they are not clearly checkable, and not in writing. I need to get from an unusable verbal assurance from CIA that "CIA has no interest in any of my material" to an assurance, in writing, or checkable otherwise, that I can actually use. . . .

                                                      " Links to CIA and my security problems, this thread: 3774-3779

                                                      I believe that the details referred to would be of interest to people judging the the NYT's attitude to some things that I've said. I was grateful that those links were given prominance.

                                                      Discussion on the NYT forums since Oct 7 have been careful - and I have reason to think that people at the TIMES and elsewhere have paid some attention to the MD forumt. commondata 's contributions have been very helpful and on point.

                                                      Lchic's (Dawn Riley's) have been distinguised, as usual.

                                                      I've been working hard on the NYT forums, and interacting with NYT people - for five years - - and the degree of effort (on my side, and on the side of the NYT) is unusual enough to be worth explaining.

                                                      Yesteday I posted 4814 , including citation of a very interesting 38 minute speech from my old master:

                                                      William Casey
                                                      Director, Central Intelligence Agency
                                                      Major Issues Lecture Series
                                                      Asbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University

                                                      Topic: The Status of U.S. Intelligence in the U.S. Today October 27, 1986


                                                      Today, I posted 4823-4827 , which explains some basic reasons for my five year involvement with the New York Times. I hope 4923-4827 explains some of the reasons why I've been so grateful for help from the Guardian-Observer

                                                      4824 refers to Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror #330-338 and includes this:

                                                        " I've now taken steps where one can argue that I ought to be jailed (though I think Casey would argue otherwise). "
                                                      I think there is good reason to expect that those steps have been noticed by the government of the United States. I hope they've been noticed by other people and other governments, as well.

                                                      It may be that, considering everything, the United States led nearly the best Cold War possible. But the Cold War should be over - - - and there are messes to acknowledge, and clean up. I believe that if we did so - - we'd be living an a time of great, realistic hope.

                                                      I'm deeply, deeply grateful to the Guardian-Observer for permitting me to post on these TALK threads.

                                                      MD 4701-4702 include some history that I think ought to interest many, and "idealistic" language -- including this:

                                                      "What would Putin want done? What would the leaders of the nations in NATO, and the other nations in the Security Council want done? What would ex-presidents of the United States, living and dead, want done, if they could think about the issues involved? What would the pre-injury Nash want done? What would "the average reader of the New York Times" want done? . "What would Casey want done (or forgive me for) ? . . . . "I think there's been a great deal of progress since then MD1999 - - but we've fallen short of hopes for real peace - after a lot of work from lchic , almarst and gisterme as well.

                                                      " Groups of people go forward, on the basis of assumptions that are, based on knowledge available, entirely reasonable. But a time comes when the assumptions can be shown, beyond reasonable doubt, to be wrong in some decisive way. If people see no way to stop the work and the patterns they've been engaged in, they ignore the fact that they are no longer acting reasonably, and ignore the problem. I believe that, in the history of the nuclear terror, and in history since the Cold War should have ended, misakes such as this, which are only human, have been, nonetheless, very expensive.

                                                      "I think some things are going very well.

                                                      "Even so, it seems to me that it is becoming crucial that we sort some things out.

                                                      " What a wonderful idea it is that nations should "beat their swords into plowshares" ! Wonderful ideas, backed only by idealism, don't prevail. Perhaps my duty now is to see that the swords in question become obsolete ? . . .

                                                      "The US is making some very bad bets - and some trillion dollar procurement errors. Again: Perhaps my duty now is to see that the swords in question become obsolete ?

                                                      " Anybody object? I'm in the Madison phone book.

                                                      rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 2/10/01 2:05am is heartfelt praise for the New York Times fora - and the help they've given me.

                                                      I've been trying to Send in clear for a long time. The poem of ends with this note:

                                                        In clear: Lying is more dangerous than people think, and soaks up more attention than people know. We can do less of it. We can send in clear - the message, almost always, will be peaceful. And complex cooperation, now so often terminated with deceptive sequences, could happen more often.
                                                      If the Guardian, the NYT, and some other first line papers got together (with foundation support if that was needed) and got some things checked we could live in a much safer and more humane world.

                                                      Again: 4824 refers to Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror #330-338 and includes this:

                                                        " I've now taken steps where one can argue that I ought to be jailed (though I think Casey would argue otherwise). "
                                                      Often stories are left hanging, because they are not checked. I believe that the history of the Cold War, and the ways things have been "left hanging" since - - is a story worth checking - - worth telling - - so that we can make humane and efficient arrangements, tough enough under any conditions - that can only be worked out on the basis of correct information. My personal story may offer an interesting "window" on what happened, and what needs to be corrected - during the Cold War - and in the decade of murderous, gruesome muddle since.

                                                      If these things were understood, I think problems like that of Iraq might be resolvable with more grace than would otherwise be the case.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:36pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#340 of 367)  | 

                                                      Sometime on October 15th, a posting I made on July 25, 2001 in the Guardian Talk threads Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror - International and Paradigm Shift. . whose getting there? - Science was deleted by someone else. I believe that the posts were deleted to alter the record of the work lchic and I have been doing on the NYT Missile Defense board and here for more than two years. The deleted link described, with many citations, a detailed briefing that I'd given almarst - - the MD board's "Putin stand-in" in March of 2001.

                                                      I personally believe that Putin took time out of his schedule to attend to that briefing - a time-out referred to in Muddle in Moscow

                                                      Perhaps I'm incorrect, but that hope still seems consistent with the facts - - and it seems to me that Putin's performance since that briefing effort is consistent with attention to the briefing.

                                                      I comment on the deletion in MD4918

                                                      The deleted link is reproduced in MD4919 - 4923

                                                      For reasons that interested people can trace from links set out if they click "rshowalter" in the upper left hand corner of this posting - - lchic and I have been working under difficult circumstances, doing work we've felt a duty to do. My motives have been professional and economic, as well.

                                                      The "briefing effort" that took place on March 17 and 23, 2001 is something I'm personally proud of, and sets out principles that I believe are useful in national economic policy, for Russia and for other countries. I'm posting them here on the Guardian Talk thread - - Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman and think it reasonable to hope that people will refer to them.

                                                      I'm very grateful to the Guardian-Observer, and very much appreciate the postings I'm permitted to do here

                                                      rshowalter - 09:44pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#341 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 04:57pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1126

                                                      From where I sit, Vladimir Putin seems to be a VERY impressive leader. Maybe because I have a soft spot for some of the kinds of sophisication that intelligence officers need. He's not being treated fairly in a ECONOMIST story that I found interesting, but the circumstances, I believe, may be much to his credit.

                                                      Muddle In Moscow starts and ends as follows:

                                                        " President Vladimir Putin’s biggest achievement in Russia has been political stability. Intrigues—or at any rate confusion—now put that in doubt .
                                                        " WHEN a government faces a no-confidence vote in parliament backed by its own supposed supporters, something odd is afoot. When, a few days later, those same law makers change their mind, it looks even odder. And when the president of the country decides that this is just the time to take a short holiday, then you have a choice between a bunch of baroque conspiracy theories—or the conclusion that Russia’s political leadership is losing its grip.
                                                      One "conspiracy theory" is that the man is thinking, and taking time to concentrate.

                                                      The piece ends as follows:

                                                        " So far, Mr Putin has listened hard, but wavered when it comes to decisions. Sometimes he favours his liberal advisers. The next minute he is closeted with the hard men in uniform, or is being swayed by the many denizens of the Kremlin left over from the Yeltsin era. He spends an extraordinary amount of time talking to foreign leaders: this year’s tally includes leading politicians or government officials from Azerbaijan, Austria, Belarus, Britain, Finland, Germany, Iran, Israel, Latvia, Moldova, NATO, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Ukraine and Vietnam. But at home, rather than get involved in the current kerfuffle, Mr Putin went on holiday, to a mountain resort in Siberia. Aides said he was working on an important speech."
                                                      That sounds like just what a brilliant leader, working to solve essential problems, is supposed to do. Get advice, integrate information, make judgements, for the sociotechnical system he leads, and figure out how to solve problems, and find new hope.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:06pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1127

                                                      I'm wishing, as I often do, that my old friend and partner Stephen Jay Kline were still alive. Steve and I worked together on two things - some math, and the logic of complex, and especially socio-technical systems. The part on sociotechnical systems is in large part written in Steve's

                                                        CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATIONS FOR MULTIDISCIPINARY THINKING ..... Stanford University Press , 1995
                                                      I'm going through some things I hope President Putin knows, in that book.

                                                      Steve wrote me a recommendation letter, that includes some things helicopter designers and other technical people ought to know, in and I gave a eulogy of Steve in his memorial service in Stanford Chapel that a lot of people liked.

                                                      I wish I could talk to Steve now, and ask

                                                        " What could we tell Putin, that might help him do his job - a job that he has to do well, in the interest of the world? "
                                                      I can imagine some of the things Steve might say, and warn me to check, and I'm taking a little time to think about them.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:31pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1128

                                                      When we apply SIMPLE models of structure to circumstances that have a more complicated structure than we are thinking of, we can get into trouble.

                                                      We can fail to see how thing work.

                                                      And we can be misled by thinking we see "contradictions" where there are no logical contradictions -- though there may be aesthetic or moral tensions.

                                                      A complex system can be two "contradictory" things at the same time -- in different places within the larger structure -- without contradiction.

                                                      Bertrand Russell got caught up with this one -- but for complicated circumstances, and for dealing with complicated histories, it is an essential thing to know.

                                                      It you know it -- solutions that seem "classified out of existence" are seen, and these solutions can be real.

                                                      Some moral points can get clarified, too.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:45pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#342 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1129

                                                      rshowalter Sat 17/03/2001 16:51

                                                        " War-vain glorious war gives silent approval to every sin on the face of the earth. It justifies acts against the enemy that are precisely anti-thetical to what is accepted inside the society. .
                                                        "The truth is bad enough and in some respects we must allow the truth hold center stage.
                                                      People can be guilty and victims at ONCE.

                                                      People can be monsters and good people at ONCE - in different aspects of their lives, or at different times.

                                                      An article that muddles this was published today which argued that because the Poles were victims themselves, they weren't guilty, or anyway, not very guilty, about what they did about to the Jews in WWII .

                                                      Life isnt that simple. It isnt that easy. There is no contradiction. Only the compexities of the human condition.

                                                      The Japanese somehow feel that the horrors that they perpertrated in WWII - among them atrocious crimes against women, can't be remembered, because somehow that would make the good things in Japanese culture unthinkable.

                                                      Rape Camp -- by Dawn Riley bNice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Mon 26/02/2001 05:14

                                                      Japan may be having problems now, because, here and in a lot of other ways, they are telling lies. Lies that keep them from facing more complex realities.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1130

                                                      The problems of Russia, and the problems of dealing with the horrors of the Cold War, and the miserable way it is continued, are morally hard enough. Because much of the truth is ugly. But the ugliness is not unthinkable, if one recognizes that one is not dealing with contradiction, but complexity, then one is dealing with situations where there is some hope of better action in the future. The ugliness of the past should not be forgotten, and it must be dealt with -- but it need not paralyze us.

                                                      The ugliness may involve crimes that need to be uncovered and punished. Or situations where only a secular redemptive solution is possible, or reasonable. In the situations that Russia faces, and the world faces, and America faces, it seems to me that there are some of each kind, and problems that require both approaches.

                                                      But, so long as people can understand the past well enough so that they can learn from it, and react in terms of a workable system of agreed upon facts, society can function well, and justly. For complicated enough situations, the only safe and reliable "system of agreed-upon-facts" has to be true.

                                                      The Russians, for decades, have been insisting in nuclear arms talks on a clear statement of historical facts. Americans have resisted. The Russians have been right on this matter. To go on, one needs the truth. Anything else is too likely to mislead in an unpredictable future, where people must act and cooperate on the basis of what they believe.

                                                      A sense of odds, of the reasons why truth is needed, is partly a technical matter. Let me digress, and say a few things about "complexity" as Kline defined it -- a sense, I feel, that gives TECHNICAL reasons why lies are damaging not only morally, but practically, too.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:02pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1131

                                                      In Chapter 4, p 63, Kline writes this:

                                                        " In very complex systems, such as sociotechnical systems, we have no theory of entire systems, and must therefore create, operate, and improve such systems via feedback: that is, repeated cycles of human observations plus trials of envisioned improvements in the real systems. In such very complex systems, data from a wide variety of cases therefore becomes the primary basis for understanding and judgements . . . "
                                                      So for complex systems, and especially sociotechnical systems, which are VERY complex, correct information matters, again and again, because it is used as feedback to run or modify the system. Unchecked assumptions can be expensive or disastrous. Lies can be disastrous. Because if the reliability of the information used in the feedback is limited, the function of the system is also limited -- and the system is likely to fail badly if it has to be changed.

                                                      The truth is known, in such a circumstance, to be much more safe, and much more advantageous, than lies or wrong ideas. And so checking for correctness is very practical, and lies, even very well intentioned or understandable ones, can be very damaging.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:10pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1132

                                                      Steve means something pretty simple when he speaks of his Index of complexity -- it is, for all the systems we looked at (and I put hundreds of hours into this part of Steve's work) C, the complexity number is constrained as follows:

                                                      V + P + L < C < V times P times L


                                                        V is the number of independent variables
                                                        P is the number of independent parameters needed to distinguish the system from other systems of the same class

                                                        L is the number of feedback loops both within the system and connecting the system to its surroundings.
                                                      The most complicated problems engineers can now solve explicitly have C < 5 (I'm expecting to extend that a bit. )

                                                      Human social systems, even simple ones, have C values in the billions. In such very complex systems, we must create, operate, and improve via feedback: that is, repeated cycles of human observations plus trials of envisioned improvements in the real systems."

                                                      And so the truth is crucial for function.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:46pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#343 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:13pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1133

                                                      Here is the essence of the most effective psychological warfare - - you mess up a system, and can even shut it down, by telling lies.

                                                      Russia has been the victim of some very sophisticated and effective psychological warfare from outside, and has, to a significant degree, been weakened by lies its own people and goverment have told.

                                                      Similar things, to a lesser degree, can be said of America.

                                                      We need, for practical reasons, to increase the probability of right answers in our information systems -- we need to replace lies with truths.

                                                      On issues involving military balances, we need to very much increase it.

                                                      Especially because peace requires it.

                                                      Russia has a right, and an obligation, to get a clear understanding, that it can see and that other nations can see, of the threats to which it has been subjected, and the deceptions.

                                                      For practical reasons, and for moral reasons. Peace and prosperity both require it.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:17pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1134

                                                      As a practical matter, one checks facts and ideas by a matching process --- matching the logic step by step against trusted standards, and --- usually much more important, matching to see if what is said matches what is there when you check.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:19pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1135

                                                      Refusal to check, and refusal to permit checking, can be very dangerous, and damaging.

                                                      Especially where nuclear weapons are involved. And where nuclear weapons are involved, the most essential things are hidden, and have been hidden, and concealed, and lied about, actively and agressively for half a century of terror.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:24pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1136

                                                      In HUMAN terms, getting at the truth may, very often, require redemptive solutions -- because without them, the human resistance to finding the truth may be absolutely insurmountable. And the costs of "justice" -- even if you could decently define it - and sometime you can't - can be prohibitive.

                                                      But the TRUTH is essential, for moral and psychological reasons, and for practical reasons that become more compelling, at something like a factorial rate of growth, as systems become more complicated.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:35pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1137

                                                      My computer seems to be under fairly heavy attack --I may get slowed down a bit, but hope to keep on. ...

                                                      rshowalter - 09:47pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#344 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 07:20pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1138

                                                      While I write other things, I'd like to repeat #1085 rshowalter 3/16/01 3:16pm #1086, #1073 rshowalter 3/16/01 12:56pm #1078 rshowalter 3/16/01 1:23pm #1079 and especially #1080 rshowalter 3/16/01 1:32pm

                                                    • **** * * *

                                                      rshowalter - 01:23pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1078

                                                      I hope that it is common ground that we can misunderstand each other in many ways, dislike each other for many reasons, and have much about the past between us that displeases us, and still live in peace.

                                                      Real peace - much farther from the brink of war, and a situation much more comfortable and much less expensive, than what we have now.

                                                      Understanding and reconciliation on many matters might help. But we don't have to like each other, either now, or in the future, to live in peace.

                                                      I hope we can agree to that. If we can, we can avoid fictions that can tie us both up, and make our interactions less comfortable than they could be.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:26pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1079

                                                      But it is important that we resolve misunderstandings that could lead to fighting, or that get in the way of complex cooperations that would be in our mutual interests.

                                                      We can, I believe, hope to do this.

                                                      That would make other reconciliations more likely, and we could be safer and richer, whether those reconciliations ever happened or not.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:32pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1080

                                                      I personally would like a chance to apologize for the actions of my country toward Russia since WWII - but when I say that, I'm speaking for myself, not for others.

                                                      I was once at a lunch, in Madison, with some distinguished Russian educators. I proposed a toast, thanking the Russian people, whose sacrifices in the Great Patriotic War may well have given me, and others of my American generation, a chance to be born. That toast came from my heart. I personally think the conflict between our coutries has been a great human tragedy. But I can only speak for my own feelings here, not for my country.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:16pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1085

                                                      We also can't imagine (I don't pretend that this is logical, but at the level of our emotions it is real) that you feel we are threatening you with first strikes with nuclear weapons. This essential fact about Russia is not understood by most Americans, and is not even understood by most Americans in our military forces. I believe that, for peace, we Americans need to understand that for basic, unchangeable reasons, Russia does fear first strike threats from us.

                                                      If Americans, as people, understood these things (and I grant you in a more perfect world, these would be easy things to show) other barriers to nuclear safety and a balanced peace would be relatively easy and certain to be surmounted.

                                                      These things, in my view, are the most BASIC things that Americans need to understand, in order for us to step back from nuclear peril, and from unnecessary wars.

                                                      . . .

                                                      rshowalter - 03:31pm Mar 16, 2001 EST (#1086

                                                      It is worth remembering that animals, including especially human animals, are opportunistic, and that misunderstanding can produce niches where groups of people can make a lot of money without anybody knowing. And then, these people will have both motive and power to see that the misunderstanding continues. I'm afraid that this may have happened.

                                                      But the conspiracy part may have other explanations.

                                                      The misunderstanding part is real beyond question.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:47pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#345 of 367)  | 

                                                      lunarchick - 07:47pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1139 of 1145)

                                                      Putin has some respect for the truth. In his BBC online interview, when asked why Mrs P didn't figure largely he said "If I told her to do something she'd just do the opposite" ... It's good that Russian Women have independence and a mind of their own!

                                                      On truth re Asia, with the concept of 'loss of faith', and failure to appologise to the wronged-Raped women of Korea. The nepotism, corruptin and failure to adhere to business principles has lead to the Economic Downturn in Asia. Bank loans were issued on relationship a basis not a business basis placing the Japanese economy in trouble for the past decade. Wasn't Japan by 1990 valued at the same value as the whole of North America. The day of accounting came.

                                                      The lack of 'truth' in the Eastern economies can not only lead to disaster as above, but also to the takeover of the economy by 'straight' business managers and operators. The doors are opening slowly to world practice and dare I say it 'American Management'. To give American style management it's due it has evolved through practise and scholarship last century (C20).

                                                      lunarchick - 07:52pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1140 of 1145)

                                                      Thinking more on the 'insurance' matter, it occurs to me that the concept of any National State being able, at will or on little pretence, to create havoc for others, should be less of a happening than it has been in the past.

                                                      Making States 'responsible' in relation to MD might be done by forcing an insurance policy over missile holders.

                                                      It might be done by looking at the range of the weapon(s). Within that circular range, the cost of a strike out of the highest priced target should be calculated + the 'wide area' of the damage that could be created + the effect of the pollutant in the cloud and carried by wind.

                                                      This would be the insurance price for each missile, cumulatively.

                                                      Totally 'unaffordable' one would hope.

                                                      Yet this needs to happen to put 'responsibility' into the minds of those with these lethal weapons.

                                                      lunarchick - 08:01pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1141 of 1145)

                                                      Doing something for a first time:

                                                      Note the storming of the Russian Plane in the Gulf.

                                                      The internet was used by the Russians to 'train' the local troups .. who then stormed the plane.

                                                      The locals should have had all the information, which would have included the fact that the onboard weapons were a pen-knife and a kitchen-knife.

                                                      On storming the plane, I'm going to assume that the troups were 'scared' and even though they knew there was no fire power within the plane, they forgot and wanted to first save themselves.

                                                      In doing this innocent people died.

                                                      Move this senario along to 'kids' working with MD buttons. A mature operator who had to make a decision whether or not to press a detonator button to lauch a nuclear winter killer rocket might think twice or three times, might rationalise, look for 'error' message. Whereas giving the button to the immature or 'warped' minded .. these might OBEY an order because they had been schooled in obeyance.

                                                      Scarry Stuff !!

                                                      rshowalter - 09:49pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#346 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 08:03pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1142

                                                      There are some lawyers who might amuse themselves with that. Suing specific people, and specific organizations. Perhaps they could be organized, and act with a certain coordination. Might not be very expensive to do .....

                                                      Now, I've got a something else, too "academic" maybe, but I want to build on it.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:03pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1143

                                                      There are a lot of nice ideas in Kline's Appendix C "Hypothesis, Guidelines, Data, and Queries

                                                      Here's one I think politicians, and others trying to figure out reality from words, need to know:

                                                        " Hypothesis V: The need for at least Three views:" At least three kinds of (correct) views are required for a reasonably good understanding of heirarchically structured systems (such as all sociotechnical systems) with interfaces of mutual constraint. These kinds of views are: synoptic, piecewise, and structural. forget this, in complicated circumstances, and an incomplete specification can mislead you badly, whether the misspecification is intentional or unintentional.
                                                      rshowalter - 08:04pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1144

                                                      Here's a pair of guidelines, that Steve sets out for scholarly groups, that I think should apply to political and economic systems, too.

                                                        " Guideline for Scholarly Controversy: When two (or more) groups of empirically grounded scholars create conflicting solutions for a single problem, and this leads to back-and-forth arguments for decades, then it is likely that each group has some of the truth, but not all of it. .
                                                        Corollary: When two (or more) groups of empirically grounded scholars have a long-continuing argument, an improved solution can often be found by reframing the problem to include the solidly grounded data underlying both sides of the argument.
                                                      The world views of the Russians and Americans each have some of the truth, but not all of it.

                                                      Reframings that preserve what works well empirically, for both systems, might well improve things.

                                                      Also, when a system as a whole fails, it doesn't necessarily make sense (for a social system, which is multiply articulated) to abandon and discredit all of it. There may be good reasons to preserve the parts that worked well. And may be good reason to be proud of all the parts of it that worked well in the past, and especially the parts that worked well consistently.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:49pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#347 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 08:22pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1145

                                                      In the West, more in America than anywhere else, the idea has been standard that conspiracies are somehow bad to talk about - that everything is the result of impersonal forces, or anyway, "nobody's fault" -- or, as a matter of convention, that's the way to talk about it.

                                                        This pattern makes for some non-confrontational and smooth social conventions, and may be efficient for that reason, even in some cases where it happens to be wrong. The pattern may also very often fit reality. Even so, this pattern, as a doctrine, makes a social group vulnerable to real conspiracies, especially conspiricies involving things not to be discussed. . . . . . . .
                                                      In Russia, and in Marxism in general, the idea has been standard that economic activity was based on decisions of people - and that these people, exercising social and technical power, determined outcomes.

                                                        This pattern institutionalizes certain inherent tensions between the better off and the worse off, and may be inefficient because of these tensions, under some circumstances, even in cases where it happens to be true. But the pattern may very often fit reality, and give good guidance, as well. Even so, this pattern, as a doctrine, makes a social group vulnerable to misjudgements, when social interactions do not have conspiratorial explanations, as often happens.
                                                    • ****

                                                      Both patterns are sometimes empirically right, and sometimes empirically wrong.

                                                      In cases where facts matter more than the comfort that comes from social fictions, it would make sense to consider BOTH the "conspiracy" kind of explanation, and the "no fault" pattern of explanation. In some cases, one pattern will work, and in some other cases, the other.

                                                      In matters of war and peace, and especially where the nuclear terror is concerned, facts matter.

                                                      And these facts should be determined, in specific detail. Because these facts matter so much. Russia, and the rest of the world, and the 99.99% of the American public which CANNOT have any interest in military misrepresentation, should insist on it.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:14pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1146

                                                      rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 2/14/01 7:18am^0@.f1983fb/409 sets out the advantages of sending in clear in the new internet world. Because mistakes and deceptions are so harmful to the workings of sociotechnical systems, it is important that we move toward more open ways of doing business. It is safe to do so.

                                                      Dawn Riley spoke of "One thousand and one excuses have been made as to why the missile status quo will remain ... how can this chain of NONcommonNonSense be broken?"

                                                      This seems clear to me - FACTS have to be determined. That will take staff work. Luckily, many key information sources that are now widely available on the internet.

                                                      It may be that, for now, the US government will abstain from participating in any effort ot determine those facts - as it has sometimes vetoed the will of everyone else on the Security Council, or even the whole UN.

                                                      If the current US government "declines to participate" would that vitiate the exercise?

                                                      rshowalter - 09:15pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1147

                                                      No. Because the government position crumbles when it can be shown to be based on lies and gross misjudgements. Our government may sometimes be skilled at evading facts, and much of our press may be motivated to "keep people happy"-- and maybe keep its owners happy, by ignoring unpleasant facts. But the evasions have their limits. And when the tide turns, it can turn forcefully. Newspapers don't like to miss the truth, it enough of their customers notice. Reporters are sometimes proud people, and they can have power as well. With the internet, information is hard to suppress.

                                                      And there are MANY Americans interested in getting the facts.

                                                      Could the US government just ignore this -- American society would not, and politicians, who care about votes as well as payoffs, couldn't either.

                                                      Berle's rules of power are important here -- when the ideas behind an institution lose legitimacy, that institution's days are numbered. See especially rules #3 and #5

                                                      rshowalter - 09:50pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#348 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 09:56pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1149

                                                      I believe that this expository poem sets out a high, but also very practical, ideal. Working social systems make thousands of little "redemptive solutions" every day. We need a bigger one, but it seems to me that it ought to be obtainable. Russia needs it. The world needs it. The US needs it.

                                                      SECULAR REDEMPTION

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      not denial, not agony,
                                                      not lies told or
                                                      amorphous deceptions
                                                      amorphously defended,
                                                      but redemption.

                                                      Redemption for all concerned,

                                                      with a decent concern for all,
                                                      with feelings felt and not denied,
                                                      weights weighed, and not forgotten,
                                                      needs of flesh, nerves, guts and mind
                                                      all remembered, and workably in place
                                                      with neither lies nor torture.

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      where all concerned
                                                      can know the same stories,
                                                      and live with that,
                                                      and look back and go on comfortably,
                                                      not unreasonably proud,
                                                      or unreasonably ashamed,
                                                      in ways that work
                                                      in private and in public.

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      for myself, for the evil I've done,
                                                      and the good I've tried to do and failed,
                                                      and the limits and narrownesses that are
                                                      unchangeably a part of me.

                                                      And I'm dreaming of redemption for others,

                                                      in similar ways, without pretense,
                                                      with real, vital, feeling futures
                                                      not closed off.

                                                      There is too much good here,

                                                      too much reaching for the good,
                                                      too much hard, disciplined work
                                                      in the face of pain and fear,
                                                      too much to hope for.

                                                      Too much to hope for the world, too,

                                                      too much hope for primal needs of peace,
                                                      too much of interest,
                                                      too much condensed and seeming right,
                                                      too much, from too many, that seems good,
                                                      and moves me and others.

                                                      No checkmate. No closing off of hope,

                                                      no wallowing in agonies that might be,
                                                      with more wisdom, and clean negotiation,
                                                      assuaged and replaced
                                                      by honest joy and comfort.

                                                      No checkmate. I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      and a world that goes on, safer and richer,
                                                      and knowing more about redemption,
                                                      because we've struggled.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:51pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#349 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 09:57pm Mar 17, 2001 EST (#1150

                                                      Can anybody tell me what looks hard, or unreasonable, about the proposal I set out in #266-269 ? rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am

                                                      Granting that it would be hard, are people clear on why?

                                                      Maybe there is something much better.

                                                      But this pattern, which seems workable in many ways, might be considered as an idea that might suggest others.

                                                      Here's one thing, that I've come to feel is very important.

                                                        " Human actions work best according to the following pattern: .
                                                        " Get scared .... take a good look ..... get organized ..... fix it .... recount so all concerned are "reading from the same page ...... go on to other things."
                                                      I think we should do this, and we can. For all the barriers, a few phone calls from a major leader, and the current nuclear horror could start to fade away.

                                                      I'm signing off for tonight.

                                                        . The dialog went on, and we got onto some crucial information, I felt, about economic efficiency, which I set out as follows:
                                                      rshowalter - 05:28pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1392

                                                      almarst_2001 , I think the amount of good will that is latent, close to the surface, wanting to come out, in American and Europe is very great. Many -- and this is perhaps most true of people in the more literary parts of our culture, would LOVE to see a prosperous, happy, vibrant, RUSSIAN Russia - - not an imitation of the US - but a different cuture - doing well, and interfacing with other cultures.

                                                      I believe that many people would WANT to see Russia as a success story - and on Russian terms.

                                                      Putin is doing some of the right things -- reports of his achievements at the European Summit look very professional and very good -- and it seems to me that people are looking for "ways of doing business."

                                                      There are things that the Russians I've dealt with don't know, that the culture needs to know -

                                                      but I believe that the number of individuals, and businessmen, who would WANT a vibrant russia is larger than you may think. And hostility to Russia is narrower than you may think.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:29pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1393

                                                      There are things that Russians do BETTER than Americans -- for the money you had to spend, you ran a very impressive space program - especially on the analytical side. Many things in Russia are fine - and have been fine.

                                                      But there are kinds of sloppiness that one sometimes sees in Russia that bother Americans -- and it would help if you learned what they are (find ways to ask in such a way that you learn what you need to know, not what you want to hear) that would, if a little changed, greatly shift the business attractiveness, and status, of Russia upwards.

                                                      I think leadership in control and elimination of nuclear weapons, and in the establishment of military balances, may be a great public relations and business opportunity for Russia. Putin acts like he may think so, too.

                                                      I find myself feeling afraid as I write this -- but trying to be helpful.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:53pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#350 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 05:30pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1394

                                                      I'll imagine that you're the great leader that the quality of your thought and "staff work" indicates.

                                                      Suppose I take a shot, in the next hour, trying to speak of Russia as a "statistical ensemble of businesses -- with expected rates of return that make them unattractive" -- and discuss how you might radically increase the attractiveness of your country from a business point of view.

                                                      I'll speak of "expected rates of return" -- as in compound rates of interest -- and talk about the key thing -- which is the total RISK DISCOUNT -- make Russia more reliable, and you will RADICALLY shift its marketability upwards.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:36pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1395

                                                      Perhaps this model is simple enough for you to use -and evaluate, punching numbers on a hand held calculator. Sometimes the biggest effects are easiest to see in a simple case, where relations stand out starkly.

                                                      Suppose you think of an investment,

                                                        where at time 0, you put in a cost, C
                                                      and after a time of t expressed in years (which could be a fraction)

                                                        you get a Payoff, P , if you win
                                                      and the PROBABILITY OF WINNING is a value a , between no chance ( a = 0 ) and certainty ( a = 1 ) so that 0<= a <= 1

                                                      It is worth noting, and especially worth noting for Putin, how the value of a matters.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:38pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1396

                                                      Reliability is valuable (and unreliablility is very expensive ) from a gambler's (or investor's) point of view !

                                                      rshowalter - 05:41pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1397

                                                      the expected rate of return, r , for this lump model is

                                                      r = [ln( aP/c)]/t

                                                      In words, the effective compounded rate of return (compound interest) is the natural logarithm of the risk discounted payoff-to-cost ratio divided by the time between putting out the expenditure C , and getting the payoff P .

                                                      rshowalter - 05:43pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1398


                                                        it isn't the "best case" payoff to cost ratio, P/C , it is the risk discounted payoff to cost ratio (aP)/C that the investor, if he's a rational gambler, looks at.
                                                      rshowalter - 05:51pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1399

                                                      So you want the probability of payoff, a , to be JUST AS CLOSE TO 1 AS YOU CAN GET IT.

                                                      In fact, most business people, when they see a values much less than 1, don't keep on calculating values of investments.

                                                      They turn away, and look for another game.

                                                      That's happened to Russia. People have turned away, loked for other "games" - - other economies to invest in - - because the overall socio-technical reliability of Rusia is just too low.

                                                      Putin is doing many of the right things to fix this. But perhaps he should be doing some things with more focus. Because Russians know how to get VERY HIGH P/C ratios, when things go well - they have the potential to enrich themselves and others -- if their work was more reliable, they'd be "good bets." But right now, many too many times, they've been too unreliable, a values have been too low, and now the whole country is regarded as a "bad bet."

                                                      From where Putin sits - the question "what happens to a , in the ordinary cases of business?" ought to be the key question he asks, every time, about every economic policy. You can get a up without sacrificing humanity, or Russian cultural values.

                                                      But you have to get it up, or Russia will be weak, when she should be strong.

                                                      rshowalter - 05:53pm Mar 23 2001 EST (1400

                                                      Better ability to interface with other cultures is part of getting a up.

                                                      Fewer lies and evasions among yourselves is a way of getting a up.

                                                      And some standard management skills are important - you may not like Friedman, but all the things he said about financial controls are true.

                                                      rshowalter - 5:56pm Mar 23, 2001

                                                      Americans would rather work with a really unattractive sonofabitch, who can do his job, rather than a much more attractive human being, who can't.

                                                      You don't have to sacrifice your culture - many of us LIKE the idea of an authentically different Russia. But you have to, in an American phrase, "pull up your socks."

                                                      rshowalter - 09:54pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#351 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 5:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (1402

                                                      You need SOME PEOPLE who can talk RELIABLY about complicated technical and socio-technical matters WITH AMERICANS AND OTHER PEOPLE so they can work with you. That ought to be high on Putin's list of national objectives.

                                                      Now, much too often, such conversations end in fights or misunderstandings. And that's not a problem of goodwill, from a business point of view, nearly so much as it is a problem that shifts a downward - disqualifying you as a business partner.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:22pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1403

                                                      You also need to be able to talk to EACH OTHER with a higher level of social and technical reliablity than you often show.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:33pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1404

                                                      Every single negative thing that business people frequently repeat about "Russia being a bad place to do business" you need to study carefully, and FIX.

                                                      All the concerns are about reliability -- about problems with a .

                                                      As a nation:

                                                        You need laws that are predictable. .
                                                        You need to pay your bills. .
                                                        You need to only say "I understand" when you do understand --- which means you have to be better than you are at checking for misunderstanding. .
                                                        and you need to concentrate on building on your strengths, as everyone else has to do as well. You are Russians -- you have to be good at figuring out how to be good Russians.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:55pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#352 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:37pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1405

                                                      The United States hasn't known how to make peace with you, and settled on a policy of scaring you into collapse -- and it worked, and we weren't honest to our own people while it was going on -- and American initiative being what it is, a lot of stealing may have been going on, as well.

                                                      But once you collapsed, we still didn't know how to work with you (and maybe had forgotten how to talk to you, though we never knew how to do it well)-- and so things have stayed a mess.

                                                      The exercise of cleaning up the terribly dangerous vestiges of the Cold War might go a long way toward solving these problems.

                                                      (And the world may blow up if we don't do it.)

                                                      rshowalter - 09:56pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#353 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:44pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1406

                                                      I was talking a while back about Russian staffers talking to authors of particular books about particular differences in view. I wasn't kidding. It wouldn't necessarily cost much. But if Russian staffers could do THAT, they'd know a lot more about workable business negotiation. And the writers, likeley enough, would have good hearts, and try to sort your skils out.

                                                      I was talking a while back about a "dry run" where Russia, and other countries, worked through with journalists a mock nuclear disarmament, and military balance deal - as realistically as possible, and with as clear explanations as possible.

                                                      Russian staff would sweat bucketfulls in order to do that well -- but if they did the work, and put out the effort - with very articulate people of good will (and journalists are that) they'd learn a lot they need to know in order to actually get peace.

                                                      The same things they need to know to actually get prosperity.

                                                      For one thing, the dialog would involve one status exchange after another -- and Russians need to learn how these work, and how to do them.

                                                      lunarchick - 06:47pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1407

                                                      sono-fab-itch ... i'm working on this idiomatic RS!

                                                      I would have to look at inter-Trade figures before commenting on trade into Russia .... much of which may be undisclosed and informal.

                                                      Russia straddles Eurasia. As poster commented above the European aspect ususally preceeds the Eastern sector. Could there be any ligitimate reason to refuse inclusion in the EC. The advantages of such would be reduced warfare, increased trade, a continental rather than National feel. Access to the EC does depend upon 'fitness and readiness' in terms of an economy.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:47pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1408

                                                      And if Russians actually understood - down to "atomic scale" detail, how ONE complicated and problematic negotiation works itself out in America, they'd learn a lot, that they don't know now, that they need again and again.

                                                      It should be EASY for Russians to negotiate to a reliable closure with competent people of other cultures. Now, it wrenches your guts. And it wrenches ours.

                                                      (And for reasons like that, the world may blow up.)

                                                      rshowalter - 09:56pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#354 of 367)  | 

                                                      A key point that should be common ground, for all the disappointment and bitterness:

                                                      rshowalter - 07:10pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1409

                                                      Although it was a complicated circumstance in many ways, this is true:

                                                        our two countries have been at an impasse , and scaring each other to death (even when it was unintentional) for fifty years
                                                      and we've just been through a decade where

                                                        there's been no reason at all not to take the weapons down and we haven't been able to do it
                                                      and during this decade, for all the disasters on the Russian side, it is also true that, as a class,

                                                        the "capitalist exploiters" have lost money on Russia.
                                                      It has been a mess. It has to be sorted out.

                                                      . . . .

                                                      rshowalter - 09:57pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#355 of 367)  | 

                                                      And I suggested an exercise in MD1410-1415

                                                      rshowalter - 07:30pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1410

                                                      I'm washed out -- I'm going to break for the night, cook my wife dinner, and have a beer. Just before I do, I'll type out the books I looked at yesterday morning - each problematic from a Russian point of view. If Russian staffers could effectively discuss Russian difficulties with these books, well enough to enlighten these book's authors, it would be a significant test. I think a hard test for Russian staffers to pass now. But a test they could learn to pass.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:36pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1411

                                                      The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

                                                      The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett

                                                      All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

                                                      Into the Storm by Tom Clancy (or something else by Clancy)

                                                      The Masters and Science and Government by C.P. Snow (Snow's dead, but discussed with a competent administrator, preferably a Dean.)

                                                      rshowalter - 07:41pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1412

                                                      News and the Culture of Lying by Paul Weaver

                                                      Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz

                                                      Natural Obsessions by Natalie Angier

                                                      Shadow by Bob Woodward

                                                      The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman

                                                      Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster

                                                      rshowalter - 07:44pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1413

                                                      The University: An Owner's Manual by Henry Rosovsky

                                                      The Ends of Power by H.R. Haldeman

                                                      The Almanac of American Politics by Michael Barone and Grant Ujfusa

                                                      Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

                                                      rshowalter - 07:51pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1414

                                                      BEGINNING TO READ: Thinking and Learning about Print by Marilyn Jager Adams

                                                      ED SCHOOL FOLLIES: The Miseducation of America's Teachers by Rita Kramer

                                                      INEVITABLE ILLUSIONS: How mistakes of reason rule our minds by M. Piatelli-Palmarini

                                                      AN INCOMPLETE EDUCATION by Judy Jones and William Wilson

                                                      THE UNDISCOVERED MIND by John Horgan

                                                      WHAT IS MATHEMATICS, REALLY? by Reuben Hersh

                                                      rshowalter - 07:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1415

                                                      The Moral Sense by James Q. Wilson

                                                      Moralities of Everyday Life by J. Sabini and Maury Silver

                                                      I AIN'T GOT TIME TO BLEED: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up by Jesse Ventura

                                                      All these are, by Russian standards, very strange books.

                                                      They are very un-Russian books.

                                                      I think, all very good books.

                                                      If Putin had staffers who were clear about how un-Russian these books are, and how they are un-Russian, and if these staffers could discuss these differences with the authors in a mutually satisfactory way (and there are plenty of other very un-Russian books that could be discussed as well), Russian negotiating skills would be better, interfaces in business and other dealings would be better, and a would shift up.

                                                      The discussions would be no good, except as practice, unless they happened for free, as status exchanges, and only then if, after the discussion, both sides thought the discussion had been worth the trouble.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:58pm Mar 23, 2001 EST (#1416

                                                      I'm off.

                                                      rshowalter - 10:02pm Oct 16, 2002 BST (#356 of 367)  | 

                                                      I deeply appreciate the chance to repost that briefing on the Guardian-Observer Talk .

                                                      When Dawn Riley pointed out Muddle in Moscow we were excited - - and did the best we could - in the hope of aiding international understanding and peace.

                                                      It seems to me that the deletions of my record yesterday justify reposting the briefing effort - - and I'm grateful for the chance to do so.

                                                      lchic - 10:32am Oct 21, 2002 BST (#357 of 367)

                                                      Interesting use of term - MAN'S inhumanity ... as though MAN surfs a diffent brain wave to woman.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:17pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#358 of 367)  | 

                                                      For us to lessen inhumanity in the future - - we have to deal with things that have happened - within the limitations that we can actually make work - as things are.

                                                      I believe these postings from February 27th, 2001 - a few days before almarst was invited on the board - are worth posting again. I appreciate the chance to do so.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:19pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#359 of 367)  | 

                                                      We can improve on the mess we're in. Radically. Safely. Gracefully. Practically.

                                                      With resources we have available.

                                                      In a way that makes almost everyone involved feel much better.

                                                      . . ..

                                                      Looking at the situation, I find myself in a cheerful mood.

                                                      With ugliness and conflict so intense, new beauty may not be far away.

                                                      rshowalter - 09:11am Feb 27, 2001 EST (#791

                                                      Sometimes the issues involved with the accomodation of significant fact are bracing, and morally important. . . The core problems with ending the nuclear terror, now, are of just this kind.

                                                      The technical problems are relatively easy. The psychological and moral problems are hard.

                                                      But doable.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:03pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#792

                                                      Tina Rosenberg represents one of the most admirable flowerings of a tradition, admirable in many ways, that , taken no further than she takes it, makes an effective nuclear disarmament impossible.

                                                      Rosenberg believes passionately, eloquently, that a central problems of transition from old regimes to new ones is truth about what actually happened. People need to know what was actually done.

                                                      That's surely right.

                                                      But what was to be done with the facts? What can be done that is satisfactory in the complex contexts where people live their lives? A major concern is "what is justice" and especially what is justice, considering everything, under complex and conflicted circumstances. The answer isn't easy, and answers that appear evident don't work well in practice.

                                                      Yesterday Rosenberg wrote on the editorial page of the NYT: She starts:

                                                      "When a nation goes through a transition from war or dictatorship to democracy, the standard practice is to hold elections, free political prisoners — and, nowadays, convene a truth commission. . . . . .Truth commissions can aid nations in understanding and remaking a damaged political culture. They can help victims to heal, create a consensus for democratic reforms and uncover evidence that can be used to prosecute the guilty.

                                                      She ends:

                                                      "Understanding the past is crucial for a distressed nation, but such comprehension is useful only if it leads to change.

                                                      People are conflicted and uneasy about Rosenberg's position, which is a very widespread position.

                                                      An illustration of how problematic this position can be is provided by Tina Rosenberg's celebrated book THE HAUNTED LAND: Facing Europe's Ghosts after Communism

                                                      This book won the National Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. Reviews could scarcely have been better.

                                                      By some high standards, it is a work of stunning and outstanding beauty.

                                                      However, the book sold very poorly, something of the order of 45,000 copies in hardback. For many, it was an unrelievedly ugly piece, describing an unrelievedly ugly situation. I felt, when I read it (and I found the book a painful, depressing, if gripping chore to read) that it described a situation of unrelieved ugliness. There were precious few examples of emotionally or aesthetically satisfying justice in the whole book. Results of hard quests for justice all seemed to consist of ill-fitting, mutually conflicting results, ill fit to each other, and forming a misshapen whole.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:06pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#793

                                                      Something was missing from the book, and the situations it described.

                                                      In the complex, conflicted situations described, beautiful justice is impossible. There are multiple contexts, each inescapable and in a fundamental sense valid.

                                                      An aesthetically satisfying justice can be defined for each and every set of assumptions and perspectives that can be defined. (four postings from rshowalter Mon 05/02/2001 20:16 )

                                                        " Beauty is the proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole." .
                                                        . SUGGESTED DEFINITION: Good theory is an attempt to produce beauty in Heisenberg's sense in a SPECIFIC context of assumption and data.
                                                      But there are too many sets of assumptions and perspectives that cannot be escaped in the complex circumstances that are actually there.

                                                      Beautiful justice judged in one context is ill formed or ugly in most or all the other contexts.

                                                      Even a passably satisfactory "net justice" is often classified out of existence by the complexities and conflicts built into the human realities.

                                                      BadNewsWade - 07:30pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#360 of 367)

                                                      havent read the above posts as there are too many of them and they are too long.

                                                      It is certainly an enticing theory. I don't think it should be used to justify a repressive state, as Hobbes does (Leviathan). Rather, people who are framing constitutions and political theory should remember that sadism is a natural part of human nature, along with a lot of other things, and that any constitution, manifesto, etc, that doesnt take this into account is doomed to faliure.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:32pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#361 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:15pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#794

                                                      The situations Rosenberg describes, where she hungers for justice, do not admit of satisfactory justice. They are too complicated. There is too much ugliness. What is needed, for logical reasons that are fundamentally secular rather than religious, is redemption.

                                                      The phrase beyond redemption is sometimes used, but I havent heard much discussion of the idea that a situation is beyond justice. But situations that are beyond justice occur, and our nuclear circumstances are full of such situations, and paralyzing conflicts produced by them.

                                                      These situations cannot be resolved in a way that specifically balances all rights and all wrongs. They are too conflicted and too complicated. These situations need to be redeemed, and they can be.

                                                      The situation needs secular redemption. rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 20:08

                                                      The redemptive solution can't be an abstraction, or a fizzle - it has to be able to propagate - to get past chain breakers rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 20:05 , as only a redemptive solution can.

                                                      A central problem is to deal with - or put pressure on, people who deny very obvious, provable, morally compelling facts, because the cost is somehow, too great Learning to Stand rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Wed 14/11/2001 23:43

                                                      A central requirement of this is to find ways to lower the price of truth, the price of right answers.

                                                      The cost of lies is prohibitive here. The bottle scene from Casablanca offers an example of this.

                                                      Punishment should be avoided, whenever it is at all possible. It produces chain breakers to solutions that need to go through.

                                                      Redemption should be the goal instead. Because nothing else can possibly be beautiful, and safe, in these circumstances.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:18pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#795

                                                      Here, for technical reasons, the risks are very great - great enough so that right answers need to be gotten, so that the world can go on.

                                                      My own view, for technical reasons that I've asked repeatedly to have checked, is that the world is LIKELY to end unless current nuclear weapons systems are much better controlled. That the system is much less well engineered and much less well defended than it looks. In fact degenerate.

                                                        It seems to me that he only reasonable solution is to take the nuclear weapons down and EFFECTIVELY prohibit them.
                                                      The answer to the following question, I believe, would clarify the risks for nontechnical people familiar with human organizations, and how they can go wrong.

                                                        . Q: How long has it been since an American president could actually CHECK anything that really counted about nuclear weapons well enough to get an informed judgement of their risks, or of the actions he was being asked to take?
                                                      I think the answer is "not since the Eisenhower administration."

                                                      I have reason to believe that some of the most basic controls have not been changed since the early Kennedy administration, and that some of these controls involve risks that were terrifying then, and that are far more terrifying now.

                                                      Note: (I also think that there's been progress since Feb 27, 2001.)

                                                      rshowalter - 07:33pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#362 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:21pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#796

                                                      A narrow wish for "justice" rules resolution and right answers out, where a search for secular redemption permits resolution.

                                                      SECULAR REDEMPTION

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      not denial, not agony,
                                                      not lies told or
                                                      amorphous deceptions
                                                      amorphously defended,
                                                      but redemption.

                                                      Redemption for all concerned,

                                                      with a decent concern for all,
                                                      with feelings felt and not denied,
                                                      weights weighed, and not forgotten,
                                                      needs of flesh, nerves, guts and mind
                                                      all remembered, and workably in place
                                                      with neither lies nor torture.

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      where all concerned
                                                      can know the same stories,
                                                      and live with that,
                                                      and look back and go on comfortably,
                                                      not unreasonably proud,
                                                      or unreasonably ashamed,
                                                      in ways that work
                                                      in private and in public.

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,

                                                      for myself, for the evil I've done,
                                                      and the good I've tried to do and failed,
                                                      and the limits and narrownesses that are
                                                      unchangeably a part of me.

                                                      And I'm dreaming of redemption for others,

                                                      in similar ways, without pretense,
                                                      with real, vital, feeling futures
                                                      not closed off.

                                                      There is too much good here,

                                                      too much reaching for the good,
                                                      too much hard, disciplined work
                                                      in the face of pain and fear,
                                                      too much to hope for.

                                                      Too much to hope for the world, too,

                                                      too much hope for primal needs of peace,
                                                      too much of interest,
                                                      too much condensed and seeming right,
                                                      too much, from too many, that seems good,
                                                      and moves me and others.

                                                      No checkmate.

                                                      No closing off of hope,
                                                      no wallowing in agonies that might be,
                                                      with more wisdom, and clean negotiation,
                                                      assuaged and replaced
                                                      by honest joy and comfort.

                                                      No checkmate.

                                                      I'm dreaming of redemption,
                                                      and a world that goes on, safer and richer,
                                                      and knowing more about redemption,
                                                      because we've struggled.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:34pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#363 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 06:27pm Feb 27, 2001 EST (#797

                                                      In dealing with nuclear weapons, the questions who is guilty? and what to do about it? can dominate thought and action in ugly, counterproductive, and fundamentally unjust ways.

                                                      The beauty of justice, from one perspective, is utter injustice, and ugliness, from others.

                                                      Our nuclear postures, and the history of how these happened, are so conflicted, and subject to so many different, yet existentially valid points of view, that a justice with proper conformity of the parts to the whole and to one another is impossible.

                                                      Results, even in the hands of well meaning, sympathetic people, can be and have been monstrous. People have done things they knew were terrible, or that could have terrible consequences, feeling that they were morally compelled, on other ground, to do them.

                                                      For more than fifty years, and especially since the late 1950s, we've had large groups of people knowingly acting to make it possible to reduce large populations, almost all innocent in military terms, into masses of rotting unburied corpses.

                                                      There is no reason to think that the US population, or the Russian population, was in any substantial doubt about what was being done, and threatened, by our military forces. rshowalter "Science in the News" 8/29/00 7:26am

                                                      Even today, people deny crucial aspects of the holocaust in part for intellectual reasons. What they know of it seems not to fit what they "know" about what human beings do. Some of the actions and intentions of our own military forces are denied, or suppressed from consciousness, due to similar "ignorances."

                                                      To the degree that people were responsible members of German society during the Nazi years, they needed to know enough for the complex cooperation, and focused and mutual coercion, that they actually showed. (That is, everybody had to know practically everything, except for details of execution.) The same holds for us. rshowalter "Science in the News" 8/29/00 8:03am

                                                      But were the American and NATO forces using or threatening to use nuclear weapons aggressors or defenders? What about the Russians? There can be MANY views of this, and most people, from most positions, have reasons to be give credence, in one way or another, to several perspectives.

                                                      My own view is that the Americans, at most times, were the agressors, though they had good reasons to do what they did. Perhaps they had no choice, in term of the imperatives they faced, until after the fall of the Soviet Union.

                                                      But the Cold War is over now, nuclear weapons should be taken down, and they should be prohibited.

                                                      I don't think the mechanics of doing this are difficult, setting the costs and challenges against the needs.

                                                      I set out one possible way of proceeding in an all-day web meeting with "becq" on Sept 25, 2000 Once the inescapable reality of fear and mistrust is recognized, there may be many ways.

                                                      BadNewsWade - 07:34pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#364 of 367)

                                                      What do people think of the massive popularity of S&M in this context? On the one hand it could be a disturbing feature of a very sadistic society, on the other a sign of progress, that people are getting it off their chest in a safe place rather than in real life.

                                                      Any takers?

                                                      rshowalter - 07:35pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#365 of 367)  | 

                                                      rshowalter - 02:47pm Feb 28, 2001 EST (#798

                                                      It is worth pointing out a practical sense in which nuclear war is entirely, vividly real - a sense in which crimes and massive injuries have already happened. They have happened, over and over, in great detail, in the imaginations of people. And those imaginations have been made vivid, and reinforced repeatedly, by careful and detailed rehearsals.

                                                      People who are part of forces set up to launch nuclear weapons think about what they are going to have to do. In all sorts of ways. Again and again. They have to go on, for years, in a condition where they are plotting premeditated mass murder, and ready to commit it.

                                                      Some among them, if not all, will have guilt feelings about this. And will have built up psychological rationalizations about this. And they will have had to endure a great deal of emotional strain, dealing with this. In the minds of these people, on both sides, nuclear war has already happened. And it has also happened, to an inescapable degree, in their hearts.

                                                    • * *******

                                                      Nuclear weapons are intended to make enemies fear death, and politicians and populations subject to that threat have in fact felt the fear. They have imagined, clearly and vividly, what nuclear destruction would mean to them personally, to the people they care about, to their countries, and to the body of emotional reactions that they live by. In the minds of these people, on both sides, nuclear war has already happened, and they have been injured, violated, and outraged.

                                                      It is a mistake to think that nuclear weapons can be considered, realistically, in an abstract, analytical, emotionless way. Absolutely everybody involved is intensely emotional about them. And the emotions involved are deeply conflicted.

                                                      This can get in the way of the logic of all concerned. This can immobilize all concerned. The emotional nature of nuclear weapons, and damage already done, and now being sustained, needs to be remembered.

                                                      When we negotiate as if fear, and distrust aren't essential parts of our nuclear impasse, we may feel that we are being "polite" but we are also being impractical. The sensible thing is to acknowledge the fear, distrust, and other emotions that are there. And deal with these emotions as they are, in ways that work for all the human beings involved.

                                                      #799 included a analogous point about trust .

                                                      Gretchen Morgenstern described some interesting circumstances and approaches to settling differences of opionion - when it really matters. New Economy: Investors Finally Consider Internet Companies' Shaky Math

                                                      We can make disastrous, very big scale mistakes. In military and political matters, we've made some. There are relationships of fact and logic that need to be attended to - carefully - - in public - - and established beyond a reasonable doubt - by the workaday standards that apply in jury trials. We can.

                                                      BadNewsWade - 07:36pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#366 of 367)

                                                      ooops ive wondered in on a large complex discussion which is still live with talk on things I m too stupid to understand

                                                      I'll get me coat.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:18pm Oct 23, 2002 BST (#367 of 367)  | 

                                                      Not too stupid. The basic point, at the top of the thread - is simple - but it is hard - because it deals with sources of horror that are normal and natural - - and need to be understood humanely, and controlled. A sort of "exception handing" so that the natural human need to exclude outsiders doesn't get out of hand.

                                                      Here are some recent links to the larger discussion I'm working on - here on TALK, and at the NYT:


                                                      5151-52 gisterme

                                                      5153 includes:

                                                        thought some postings from February 27th, 2001 - a few days before almarst was invited on the board - were worth posting again, and did so in #s 358-365 in Mankind's Inhumanity to man and woman -- as natural as human goodness? <a href="/WebX?14@@.ee7b085/401">rshowalter Wed 23/10/2002 19:17</a>
                                                      For more details about the discourse involved, click "rshowalter" in the upper left of this posting.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:46pm Nov 4, 2002 BST (#368 of 369)  | 

                                                      The NYT forums go down for maintenance from time to time - and they've been down for scheduled maintenance since about 4PM NY time, Nov 1. In the days before that, I felt that the Missile Defense forum was being influential.

                                                      One could look at

                                                      Oct 30: 5380-81
                                                      Oct 31: 5409
                                                      Nov 1: 5437
                                                      Nov 1: 5441
                                                      Nov 1: 5442
                                                      and think that the MD forum might be being influential in the discourse about Iraq at the United Nations. I hope so - and think that, at the least, lchic and I have succeeded in setting out some arguments congruent with some useful discussions going on at the UN.

                                                      On the board, lchic and I have been advocating efforts to find shared space - - paths for communication - between adversaries, and enemies locked in impasses.

                                                      For entirely hard-headed and practical reasons, and other reasons, we need to be able to communicate as human beings.

                                                      The NYT is involved in such communication - sometimes including discussions between governments. Conversations between the NYT and N. Korea reported here were promising.

                                                      The Bush administration is rejecting those offers, as it has many others - and in many ways, the administration stands, consistently, against communication patterns that can actually work for nations made up, as all nations are, of human beings.

                                                      But the United States has limited power - and other nations are getting organized to the point where they may solve problems without the US - indeed against the efforts of the Bush administration. Although terrible things could easily happen, there is reason to hope that, with hard work, the horrors, risks and costs associated with the situations in Korea and Iraq can be gracefully and greatly reduced.

                                                      The mid-term elections in the United States are important, and the way campaigns have been fought is important - there's been a deliberate, and at times astounding, avoidance of fundamentals. Over the years, progress in the "political technology" of the United States has reduced the level of discourse, and to some degree, degraded the American electorate.

                                                      At the same time, some fundamentals seem to be getting better in the world. It may be that Europe, the United Nations, and the world community as a whole are "getting their act together" in necessary ways - after deferring too much, too long, to a United States that has many virtues, but not all of them.

                                                      Since September 25, 2000, I've been working steadily on the NYT Missile defense board - - - I'd hoped after than one day meeting to have a chance to debrief face to face to the federal government . Instead, I've been "debriefing", in detail since that time on the MD thread, with enormous, much appreciated help from lchic , and some extremely interesting posting from a "Bush administration stand-in" , gisterme - and a "Putin stand-in" , almarst.

                                                      Some of the most fundamental points on the thread were adressed in the first posting from gisterme , and my first response.

                                                      gisterme - 01:09pm May 2, 2001 EST (#2997

                                                      rshowalter wrote "...The US, perhaps with some help from other nations, has to admit to some lies, and some missteps done by a very small, extraconstitutional group..."

                                                      Okay, Robert, I'll bite. What are the lies, the missteps and who is the very small extraconstitutional group?

                                                      gisterme - 01:39pm May 2, 2001 EST (#2998

                                                      juddrox wrote: "...Why is Missile Defense Technology even an issue?

                                                      IT DOES NOT WORK..."

                                                      Same arguement made against neary every new (not necessarily military) technology. Let's see...the internet and stealth technology are a couple I can think of right off. Resistance to change is a natural thing I suppose. However, even rshowalter, being a PE, should be able to tell you it's much easier to prove a thing feasible than not. Don't forget that for most of history it was believed that man could never fly. Heh heh, is that so surprising coming from a species that took hundreds of centuries to invent the wheel?

                                                      Tell me, why should getting rid of half of my guns and putting bullet resistant glass in my house be such a threat to my neighbors?

                                                      rshowalter - 01:41pm May 2, 2001 EST (#2999

                                                      gisterme 5/2/01 1:09pm: "Okay, Robert, I'll bite. What are the lies, the missteps and who is the very small extraconstitutional group?"


                                                        The United States, from the time of the Eisenhower administration on, had a policy of threatening - in effect, scaring, the Soviet Union into a situation where long-term collapse of the Soviet Union would occur. The Russians were vulnerable to this, and we knew it. We scared them to the edge of paralysis, and put their system under pressure that, over years, they could not withstand. .
                                                        To do that, there had to be a great deal of deception and manipulation in our dealing with the Soviets -- it was in our interest to let them feel that we were, continuously and actively, plotting first strikes -- something that they did believe. .
                                                        To make the strategy work, the United States government also had to overstate, continuously and often radically the extent of the Soviet threat to both the American people and to Congress, which, very, very often, funded the US defense system under false pretenses. ( The Soviet postion, monstrous as the society was in many ways, was usually defensive --- we were practically never "outgunned" any militarily significant way, from 1955 on. ) .
                                                        There were many lies involved with this policy. Perhaps they were lies in a good cause, and justified. But a tremendous amount of deception, over long duration, and much manipulation of Americans in ways inconsistent with American ideals and institutions.

                                                        There were a number of missteps, but I feel this one was the largest: .... When the Soviet Union did collapse, we did not turn our nuclear threats off, and the Russians have been near-paralyzed, as a result of psychological warfare that should have been ended, since.
                                                      The very small extraconstitutional group:

                                                        To run the very long term policy of getting the Soviet Union to break, by maintaining very high fear levels, and at the same time to minimize tensions on our own side, and to keep threats we were making, that our own people would not tolerate, from being known, a small group of military and CIA officers, initially very much influenced by Curtis LeMay, set up a long-term organization. The organization was extraconstitutional and in some ways informal, and very largely independent of political control. After the Kennedy administration, it was not entirely under the control of the President of the United States. At sometimes, almost independent of presidential will. The President did, in more than name, control the decision to actually fire nuclear weapons (LeMay had tried to take that unto himself) but LeMay and related people and their successors did, as a practical matter, control most nuclear policy, with little or no effective supervision, or really capable financial accounting.
                                                      On these threads there's a good deal more detail, and I'll go after it -- but that's the gist of it.

                                                      There were reasons why this happened. Some of them good reasons at the time.

                                                      But the nuclear terror is an American invention and development. We've used threat and terror, very effectively, for a long time. If we took action, and acknowledged what we did, then effective nuclear disarmament would be possible -- at least to the point where nuclear risks were no larger than many of the natural disaster risks we cope with.

                                                      . . .

                                                      rshowalter - 01:45pm May 2, 2001 EST (#3001

                                                      Acknowledging the past would be a lot safer, and much better, than a "Star Wars" that can't be made to work.

                                                      If we made peace, the rest of the world could, too.

                                                      Since that time, there have been more than 750 gisterme postings on the NYT Missile Defense thread - and these references to gisterme here:

                                                      #192 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 17/05/2001 19:34

                                                      #217 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 18/07/2001 18:51

                                                      #226 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 12/09/2001 15:17

                                                      #229 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 27/09/2001 01:10

                                                      #248 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Fri 04/01/2002 17:00

                                                      #260 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 13/02/2002 20:31

                                                      #295 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 20/06/2002 19:21

                                                      #305 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Mon 12/08/2002 21:41

                                                      #330 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 03/10/2002 20:17

                                                      #333 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Fri 04/10/2002 21:20

                                                      #339 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sat 12/10/2002 22:01

                                                      rshowalter - 01:47pm Nov 4, 2002 BST (#369 of 369)  | 

                                                      I've often said that I thought gisterme was Condoleezza Rice - and I believe that Rice has written some of them. But looking at styles, it seems very likely that gisterme postings are done by several people - at least two. Not necessarily of the same sex - but perhaps very close personal friends. There is enough text that one might be able to make some very good statistical judgements - ruling "suspects" in and out as writers of that text. In my view, Bush is a suspect - something that might be worth checking.

                                                      That's only inference - a "connection of the dots" that has some plausibility, some internal consistency - some structure - but that would have to be checked.

                                                      I hope the inference is true - and that my inferenece that "almarst" has close connections to Russia is also true, because communication can find "shared spaces" where solutions may be found - where a lack of contact can close off hope.

                                                      To "connnect the dots" it is necessary to " collect the dots " - - and lchic and I have been working on these TALK boards and on NYT forums to show how "dots" of evidence and argument can be collected using the internet. Information can only be considered, weighed, focused, and used to draw conclusions when it is available together - closely and conveniently enough in space and time.

                                                      Other people might collect other "dots".

                                                      Different staffs, with different viewpoints, might collect different evidence and opinions - not just individuals.

                                                      Patterns of umpiring can be fit into the crossreferencing format.

                                                      This thread, and the MD thread on the NYT, has shown some of what can be done - and some things about this thread are organized if you click "rshowalter" in the upper left hand of my postings.

                                                      One point I'd like to emphasize is the mass of material that can be collected and organized - with a lot of potential for crossreferencing - with this thread as an example.

                                                      Many postings have been made here - and many others have been made on the Guardian Talk threads - which are a more open format than the one here - one I very much admire.

                                                      Since the NYT Missile Defense thread was rebooted in March of this year, there have been more than 700 links to Guardian Talk threads. To get and example of the number of links, and the way they are used, I'm collecting this sample - the links to the Guardian since #5000 on this thread. I deeply appreciate the chance to post here, and on the Guardian.


                                                      lchic "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 01:39
                                                      rshowalter "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 03:37


                                                      rshowalter Wed 16/10/2002 20:36


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Mon 30/09/2002 10:53


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 27/03/2002 20:11


                                                      rshowalter Wed 16/10/2002 20:50


                                                      rshowalter Thu 05/09/2002 22:56
                                                      rshowalter Wed 16/10/2002 20:36
                                                      rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 19:08
                                                      rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 19:05


                                                      rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001 00:22


                                                      rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001 00:22


                                                      Anchorage "Chechen rebels have taken over a busy Moscow cinema and placed bombs" Fri 25/10/2002 03:09
                                                      stampede "Mass Chechen hostage taking: female hostage killed." Thu 24/10/2002 17:59


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 15:35
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 28/02/2002 00:30
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 20:57
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 21:27
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 24/10/2000 22:13
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Tue 19/06/2001 18:11
                                                      rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001 00:22 00:22</a>


                                                      rshowalter Mon 30/09/2002 11:18


                                                      rshowalter Sun 12/11/2000 17:11


                                                      rshowalter Wed 23/10/2002 18:32
                                                      rshowalter Wed 23/10/2002 18:33


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Mon 30/09/2002 10:53
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 03/10/2002 20:17
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Fri 04/10/2002 21:21
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sat 12/10/2002 22:01
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 16/10/2002 20:40
                                                      rshowalter Wed 16/10/2002 20:36


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 20/06/2002 19:21
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 31/07/2002 17:56
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 05/09/2002 20:39
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 05/09/2002 20:40
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 27/03/2002 20:11
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Mon 30/09/2002 10:46


                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Fri 04/10/2002 21:13
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Fri 04/10/2002 21:21
                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sat 12/10/2002 22:01


                                                      Anything on Anything - 70 posts from
                                                      lchic "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 01:39
                                                      rshowalter "Anything on Anything" Mon 06/05/2002 03:37 on negotiating tactics that could use the internet.

                                                      lchic "Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there?" Fri 24/05/2002 01:27 to rshowalter "Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there?" Fri 24/05/2002 04:01


                                                      rshowalter Wed 16/10/2002 20:36


                                                      rshowalter Wed 23/10/2002 18:17

                                                      MD5395-6 is a "mirror image" of this posting on the NYT Missile Defense board. It has the same references, except for MD5409 and 5436. Links to the Guardian Talk threads listed above work from MD5395-6 when the NYT forums boards are up.

                                                      Steve Kline, my late partner, said this:

                                                        "The human mind is a wonderful associative engine, but a weak logical engine. . . . We need to keep asking ourselves two questions: (i) What are the credible data from ALL sources? (ii) How can we formulate a model or solution that is consistent with all the credible data?
                                                      All human beings can do is try. But the tools available make a difference. People "make sense" of their world in a kind of statistical way -- and it matters very much, whether the "information" they condense generalizations from is right or wrong. The only way to see is by crossmatching, and a good deal of intellectual work. This is work that all people, everywhere do, and have to do to be human. We make sense of the world, by a lot of talking, and a lot of thinking -- and bring patterns into focus. But to "connect the dots" into coherent patterns that can be checked, we have to "collect the dots" so that the pattern forming can take place. Patterns people form will often be wrong -- but when we look at the same information -- organized well enough, and looked at in enough related ways, most of us, most of the time, come to the same patterns. Sometimes new patterns. Sometimes patterns that are simple, and make things easier and better.

                                                      Lchic and I are trying to making some difference, and sometimes we have reason to hope that we are.

                                                      Oct 30: 5380-81
                                                      Oct 31: 5409
                                                      Nov 1: 5437
                                                      Nov 1: 5441
                                                      Nov 1: 5442

                                                      I deeply appreciate the chance to post on these boards.

                                                      lchic - 08:59am Nov 15, 2002 GMT (#370 of 381)

                                                      The President

                                                      Moved the people

                                                      on the board
                                                      like chess pieces

                                                      He pushed some over

                                                      the border
                                                      sending them out

                                                      That they were citizens

                                                      was of no concern

                                                      Moving pawns out

                                                      He brought pawns in
                                                      Later sending them out
                                                      because they didn't fit

                                                      Saddam - a very thoughtful busy man!


                                                      rshowalter - 02:35pm Nov 17, 2002 GMT (#371 of 381)  | 

                                                      Dawn's doing wonderful postings on the NYT MD board. For instance, this one:^0@.f28e622/7284

                                                      xenon54 - 02:54pm Nov 17, 2002 GMT (#372 of 381)

                                                      Any chance of pasting it here? I don't want to register there.

                                                      lchic - 01:51am Nov 25, 2002 GMT (#373 of 381)


                                                      xenon54 - 02:29am Nov 25, 2002 GMT (#374 of 381)

                                                      Y? - cos' I'm interested.... and don't want their cookies...

                                                      Doesn't matter.

                                                      rshowalter - 02:24pm Nov 26, 2002 GMT (#375 of 381)  | 

                                                      350 posts on the MD board since this very good one:


                                                      lunarchick - 06:33am Nov 17, 2002 EST (# 5855 of 6305)

                                                      Communication in the Houses of Saud and Saddam are TOP-down not BOTTOM-up.

                                                      The concept of empowerment of the 'everyman' hasn't been conceived or is regarded as a threat.

                                                      In the docco on Saddam (ABC-au above) he was described as being isolated and out of touch - the same goes for the Saudi King.

                                                      The balance of power and value systems within such nations is skewed. The attention has the purse stings and is to be obeyed. To disobey is certain death.


                                                      Pipeline nations have IN-in-comes begging the question, how should money be divided, given to whom, when, and for what reason?

                                                      Such nations have to talk, to communicate longways, shortways, crossways and determine national futures.

                                                      What impedements to straight talking are there - if any?

                                                      If the society is based on a structure of lies and deceptions, then it is necessary to have to admit that mistakes have been made and look for truth -- to get everyone reading the same page and collectively 'jumping from it' to welcome new futures.

                                                      Checking and looking for truths are essential and have to be 'morally forcing' and carried out for the national good. Without reaching this stage a country can be stagnant, paralysed and locked into a redundant yesterday.

                                                      lchic - 12:18pm Dec 2, 2002 GMT (#376 of 381)

                                                      Inhumanity - by the load

                                                      Lots on Iraq

                                                      as Saddam
                                                      they unfold

                                                      lchic - 04:28am Dec 11, 2002 GMT (#377 of 381)

                                                      Y - when did Cooki es become a Monster ?

                                                      lchic - 04:31am Dec 11, 2002 GMT (#378 of 381)

                                                      thought i just posted ..... no show

                                                      rshowalter - 01:21pm Dec 12, 2002 GMT (#379 of 381)  | 

                                                      I think a lot of things have gone well this year on the NYT Missile Defense forum - (which prints out to twenty-three 1" notebooks of text this year.) I personally believe that the MD work has been worth the trouble - and I'm sure that it could not have been even half so effective had I not had the chance to post on the Guardian Talk - and refer to those Talk references frequently on the MD forum. Yesterday, Commondata , who lives in London, posted this ( ):

                                                        "During the two and a half years of this thread, militarism increased, inequality increased, dependence on oil remained total, civil liberties suffered, ecological degradation continued at pace, a crazy cult declared war on the Western world, the "missile defense idea" is spreading and growing, and we never did quite manage to get rid of nukes by Christmas 2000, did we rshow?"
                                                      Shortly thereafter, I posted a more optimistic assessment - and then a point-for-point response to Commondata's trenchant criticism of my "relentless optimism" - and I'm grateful for the chance to set it out here. MD6488-89

                                                      "I think a lot of things have gone well this year, and I'd like to repost this - where Lunarchick and I say things that still seem right, and on track:

                                                      - - - - -

                                                      5441 , filed November 1, 2002, reads as follows:

                                                      In negotiations going on, in rearrangements and adjustments that are going on, we want reasonable endings - good endings, endings as happy as we can make them.

                                                      For that to be possible, we need to find shared space - shared understandings. . For entirely hard-headed and practical reasons, and other reasons, we need to be able to communicate as human beings. That means, for the highest levels of function (which can be practically essential) that we have to be able to find ways to communicate at the level of our separate aesthetics .

                                                      Results on the basis of one set of assumptions or values may be beautiful - - and the very same result may be ugly in terms of another set of values and assumptions.

                                                      If the values and assumtions are clear - these things can be discussed, and arrangements can be negotiated - even when feelings are very different.

                                                      According to almost all standards, muddle is ugly.

                                                      The beauty or ugliness of a treaty, or any other arrangement, can be judged in terms of the context it was built for, and other contexts, including the context provided by data not previously considered.

                                                      As negotiations proceed - questions of what is ugly, and what is beautiful, in specific terms, can be very useful. Definition and discussion of these questions can avoid muddle, and produce arrangements that can be understood, remembered, and worked with for long times - in the face of the stresses, strains, and unforseen circumstances that have to be expected. MD5437

                                                      It seems to me that the Security Council, and the nations involved, have a chance to make the world a more beautiful place than it is today in very practical, specific, and important ways.

                                                      When the people involved have strong emotional feelings - strong aesthetic feelings - that is practically important - and to adress the reasons for those feelings - it seems to me that the formality of "disciplined beauty" described above, can be useful.

                                                      lchic 5442 - November 1, 2002 ~~~~ It got understood and exposed ~~~~

                                                      Showalter predicting 2002 as a DIPLOMATIC MILESTONE

                                                      correction ...

                                                      "' a beautiful diplomatic milestone '

                                                      _ _ _ _ _ _

                                                      It seems to me that if things unfold as they have been since November 1 - that may turn out to be true. I hope so. 6460

                                                      People don't have to become either geniuses or saints for us to work out much better solutions than we have now.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:22pm Dec 12, 2002 GMT (#380 of 381)  | 

                                                      I then responded to Commondata in more detail:

                                                      Charles Dickens is an author I admire - though George Orwell's reservations about Dickens' social criticism still make sense. Dickens felt that the world could be much better - if people were more sensitive - more fully alive -- more decent. Without major social change. Orwell pointed out that this was a viewpoint that was incomplete, at best - sometimes fundamentals had to change. But Orwell still granted Dickens' point, in large measure. The New York Times, a conservative operation - takes a pretty "dickensian" view most often, and so do its readers. Sometimes I do as well - though I think Karl Marx said some interesting and valid things.

                                                      The first line of Dickens A Tale of Two Cities goes something like this:

                                                        "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. "
                                                      Plenty of bad in our times, as well. Let me annotate valid points Commondata makes , bolding Commondata's language, indenting my comments:

                                                      "During the two and a half years of this thread,

                                                      "militarism increased

                                                        by some measures - but the acceptance of militarism decreased in most of the nations of the world - and in most human popultions. And discussions about the justifications of militarism have sharpened considerably. That can only tend to reduce unjustified military expenditures and activities. I personally believe that militarism can be reduced very substantially - simply by pursuing facts to closure - in public. In the "missile defense" area - that might be particularly easy to do. MD1075-76 cites a pattern of dicussion that I believe would go a long way towards delegitimizing most MD expenditure - and a great deal of other expenditure, as well. Alas, to execute the discussion would take some money and help.
                                                      "inequality increased

                                                        Yes, inequality did. But the reasons for inequality may be getting clearer - some of the false promises of globalism have been discredited - and people are getting clearer on problems that certainly going to be insoluble until they are better defined so that workable solutions can be proposed, debugged, and implemented.
                                                      "dependence on oil remained total

                                                        That's a relatively easy problem to solve (as global warming is, as well) if people were actually prepared to sit down and solve it. The technical parts of the solution are especially easy - and the socio-technical parts not too difficult, either. Ideas on this thread - if I could be free to pursue them, might help. It ought to be possible to get the world all the energy it need for human needs - forever -- and do it soon.
                                                      civil liberties suffered

                                                        in spots, that's true. In a world where 250,000 people die every day - and attention is limited - it is hard to get perspective. There are more examples of horrible violations of civil liberties than anyone can attend to. . . Whether civil liberties suffered overall, I'm not sure. The fact that Iraq emptied its prisons is an important example, I believe - of reasons to think things may be getting better.
                                                      ecological degradation continued apace

                                                        and will continue, till people do some "connecting of the dots" and some work to get some ideas to closure - - something that hasn't been done - but that is increasingly possble. The technical reasons for ecological degradation are shrinking fast - the challenges wouldn't be much of a tax on the human race - if we thought straighter. New technical means that can assist straight thinking are being worked out - with some of that working out being attempted on this thread.
                                                      a crazy cult declared war on the Western world

                                                        That crazy cult has been brewing for some while - and it isn't much of a challenge. Body counts, so far, are very, very low - - and the Islamic world, after some flopping around - is likely to clean some things up after taking a good look at the "logic" they're supporting that generates that crazy cult.
                                                      the "missile defense idea" is spreading and growing

                                                        Oh really? I wonder if you can find a single serving officer in one of the non-US NATO countries who has much faith in it - as a practical and tactical matter. My guess is that most of the US military - and Bush - knows how ineffective "missile defense" is - and will remain. The reasons for missile defense ,these days, involve bluff, and a need to continue paying a military-industrial complex that has grown so that it is now far bigger than it rationally should be. Political leaders face a big challenge dealing with the massive fact that the United States has committed its society to something like a trillion dollars worth of expenditure that no longer makes sense.
                                                      and we never did quite manage to get rid of nukes by Christmas 2000, did we rshow?

                                                        The first point answered a question Casey had put to me - - if the US and Russia wanted nuclear disarmament -- how could it be arranged? Some of the patterns set out have some resemblence to the distrustful checking process negotiated with respect to Iraq. .
                                                        "I'd be grateful for a chance to come before you, or one or more of your representatives, and explain, in detail, with documentation and ways to check, how dangerous this situation is. " .
                                                        Had I been permitted that audience (and a visit with a Light Colonel with a tape recorder might have done) a lot of things might have gone better. If I was being indirect, it was because I was protecting a secret, which I finally set out, after years of work, at gisterme's suggestion -- perhaps others wouldn't consider it worth so much trouble - but some people in my past taught me to care about it. Here is the thing I was hoping to communicate to a responsible officer - face-to-face: .
                                                        . " it is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures." .
                                                        That point, if understood by leaders of nation states - would go a long way toward making military agression a losing proposition.
                                                      As Commondata points out " b and we never did quite manage to get rid of nukes by Christmas 2000, did we rshow? " Of course, we didn't. And the Clinton administration didn't do some things that it could have done to help get Gore elected, that might have happened otherwise, either.

                                                      But has the time on this thread been wasted since? I think not. rshowalter "God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss" Mon 04/11/2002 14:16 includes this:

                                                        Here are some things that lchic and I are working for - many of them expressed in various ways on the NYT Missile Defense forum, and on these Guardian-Talk boards.
                                                        We hope to help other able, reasonably like minded people find a way to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction - in ways that are actually workable. Ways that may not be perfect, but that can take incidence of loss and death from such weapons far, far below the incidence of death and loss we have to live with from natural disasters. Ways that also eliminate any humanly workable reason for using them, even for people at their worst. Ways that have enough support from the human race that they are remembered, and effective, for as long as anyone can foresee. It looks to us like these things are becoming possible.
                                                      Though the comments in^957969@.f28e622/7990 are right enough.

                                                      - - - - - -

                                                      It seems to me that people are getting clearer about their problems, and that things may go well. For all the valid reasons for fear that remain. But this morning, luncarchick , who is my superior in almost every way - and a marvel of both grace and erudition - pulled me up short with this: 6541

                                                      Maybe there's hope. Sometimes I get a feeling (indirect, and perhaps wrong) that the work going on here, and on the NYT MD thread - is being useful.

                                                      xenon54 - 01:48pm Dec 12, 2002 GMT (#381 of 381)

                                                      Yes, because if it occurs to one, it is occurring elsewhere. Every person who reads or hears thoughts such as these will think and express them too and so they will multiply until they have spread so far and wide they become irresistible. Being founded on beauty they will be recognisable by all who are instinctively aware of our common humanity.

                                                      The future of humanity rests on our ability to feel. Those who cannot feel can kill. Dickens was right in that sense.

                                                      rshowalter - 08:07pm Dec 20, 2002 GMT (#382 of 393)  | 

                                            's%20Inhumanity%20to%20Man%20and%20Woman%20-%20As%20natural%20as%20human%20goodness_files/mrshowalter.htm is under construction. an archive of the NYT missile defense thread - along the lines set out in will be available there - though the disk, updated and available on request, is better for searching.

                                                      The New York Times - Science - MISSILE DEFENSE forum may be awkward for some people because the directories come up 300 at a time - awkward for a 6000 plus thread. Here are the directories, 300 at a time.

                                                      Directory 1-300 -March 1-9, 2002
                                                      Directory 301-600 - March 9-16
                                                      Directory 601-900 - March 16-28
                                                      Directory 901-1200 - March 28- April 8
                                                      Directory 1201-1500 - April 8-18
                                                      Directory 1501-1800 - April 18-26
                                                      Directory 1801-2100 - April 26- May 8
                                                      Directory 2101-2400 - May 8-27
                                                      Directory 2401_2700 - May 27 - June 23
                                                      Directory 2701-3000 - June 23- July 11
                                                      Directory 3001_3300 - July 11-27
                                                      Directory 3301-3600 - July 27 - August 10
                                                      Directory 3601-3900 - August 10-22
                                                      Directory 3901-4200 - August 22- September 5
                                                      Directory 4201-4500 - September 5-24
                                                      Directory 4501-4800 - Septemer 24 - October 11
                                                      Directory 4801-5100 - October 11-21
                                                      Directory 5101-5400 - October 21-31

                                                      Links in to mostly work.

                                                      - - - - -


                                                        " There's a problem with long and complex. And another problem with short. . . . . The long and the short of it, I think, is that you need both long and short."
                                                      Lunarchick poem: 6771

                                                      Pacing Cheetah

                                                      Jayne goes with Tazan

                                                      They swing
                                                      untangling the vines
                                                      where others
                                                      just bungle!

                                                      lchic - 01:19pm Dec 30, 2002 GMT (#383 of 393)

                                                      Chimps have 'in' and 'out' groups in their social structure.

                                                      lchic - 04:20am Jan 8, 2003 GMT (#384 of 393)

                                                      Natural as Chimpuman goodness?

                                                      rshowalter - 08:43pm Jan 13, 2003 GMT (#385 of 393)  | 

                                                      We're surely animals.

                                                      lchic - 06:27am Jan 23, 2003 GMT (#386 of 393)

                                                      Speak for yourself Sir!


                                                      Iraq - LIES - Rice


                                                      lchic - 01:57pm Feb 2, 2003 GMT (#387 of 393)

                                                      USA makes a 'big deal' of the lost Shuttle --- contrasts to a transport accident, a gun accident, or a political accident.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:17pm Feb 8, 2003 GMT (#388 of 393)  | 

                                                      It sure does - we need a sense of proportion.

                                                      Work on the NYT Missile Defense thread has been intense - and has involved tremendous work - for me, for lunarchick for almarst , and for gisterme for more than 2 1/2 years now. The ability to post on the Guardian Talk threads has been essential - deeply appreciated, and I think very useful for the effort. I think that the effort HAS been very useful, and continues to be. MD 1999 The situation of the NYT MD thread has involved some awkwardness - which I explain here - in a posting modified from MD8558-59

                                                      rshow55 - 06:10am Feb 4, 2003 EST (# 8558

                                             includes this:

                                                        " Kalter , I think that you may know personally of some of the following circumstances. In addition to some extensive web postings on the math and related neural modeling, I had extensive and intense correspondence (many hundreds of pages) with a NYT associated writer, mostly paced by him, not by me. There was a period of many months when a NYT reporter asked me question after question, occupying essentially all my time, and much of his own. There was then a period where I was involved in dialog with TIMES writers and editors. That dialog was rough, and seems to have culminated in some "checking" by people the Times knew, though that checking was never made available to me in a way I could use. However, the following text appeared in a Feb 27,2000 Week In Review piece "Correspondence Uncovering Science; A Perpetual Student Charts a Course Through a Universe of Discoveries" by Malcolm W. Browne . . . " shows a piece of work I'm proud of - that represented a good deal of work, I believed, from George Johnson, too. When I first posted the link to on this thread - the part of my web site adressed by was taken down without my consent - and after some discussion on the NYT MD thread, reinstated.
                                                      The situation involved between me and the NYT has been complicated and awkward - because I had a secret that I was duty bound to tell only under careful circumstances - and was keeping promises that Casey had been very explicit about - for what I thought were compelling reasons. I did the best I could - and when I told what I was keeping secret - at gisterme's suggestion, the NYT forums went down for some days. Perhaps that was a coincidence. rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 03/10/2002 20:17 and postings thereafter on the Guardian are clear about the point - and refer to many links clear about the point on this thread. Here is a summary of the point:

                                                        . It is now technically easy to shoot down every winged aircraft the US or any other nation has, or can expect to build - to detect every submarine - and to sink every surface ship within 500 miles of land - the technology for doing this is basic - and I see neither technical nor tactical countermeasures.
                                                      I was born in 1948 . My life circumstances, since I was nineteen years old, have hinged around the point bolded above. Some of my interactions with the Times have been awkward - I had promised to only give this information to a senior officer of the United States government - after establishing a relationship of trust. It was suggested that, if all else failed, the only way to do this - after my situation was clear enough - and I could explain some key things I was also assigned to do - was to get help from the New York Times. When I finally posted the information related to the bolded piece above - at gisterme's suggestion - I had been doing my very best to follow my orders, and keep my promises - for a long time. The promises I'd made, given the stakes as I understood them - did not seem disproportionate - and the things I did seemed to me to fit the obligations I was under. It still seems that way to me.

                                                      rshow55 - 06:26am Feb 4, 2003 EST (# 8559

                                                      8548 includes this:

                                                        "it seems to me to be important for leaders of nation states to determine if I'm right that gisterme either is, or is close to, the President of the United States. Because if that is correct, we have on this thread a very good corpus of material on how Bush thinks - the kind of thinking he approves of, and the kinds of arguments he uses.
                                                      I've said some negative things about gisterme , and I can't think, right off hand, of anything I'd like to take back (perhaps if I think a while . . . . . )

                                                      But I'd also say this. If other nation states work as hard - and think through their interests with as much attention as gisterme devotes to his perceptions of the needs of the United States - we could sort the problems before us out much, much better than they look like they're sorting out now.

                                                      Is gisterme a high officer in the Bush administration, or does gisterme have close connections to such an officer? I've assumed so. The government knows this answer. People at the NYT know whether or not they have assumed so, or known so. Legislators could probably know if they asked, and journalists could probably find out if they worked at it. . .. . . . By a reasonable "collection of dots" and "connection of dots," gisterme may reasonably be judged to have clear links, and high ones, with the Bush administration.

                                                      People and organizations can't communicate, cooperate, or make peace "in general" - - - it has to happen specifically. At a time when so much hinges on the thoughts, intentions, and beliefs of the Bush administration, I believe that these posts by gisterme are a valuable resource. Gisterme is, at a conservative evaluation, close to the Bush administration, and trusted.

                                                        Gisterme's concerned with the question "how does the US protect its interests - and make peace with the world?"
                                                      I believe that staffs of nation states, from all over the world, who care about an analogous question could benefit a great deal by attending to these postings. Here is the question:

                                                        " How does my nation further its interests - and make peace with the United States?"
                                                      Gisterme and I have some disagreements - but it is clear that he cares about this question - and, within limits, is working hard to find answers that are, from Bush's point of view - orderly, symettrical, and harmonious.

                                                      If other nations understood gisterme better, and understood themselves better, we'd have a better chance. I think that if staffs in other nation states worked as hard as gisterme works - and communicated - a lot of problems could be solved.

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense thread is intended as a prototype showing what - with proper resources - could be done to make the world more orderly, more symmetrical, more harmonious in human terms.

                                                      8368 links to 680 postings by gisterme prior to restarting of this thread on March of this year. All these posts are available by date at

                                                      Each of these links connects to 20 links on the MD thread by gisterme:



                                                      All these posts are available, either by links here, or by date at

                                                      The ability to post on the Guardian Talk threads has been essential - and I think very useful, for the effort. I think that the effort HAS been very useful, and continues to be. MD 1999 I deeply appreciate the chance I've been given to post on the Guardian Talk.

                                                      I posted MD7000 , on Christmas Eve - which ends with this:

                                                      "We may be able to do better than Casey feared, if not as well as he sometimes hoped.

                                                      " Someday At Christmas by Stevie Wonder expresses wonderful ideals - and is a great thing to read.

                                                      " Maybe someday soon - if we keep our heads, and work at it.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:42pm Feb 11, 2003 GMT (#389 of 393)  | 

                                                      There has been a lot of interesting discussion on the NYT Missile Defense thread in recent days - with a great deal of involvement from almarst , the thead's "Putin stand-in".

                                                      8796 includes this:

                                                      We have a mess. It is in the interest of the whole world that it be fixed. By now, it can't be fixed, reasonably, without some leaders of other nation states asking questions - and insisting on answers.

                                                      A great deal, for a long time, has been based on fictions. Sometimes, in some ways, the fictions have worked well. In other ways, the fictions have produced unnecessary death and agony.

                                                      We can do better - without the agony - if we face up to what is happened - and sort out problems. The US has some problems. The Islamic world has some problems. If we lie somewhat less - face the truth more often, when it matters - we can do a lot better.

                                                      Because questions of fact are now, so clearly, matters of life and death - there may be more hope of real solutions than there has been before.

                                                      If nation states that have expressed concern about American priorities - notably Germany, France, and Russia - actually ask for answers - a great deal would sort out - in the interest of people of good faith everywhere. Very many such people are Americans.



                                                      There are many references to Guardian Talk threads on the NYT MD thread - and I believe that they have been useful. I appreciate them.

                                                      rshowalter - 06:16pm Feb 17, 2003 GMT (#390 of 393)  | 

                                                      The NYT Missile Defense forum has been going on for three years now - and lunarchick and I have been involved with it since September 25, 2000 . A recounting of what this Missile Defense thread has done since then is set out in Psychware, Casablance - - and terror from #151 "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 on. Links before March 1, 2002 are no longer on the NYT site. Discussion of the NYT MD thread continues from #265 rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Thu 28/02/2002

                                                      Click " rshowalter" above for more details


                                                      9004 Mar 1, 2001 EST...

                                                      Here are the summaries set out in rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Sun 11/03/2001 with working links.

                                                      Summary of postings on the NYT Missile Defense board between Sept 25, 2000 and March 1, 2001 :

                                                      Part 1:

                                                      Part 2:

                                                      Part 3:

                                                      Part 4:

                                                      Part 5:

                                                      Part 6:

                                                      Also on March 1, 2001 there were postings on the Guardian thread There's Always Poetry about nuclear risks:


                                                      1202 .. rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Wed 28/02/2001

                                                      1203 . . bNice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1204 . . . rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1205 . .Nice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1206 .. rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1207 . . rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1208 . . bNice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1209 . . rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1210 . . rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1211 . . . bNice2NoU "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1212 Our nuclear balances are less safe than people think ... rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001 02:29

                                                      1213 . . rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      1214 rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Thu 01/03/2001

                                                      341 - 356 in Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - as Natural as Human Goodness? sets out a series of postings from March 17-24, 2001 the postings of a "Putin Briefing" set out after "Muddle in Moscow" , originally on the NYT Missile Defense thread - that were also described - with links to the original MD postings that work now - on July 24th in 7388-7390 below -




                                                      I deeply appreciate these Guardian Talk threads - and think that the Guardian -and the NYT are together making a big contribution toward a more coherent, better world.

                                                      lchic - 11:02am Feb 28, 2003 GMT (#391 of 393)

                                                      inhumanity ... the count down

                                                      rshowalter - 12:01am Mar 1, 2003 GMT (#392 of 393)  | 

                                                      Lets hope people can do sensible things, for once.

                                                      rshowalter - 03:03pm Mar 1, 2003 GMT (#393 of 393)  | 

                                                      I've been using my (very imperfect and incomplete) web site, especially and direct links - along with Guardian sites (that I reference many, many, many times ) to move some discussions along at the NYT MD thread. Here's a series of postings - using the links - and key links to the Guardian Talk - and connected to dialog just after 9/11. Parts with a lot of links are bolded -

                                                      9355 starts:

                                                      In 2000 and early 2001, I was concerned that he world might well blow up - for reasons I knew a good deal about. There's been some limited progress since 1999 and some progress continues. There's still plenty to fear, along with a great deal to hope for.



                                                      Sometimes it seems that some things come into focus. And procedures get clearer. But reason is a weak reed, and there are ugly doings today.

                                                      If leaders and other people in the world react in ways that they can be proud of, and explain to themselves and others, now and in the future - things could go well - but it is a very dangerous time.

                                                      U.S. Says Hussein Must Cede Power to Head Off War By FELICITY BARRINGER with DAVID E. SANGER


                                                      I'm posting some NYT postings of mine today, starting at 9385 , and ending with two from almarst - the NYT MD thread's "Putin stand-in" since March 2001.

                                                      Missile defense systems that make no technical sense are being pursued - installed without testing - at a time when, if people were responsible and sane, we could do much better.

                                                      Under the Radar

                                                        "President Bush's passion for a missile defense system is a heavily budgeted priority despite the fact that the technology remains far from developed or proven."
                                                      The Bush administration is taking some insanely irresponsible stances - and enough of them that the sad story of the recent Challenger disaster is looking like the norm in this administration.



                                                      For US power to be operational for long, it is absolutely essential that we keep our word. Even a Superpower Needs Help By CHAS W. FREEMAN Jr.

                                                      U.S. Says Hussein Must Cede Power to Head Off War By FELICITY BARRINGER with DAVID E. SANGER - basically renounces hundreds and thousands of public and private assurances, at the UN and elsewhere, over many months.

                                                      If the UN is to function - members should do things that the members can reasonably be proud to do. This time - that should mean standing up to the Bush administration. If Turkey, as a nation, is to function - they should think about what it will mean to them, politically and operationally, to support the United States under these circumstances.

                                                      We're squandering hard work - and masses of good faith built over generations - for nothing that can work stably.

                                                      There are times when, try as I might - it is hard for me not to think in religious terms.

                                             sets out Detail, and the Golden Rule , which was a Guardian Talk thread, and includes this:

                                                      "I think if Jesus was alive today, he might cry out.

                                                        " Hey, you guys didn't get it the way I hoped you would about the Golden Rule -- you have to think , and think hard, to figure out how to make the Golden Rule apply to complicated circumstances, and real people. .
                                                        And you have to check to see that you haven't missed something, if things matter enough to be careful about."
                                                      "Maybe that'd be all the new message that'd be needed.

                                                      Jesus is honored as a prophet, not only by Christianity, but by Islam, too.

                                                      In a world where people have to deal with each other, and take actions on the basis of what people say - the United States is acting very badly - and endangering the world. World order is precious. It needs to be built, not thrown away.

                                                      I posted this on Christmas day:


                                                      I have been professionally concerned, for a long time, with human interactions. And the stability of human relations. I feel sure that these are key things to check, every which way, when stability matters enough to think hard about:

                                                      Berle's Laws of Power Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs and The Golden Rule

                                                      "Solutions" not consistent with these constraining patterns may work for a short time, or with great strains on parts of the human system involved -- but they are unstable.

                                                      Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs by William G. Huitt . . . especially the image - which sketches out human needs in a heirarchically organized system..

                                                      Berle and Maslow: MD667-8 rshow55 3/18/02 11:13am

                                                      Could we be living through a time now where the human race is going to have to learn some lessons? It seems so to me. Perhaps God really does exist - and (s)He really cares - and is setting things up - giving lessons - with as little carnage and pain as possible, but with enough, hopefully, so that people learn things that decency and survival are going to require. If the world is to survive.

                                                      There's a quote from Benjamin Franklin:

                                                        " Experience keeps a dear school. A fool will learn in no other.
                                                      I opened 2003 on the MD board with 7177

                                                        "I think this is a year where some lessons are going to have to be learned about stability and function of international systems, in terms of basic requirements of order , symmetry , and harmony - at the levels that make sense - and learned clearly and explicitly enough to produce systems that have these properties by design, not by chance."
                                                      Maybe I was wrong, and this is the year that it is shown that we're beyond redemption - even on simple things. But perhaps it will be a better, more interesting story. Here's a thought for a happier ending, based on the pattern in How a Story is Shaped rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 06/03/2002 23:45


                                                      almarst2003 - 09:06am Mar 1, 2003 EST (# 9388


                                                      Frantic US Envoys Circle the Globe Offering Bribes -


                                                      UN: 10 Million Could Starve in Iraq War -

                                                      almarst2003 - 09:15am Mar 1, 2003 EST (# 9389

                                                      WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY???

                                                      Star Witness on Iraq Said Weapons Were Destroyed Bombshell revelation from a defector cited by White House and press - Star Witness on Iraq Said Weapons Were Destroyed Bombshell revelation from a defector cited by White House and press

                                                      After devoting thousands of network hours and oceans of ink to stories about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, major U.S. news outlets did little but yawn in the days after the latest Newsweek published an exclusive report on the subject -- a piece headlined "The Defector's Secrets."

                                                      It's hard to imagine how any journalist on the war beat could read the article's lead without doing a double take:

                                                      "Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the Gulf War, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them."

                                                      - - -

                                                      If the UN is to function - members should do things that the members can reasonably be proud to do. This time - that should mean standing up to the Bush administration. If Turkey, as a nation, is to function - they should think about what it will mean to them, politically and operationally, to support the United States under these circumstances.

                                                      I wish I were more powerful. This is a time where people with power ought to think hard about how they can use it in ways they can be proud of - and do so.

                                                      rshowalter - 04:56pm Mar 1, 2003 GMT (#394 of 406)  | 

                                                      Guardian Talk threads I've often linked to the NYT Missile Defense thread are set out, with links, in 9393

                                                      I deeply appreciate these TALK threads.

                                                      3091 includes this quote from a past Talk thread:

                                                        " There's a problem with long and complex. And another problem with short. . . . . The long and the short of it, I think, is that you need both long and short."
                                                      From the long, quite often, the short condenses.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:46pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#395 of 406)  | 

                                                      I've sometimes had trouble posting on a NYT forum I deeply appreciate - sometimes especially when matters are being discussed where it might be influential. Over the last little while, I've been very interested in how our human reasoning, sometimes called "logic", which should make it so easy for us to solve problems, and so often does - sometimes stumps us in a garish manner. A major issue about "Mankind's Inhumanity" is automatic responses - where people dehumanize - deny - and make mistakes. I'm concerned about some potentially fatal ones, now.

                                                      I made an attempt to post the following pieces from the NYT MD thread on the discussion thread dealing with Slater's Repress Yourself - - and was blocked. I'm reposting them here - because I think the subject mattter is important.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:49pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#396 of 406)  | 

                                                      I've written extensively on Slater's piece in the Science - Missile Defense forum - and feel that it is appropriate to repost that writing, with a few comments, here. People may disagree with me - but I hope my appreciation of Slater's wonderful piece shows through.



                                                      We need logical tools, and human insights, that make closure possible, and agreements resiliant, to a degree that they haven't been before. We're making some progress - I think a lot. And Repress Yourself By LAUREN SLATER deals with a big piece of the nexus of problems that remain. There's a lot of unconscious processing that goes on in human beings - some simply automatic - some semiconscious - that is logically, practically, and morally interesting. We're safer if we face that.

                                                      9040 reads:

                                                      There's a great deal to hope for - if people keep at the matching process - keep asking each other to look at evidence - and present information well enough - and completely collected enough.

                                                      For all their faults, deceptions, and self deceptions, people don't want to be monsters - and don't want to be stupid.

                                                      The physical and logical interactions of the world are complex enough that "reasonable" answers - patterns that really hang together when connected - are very sparse. For this reason, right answers very often converge. With enough effort - the odds of getting good answers are excellent.

                                                      People believe what feels right. But after enough evidence - enough care - quite often we almost always, almost all of us, feel right about the same things.

                                                      That's the "logic" behind human logic - and very often it works very, very well.

                                                      Especially when people use their aesthetic sense - the basic sense of proportion, of rightness -built into us. Poets can help with that.

                                                      People believe what feels right to them - and that is the way we reason - that is our "logic."

                                                      It is the only logic we have - and human beings need to understand that much more clearly than they have. We'd have more to be proud of, and less to fear, if we just faced up to how good we are, and aren't, as reasoning (or rationalizing) beings.

                                                      We won't agree on everything - or even very much. But if, when it matters - we keep looking, and remember the fallibility that we all have - we can do very well - much better than human beings have historically done.

                                                      There are procedures - not difficult with technical resources today - that can do very well at finding the kinds of truth - the patterns of fact - that matter for action. We need to find the will to use them.



                                                      In addition to will - there are issues of understanding . How is it that people can see things so differently?

                                                      When right answers do not converge , why is that?

                                                      The better we understand these questions - the more legitimate our resorts to force can reasonably be - and the less the need for force will be.

                                                      It has been a month since lchic posted these references



                                                      And I posted 7805^895419@.f28e622/9330 , which includes this:

                                                        People know a lot more than they admit they know - (or know that they know) - and a good thing, too. But when consequences are great enough - it is practically and morally important - every which way - for people to carefully, cautiously, but effectively face their fears - and face up to the things that they do - and know that they do.
                                                      I've been struggling, since, to explain some things that link decisively to the notions of unconscious processing and the related concept of repression - and I was very glad to see Repress Yourself . It is a piece that gives meaning to lines that have been set out here many times - almost as many times as the phrase "connecting the dots." : 2346^3732824@.f28e622/2915

                                                      Adults have secrets, lies and fictions
                                                      Live in their world, of contradictions

                                                      But if things go bad
                                                      and knock about

                                                      Folks get together
                                                      And work it out

                                                      We can't help but be unconscious about most of the processing that we do - and sometimes repressed. That's usually fine. But when things go wrong - for instance, when disagreements about what the truth is lead to fights - it is worthwhile to know that unconscious processing and repression exist - so that when problems matter enough to be faced - we can face them with understanding - and with decent regard for the human limitations that we all share.

                                                      I think these things are worth discussing before I respond with an annotation of gisterme's 9184 , which I believe is important, but that I also believe mixes some ideas that are right with some that could be wrong - in part for reasons that may not be being faced by gisterme and the people he works with.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:50pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#397 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 01:51pm Feb 23, 2003 EST (# 9238

                                                      2346^3732824@.f28e622/2915 includes this:

                                                        I believe that Erica Goode has made a contribution to the culture, and that this thread may have done so. I'm only basing my jugement on statistics, and what I myself have noticed, and may be wrong. But the matter could be checked, pretty readily, by searching the net. It concerns the phrase "connect the dots." -- and whether that phrase has gained in meaning, and frequency, since Erica Goode's Finding Answers In Secret Plots . . which speaks of:
                                                        i "a basic human urge to connect the dots and form a coherent picture."
                                                      The idea that people have contradictions - and deal with them by "secrets, lies and fictions" - some conscious, some not - is one that I feel is essential if we are to get closure in areas where closure has eluded us. That idea, like the idea of "connecting the dots" has been discussed many time on this thread. Here are places where some of that discussion happens:





                                                      Natale Angier piece:

                                                      We need both long and short statements:



                                                      3655 3658

                                                      3736 -3739



                                                      Statistics and logic: 4166-7

                                                      4249 b 4251-52


                                                      Emergent properties: 4365-66

                                                      Willful distortions: 5003


                                                      Iraq and sincerity: 5573-4








                                                      7507 7510

                                                      Repression links: 7803-5

                                                      Repression - negative comment by gisterme : 7857 7858-60


                                                      rshowalter - 01:51pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#398 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 01:55pm Feb 23, 2003 EST (# 9239

                                                      Power and Leadership: The Real Meaning of Iraq says that

                                                        " More discussion is the only road that will get the world to the right outcome — concerted effort by a wide coalition of nations to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction. We need another debate. Another struggle to make this the United Nations' leadership moment.
                                                      That struggle shouldn't be as hard as it is.

                                                      However incompletely and inconsistently, Iraq is saying that it is giving up on weapons of mass destruction and agressive designs.

                                                      The United States is saying that, if Iraq does so - there need not be war.

                                                      We're at an impasse, in large part - over questions of fact. And assumptions. Is treachery a complete - or even a particularly large - contributing part of the impasses we face?

                                                      The physical and logical interactions of the world are complex enough that "reasonable" answers - patterns that really hang together when connected - are very sparse. For this reason, right answers very often converge. With enough effort - if people are indeed consciously facing the real situation - the odds of getting good answers are excellent.

                                                      That means that issues of unconscious processing - and repression (in the psychological sense, as well as the political sense) are important.

                                                      People believe what feels right. But after enough evidence - enough care - quite often we almost always, almost all of us, feel right about the same things.

                                                      Almost always - but not always. When we don't come to agreements - issues of unconscious processing - and repression ought to be faced - with enough humility that all involved can admit that they might be missing, or misjudging some of the situation themselves.


                                                      rshow55 - 01:57pm Feb 23, 2003 EST (# 9240

                                                      If we got that far - we'd be well ahead of where we are now - and the world would be a more hopeful place.

                                                      It would be more resonable to hope for legitimate exercises of power.

                                                      And reasonable to hope that, quite often, the last resort of violence could be avoided.

                                                      Maybe in the Iraqi case.

                                                      Maybe in the case of North Korea.

                                                      Maybe in other cases, too - including many of the cases that have concerned Almarst.

                                                      Almarst , since May 2001, has been suggesting that the United States has been governed by a conspiracy - and, in his view, a very evil one. The idea of conspiriacies is common enough - and sometimes true. The idea of unconscous and repressed logical processes can provide an alternative explanation, often enough. Without any need for people to forget that they are responsible for what they do - in significant ways - whatever their conscious intentions, or rationales, may happen to be.

                                                      When people resist checking facts - or even doubt that there can be facts to check - issues of repression can be involved.

                                                      As Repress Yourself by LAUREN SLATER points out, repression may or may not be healthy. None of us can attend to everything we do - or feel. But if consequences matter enough - it can be worth doing so - and it can be reasonable to expect others to do so, as well.

                                                      The logical implication of unconscious processing and repression is clear. We can make mistakes - logical, practical, and moral -- and yet feel very sure of ourselves. Maybe most sure when we have the most reason to doubt.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:52pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#399 of 406)  | 

                                                      Repression - and unconscious things, active and at some level known - but unconscious or denied, are a source of problems.

                                                      Another source of problems, that I think matters in the Iraq matter - with our problems with radical Islam, and with our problems with North Korea, involve problems of paradigm conflict including automatic and unconscious perceptual processing.

                                                      A classic experiment is described in THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS 2nd Ed. by Thomas S. Kuhn, , at the end of Chapter 6 “Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries”



                                                      Some other references to paradigm conflict problems - which are a barrier to peaceful resolution - are set out in 116^287330@.f28e622/137

                                                      I believe that there is a good chance that the Bush administration can get good answers to the problems set out in

                                                      Wizard's Chess

                                                        America now faces a national security challenge of extraordinary complexity. Washington must simultaneously cope with three separate and potentially grave threats — from Iraq, from North Korea and from the threat of reconstituted international terrorist networks.
                                                      To do that, we have to do a better job of "connecting the dots" than we've done - and insist that others do so as well, in ways that work. I think that's possible.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:53pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#400 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 08:29am Feb 24, 2003 EST (# 9250

                                                      From July of last year: America the Invulnerable? The World Looks Again by STEVEN ERLANGER

                                                        "The Atlantic is fundamentally divided over attitudes to power, Mr. Kagan asserts. The Europeans, to escape their bloody history, are sharing sovereignty in the European Union, "moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation."
                                                        "The United States, as a traditional nation-state bestriding the world and seeing threats all around, is "exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might."
                                                        "So, Mr. Kagan argues, behind the bitterness of the policy disputes are deep differences in values and politics, stemming from different histories and attitudes toward power and threat. The continental drift isn't a function of one administration, although the tone may change, with Mr. Bush more blunt than the ever-emollient Bill Clinton.
                                                        "The resolution, Mr. Kagan believes, is in a Europe that will commit more money and resources to the military — to the ability to project power, at least through the Balkans and perhaps the Middle East. Only then will Washington take Europe more seriously. Mr. Kagan says he would like Europe to take such steps, but doubts that it will. "
                                                      That may be part of the resolution. A more basic part - a more fundamental goal is to make a world where international laws and rules are much more reliable.

                                                      That is in large part a logical task - we need to know - better than we do - how people actually work - both when things work well - and when they don't - so we can make things better.

                                                      On soldiers and responsibility: THE 'EATHEN by Rudyard Kipling rshowalter Sun 12/11/2000 23:16

                                                      we aren't ideally logical beings - nor entirely conscious. Sometimes we repress and cooperate in repression in many senses (the poem includes good examples) - and sometimes we are automatic - and necessarily so.

                                                      More Kipling:

                                                      Mesopotamia .....1917 rshowalter "Dead Poets Society" Wed 26/09/2001 16:33

                                                      Soldier an' Sailor Too rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 16/03/2001 09:21

                                                      THE VIRGINITY rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Tue 06/02/2001 15:28

                                                      rshowalter - 01:53pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#401 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 08:30am Feb 24, 2003 EST (# 9251

                                                      A classic experiment is described in THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS 2nd Ed. by Thomas S. Kuhn, , at the end of Chapter 6 “Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries”



                                                      Some other references to paradigm conflict problems - which are a barrier to peaceful resolution - are set out in 116^287330@.f28e622/137

                                                      The long, distinguished editorial yesterday Power and Leadership: The Real Meaning of Iraq says that

                                                        " More discussion is the only road that will get the world to the right outcome — concerted effort by a wide coalition of nations to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction. We need another debate. Another struggle to make this the United Nations' leadership moment.
                                                      We have to learn how to get closure - which often seems so close - and then eludes us.

                                                      An understanding of repression is important here. And the fact that we're automatic, as well. An area where those things are important is reading instruction - where both repression and automaticity - unconscious automatic processing - are important.

                                                      A huge step forward - in diplomacy, and life generally - would be for people to admit that - for everybody - repression and unconscious processing exist . When it matters enough - it can be morally compelling to look at them - to avoid mistakes and tragedies.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:54pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#402 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 08:39am Feb 24, 2003 EST (# 9252

                                                      Repress Yourself by LAUREN SLATER deals with enormously important things:

                                                        ''Repression'' is a word that radiates far beyond its small syllabic self; . . . . . But in experimental psychology, as opposed to psychoanalysis, repression has far more mundane meanings; it is used to describe those who minimize, distract, deny.
                                                        "George Bonanno, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University Teachers College, has found similar results in his many inquiries into the role of repression and avoidance in healthy coping styles. And, unlike the Israeli researchers, Bonanno has used scales that go beyond self-report to determine who's repressing what . . . . .
                                                        "in a study of bereaved widows and widowers, Bonanno used a technique called verbal autonomic association. He had people talk about their loss while he looked at autonomic arousal (heartbeat, pulse rates and galvanic skin responses). What he saw: a subgroup of mourners who consistently said they weren't distressed while displaying high heart rates. ''These are the repressors,'' Bonanno says. ''And these people, the ones who showed this pattern, had less grief over time and had a better overall life adjustment, and this has been consistent across studies.''
                                                        "Bonanno has recently completed a study involving adolescent girls and young women who are sexual-abuse survivors. ''The girls who chose not to talk about the sexual abuse during the interview, the girls who measured higher on repression scales, these were the repressors, and they also had fewer internalizing symptoms like depression and anxiety and fewer externalizing symptoms like hostility and acting out. They were better-adjusted.'' . .
                                                      Repression can be useful, at least immediately in certain circumstances. Very useful. But there have to be important reservations about "the virtues of denial". Slater ends the article:

                                                        "Of course there are times, in an increasingly frantic world, when we need to do that; repression as filter, a screen to keep us clean. So turn away. But run away? Therein lies the litmus test.
                                                        "If you're breathless, knees knocking, and life is a pure sprint from some shadow, I say go back. Slow down. Dwell. As for the rest of us, let's do an experiment and measure the outcome. Let us fashion our lids; let us prop them proudly on top of our hurting heads.
                                                      We need our secrets, lies and fictions, conscious, and repressed - semiconscious and totally automatic as well. Our patterns work as well as they happen to. When problems are bad enough - when matters of life and death hinge on more reliable understandings - we must face them.

                                                      Repression is emotional, deep and dark. There's something else that is at least as important - and maybe less threatening. A lot of human behavior is automatic. Language processing, most of it, is like that. Reading - something people learn after much agony - with plenty of consious thought in the beginning - is like that. As you read, and think - you can't possibly be conscious of what's going on in your head. But in inescapable ways - you have to deal with the consequences.

                                                      There are important logical, practical, and moral consequences that come from the fact that we're not entirely honest - nor entirely conscious - and sometimes - on things that matter a great deal - not conscious at all. And people have different automatic responses. Those differences can kill, and often have, and can close off reasonable hopes, and often have.

                                                      We have to handle them better.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:55pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#403 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 08:54am Feb 24, 2003 EST (# 9253

                                                      Usually, by a process of "collecting the dots" and "connecting the dots" we figure things out in ways that work for us, consciously and unconsciously. Individually - and as we work in interacting groups.

                                                      The unconscious logic in humans is sometimes very good: any reader of this thread has almost certainly figured out more than 100,000 word definitions - and done so correctly - without consciously being aware of the process. A lot of human negotiation includes logic that is no less sophisticated, and no more conscious. We watch television and do other perceptual-cognitive things, for fun, that necessarily involve an enormous amount of enormously ornate unconscious processing - virtually none of it completely understood in the ways that matter for action.

                                                      When a process of "collecting the dots" and "connecting the dots" fails to get agreement - people are seeing things differently - and if impasses continue - assumptions and processes - including the hidden assumptions and processes that are automatic - or semiconsciously repressed - or completely repressed from awareness but still active - have to be considered.

                                                      That's not impossible - or even all that hard. People set up situations (often correctly) where "the dots" are collected and say - to individuals and groups of individuals

                                                        " Here. Look for yourself."
                                                      The question

                                                        " Do you see what I see?"
                                                      is a very good question. When people ask it - and ask others to ask it - and keep at the process - problems that are otherwise hopeless can be solved.

                                                      Happens millions of times a day, all over the world - and has for many centuries. It needs to happen a bit more often - with a little more clarity - for international relations to become more reliable and stable than they are now.

                                                      Here's a place where "the golden rule" might help. When it matters - we can ask others to look at their assumptions - and have to. And we have to remember that they can see things differently from the way we see them - for reasons that can be wrong are right - just as we can be wrong or right.

                                                      If we keep at it - correct answers are likely to be found. That can make things more satisfactory, and especially safer.

                                                      Guardian -

                                                      rshowalter - 01:56pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#404 of 406)  | 

                                                      The issues of repression and other kinds of unconscious or semiconsious processing are important when we think about the decisions that people make, the reliability of those decisions, the biases, conscious and unconscious, that may have been in play in the formation of those decisions - and practical and moral consequences.

                                                      rshow55 - 10:23am Feb 28, 2003 EST (# 9354

                                                      NASA Pressed on When Officials Learned of E-Mail About Shuttle By KENNETH CHANG and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.

                                                      The details that were obvious to me were, it seems, obvious to many NASA people, too.

                                                      What did they do?

                                                      A sermon posted on this thread many times deals with a case where a Russian colonel did not do "what was expected" - and saved the world from horror. The NASA engineers were ordinary people - reacting in ordinary ways - but they were not heroes.





                                                      We need logical tools, and human insights, that make closure possible, and agreements resiliant, to a degree that they haven't been before.

                                                      9040 reads:

                                                      But our "logic" - is mostly a choosing between many alteratives going on or being fashioned in our heads - and in the course of that choosing - people believe what "feels right."

                                                      But what "feels right," most often, is what, in our minds "cooperates with the interests of authority - with our group." Look at Pritchard's notes on Milgram's experiment - and on Jonestown - to get a sense of how wrong it feels, for most people, to go against authority.

                                                      We need to face the fact that there is more need to check - especially when "the ties that bind" are involved - than people feel comfortable with.

                                                      On this thread, again and again, there have been technical arguments - and with absolutely stunning, monotonous regularity - gisterme presents arguments that make no technical sense at all - that are perversely wrong - and feels right about them.

                                                        (I believe, having read gisterme's response to this - that I'm exactly correct - and that gisterme is dangerously wrong - I'd even be inclined, just here, to use the word evil -- though he's making some openminded statements. But would block what would actually need to be done for checking to closure. ) . . .
                                                      We're dealing here with nonrandom, basic patterns of human behavior that get us into messes. We need to face them. If we did - we could do better.

                                                      We ought to think about the behavior set out in and realize that if we're i "wired to be nice" - that is - to be cooperative - we're also "wired to be self deceptive and stupid" whenever the immediate thought seems to go against our cooperative needs.

                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 26/02/2003 16:54

                                                      rshowalter "Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror" Wed 26/02/2003 17:00

                                                      rshowalter - 01:58pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#405 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 02:00pm Feb 28, 2003 EST (# 9362

                                                      It seems to me that a lot of things might work out well - though things seem precarious.

                                                      They'd work out better, it seems to me, if some responsible people searched "almarst" , "almarst2002" and "almarst2003" on the NYT Missile Defense thread - and looked at a lot of good stuff he's posted.

                                                      There's a lot of good stuff by gisterme , too.

                                                      Ugly as things are - compared to patterns of past centuries - or anytime in the 20th century - things seem to me to be going well. With just a little luck - maybe very well. Maybe I'm really screwed up - I'm feeling hopeful. There's some ugliness - but maybe it doesn't have to be too bad.

                                                      Sometimes - there have to be fights. Things have to be decided. To the extent that we can get ideas straight - get understandings to correct closures about facts - we can avoid a lot of agony and carnage.

                                                      There is such a thing as moral wrong.

                                                      And there are such things as right decisions.

                                                      Some of our most basic operational and moral problems are, in some key ways logical problems - and problems of courage - and a willingness to face facts.

                                                      Added here: To do that - we have to face the fact that we can deny facts and emotions - consciously, semiconsciously, and unconsciously, and that we do a lot of unconscious processing in our minds - and so do the other people we interact with. That means we have to be careful - wary - and concerned that we may feel sure of answers that can be wrong, or parly wrong, in ways that matter.

                                                      rshowalter - 01:58pm Mar 2, 2003 GMT (#406 of 406)  | 

                                                      rshow55 - 02:01pm Feb 28, 2003 EST (# 9363

                                                      One of the first, slow jobs I had when I was relegated to "special education" was to slog through the entirety of Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica , with instructions from Flugge to look for mistakes, big blatant errors - and other reasons the enterprise of mathematical-philosophical analysis had gone so badly. So my first feelings about Russell were not feelings of love.

                                                      Still, I've been charmed, recently, to read a much clearer book by Russell . . a book with pictures - and a lot of effort to deal with the problems of exposition the Science Times section handles so well.

                                                      THE WISDOM OF THE WEST : a historical survey of Western Philosophy in its social and political setting by Bertrand Russell , edited by P.Foulkes, with paintings by E. Wright. 1959

                                                      Here are passages from the prologue:

                                                        "There are indeed two attitudes that might be adopted to the unknown. One is to accept the pronouncements of people who say they know, on the basis of books, mysteries or other sources of inspiration. The other way is to go out and look for oneself, and this is the way of science and philosophy"
                                                        . . .
                                                        "Out of the common activities in which groups participate, there develops the means of communication that we call language. The fundamental object is to enable men to apply themselves to a common purpose. Thus the basic notion here is agreement. Likewise, this might well be taken as the starting point of logic. It arises from the fact that in communicating, people eventually come to agree, even if they do no more than agree to differ. When such an impasse was reached our ancestors no doubt settled the matter by trial of strength. Once you dispatch your interlocator he no longer contradicts you. The alternative sometimes adopted is to pursue the matter by discussion, if it is pursued at all. This is the way of science and philosophy. The reader may judge for himself how far we have progressed in this since prehistoric times. "
                                                      Maybe we can make some more progress, still. We need some better answers about "what it means to be a human being" - and those answers don't look so very far away, or so very difficult. If we had them, we could have more fun, be more prosperous, and fight less.

                                                      Added here: A willingness to face up with the logical (not just the psychological or psychiatric) consequences of repression and unconscious processing, will be necessary for some progress we can reasonably work for, and hope for.

                                                      rshowalter - 04:31pm Mar 4, 2003 BST (#407 of 418)  | 

                                                      I was glad to see

                                                      Shuttle Myopia

                                                        It increasingly looks as if NASA has forgotten the key lessons of the explosion that destroyed the Challenger in 1986.
                                                      NASA is a superb example - and one with details easy, if painful to trace. But NASA ought not to be singled out - except as an important example of a much wider problem. The really important "key lessons" from the Challenger disaster, and countless other disasters, are very hard lessons for people and groups to learn. Always have been. If they were learned - many things about the world would get better. Many kinds of paralysis, and systematic bad decision making would be less - better controlled - and less dangerous.

                                                      If we're "wired to be cooperative" - we're also "wired to be deceptive and stupid" whenever the immediate thought seems to go against our cooperative needs. 9354

                                                      We're social animals - and with a little more knowledge - we can be wiser and better social animals. The insights and disciplines involved wouldn't be so hard 9363 - 9366-67

                                                      9354 , 9366-67 and many other references on this thread refer to a fine web site Lecture Notes: Introductory Psychology by Prof. Evan Pritchard that Lchic found in September 2001. includes clear summaries of Milgram's Obedience Study what James Jones and his followers did at Jonestown that I believe many, many people ought to read.

                                                      Here are other references to








                                                      Shuttle Myopia could pretty easily be rewritten, in more general language, and titled "Human Myopia" . If people got the general lesson - there would be easy and humane ways for us to become less blind, safely, and step by step.

                                                      If that progress ever happens, and it may - it may be because of the grace, brilliance, and hard work of Dawn Riley .

                                                      Sometimes I've written poems to try to make simple points - and Dawn has collected some at 2599^2101811@.f28e622/3237

                                                      Chain Breakers rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 08/12/2000 19:05

                                                      In Clear rshowalter "Science News Poetry" 2/14/01 7:18am

                                                      Learning to Stand rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 09/02/2001 18:44

                                                      Secular Redemption rshowalter "There's Always Poetry" Fri 09/02/2001 18:44

                                                      We need to lie less - to send in clear more often - especially when it matters. And be more matter-of-fact at spotting deceptions, too. That's all we'd need to do a great deal better than we're doing - we have a mess - not beyond redemption - but redemption is what is needed. Facing up to what has happened, and what's been done, is what is needed.

                                                      Maybe there's hope that it will happen.

                                                      rshowalter - 07:23pm Mar 4, 2003 BST (#408 of 418)  | 

                                                      1526 rshowalter "God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss" Tue 04/03/2003 17:06

                                                      1529 rshowalter "God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss" Tue 04/03/2003 17:26
                                                      contain this and more:

                                                      Lchic's Missile Defense posting 9401 of March 1st asked a profound question. . . . I'm going to modify her posting, in hopes of sharpening her vital, basic question

                                                        If cultures are 'virtual patterns' of the mind that offer users basic order
                                                        How are they ranked?
                                                        Which best fit modernity?
                                                        Where do they fall short - and why?
                                                      - - -

                                                      Lchic's posting had "religion" where I've substituted "culture" in the lines above - and the question about religion presses on the whole world now - as it has for many centuries.

                                                      But many - even most - of the practical aspects of her question can be considered - more generally, and a little more coolly, in the more general case of culture.

                                                      - - -

                                                      We're living through a time when religious issues are pressing in on us. We need to handle these issues perceptively - and we can't ignore them.

                                                      God, Satan and the Media By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

                                                        Liberal critiques of evangelical-backed policies are fair, but mockery of religious faith is inexcusable.
                                                      and dangerous.

                                                      lchic - 01:06am Mar 14, 2003 BST (#409 of 418)

                                                      Is it human goodeness that says 'no' to war ?

                                                      rshowalter - 03:51pm Mar 18, 2003 BST (#410 of 418)  | 

                                                      We're in a decisive time. It is human goodness that says "no" to war.

                                                      But in the real world, ugly as it is, there is the need for some exception handling. We're now in a very big fight on a very "small" geopolitical issue - sorting some things out - unless we blow it.

                                                      Since early March, the NYT MD board has been very active – postings printed out since then make a stack almost 10 cm thick. Has it been worthwhile, or any any way worth put into it? My own guess is that it may have been. It has surely kept me very busy – working very hard, trying very hard. Almarst , the board's "Putin stand-in" and gisterme , who I've sometimes thought well connected with the Bush administration, have worked long and hard, too.

                                                      I've been preoccupied - and subjectively, it has felt somewhat like the preoccupation I sometimes felt in my hand-to-hand combat training - where I simply had to pay attention every second - lest predictable bad things happen. Maybe that's just projection. Anyway, I've been busy - and Dawn Riley has been superb.

                                                      I've hoped, many times, that Tony Blair is listened to carefully. The US-British position, I feel - needs to be coherent - for the good of UK, the US, and the whole world. I've emphasized that in a number of postings, including these


                                                      9895 includes points that I'd continue to make, that I think have been reinforced by all the confusion. If I had a chance to bias the negotiations and decision making going on now - I'd still to make these points, and particularly the point I made about Blair:

                                                        I have some personal biases, some viewpoints different from the viewpoints of a lot other people, but I feel sure of this. If I were voting, just now, I'd vote with Prime Minister Blair. That is, if I had to hand anybody a proxy that matters to vote on these issues - I'd hand it to him. Blair's making decisions most coherently of any of the principles, so far as I can see. Maybe he's wrong in key spots. So are all the other players - one place or another. He's honest. He's a good negotiator. He's responsible, and being held responsible.
                                                        People who oppose Blair should oppose him coherently. UK isn't like the US right now - rationality is expected, and to a significant extent enforced, within the UK system. In Blair's judgement now, things are fluid. They are fluid enough that a lot of good and necessary things could and should happen, if people keep their heads.
                                                      In negotiations - once you get to coherence and clarity if facts can be checked - a great deal can sort out.


                                                      I made postings today - that seem worth posting - that are especially linked to the need for care, and connected to a NYT OpEd page much influenced by a Cassandra theme

                                                      War in the Ruins of Diplomacy

                                                        "The country now stands at a decisive turning point, not just in regard to the Iraq crisis, but in how it means to define its role in the post-cold-war world. President Bush's father and then Bill Clinton worked hard to infuse that role with America's traditions of idealism, internationalism and multilateralism. Under George W. Bush, however, Washington has charted a very different course. Allies have been devalued and military force overvalued.
                                                        "Now that logic is playing out in a war waged without the compulsion of necessity, the endorsement of the United Nations or the company of traditional allies. This page has never wavered in the belief that Mr. Hussein must be disarmed. Our problem is with the wrongheaded way this administration has gone about it.
                                                      . . . .

                                                      Cassandra Speaks By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

                                                        On the eve of a new war, the remarkably preserved citadel at Troy is an intriguing spot to seek lessons from history.
                                                      . . .

                                                      Things to Come By PAUL KRUGMAN

                                                      Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States, because the Bush administration has made it clear that it doesn't play by the rules.

                                                      . . .

                                                      Here's another fine variation on the Cassandra theme from last year - on the weekend where I met at a reunion in Ithaca NY with a many from the Cornell 6-Year Ph.D. Program - only two of whom, in the whole group, I had ever met before. At that meeting, where I thought the piece below influential - because one of the people I knew told me so. Schwartz's piece eloquently uses the Cassandra them Kristof uses so well today:

                                                      Playing Know And Tell By JOHN SCHWARTZ

                                                        But Cassandra's curse was one of the most ingenious of Greek myth.
                                                        There she is, desperate to be understood, treated as if she is mad or insensible, but actually cursed. The god Apollo, in a twist, gave her the power to see the future but not the ability to communicate it to others: nobody believed her warnings.
                                                        In the "Aeneid, " she tries to tell the Trojans that the giant wooden horse outside the gates was going to be a problem. "Cassandra cried, and curs'd th' unhappy hour/Foretold our fate; but by the god's decree,/All heard, and none believed the prophecy."
                                                        Poor Cassandra. In Aeschylus's play "Agamemnon," she even has to predict her own murder.
                                                        We all know the type: the kind of person who spoils a party by glaring at everone and muttering imprecations. By some accounts, Cassandra was a colossal pain, harping constantly in her frustration; one big, grating "I told you so" ever in the making. The fact that she turns out to be right seems only to make her even more irritating to those around her.
                                                        Whistleblowers of either sex are a difficult breed, tending toward the quirky, anxious and irritable. Such is often the way with truth tellers. After all, if truth were easy or pleasant, it would not be in such short supply.
                                                        Which brings us back to Coleen Rowley, determinedly unfashionable and determined to be heard, grinding away at the truth as she sees it at great length and accusing the top levels of the F.B.I. — at a time when the Bush administration has been stung by criticism that it did not act on warnings it did receive before Sept. 11.
                                                        . . .
                                                        Her prediction: "Until we come clean and deal with the root causes, " she told Mr. Mueller, "the Department of Justice will continue to experience problems fighting terrorism and fighting crime in general."

                                                      rshowalter - 03:51pm Mar 18, 2003 BST (#411 of 418)  | 

                                                      Some interesting things happened at that Phud reunion, and there was a particularly Cassandra-like scene. One of the people I knew - and liked - had done his Ph.D. thesis on connections within the Cornell 6-Year Ph.D. program - (when I asked to see it, I was told he'd lost it). This guy was closely associated through consultancies with the US Army. We talked usefully - but just when it seemed that I might be able to actually have some time with him alone - and convey my need to debrief on some classified information - under circumstances that would have been easy for him - he ran away. Later, at gisterme's suggestion, I did debrief that information. I would have preferred a chance to do so privately - though under the circumstances taken as a whole - I felt it was my duty to do so publicly when I did.

                                                      . . .

                                                      I've been in a sort of Cassandra position - after a very careful extensive education - much of it supervised, I've said, by Bill Casey. Casey, if one thinks in graduate school terms - might be thought of as "the thesis advisor from Hell." Much of my study involved issues of combat - also the theory and practice of deception, where I made important contributions - and psychological warfare in all aspects and at all levels.

                                                      After some difficulties described on this thread with some consistency over some time - I did as I had promised to do and attempted to "come in through The New York Times" - which I have done in a sense - not yet done in some other senses. Naturally, since my specializations have included psychological warfare, some of my postings have involved a theological twist.

                                                      Details and the Golden Rule


                                                      The golden rule is discussed from a perspective concerned about both God and man in God is the Projection of Mans Unrealised Potential - Discuss 9438-39 quotes passages that connect to issues of (technical and moral) right and wrong - and connect closely to war and peace.

                                                      - - - - -

                                                      Right now, it seems to me that things could go terribly - but they could also go very well, in many humanly important senses, if people try to do the best they can - in ways they can feel proud about, and can explain.

                                                      I'm often afraid that I'm backwards - and just now - I'm very uneasy because it seems to me that if people work at it, a lot of things that need sorting out may sort out well.

                                                      One thing's clear. Patterns are sharpening. That's often a very (good-bad) sign.

                                                      If this is "N - dimensional chess" some patterns are condensing. (Search Wizard's Chess)

                                                      I think it is possible that the Bush administration, wrong as it clearly is from some important perspectives, may be doing some other things very right from others. Contradiction can be a necessary stage in sorting things out - and a contradiction condensed and clarified can be a hopeful call to action. 9332-34

                                                      At much lower priority, some significant deletions are noted in 9304 and there are many links mentioning Senator Carl Levin, who I saw and admired on television last night, in 9338-39

                                                      Knife or sword fights are classic combat circumstances - and some basics haven't changed since Achilles' time. A few degrees of elbow rotation can make the difference between living and dying. Details matter. It is a good time for people to be careful - or at least as careful as they know how to be.

                                                      I hope that Tony Blair survives, is listened to, and is successful. I might have chosen some different paths, as many others would have, including Blair himself.

                                                      But now - if the world loses Blair in his current influential position - it seems to me that organizations and negotiations may go much worse for the UK, for the US, and for the world than they otherwise will. For whatever it is worth - just now - I say "more power to Tony Blair."

                                                      We need solutions, not chaos. Blair is capable of getting a level of coherence to arguments and arrangements that will be sorely missed if he loses power and influence.

                                                      lchic - 03:25pm Mar 24, 2003 BST (#412 of 418)

                                                      dot pictures

                                                      sand pictures

                                                      dot by dot

                                                      grain by grain

                                                      sand pictures

                                                      dot pictures

                                                      rshowalter - 12:35am Mar 25, 2003 BST (#413 of 418)  | 

                                                      Copyright laws, and usages are under all kinds of stress when you make a web site - and I've been consciously involved in a situation where

                                                        "It is easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission . .
                                                      If things are done gradually - it may slowly clarify that, in the ways that matter - you have permission - for an exceptional circumstance - bending but not breaking a more basic rule. The NYT forums are copyrighted.

                                                      On Jul 19, 2002 EST I announced that I was archiving the MD thread, and making a disk available 3144

                                                      I handed a disk to Rick Bragg, a senior NYT reporter -and it was clear that "powers that be" knew the disk existed. 4581

                                                      After some while, and much discussion I set up the contents of the NYT MD thread on's%20Inhumanity%20to%20Man%20and%20Woman%20-%20As%20natural%20as%20human%20goodness_files/mrshowalter.htm - immediately posting that on the MD thread (which is monitored). - Though much of my web site remains in partial disarray - it has been linked many, many times to the NYT MD thread - and often here, as well.

                                                      Dates and numbers of parts of the MD thread that had been taken down have been made available in Calendar of NYTimes Missile Defense Discussion (to July 2002) and have been used.

                                                      I'm using information available if one clicks my moniker on the MD thread on my web site, as Showalter Background

                                                      "Putin" Briefing

                                                      I've now set out full copies of some wonderfully useful, frequently cited and much appreciated Guardian threads - that may be useful to people who, I believe, have used the MD thread and followed these Guardian threads.

                                                      The first Guardian thread I worked on was Paradigm Shift - whose getting there? "Paradigm Shift .... whose getting there?" Fri 28/07/2000 ; started July 28, 2000 - - On the Paradigm thread, I believe that Dawn Riley and I worked out basic issues about paradigm conflict, many summarized in links cited in MD116 that I hope will make it easier to solve paradigm conflict problems. The progress we were able to make on that thread (which would never have been possible without the erudition and grace of Dawn Riley) - made me think that it was time to "come in to the New York Times" - as Casey had suggested I might have to do. I tried to do that in September 2000 - and got "stranded". It hasn't worked as I'd hoped - but perhaps it will turn out well.

                                                      After some difficulties, and an all day meeting with an imposing figure on September 25, 2000 Dawn Riley and I worked to convey information we thought vital to world security and decency in many Guardian threads, including especially these, that I've made available in full on's%20Inhumanity%20to%20Man%20and%20Woman%20-%20As%20natural%20as%20human%20goodness_files/mrshowalter.htm - set up so that links work to the actual Guardian Talk threads.

                                                      Psychwarfare, Casablanca . . . and terror Started Sept 26-27, 2000) is the thread most often cited on the MD thread.

                                                      Mankind's Inhumanity to Man and Woman - As natural as human breathing?'sInhumanity001_406.html started Nov 12, 2000 deals with an essential problem that need clarification if we are to learn to be more decent.

                                                      God is the Projection of Man's Unrealised Potential started Nov 15, 2000 has many more postings by others than by me - and deals gracefully with many key philosophical and religious questions. I think the thread is a treasure.

                                                      and a thread that has been discontinued, Details and the Golden Rule

                                                      Bill Casey, years ago - was worried that we human beings - in our current state of culture "weren't playing with a full deck."

                                                        There was reason to think something basic was buried, and wrong, in applicable math. I think I've made headway about that - and, with help from Lchic , may explain things that need to be understood.
                                                        There was also some reason to think that things were going perversely wrong in problems of analysis, strategy and tactics that determined human actions - including the actions of nation states. Plato's problem was connected to that. Working inspired and guided by the brilliance of Dawn Riley, I think we've made some headway about that, to.
                                                      Here's a dream. A question. What would it mean - and what would happen, if people finally were - "playing with a full deck" - in the sense that they knew everything useful, at the level of basic logic - that could be used for them to understand the world, and make reasonable arrangements in it?

                                                      Sometimes it seems to me that we might be getting closer to that. Dawn and I are chipping away at it, anyway.

                                                      I deeply appreciate the chance to post on these Guardian Talk threads, and believe that some good may come of it, fearful as times currently are.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:23pm Mar 29, 2003 BST (#414 of 418)  | 

                                                      Islamic cultures have messes, inconsistencies, sureties that must be wrong - and that degrade those who believe them. We do, too.



                                                      When it matters enough, for a practical purpose -i people can check things - and resolve issues worth resolving.

                                                      (Clergymen, including my grandfather, have been clear about that for many generations. 7017

                                                      Sometimes faith is indispensible. But sometimes, on practical things, faith is simply negligence . There needs to be an obligation to check - and check competently, when it matters enough. )

                                                      When soldiers are terrified, and bullets are rending flesh, it ought to matter enough.

                                                      - - -

                                                      If we understood some basic, simple things - many expressed on this thread - there would still be inhumanity of man and woman to man and woman. But less.

                                                      xenon54 - 03:12pm Mar 29, 2003 BST (#415 of 418)

                                                      If we understood some basic, simple things - many expressed on this thread - there would still be inhumanity of man and woman to man and woman. But less.

                                                      Yes, rshowalter; understanding and a measure of tolerance and compassion help. The saddening thing is that millions of innocent, humane, good people have died throughout time for some cause or other. It is rarely those responsible for the orders who get to take the [c]rap. I feel terribly sad for the human race.

                                                      rshowalter - 12:50pm Apr 11, 2003 BST (#416 of 418)  | 

                                                      Maybe things might be improved.

                                                      I've been working desperately hard on the NYT Missile Defense thread since the war began, referring to Guardian Talk threads very, very often - and trying to be constructive.

                                                      Sometimes I've been very hopeful. It seems to me that some things are going well. With plenty to be concerned about - much to fear - but some reasons for hope, too.

                                                      I've felt overwhelmed - and indundated - trying to do a job that has been doable, it has seemed to me - and yet at other levels too big for me to do. A problem of showing patterns of order that apply generally - to a sea of cases.

                                                      I don't know if I believe in miracles, except in the matter-of-fact sort of way that computer programmers sometimes think of "miraculous" results - in the sense of particularly good results. I sure do believe in mistakes. I know from bitter and repeated experience that I make them - and know how expensive and treacherous mistakes can be.

                                                      A lot of ideas, that seem beautiful when you think of them - turn out to be wrong in crucial ways.

                                                      But some results are very good - very useful - and the best of them are simple. And in retrospect, in Edison's sense - "obvious."

                                                      They are as simple and useful as they happen to be - in clear contexts.

                                                      The basic relations of Newtonian physics - the connections between force, mass, and accelleration - can be thought of as clarifications, condensations, of ideas that people have in some sense known about, and thought about, for a very long time. Quite similar ideas were discussed, more or less diffusely, by the ancient greeks. the basic relations of Newtonian physics are "known", in some basic operational ways, by the birds and the bees, the bats and certainly by all animals that have ever resembled human beings at all closely. Newtonian physics is not mysterious and not miraculous, but it has been mysterious and miraculously productive in operational terms over time, and in an almost countless number of different contexts.

                                                      The definition, condensation, and clarification that went into

                                                        f = ma
                                                      has been enormously useful - and human technical achievements since Newton's time have largely hinged on a huge number of insights that have come when that idea - and other stark and useful ideas logically connected to f=ma - became part of the minds of many people. When the diffuse and muddled became stark and clear - on a matter of importance - a new world of possibilities opened up. Was this a "miracle"? Surely a particularly good result. Simple, too. Not easy to come by - but, after many people have worked at the focusing of it - "easy" to use, for populations who have mastered it.

                                                      After that condensation-clarification - an enormous amount of muddle in technical reasoning and technical arrangements became accessible -and has been subject to improvement - in ways that were not possible before.

                                                      An earlier condensation-clarification was necessary for Newton to do his work - and it may be "even simpler" - it is the idea that space can be thought of, usefully, clearly - in sharp three dimensional coordinates - the familiar x,y, z coordinates - and that the relations of algebra can be graphed, and visualized - in ways that unify many of the relatins (for instance, the conic sections) discussed since ancient Greek times. At some levels, an organized sense of three dimensions certainly exists in our animal equipment - the doings of birds, bats, and ball players would be unthinkable without that. The idea of graphs, and tables, and images that map from what can be seen to a plane are ancient, and involve issues much attended by many people, including many famous and brillian ones. And yet the condensation-clarification-recognition that DeCartes sharpened generalized, and made clear has been a fundamental part of human understanding since his time. The condensation is as simple and useful as it is. A young child, taught this relation - has very different conceptual possibilities than a child of the ancient world had.

                                                      There are ideas about connections between math, logic, language discourse, and the physical world that have been much discussed since ancient times - with a lot of attention in the last few centuries, for all sorts of practical, intellectual, and emotional reasons. With all sorts of practical, intellectual, emotional, economic, and political connections. The word "dimension" connects to much of this discourse - both when it is clear, and when it is muddled.

                                                      Are clarifications about these connections possible that are as simple, obvious, and useful as those of Newton and Descartes?

                                                      I've thought so, and been working very hard on them. Plenty of people have hoped so, over the years. Maybe that's too much of a miracle to hope for. But these are miracles we cold use, if we could get them. Often, they've felt "close" to me. They do now.

                                                      And yet I'm finding it hard to write them out - so I haven't gotten them clear enough - and maybe I'm chasing a ephemeral body of notions - for reasons I don't see.

                                                      But if I'm feeling stressed, I'm feeling hopeful, too.

                                                      xenon54 - 01:57pm Apr 11, 2003 BST (#417 of 418)

                                                      Hope is the beacon of light in the chaos, a light that dims, brightens, dims again, rather like the wax and wane of the moon, or the more immediate sweep of a lighthouse torch. Collectively, our hopes - the true, honest, universal hopes for all of humanity - amount to an