Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Succeeding Bigly

Donald Trump has indeed made my head spin.


jimf said...

Bigly Wigly, Bugly Ugly.

So there's this YouTube channel called "Computing Forever" that I've
occasionally browsed: .

The guy who runs it (Dave Cullen) is an early-middle-aged ginger with a charming
Irish accent: .

Apart from the computer reviews, he spends a lot of time on
libertechbrotarian social commentary -- lamenting the Social Justice
Warriors, the Regressive Left, Feminism, Hillary Clinton, the
censorship of Milo Yiannopoulos, etc., etc.

So there was this recent video. . .
Feminists Celebrate Boy's Academic Failures
Computing Forever
Streamed live on Aug 21, 2016

. . .that was a conversation among Mr. Cullen, an Australian who calls
himself "Independent Man" on YouTube
( ) and
(starting at 52:00/3:29:35) another (in)famous YouTube denizen
who calls himself "Sargon of Akkad"
( )

The first approximately hour and a half of this discussion is
the usual stuff about which all three are in agreement (bashing
the silliness of feminist demands to control speech, and so
on), but where things get interesting is at 1:26:35/3:29:35, where
"Sargon of Akkad" tries to point out the danger of increasing income inequality
in the industrialized world. He claims that, if left unchecked, this
contrast between ultra-rich CEOs and ultra-poor workers may
well result in another French or Russian revolution, to
the regret of everyone. He claims that "nobody's labor is worth
a billion dollars" and that the unfettered capitalism that makes
billionaires possible **must** be reined in by government regulation,
tax reforms, etc. The other two are **having none of it**!
"You're invoking 'the politics of envy'!" protests Cullen.
To which Mr. Sargon replies something along the lines of "You're
providing a perfect example of how it's impossible to have a
nuanced discussion of this dire matter by reaching for the usual
political slogans that people trot out instead of actually
thinking about the issues." And so it goes. Cullen and "Independent"
are a bit mollified when Sargon reassures them that he's not
proposing **abolishing** capitalism, just **reforming** it,
but then they (or at least Cullen) is un-mollified a minute later
and claims that making it impossible for people to become
billionaries would "stifle all innovation". Billionaires have
**earned** their billions, sez Cullen. Sargon isn't so sure.

It's kind of entertaining. (I presume they're **all** Trump supporters,
or at least Trump sympathizers.) ;->

jimf said...

> I presume they're **all** Trump supporters, or at least
> Trump sympathizers.

Which makes it all the more ironic that while "Sargon" is warning
his libertechbrotarian pals that increasing income inequality might
eventually enable a left-wing revolutionary demagogue to amass an angry mob
of supporters in this country, it is in fact Trump who is
currently feeding off some of the same resentments
(though the right-wing underclass has been well-trained by the
Republican party and their church pastors to focus their resentment
on immigrants, "welfare queens", atheists, homosexuals, and so on).
My Daughter the Pole
Roger Cohen
AUG. 22, 2016

. . .

The world was full of fear and anger in the 1930s, enough to
propel a hatemonger to power in Germany. It is full of fear
and anger again today, enough to propel Britain out of the
European Union and a man as flawed as Donald Trump to the
brink of the American presidency.

The troubled psyche requires a scapegoat. For Hitler, it was
the Jews, among others. Today scapegoats are sought everywhere
for the widespread feeling that something is amiss: that jobs
are being lost; that precariousness has replaced security;
that incomes are stagnant or falling; that politicians have
been bought; that the bankers behind the 2008 meltdown got
off unscathed; that immigrants are free riders; that inequality
is out of control; that tax systems are skewed; that terrorists
are everywhere.

These scapegoats, on either side of the Atlantic, include Syrian
refugees, African migrants, Polish workers in Britain, Mexicans,
Muslims and, now that it’s open season for hatred, just about
anyone deemed “foreign.”

There is not much new under the sun. As Rudyard Kipling
observed: “All good people agree, / And all good people say,
/ All nice people, like Us, are We / And everyone else is They.”. . .

jimf said...

Donald Trump needs help from The Kith of the Elf Folk

In today's NY Times:
In Books on Donald Trump, Consistent Portraits of a High-Decibel Narcissist
AUG. 25, 2016

. . .

The portrait of Mr. Trump that emerges from these books, old or new,
serious or satirical, is remarkably consistent: a high-decibel narcissist,
almost comically self-obsessed; a “hyperbole addict who prevaricates
for fun and profit,” as Mr. [Mark] Singer [author of _Trump and Me_]
wrote in The New Yorker in 1997.

Mr. Singer also describes Mr. Trump as an “insatiable publicity hound
who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what
he reads, attacks the messengers as ‘human garbage,’” “a fellow both
slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of

At the same time, Mr. Singer and other writers discern an emptiness
underneath the gold-plated armor. In “Trump and Me,” Mr. Singer
describes his subject as a man “who had aspired to and achieved the
ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” . . .

jimf said...

> ". . .the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the
> rumbling of a soul."
"The Kith of the Elf Folk", from
_The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories_
by Lord Dunsany (1908)

. . .

The Wild Things are somewhat human in appearance, only all
brown of skin and barely two feet high. Their ears are pointed
like the squirrel's, only far larger, and they leap to prodigious
heights. They live all day under deep pools in the loneliest marshes,
but at night they come up and dance. Each Wild Thing has over
its head a marsh-light, which moves as the Wild Thing moves; they
have no souls, and cannot die, and are of the kith of the Elf-folk. . .

Now, on the night that I tell of, a little Wild Thing had gone
drifting over the waste, till it came right up to the walls of
the cathedral. . . The sound of the organ roared over the marshes,
but the song and prayers of the people streamed up from the cathedral's
highest tower like thin gold chains, and reached to Paradise,
and up and down them went the angels from Paradise to the people,
and from the people to Paradise again.

Then something akin to discontent troubled the Wild Thing for
the first time. . .

. . .and the little Wild Thing longed to have a soul, and to go and
worship God. . .

So the kith of the Elf-folk went abroad by night to make a soul for
the little Wild Thing. . .

And they said to her: 'If you must have a soul and go and worship God,
and become a mortal and die, place this to your left breast a little
above the heart, and it will enter and you will become a human.
But if you take it you can never be rid of it to become immortal again
unless you pluck it out and give it to another; and we will not take it,
and most of the humans have a soul already. And if you cannot find
a human without a soul you will one day die, and your soul cannot go
to Paradise, because it was only made in the marshes.'. . .

One day she decided that it was better to be a wild thing in the lovely
marshes, than to have a soul that cried for beautiful things and found
not one. From that day she determined to be rid of her soul, so she told
her story to one of the factory girls, and said to her:

'The other girls are poorly clad and they do soulless work; surely some
of them have no souls and would take mine.'

But the factory girl said to her: 'All the poor have souls. It is all they have.'

Then Mary Jane watched the rich whenever she saw them, and vainly sought
for some one without a soul. . .

jimf said...

[A]s she stood outside the factory gates, the soul irresistibly
compelled her to sing, and a wild song came from her lips, hymning the
marshlands. . . [E]veryone stopped and listened. . .

So a change came into the life of Mary Jane.

[F]inally it was arranged that she should take a leading part in the
Covent Garden Opera. . .

[S]he was told that the English people would not listen to her as
Miss Rush, and was asked what more suitable name she would like to be
called by.

'I would like to be called Terrible North Wind,' said Mary Jane,
'or Song of the Rushes.'

When she was told that this was impossible and Signorina Maria Russiano
was suggested, she acquiesced at once. . .

And Signorina Russiano sang.

And into the song went all the longing of her soul. . .

[I]t ended. And a great silence fell fog-like over all that house, breaking
in upon the end of a chatty conversation that Cecilia, Countess of Birmingham,
was enjoying with a friend.

In the dead hush Signorina Russiano rushed from the stage; she appeared again
running among the audience, and dashed up to Lady Birmingham.

'Take my soul,' she said; 'it is a beautiful soul. It can worship God, and
knows the meaning of music and can imagine Paradise. And if you go to the
marshlands with it you will see beautiful things; there is an old town
there built of lovely timbers, with ghosts in its streets.'

Lady Birmingham stared. Everyone was standing up. 'See,' said Signorina Russiano,
'it is a beautiful soul.'

And she clutched at her left breast a little above the heart, and there
was the soul shining in her hand, with the green and blue lights going round
and round and the purple flare in the midst.

'Take it,' she said, 'and you will love all that is beautiful, and know
the four winds, each one by his name, and the songs of the birds at dawn.
I do not want it, because I am not free. Put it to your left breast a
little above the heart.' . . .

[Lady Birmingham] half-closed her eyes, and said 'Unberufen'. Then
she put the soul to her left breast a little above the heart, and
hoped that the people would sit down and the singer go away.

Instantly a heap of clothes collapsed before her. For a moment,
in the shadow among the seats, those who were born in the dusk hour
might have seen a little brown thing leaping free from the clothes,
then it sprang into the bright light of the hall, and became
invisible to any human eye. . .