Words of Wisdom

From my 40 year old collection of quotes:

Once upon a time, there was a non-conforming sparrow who decided not to fly south for the winter.  However, soon after the weather turned cold, the sparrow changed his mind and reluctantly started to fly south.  After a short time, ice began to form his on his wings and he fell to earth in a barnyard almost frozen.  A cow passed by and crapped on this little bird and the sparrow thought it was the end, but the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings.  Warm and happy the little sparrow began to sing.  Just then, a large Tom cat came by and hearing the chirping investigated the sounds.  As Old Tom cleared away the manure, he found the chirping bird and promptly ate him.

There are three morals to this story:

1)  Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.
2)  Everyone who gets you out of shit is not necessarily your friend.
3)  If you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

There is another moral told indirectly by this story: Chesteron’s Fence.

There is No Free Will So Behave Accordingly

Quote of the Day

The world is really screwed up and made much, much more unfair by the fact that we reward people and punish people for things they have no control over. We’ve got no free will. Stop attributing stuff to us that isn’t there.

Robert Sapolsky
Stanford University neurobiologist
October 17, 2023
Stanford scientist, after decades of study, concludes: We don’t have free will

I’m unconvinced this is true, but I understand how such a conclusion can be defended. Perhaps I should read his book. But what is most interesting to me, as pointed out in the article, is that people who come to believe this claim end make changes in their lives which are detrimental to themselves and others:

Even if the range of potential outcomes is limited, there’s simply too much variability at play to think of our behavior as predetermined.

What’s more, he said, it’s harmful to do so.

“Those who push the idea that we are nothing but deterministic biochemical puppets are responsible for enhancing psychological suffering and hopelessness in this world,” Tse said.

A widely cited 2008 study found that people who read passages dismissing the idea of free will were more likely to cheat on a subsequent test. Other studies have found that people who feel less control over their actions care less about making mistakes in their work, and that disbelief in free will leads to more aggression and less helpfulness.

All this makes me wonder… Is belief in free will is an evolutionary survival of the fittest response?

And further more, even if you were to know there is no such thing as free will, you (paradox alert!) should choose to behave as if you have free will.

Gifted People

Quote of the Day

Most people live in an inner reality that is only very tenuously related to actual reality. To be capable of achieving that level of self-delusion must be nice. We’re all capable of it to a degree… but some people are very gifted.

Sebastian @SebastianSNBQ
Xeeted on August 2, 2023

Today I was to a coworker on almost this same topic. Smart people can be very convincing about their delusions.

Do you want to break through the delusion or at least determine for yourself if they are delusional or perhaps more closely in touch with reality than you?

Ask this question of both them and yourself, “What is the process by which you determine truth from falsity?” Then compare the two processes as applied to your current situation.

Imagine the Other Side

Quote of the Day

Many ppl can’t imagine what it’s like to be the opposing side; you subconsciously imagine the other people must ‘feel’ evil or not ‘really’ believe what they claim, and since you yourself *don’t* feel evil and *do* feel genuine belief, this is quiet proof that you must be right.

Aella (@Aella_Girl)
Tweeted on May 31, 2023

Did Hitler, Stalin, and their followers think they were evil? If not, then how do you know that you are not evil? Perhaps opposition to one and/or both of national socialism and world socialism is evil. Perhaps support of one and/or both is evil. How do you know?

How do you determine truth from falsity?

Philosophy. Who Needs it?

All interesting stuff.

Thinking Critically is Obsolete

Quote of the Day

We no longer know how to think critically. Subjectivity and nihilism rule supreme: the deranged, post-modernist woke cargo cult claims that there no longer is truth, just our truths. Ideas are at best positional goods, fashion statements and markers of social hierarchy, and at worst tools of oppression.

Allister Heath
May 31, 2023
The idiot West is sleeping as the end of the world draws near

Rational thought is a relatively recent innovation in humans and is nothing but a thin dressing over a mixed fruit salad of emotions. And as I have pointed out even that thin dressing could be said to be lacking in many, perhaps most, people today:

As I have said before:

We do not share a common basis for communication or for determining reality. We share the same planet but they are in a different world. So of course they get angry with us. In their minds we are aliens in a turf war with them.

Reality is tough

You hear the phrase “two movies, one screen”, right? People perceive what they expect/want to perceive. This makes it really tough to be in touch with reality. You may think, “Not for me!” I’m not so sure. Watch and listen to this:

These sort of things demonstrate the difficulty of distinguishing between truth and falsity. It takes a great deal of effort to change minds, even when the facts are overwhelming, because people’s brains get hardwired into thinking about something in a particular way.

My mom learned to do subtraction in a different way that what was taught in my elementary school. She could not help me learn how to subtract like Mrs. Cole was teaching it. She asked Dad to help me. After I learned to subtract I asked Mom to show me her way. It was incomprehensible to me. Dad could not understand it either. She got the right answers, but she could not understand our method either.

I came up with a different way of viewing exterior ballistics problems. Someone who was taught the traditional way is completely confused by my method. I understand how they do it but my way is simpler and has broader application. I can teach either way to newbies just fine. But teaching it to someone who has done it conventionally will result in their total confusion.

It’s obvious to some people that banning guns will save lives. The facts don’t matter because elimination of “gun deaths” mean fewer people are dying, right? Their brains have become hardwired down a particular path. Once they start down that path it is a slippery slope to the same conclusion regardless of the factual obstacles presented.

Spooky action at a distance is a very difficult concept. It just “can’t be true”. But it is.

Socialism/communism must be the most tested and failed political system ever. Yet people believe the false reality.

Reality is really, really tough. For everyone. I’m sure there are countless examples all around us that no one has yet properly deciphered and we all believe one or more flavors of falsehood about it. It may even take a generation or two after the truth is discovered before people are comfortable thinking in terms of the “new reality” and people laugh at “the things people used to believe”.

Ghosts of the Constitution, past, present, and future

Yesterday I posed this quote from someone:

The constitution is the conservative equivalent of a gun-free zone.

I followed up with this deliberately very open ended question:

Now, can we use that insight and turn it into what needs to be done next?

The comments indicated everyone took a much narrower view of things than I had. One even took bizarre break from reality saying that my post meant I, “decided to go full-on Brownshirt/Blackshirt/Silvershirt” regarding the election. What? I wasn’t even talking about the election. How did they get there? Did they think they were able to read my mind through the Internet? That was really weird.

Here is what actually happened.

When I read the quote it was like first few nanoseconds of the big bang. Out of nothing there exploded a whole universe. It was like how some people describe their first LSD experience. I’ve never used LSD so I wouldn’t know for certain but that is my best analogy for how it affected me.

There were three comments (here, here, and here) which accurately touched an extremely small fraction of that universe that I saw unfold. And it was all about the past and the present. I was hoping for something more about the future as I was pretty sure I had explored enough of the past and present and satisfied myself that there wasn’t a whole lot more to be learned from those domains. I could be wrong about that so I present that part of my expanding universe for comments, corrections, and additional observations.

But what I really want is for people to think about and suggest a solution to the problem that can be implemented in the near future.

The Past

The authors of the constitution could have set up a separate branch of government which had the job of enforcing the adherence to the original intent. If not this then at least explicitly given the Federal courts some independent enforcement capability and protection from court packing. This may not have been practical or even possible but an attempt in this direction might have made some difference.

This attempts to address the issue, as McChuck, in the comments said, “The Constitution failed because it had no “OR ELSE” clause.”

At numerous critical times there were fairly clear cut issues before the courts which probably, at least a simple majority of people decided the Constitution was inadequate for the present circumstances. And rather than go the long route and get an amendment to the constitution through the process the courts allowed a short cut. This short cut was then used for things not nearly so clear cut. The short cut became a super highway with no restrictions.

I haven’t done the research but a couple very early, reasonably well known examples of such “clear cut issues” were the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Louisiana Purchase. Where does the constitution allow that in it’s enumerated powers?

There are probably hundreds if not thousands of case where little short cuts were taken over the centuries and they enabled all kinds of criminal trespass on the constitution.

What if, instead of politicians and judges instead of giving these short cuts a blind eye, they had handled it differently? What if they had said, “I think this is a good idea. I think this is within to domain of proper government power. BUT, it is also outside of the powers granted to the government”? Let’s, as rapidly as is practical, push through a narrowly scoped constitutional amendment to address this “clear cut issue”. This would have at least attempted to prevent the short cut from becoming a superhighway.

But the politicians of the time didn’t see, didn’t care, or wanted the superhighway and neither of those things happened.

The Present

The U.S. government debt is almost $28 trillion with $159 trillion in unfunded liabilities and constantly going up. Had the original intent of the U.S. constitution been adhered to that could not have happened. The superhighway of criminal trespass on the constitution is is a superhighway to disaster.

The criminal trespass on our personal liberties are just as gargantuan as the economic disaster. The First, Second, and Fourth enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights may have the most lanes of the superhighway over them but all of them, with the possible exception of the Third Amendment, have been paved over with at least a bike path clearly marked where there was once a tall fence with no gate and a NO TRESPASSING sign on it.

People who believe the constitution should be respected according to original intent started talking with each other. The Internet made it far easier to connect with others of a similar mindset. They realize, “Not only is the government infringing upon our rights, the courts aren’t coming to our aid.”

The criminals see the Internet chatter and see erosion of their voting base as more people come up to speed on the situation. The criminals shadow ban people. They freeze their accounts for a day or a week. Then they start completely banning people.

This couple was completely banned by Facebook and they have little* to no idea what it was about. A few weeks later they were both banned within minutes of each other from Instagram. All they posted on Instagram were family pictures. No explain was given. No appeal was possible.

Other people have received some clues. And it’s over the tiniest of stuff:

They are making every post of mine with #DontCaliforniaMyTexas as hate speech and deleting it. I got one day in jail for it

In the last week it was the President of the United States who permanently banned from Twitter. Shortly after POTUS moved to Parler, Apple, Google, and Amazon in a matter of just a few days deplatformed their apps and then the entire site. Poof! Gone! The company is possibly permanently destroyed.

Yesterday morning AR15.com was booted from GoDaddy (see also here). They are now back up on AWS Amazon. I wonder how long that will last as AWS Amazon was the host for Parler.

The political left is saying, “It’s time..” and “Cleansing the movement…” is next.

“Maybe they are being hyper sensitive to people of any political persuasion”, you suggest. It doesn’t look like that to me and others:

Big Tech did not remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accounts when she called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration. Facebook and Twitter did not target Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” These platforms did not act against Kamala Harris when she said the riots “should not” stop.

This week, Joe Biden condemned the Capitol rioters, saying, “What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent, it was not disorder, it was not protest. It was chaos. They weren’t protesters, don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic, it’s that simple.”

Yet he refused to speak in those terms when Black Lives Matter and antifa militants were throwing Molotov cocktails at federal buildings, setting up “autonomous zones,” and burning down cities. Instead, he condemned Trump for holding up a Bible at a church — without mentioning the fact that that very church had been set on fire the night before.

What makes you think it will end with social media? What if the political left pulls your Internet connection for some flimsy excuse, or none at all? You think that would be going too far because Internet is essentially a requirement of life these days? Really? You think that would stop them? Do you think I am extrapolating way out into never-never land? “That can’t happen here?”

What if banks refused to do business with you. Wouldn’t that be worse than pulling your Internet connection? Guess what…The Obama administration was telling banks, “If you do business with risky customers, such as gun manufactures or dealers, you will suffer the consequences.” It was called Operation Choke Point.

What about other services such as FedEx, UPS, USPS, your water, waste disposal, and electricity? They didn’t “censor” you, you can still print a newsletter or hold a sign up on the street corner, right? And as long as it wasn’t a government entity refusing you service it’s entirely legit, right?

It used to be motels, restaurants, gasoline stations, etc. could, and did, refuse service to people based on their own criteria. There was a Federal law passed which prohibited such discrimination when it was based on the grounds of “race, color, religion, or national origin.” But it doesn’t protect you if you happen to be one of those nasty people who believe the constitution means what it says.

Do not be surprised if there aren’t soon “blacklists” that result in a surprising number of restrictions on what we normally consider public services. Don’t think so? Today Senator Chuck Schumer called for authorities to add the Capitol rioters to a national no-fly list.

The net result of this? Individual constitutionalists are, metaphorically, standing on some random street corner holding up homemade signs saying, “Repent! The End is Near!” Thousands of criminals occasionally glance at the “Gun-free zone” sign as they zoom by on the nearby superhighway at 100+ MPH and snicker.

The comparisons to the early days of what is described in Gulag Archipelago are eerie. Have a chat with someone with Venezuela, or East Germany sometime.

The Future

This is where I was/am hoping to get some discussion. How can we regain a limited government and our personal liberties?

An armed rebellion? Maybe. But I’m not seeing that as a high probability path. I could see that bringing down the government. But I don’t see that as necessarily building a consensus for the resurrections of limited government rising from the ashes. And your going to start your own cancel culture with a scoped rifle? And how does that work out? You shoot every politician with a ‘D’ beside their name? Then what? Hold another election with the same people voting (and/or cheating) as last time?

And at what point to you start shooting? Are you justified in shooting if you get booted off Facebook or Twitter? And who would you shoot if you somehow managed to convince yourself it was justified? Who do you shoot if some anonymous bureaucrat told your bank to stop doing business with you?

What’s the path to victory here? I am a details oriented guy and as I dig into the details I’m not seeing a viable path.

There is the Lyle option, as I like to think of it. A (supposed) return to Protestant values. This is, perhaps, due to the Second Coming—this isn’t entirely clear to me. I largely dismiss this, not just because I don’t believe in the existence of god(s) but because if the constitution was originally divinely inspired then why did it go so terrible wrong and how can we expect to be better the second time around?

The best I have been able to come up with is that we are probably headed for a Minsky Moment and/or a currency crisis in the somewhat near future. This could be a worldwide event and it could involve the collapse of our currency and perhaps our government. Perhaps out of the ashes of the collapse a more constrained government will have more appeal and will rise.

I see this second option as more probable of success, but still improbable, because the government size proved to be its own downfall rather than being brought down by individualist rebels. Clear and positive proof of big government failure is probably required to convince a majority of people to try small government again.

What I don’t see is a high probability of success path that can be traversed by a few people on the street corners with their handmade signs.

Please discuss.

* Barron recently told me, “I may have been tagged because I didn’t use the complete spelling of my last name.” Yet I know people who have been using completely, and pretty obviously, fake names for their Facebook accounts for years.

Quote of the day—Gad Saad @GadSaad

On a personal level, I’m a free thinker who is allergic go along, get along, group think. The ideals that drive my life are freedom and truth and any attack on these ideals represents an existential threat to all that I hold dear.

Gad Saad
The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense
[From Amazon:

“Read this book, strengthen your resolve, and help us all return to reason.”  JORDAN PETERSON

This could be said of me from the time I was in the first grade. My grade school experience was hell because of this. Two of the three teachers I had in my first eight years of formal schooling tried to make me believe absurd things. Example include such as three doubled was nine, and the letter ‘y’ is always marked as a long ‘i’ when marking up a word by its sounds. The third teacher had her faults as well but non compliance was not so harshly punished. The absurdities extended from the classroom to the playground with rule interpretations that met with the teacher’s desired outcome instead of the written word of the rule book.

Classmates, my parents, and at least one younger brother for the most part advised me to not let it bother me and just go along with it even though it was wrong. That does not appear to be in my nature and it has never been a characteristic I had an interest in changing about myself. I’d rather attempt to change the world and fail than change myself to conform with a false view of reality to avoid punishment for wrong think.

I think I’m going to like this book.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Ayn Rand

There is hope so long as there is one man left living on earth. There is hope, but it will not be saved automatically. It depends on the free will and choice of every man who is able to think. Those who don’t want to think don’t matter in this issue. They’re merely social ballast.

Ayn Rand
1982 public lecture
[It seems we have a lot of social ballast these days.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Mark Knapp

Leopold & Loeb were trying to commit the perfect crime and never expected to become famous by their crime. At the same time, they prided themselves on their ability to throw off the shackles of morality and demonstrate to each other that they had achieved Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideal; i.e., the Superman, who arises above moral arguments that are designed by the weak to hold back those with the will to become strong. Despite the manner in which the present day Progressive elite camouflages its motives by appeals to social justice and egalitarianism, such Superman morality is at the core of much of our modern culture. It all boils down to survival of the fittest if there is no absolute groundwork for our moral beliefs!

Mark Knapp
January 8, 2014
Leopold, Loeb, Active Shooters, Modern Man & Superman
[I think this overstates it a little bit. Multiple, incongruent, moral philosophies can co-exist. For example, Jainism, Objectivism, and Christianity shouldn’t have a problem with the others and get into a survival of the fittest contest. Yet, they are very, very different.

Quibbling aside, his point about Progressives does seem fair. You can see it in their attitudes toward gun owners and conservatives in general. You see moral superiority at every turn.

In one specific case it was scary. An Obama supporting woman I knew several years ago proudly told me she and I were one of the “new humans” or some such thing. And it was people like us who would take over the world as lesser humans failed to keep up. She was sure we were more advanced and knew better than “ordinary people” on most topics.

She apparently didn’t realize I disagreed with her on almost every topic she had expressed an opinion about. I just didn’t see any reason to confront her on the multitude of absurdities she asserted.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Sheriff Steve Reams

While I understand each person’s choice to disagree with me, my response to those individuals is this: I’m not comfortable giving up the fight for their constitutional rights in exchange for their vote/support.

Steve Reams
Sheriff Weld County Colorado
March 2020
Colorado Inmate Red Flags Sheriff
[And others are not only comfortable and willing but desirous and eager to strip the people of their constitutional rights.

Culture, philosophy, and elections are important.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Roberta X

You are surrounded by dangerous primates, the single most deadly species on the planet, proven killers; and you’re safe because for nearly all of them, harming you is simply too much bother.  You’re in far more danger, orders of magnitude more danger, from the things they do carelessly than any deliberate act.

Roberta X
September 27, 2019
Most People Are Basicially Lazy, Which Is Why They’re Good
[There’s more than a little truth to this. But I’m a little bit more optimist than what is could be concluded from the truth of Roberta’s insight.

People help other people even with no expectation of the favor being returned or compensation. There is something either in the gene’s or in the socialization, perhaps both, that makes most people feel good about helping others rather than just grabbing their stuff and continuing on when someone else is down.

Perhaps I’m more of an optimist than I should be but it’s hard to know for certain.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Jason Brennan

Most people seem to subscribe to what I call the Special Immunity Thesis: the idea that the set of conditions under which it is permissible, in self-defense or defense of others, to deceive, lie to, sabotage, attack, or kill a government agent is much more stringently constrained than the set of conditions under which it is permissible to deceive, lie to, sabotage, attack, or kill a private civilian.

On the flip side, we have what I call the Moral Parity Thesis: the idea that, very simply, you have the same right of self-defense against government agents as you do against civilians. Officials have no special moral status that immunizes them from defensive actions. When they commit injustices of any sort, it is morally permissible for us, as private individuals, to treat them the same way we would treat private individuals committing those same injustices. Whatever we may do to private individuals, we may do to government officials. We may respond to governmental injustice in exactly the same ways as private injustice.

The Moral Parity Thesis has radical implications. It means you may assassinate leaders to stop them from launching unjust wars. You may fight back against a police officer who arrests you for something that shouldn’t be a crime—e.g., marijuana possession or homosexuality. You may escape from jail if mistakenly convicted or convicted of a bogus crime. Your business may lie about its compliance with an unfair regulation and evade excessive taxes. A jury or judge may nullify an unjust statute by refusing to convict those who break it. The Moral Parity Thesis vindicates helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who threatened to kill fellow American soldiers to stop them from killing civilians during the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. It vindicates Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for sharing at least some state secrets. It vindicates government agents who sabotage unjust efforts from within.

My basic argument is simple: By default, we should accept the Moral Parity Thesis, unless we can find some good reason to believe the Special Immunity Thesis instead. Upon inspection, though, the arguments for the Special Immunity Thesis fall flat. Governments and their agents aren’t magic.

Jason Brennan
December 2018
When Nonviolence Isn’t Enough—Does the right to self-defense apply against agents of the state?
[It’s an interesting article on personal and political philosophy.

Lysander Spooner had some things to say on this topic as well:

It is a natural impossibility that a government should have a right to punish men for their vices; because it is impossible that a government should have any rights, except such as the individuals composing it had previously had, as individuals. They could not delegate to a government any rights which they did not themselves possess.

I took a philosophy class in college but it was far less interesting and relevant than what I have read in the years since. And it was philosophers never mentioned in class, such as Ayn Rand and Spooner, that my Marxist professor left out of the curriculum that made the difference.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Karl Popper

The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

Karl Popper
The Open Society and Its Enemies: New One-Volume Edition, Notes to the Chapters: Ch. 7, Note 4
[Via email from Bob T.

Interesting observation. I had a similar discussion with a co-worker many years ago. We didn’t arrive at a solution. And it is quite clear our government and society has gotten us into the end game of this paradox without implementing the apparent solution offered by Popper over 70 years ago.—Joe]

Huffman’s rule of social interaction

A civil society is dependent upon not having runaway hostile emotions. You might get angry with your spouse, a co-worker, a neighbor, a political party or, on a global scale, another nation. In most cases these are bursts of anger that, when put into the larger perspective its not worth severing the relationship or escalating the hostilities. Everyone is going to have a better life if the parties can freely interact to the mutual benefit of everyone. If there is no mutually beneficial interaction at the current time that doesn’t mean that there won’t be such need in the future.

For example, suppose your neighbor’s dog sometimes poops in your yard. If you escalate the situation and you end up not being on speaking terms it going to be tough to help each other when you need to cover your windows with plywood to protect against a hurricane.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put a stop to the neighbor’s kid torturing your cat or you finding a new job and telling your boss he is a jerk when you leave. There are times when you must take action to protect yourself.

I would like to express this philosophy more succinctly and refer to it in the future as Huffman’s rule of social interaction:

Never burn bridges.

Wait until your enemy is crossing it and then use explosives.