Aphorisms 29 February 2012


OK, let’s celebrates Feb 29!

Big Ideas Become Slogans, Equations, Tweets:

I was contemplating a copy of Pascal’s Pensées. It seems as if he invented the Aphorism genre, just as Montaigne earlier invented the Essay genre. The advantage of short aphorisms is that one can drive straight to the main point.

Twitter is helpful that way. Contracting thoughts in 140 signs: a worthy exercise. Are equations tweets? Remember E = mcc, E = hv, F = ma, E = mgh, E = 1/2 mvv, Plus Oultre, Dura Lex Sed Lex, etc.

Here is a tweet: “Sometimes one has to give luck a chance!

***

Labeling Saves Lives:

Samis have more than 300 words to describe various states of snow. To each different word, a different concept. Some people have died, up north, because they met a type of snow they did not know existed. Unable to move, they starved.

***

Kicking The Machinery To Get FTL:

The OPERA experimenters are not too sure that their Faster Than Light signal was not simply due to an insufficiently screwed cable

For all it’s worth, I encountered a strange situation yesterday. I had lost a few TV channels on my high speed internet plus TV connection. Reception was perfect on most channels, but on others, it was indicated “this channel to be available shortly”. After checking out all other possibilities, the Cable Company technicians told me they had encountered that situation before, and would I please screw every cable connection really tight.

It turned out that the input cable in the TV box had become slightly loose from thermal cycles. So there was a complete loss of some channels, while other digital channels were left completely unscathed. I would never have expected such a thing, and i don’t understand how it makes sense, physics wise.

But then I remembered  that Hans Solo had to kick his spaceship to get it to achieve Faster Than Light while he was fleeing the Dark Side’s plutocrats during Star Wars (episode IV). Sophisticated we are, yet the basics stay OPERAtive…

***

Chimpsky: How Silly Can One Get?

Do those intellectuals who adulated Stalin or Hitler have something in common with those admiring Chomsky?

Chomsky’s main idea seems to have been that children came with an “innate grammar”. Is it as if Chomsky never observed any child. Children LEARN. They don’t come out there, all knowing. There is basically nothing they know to start with. They even learn to look, and see.

My daughter had to be delivered early through C section, for several medical reasons. So she was a bit premature. Her eyes were closed. however, when she heard my voice in the incubator, she turned her head towards me, opened her eyes, looked at me for maybe a minute. Obviously she was thinking: this is the voice I heard before, and it comes from that. Then, enough curiosity satisfied at this point, she closed her eyes for the next three days (which she probably spent partly processing that minute long, probably blurred vision).

Chomsky does not know learning. Yet, he has a vastly Politically Correct  following. No doubt from a vast herd who does not know learning either. The funny thing is that I agree with many of his political views (not all of them!)

At this point my daughter is 29 months old. She understands thousands, and speaks hundreds, of words in English and French, each.

Her first word was uttered at an unbelievable three weeks (!), although that was an event  not repeated for quite a while (she was in the sort of frustrated pain infants are prone to find themselves in, trying to crawl about, and her dad made gentle fun of her, so she emitted an anguished “Daddyyy”, so that the author of her days would stick to strict empathy).

Now she has her own camera. Yesterday Athena was taking a picture of her mother. She barked an order:”Don’t bouge!”. The correct expression for normal people is either:”Don’t move!” (English) or “Bouges pas!” (French).

Just there, Athena demonstrated that Chomsky is wrong. Indeed the English and French grammar are completely different in this case, the position of the verbs are, opposed and the child made her own mix. And it still very clear.

In English, priority is given to the interdiction as the sentence starts with the interdiction:”Don’t!” In French, the communication starts, instead by the information of that the communication is about motion, and the interdiction comes next.

This correspond a different emotional hierarchy in what is more important (what comes, literally, first). English gives priority to the order (“Don’t“), French to the realm of the message (“Bouges“). 

***

Plutocracy In Action:

Newt Gingrich was in trouble, running out of money. So Mr. Ralston, a plutocrat owning casinos from Las Vegas to Macau, cut him a 5 million dollar check. Next Ralston’s wife wrote him another 5 million dollar check. The couple loves Gingrich’s views on Israel. something about a much greater Israel… Will Israel extend all the way to Teheran?

The election in the USA is turning into a contest of billionaires: Romney, Gingrich and their billionaires are going into a food fight with the billion dollar man, Barack Obama.

In the USA, there are no more campaign funding limits  for the hyper rich: from a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court “Citizen United“. Statistics show that those who gets the most money for their campaigns get elected. Nancy Pelosi, head of democrats in Congress: “if we just ask the rich who they want to rule, that is a plutocracy”. Yes, well, that is a plutocracy.

Pelosi is pushing the “disclose Act”, revealing who, and what give millions to whom.

In France there is a law outlawing “abus de biens sociaux” (“Abuse of social goods”). Including diverting capital for goals not that of the company. Such a law used to exist. In the USA. The Supreme Court overruled it.

***

He Writes, I Read, We Will call That A Presidency:

Obama gave his Third State of the Union. A 30 something year old guy, we were told on TV, spent a month writing the speech, “without sleeping”(!). That guy has been writing Obama’s speeches since 2004. Think about it: a guy writes the speeches, Obama reads them off a machine.  No wonder Obama sounded “inauthentic“. The 30 year old gentleman, we were told on TV, spent a month writing the speech, “without sleeping“(!). That guy has been writing Obama’s speeches since 2004. Think about it: a guy writes the speeches, Obama reads them off a machine.

The first thing to request from a politician in a democracy is to be authentic. It seems the same guy, when he was 32, wrote the Obama speech on Afghanistan. That basically was all over the map, and somehow deduced Obama was tripling the troops in Afghanistan, while telling he was getting out.

***

Real Reason For Christianity:

The real reason for Christianity was to give a metaphysical justification to the Roman emperors for killing whoever they did not like. The first Christian emperor applied that to his nephew, his son, Crispus, and his wife, whom he steamed like a lobster.

As far as the mythical Jesus is concerned, he fully subscribed to the old genocidal Abrahamism. Jesus allegedly made, among other incriminating statements:

“These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
Sometimes the sum of the Old Testament was referred to as two collections: the law and the prophets. Interestingly, Jesus referred to Psalm 82:6 as “Law”: “Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” John 10:34.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

*** When Intelligence Becomes A Trap:

Christy Romer and Paul Krugman rightly lament that the more educated neoconservative republicans are, the more they differ on what facts are. See: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/this-tribal-nation/

For example believing Obama instituted “death panels”, Believing Obama is a “Muslim” (whatever that means!), correlated positively with republicans’ education and self perception as knowing the issues well.

Of course we saw this before. That’s what happened with Stalinism, Nazism, and other fanaticisms deployed. The more educated some were, the more pro-Lenin, pro-Stalin, pro-Mussolini, or pro-Hitler they were!

It is important to understand that mechanism. The errors of the White House are illuminative that way: it fed the exact opposite of what it wanted (one presumes).  

An emotion was fed, an ideology was built to support it. For example people around Obama agitated the idea of what was decried (including by me) as “death panels“. Then the idea was dropped.

Meanwhile we learn that a true death panel exist to target individuals for extra-legal assassination of so called “terrorists”, including American citizens, worldwide.

Such facts entangle the White House with a smell of death, ordered, and panels, set-up. Such was the emotion. Then, of course, adversaries smell that smell, and rush an ideology to condemn it, because they were looking for something to condemn.

That is why perception is important. An example: French president Mitterrand killed terrorists, worldwide, every year (Mitterrand started his career during the war, wounded in combat, made prisoner, escaping the Nazis twice, and playing double agent for years, so an execution here or there was routine for him).

However, Mitterrand kept the executions he ordered hushed. It is less of a moral hazard to not to do it officially.

The republic is about the law, and that’s official, and ought to be the only official position. Yet, the French (and Western) law’s skeleton is Roman practice. In Rome, imperators had the right of life and death on soldiers.

Within the city of Rome, the lictors would remove the axes inside the fasces, to demonstrate no Roman citizen could be executed without a trial. Then the fasces would even be lowered to show that the power of the Populus Romanus reigned.

However, outside of Rome, and especially in times of military campaigns, Consuls, the highest officers of the republic, could inflict whatever punishments they saw fit, including the death penalty.

Obama and his administration do not need to evocate the Roman precedent, though. Of what one cannot defend, one should not crow.

***

Finally Fired:

Pat Buchanan, a USA presidential candidate, has said many times that making war to Hitler had been a terrible crime that France and her sidekick, Britain, committed. He actually wrote entire books about it. He was paid fortunes to foster this pro-Nazi propaganda, for decades.

The USA ought to be ashamed to have this pro-Nazi express himself so long, so loud, and be immensely rewarded for it. At some point thinking some things aloud is a criminal act.

***

Patrice Ayme

8 Responses to “Aphorisms 29 February 2012”

  1. pendantry Says:

    Hi there 🙂 You present some interesting cogitation fodder! — Too much at once to comment on it all, so I’ll pick just one:

    Regarding ”Don’t bouge!”. I don’t see that this refutes Chomsky’s ‘innate grammar’; all it says is that if the child has one, it’s different from both English and French, and so any translation from the ‘innate grammar’ to either language will involve flaws until the grammar rules of those languages are resolved in the child’s head.

    (I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m disinterested; I’m just throwing a spanner into your ‘proof’).

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Pendantry!
      I appreciate the demand for clarfication, or even attempts at refutation… I did research in mathematics and physics for decades (!), and I am familiar with the concpts of hidden mistakes, or falsehood hiding a deeper truth…
      Chomsky argued there was an inner grammar. In this particular case, “don’t move!” versus “bouges pas!”, the English and French grammars are exactly opposite: we have two words, only one can be in front. And the two grammars are not equivalent. the negativity is transmitted first in English, whereas the French goes first for what the message is going to be about (the state of motion).
      So we see that there seems to be no natural grammar. As the baby made her own language, half French, half English, she opted for the English grammar, true, in this particular sentence, but I am sure I will catch her doing the opposite. It’s pretty much anything goes.

      The most striking fact is that she has a dictionary from emotions to vocabulary. She figures out complicated words and enormously complex sentences from emotions and contexts. Nothing innate there, but a tremendous learning machine, living any imaginable computer in the dust.i find this tremendous learning capability much more fascinating than Chomsky’s simple Turing tape inside.
      PA

      Like

  2. Old Geezer Says:

    Our brains have evolved to create a “story” or “narrative” with which to tie together the various inputs, factual or otherwise, that it receives. It takes a lot more work to remember telephone numbers (of course it can be done through repetition) than to remember a story. Screenwriter Robert McKee cites great narratives like Clinton’s “Man from Hope” TV ad as an example of how we enter material into our minds and how effective the narratives are.

    This is the main problem with Liberals – they give voters the “facts” and assume that they will figure it all out (and vote accordingly).

    Smarter pols give voters a narrative – or set of “values” that go straight to the gut.

    No thinking needed – or wanted.

    Which brings to mind Thomas Frank’s book on Kansas or Joe Bageant’s “Deer Hunting With Jesus”. Both are about why so many Americans consistently vote against their self interest.

    Makes one wonder.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Old Geezer:
      I think that working against one’s interest has long been in evidence. The Gracchi brothers wrote about how Roman soldiers were told (by the plutocrats in the Roman senate… Sounds familiar?) that they were the master of the universe, but actually had no roof to call their own, and were treated worse than wild beasts. That was nearly 22 centuries ago.

      How does this happen? Well, although plutocracy is NOT an instinct, it surely is intimately tied to civilization. It is basically an artefact of the fascist instinct, and the exponentiating mathematics of capital, as I have explained in mny places on this site.

      By definition, for plutocracy to happen, the plutocratically endowed group has made a highly successful story, as you point out, from which it profits. In 300 CE, and, more deeply in 311 CE, it was the discourse of the emperor as the PR creature of god Itself.

      And so. We have such a story now. The free market story. It started in France in 1973, and in the UK and USA later, with Thatcher and Reagan. Once those three countries were locked down in the story of the all righteous markets, the entire west was locked that way. The French law of 1973 (private financing of the state) is what is now hounding the EU (weirdly the USA, supposedly more “free market”, never fell for it!)

      To get out of the mess, the ECB is acting by violating its own charter, imitaing Bernanke’s Fed…Meanwhile, the US Supremes decided we were in plutocracy, not democracy. The French socialists, most distinguished originators of the reign of plutocracy, are speaking with the four sides of their mouth. Meanwhile Obama talks as if he had understood something. If the Socialists come to power and Obama walks his talk, and beyond, in his second term, we may get somewhere…
      But of course war with Iran would crush the whole thing (as ultra expensive oil would cause another crash). No wonder Obama is nice to Mr. Nut ya ya, the PM of Israel… Not to say that the leaders of Isreal are in a nice position… especially considering their lack of wisdom…
      PA

      Like

      • pendantry Says:

        Mention of the possibility of war reminds me, worryingly, of this:

        “An international conference [about pollution] was held in 1911 and American reformers joined their British counterparts. Information, reports and scientific data were shared and disseminated. Conversations about strategy, tactics and insights stoked the fire of reform and change.
        Industry argued for efficiency and technological fixes. Jevons’ paradox was quietly ignored and engineers were put to the task of researching and inventing more efficient installations.
        The government faced two choices: ban the use of coal or impose further restrictions.
        […]
        The intervention of World War I brought the death of thousands, which curbed the appetite for the fight against coal.”
        Polly Higgins (2010), Eradicating Ecocide, Page 17

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear pendantry: Very interesting. Never heard of that. WWI saw a considerable expansion of oil, due to French quick displacements of armies with automobiles, trucks, tanks… And then the usage made of it by the Navies. But, in the early 1950s an air pollution event in London killed around 5,000 people. Since then, air quality has improved… At least there…
          PA

          Like

  3. JMcG Says:

    Vermont (Independent) Senator Bernie Sanders on Citizens United – very important
    Patrice,
    Please listen to the interview on Breakout, (one of the regular series of videotaped interviews) on finance.yahoo.com with Vermont (Independent) Senator Bernie Sanders entitled, Superpacs Gone Wild: This is “Tip of the Iceberg” if Citizens United isn’t overturned… Sanders doesn’t waste any words getting to his point. If you agree, I strongly encourage you write about it. This is at the very crossroads of where democracy is heading in the U.S. and could be made to tie in strongly with your polemics on plutocracy as well as to ultimately make your arguments more accessible to the lay reader as opposed to the literati. If you want to write for the lay reader it would be wise to strip your prose of all pretense and hyperbole and reduce it to only what is absolutely essential. That’s is what it will be judged for, not rhetorical flights of fancy. Though they may be entertaining for the audience you are accustomed to writing for, these are not useful techniques with which to address a larger audience because you will appear to have willingly donned the garb of a literary snob for having so indulged. It’s your decision, of course what kind and size of audience you aim to influence. Small audiences can more easily be influenced with clever phrases; addressing a larger audience necessitates doing without the fancy stuff but getting faster to the point. Why? Because many (as opposed to those reading literary stuff for its own sake) people simply do not have the time or the patience to read ten paragraphs about a subject that can just as easily be dealt with effectively in 3 or 4. It may not be as entertaining to you to write in the way I’ve suggested (perhaps a liability of sorts since I presume you do this for more for your own amusement than for any other reason) but it’s a much more effective way to connect a larger audience.

    It was a good piece you wrote responding to the Wall St. Journal article on what distinguishes French parenting from its American counterpart. Writing that delivers the point without requiring an audience to use too much imagination to reach the conclusion you desire them to contemplate is effective writing.
    Jeff

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Jeff:
      Thanks for the feedback!

      So I am too clever by 90%? Or is that rather 900%?
      You are right that people have little time, and it’s good to right down condensated versions of what one wants to say. That’s why I put “abstracts’ sometimes very long of what I trying to say. The same method is increasingly used in scientific papers, where longer and longer abstracts are found.

      Then, of course some people have sent me personal communications suggesting I tend to repeat myself like a parrot… All I can say is that the Bible, or the Qur’an repeat themselves a lot, to great effect.
      However abstracting is one thing, thinking, another. I think, and I will extend to everyone the courtesy of the fiction that they think too. Moreover, people can pick, and choose, and come back to the essays later.
      Senator Sanders is a good guy. If I have time, I will look at what he said. I doubt he is as advanced as me. I was against Obamacare, because I thought it was actually rather plutocare.

      Thanks for appreciating my essay on parenting. Someone I know personally sent me an abusive message, calling me an “incredible racist”…Just for the title, straight out of the title of the most read Wall Street Journal of that month…
      Patrice

      Like

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