Dear Diary 






On the other side of fear: contentment vs. fulfillment

Happiness. Happiness never changes.

Oh wait, it does. There are many different takes on it. This one is the result of my thinking about fear, contentment, happiness, and eudaimonia.

Contentment is a negative notion: it's lack of disquiet, lack of trouble, lack of unrest. It's absence of pain.

Fulfillment is a positive notion: it's self-actualization, achievement, and growth. It's presence of flourishing.


12:55:05 on 08/30/17 by danilche - General -

Political cynicism and oversimplification

There's a very popular view which says that everyone in politics is a lying bastard out for their own interest, none of them can be trusted, and if only HONEST people got into power, everything would be much better! But alas, they are all lying bastards, and so we gots what we gots...

I don't buy it. I think this view stinks of magical thinking -- basically, it's the other side of the Green Lantern Theory of Power, Viridilanternism, the view that we can do anything as long as we WILL it hard enough. Conversely, if we didn't do it, then someone in power must have not wanted it... and that's the cynicism.


18:50:49 on 10/08/16 by danilche - Philosophical -

The Green Lantern Theory of Political Power

In light of the wild blooming of deranged backseat diplomacy about how US negotiations with Iran SHOULD HAVE ended up, I am reminded of a brilliant piece by Yglesias from nearly a decade ago: The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics (emphases mine -V); and as it happens, that time it was also precipitated by insane people talking about Iran.


18:48:36 on 10/08/16 by danilche - Policy -

The 21st century way: FAST trumps BIG

Recently I found myself explaining to multiple different people the changing patterns of our society. Not just the WHAT, but the frameworks, the templates, the ideology which pervades this stormfront of change; old kinds of things die, and new kinds of things move in to replace them. The new things aren't just different in their nature -- they are different in the very thinking which shaped them.


16:42:36 on 07/22/16 by danilche - General -

Steel men and aikido

No, not steely aikidokas...

Straw man is an informal fallacy wherein you take your opponent's argument, misrepresent it to make it weaker, and then attack that misrepresented version.

The opposite of a strawman is a steelman -- you take your opponent's arguments, fix their shortcomings, improve them, and THEN attack them, when they are in their best form.


07:18:29 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Philosophical -

The battle for the soul of the GOP: The TnPs are coming for their pound of flesh!

For years, the self-proclaimed real conservatives (mostly the pundit class) have been telling us that GOP is losing the WH races because it's just not nominating sufficiently pure conservatives. Nominate a real conservative, and the secret, silent stay-at-home conservatives will flock to the polls!

And for years, the nomination battles in the GOP have raged between the establishment pragmatist times, and the fire-breathing ideologue types (with religious nuts, GOP's third open locus of power, making an occasional token showing). And each time, when GOP loses, we hear: "We should have nominated a real conservative!"


07:15:56 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Philosophical -

The real reason to fear 'basic income' (and Bernie Sanders)

Let's get one thing clear from the start:

Communism is coming. Allow me to explain.


07:12:17 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Policy -

The DC governing duopoly is keeping down the common man, denying the common voices and views

There's a common discourse on the far-left:

Dems and GOP are the same, two heads of the governing duopoly, because look! they agree on 90% of the issues, such as capitalism, free trade, etc! And they are also ignoring critical issues like vaccines causing autism and chemtrails being mind control! It's all just a corporatist oligarchy looking to keep down the common man, to deny him his voice!


07:09:39 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Policy -

Moral Tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between them

I promised a while ago to write a post about this excellent book by Joshua Greene, a researcher in the interdisciplinary field of moral cognition -- an intersection of philosophy, psychology, and neurology. However, the more I think about what it would take to convey the fascinating and complex argument, the more I realize that that would take another book. So instead, I will do 3 things: I will write a bird's-eye overview of Greene's argument, I will quote from Thomas Nagel's review thereof, and I will add my comments, as harvested from multiple bookmarks I made in the book.

Here's the short summary:
  1. What we regard as morality is evolved behavior that fosters survival of social groups via cooperation, by placing US over ME
  2. But while it fosters survival within groups, it also promotes survival at the expense of other groups, by placing US over THEM
  3. Thus, our intuitive, evolved morality is of little help when different cultures -- different 'moral tribes' -- find themselves in conflict over what's moral or not
  4. Different moral tribes can't even talk to each other meaningfully, because their 'moral languages' are so radically different
  5. However, while our moral sense is intuitive and emotive, we also have rational facilities available to us
  6. We, all of our different 'moral tribes', rationally recognize happiness as a worthwhile goal
  7. Thus, the calculus of happiness -- i.e. utilitarianism -- can be the rational 'lingua franca' for different 'moral tribes' to talk to each other. That doesn't make it true, it merely makes it a common basis for discussion
  8. Alas, when Greene tries to apply this approach to a concrete problem -- abortion -- he IMO fails.


12:40:33 on 09/27/15 by danilche - Philosophical -

Was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified?

As painful as that is to admit -- yes, I think it was. Japan's Big Six were refusing unconditional surrender, the only surrender they were willing to accept -- until Nagasaki, after which Hirohito stepped in -- was conditional one which would preserve the essential structure of Japan, thus preserving its militaristic ambitions. So until Hiroshima, the options were either a sea invasion with absolutely massive casualties on both sides, or accepting conditional surrender and leaving Japan as a ticking time bomb.

Given the japanese culture, the willingness of civilians, even women and children, to fight to the death in defense of the emperor -- yeah, the casualty estimates of Operation Downfall were reasonable: on the order of a hundred thousand of dead american soldiers, possibly going into many hundreds of thousands. Japanese casualties, including the japanese civilian casualties, would have been immeasurably higher -- estimates were in the millions; as was confirmed later, Japan was fully prepared to fight to the death, even training children for the role of suicide bombers, telling people to literally fight with sticks and stones, to the last breath.


19:37:13 on 08/05/15 by danilche - General -
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