Friday, March 25, 2016

JFK on Economics

JFK's greatest success economically was championing a policy of lowering tax rates on average earners. This unfortunately was only realized after his death with the passing of the bipartisan Revenue Act of 1964. His approach was neither that of a strict Keynesian nor that of a supply-sider but hogged the midpoint with the intent of increasing demand via disposable income. It worked. The mid 60's was a Golden Era in US Economic history. Unemployment sat at a low of 3.8 % in 1966. GDP growth was in the 5% range. You are correct Nixon's record is poor but it wasn't all of his doing. The ongoing Vietnam War impacted the Federal budget. It also didn't help that he introduced wage and price controls to curb the inflation that resulted from Johnson's Great Society spending Initiatives.

Logic and Sense Knowledge

I think that logic can be viewed as a type of gradualism that is water tight and invaluable in moving us toward a genuine source of knowledge or truth. However it does appear that there are other mechanisms which use a more punctuated approach, that while not as stringent in its application, and indeed not as gradual, use value judgement acting on sensory information to reach a similar conclusion. Is the latter a type of reason? I too would argue yes. Can it be reduced? Possibly. But perhaps something is lost in doing so. Maybe it functions on a level that bypasses the need for mini-steps, chunking information in bigger bytes to reach its endpoint with a greater efficiency.

On Philosophy

I started my own personal study of philosophy by making sure that I had a strong general overview of the key thinkers before going into any great detail about any one individual specifically. Philosophy is best understood by acquainting oneself with the history of the discipline as many ideas put forward essentially arise out of a critique of an earlier philosophy and build on each other. Hegel's March to Reasons sums up this idea but is not the overriding factor. Avenues of thought can splinter in many directions and these can be difficult to predict. I think that the key point in philosophy is to work with, and in a way, celebrate the idea. Examine thoughts from different angles and avoid the temptation to expect eureka moments at every turn.

The West - A Wake up Call

The West in its present state is weak. Leadership is poor, priorities are wrong and more than anything else most Westerners can't even articulate what our civilization stands for. Jihadism will not bring down the West but the inability to champion our exceptionality and defend the essence of what we have on all fronts will most certainly do. We no longer believe in ourselves and this is tragic.

The Post-Modernist leaderships that dominate most Western Government are partly to blame for fostering such a malaise but so has the culture of guilt and self-flagellation that has worked its way from academia into mainstream society.

While the US –the epicenter of the West - is still ten or fifteen years behind a moribund Europe in this regard but its path has been accelerated by an abysmal Presidency that has to be routinely prodded to recognize evil for what it is and continues advocating for an appeasement of such malignancies. However the opposition has not been much better. While it talks with an air of authority from the other side of the aisle, when in office, it too often succumbs to the lure of a ‘Realpolitik’ that short-changes our values for the sake of political expediency.

It is most obvious that the West is in a demographic death spiral (certainly with respect to birth rates). Entitlement is rampant, education standards are falling, illegal immigration is out of control, and our manufacturing sectors have been gutted by a free trade mania and crony capitalism has shifted power away from the vital middle class to a worthless financial elite that has no loyalty to anyone other than themselves. A fixation with identity politics – both race and gender – has further poisoned the water and encouraged an odious narrative that has proved to be extremely divisive.

Add to this a growing national debt load (19.1 trillion dollars in the US for example and increasing) and the future does not bode well for the next generations. Partisan Hacks will point to declining unemployment numbers when convenient, but these rarely tell the full story and conveniently leave out the growing number of people who have dropped out of the labour market altogether and no longer factor in such statistics. With a weak manufacturing sector and the hypnotic appeal of open border economics this troublesome pattern seems likely to continue.

While we still have the luxury of the circus shows that engulf the lives of so many of us we need to move against apathy and indifference. What is needed is a broad movement centered on the engine of the middle class that cuts across ossified party lines and places at its core the Western values of free speech, rule of law, rationalism, an emphasis on necessary tradition, earned respect, and ultimately self-sufficiency built on a strong work ethic. The People can still take back the nations of the West. In fact not only can they, it is becoming increasingly important that they must.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Obama Doctrine - My take.

There is considerable buzz on the air waves and data world about Jeffrey Goldberg's overview article in The Atlantic concerning the Obama Doctrine (whose exact nature is proving as elusive as the Higgs-Boson particle once was to determine). Goldberg looks at the history of Obama's actions in office and outlines some key points that shed light on the POTUS' way of thinking. Here are a few:

1. Obama has a great affection for Brent Scowcroft - National Security Adviser under George HW Bush - he likes the concept of limit engagement ;

2.He has clashed with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry repeatedly on the use of force in Syria - Kerry prefers a tougher approach;

3. Does not view the Middle East as a significant region in general;

4. Is obsessed with avoiding the same pitfalls that impacted the Presidency of George W. Bush;

5. Believes that any extended involvement in the Middle East by the US is likely to be problematic and cost lives with limited likelihood of success;

6.Sees the US as an internationalist force that should be more concerned with existentialist threats such as Climate Change;

7. Although he chose Samantha Power to be the American Ambassador to the UN he is not sold entirely on the 'Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect' that is the mainstay of her political ethos;

8. The pullback from the Red Line decision in Syria (2013) was largely motivated by a fear of pushing the US into a protracted war that would cost more lives.

9. He champions the idea of Drone Strikes (as do Republicans such as John Bolton) which in a way reflect the limited engagement philosophy;

Missing from the whole Goldberg analysis (perhaps conveniently) was the Libyan invasion affair that may have bearing on several of these points.

As someone who takes issue with Obama's position on Iran, his handling of Arab-Israeli issues and his relativistic posturing regarding the identification of the Islamist threat domestically, I find myself in unusual agreement with the President on Syria. I think he is correct to avoid a deeper involvement in this troubled country especially in a Civil War that has the potential to cost so many American lives. There is no positive force here and the optimum approach would be for the US to keep funding the Free Syrian Army as the lesser of the evils.On one level this seems harsh but in the context of the greater good of the US makes much complete sense.

However, what Obama needed to do (and may still have time) was communicate this resolve more efficiently. The populace need to be allayed of the fear that the US is in decline. The Pentagon has the ability to act with great efficacy and can as the Drone Strikes have shown eliminate its enemies with a fair degree of success. The electorate must be reminded of this.

The US must act with strategic intent that places the Nation's interest first, The Doctrine of the "Responsibility to Protect' makes sense in a Rwanda-like situation but cannot be applied universally. Neo-Conservative forays are fraught with a deadly blow back and although America has the military might to potentially serve as a Global Police Force it should avoid this responsibility unless driven to do so by calculated reason. This could be the legacy of the Obama Doctrine although I suspect that it may be lost to the great deal of jitter that has come along for the turbulent ride.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Multiverses....A quick summary

On the Multiverse. There are a variety of multiverse models but the most common one is that developed by Hugh Everett III to explain the phenomenon of Wave-Particle Duality. It is also known as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). According to Everett all possible alternate histories and futures are real so that the various outcomes are realized over the sum of the many worlds. We live in a world which displays one of those outcomes. Like the other three explanations for Wave-Particle Duality (Collapse, Pilot and Copenhagen) the mathematics checks out.
Multiverse modelling occurs in other areas of Physics. Max Tegmark, arguably one of the most brilliant physicists alive today, posits a classification system that consists of four levels that can be used to describe Multiverses.

Level One – Multiverses produced by cosmic inflation that have same physical constants and laws as does our universe;
Level Two – Multiverses produced by Chaotic inflation that have different constants and laws and are produced by a bubble effect (Andre Linde calculated that there are 10^10^10,000,000 of these);
Level Three – MWI Interpretation described above
Level Four – Constructs within Tegmark’s own mathematical universe hypothesis (a Theory of Everything that sees physical reality as a mathematical structure).

Brian Greene has a different classification system that has nine types and looks at simulations, holographs, cyclic phenomena, Branes etc.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twenty five things that I have learnt from facebook

1. People are more limited in their sense of humor than they let on.
2. Half the people love Donald Trump the other half absolutely loathe him.
3. You can say anything ridiculous if you prefix it with a quote from a famous person
4. Conspiracy theories are alive and well.,,,unfortunately
5. Those in disagreement with said person on any post, are either ignorant or evil.
6. Most Americans (but not all) cannot talk politics without slipping into the partisan two party dichotomy.
7. Mark Zuckerberg has his head up his ass half the time but its okay as he is a billionaire and we use his product (oops I may get banned over that one).
8. Nothing gets more likes than a dog licking his balls. Yes I know I am jealous.
9. With enough assumptions you can make anything sound feasible
10. The biggest threat to humanity is Gluten.
11. Stupidity spreads faster than the Rage Virus.
12. Feminists are just not funny (although I didn't need fb for that one).
13. Very few people understand how science works including Bill Nye on occasion.
14. I am always open to seeing more pictures of Melania Trump.
15. Egoism is alive and well.
16. Once in a while you need to purge your friends list. I expect that I may be at the brunt of this for some who read my post.
17. There is no bias like a Confirmation bias.
18. For many, a Rant counts as a logical argument.
19. Never argue (as a friend of mine put it) with a skunk.
20. Everyone has their sacred cows that too often defended by generous use of the ad hominem.
21. SJWs are idiots.
22. There are still very intelligent people out there, who should know better, but who still can't see the problem with Islamism
23. I am sick of seeing posts with French Flags. You would think that only one country has experienced terrorism.
24. Star Wars is a movie it shouldn't be a life philosophy.
25. Never grant friendship status to your mother. Sorry mom I couldn't resist

Sunday, January 31, 2016


I am a huge proponent of SETI and a great fan of Science Fiction. About ten years ago I wrote a book the HISTORY OF THE FUTURE detailing a world where contact with alien species is made and our species is forced by necessity to enter into a new geopolitical reality. Odds are that if we are to be immersed in a world where we are less sophisticated than the extra terrestrials than it will not work out well for us. However there is an unpredictability with all encounters that may prove refreshing. Lately though I have become somewhat disillusioned, not so much in the way contact will play out, but whether contact will occur at all. Based on scientific assessment the odds of another humanoid type species evolving ( or even some type of facsimile) to make contact with us appear to be close to zero. A subtle interventionist deity could rig the odds but that seems to be wishful thinking. One can take solace in the Drake Equation but there are so many unknown variables in that equation that it seems to be practically meaningless. My heart wishes that this weren't so but looking just at the probability game and the levels of fine tuning that are necessary it may just be the case that we are simply alone.

Thoughts on Deism IV - Some Quick Ones.

Einstein himself was not a fan of cultural relativism and I believe detested the way his theory was applied to other areas outside physics. Much the same way that Darwin was not in favour of the way his ideas of selection were used by those advocating Eugenics.

On Absolute Truth....The Laws of Thermodynamics viz. Conservation of Energy, Increasing Entropy of the Universe plus Absolute Zero are probably as absolute as one can get. Gravity has been reworked with General Relativity to better understand Newton's Inverse Square Law however it has some problems at the quantum level. The jury is still out with respect to the fundamental Graviton particle (although odds are that we will likely find it).  Chemical Reactions are largely manifestations of the electromagnetic force so I agree that the theory here is very solid. Absorption and Emission of Light can be described by Quantum Mechanics which at present seems to be well supported empirically. I would add to this list laws regarding both linear and angular momentum as well as certain symmetries that are consistent with conservation laws.

Special Relativity....Einstein's special theory broke the notion of absolute space and time. It also showed the energy and momentum require relativistic analysis. However in many ways its most perplexing outcome was the death blow for Simultaneity. Events that are simultaneous in one frame of reference need not be simultaneous in another. What does this mean? Observer 1 concludes that event A happened before event B. Observer 2 in another frame of reference concludes that the events were simultaneous (happened at the same time). Which one is correct? The answer - Both of them. This can influence, although I would urge much caution, our perception of events at least on a theoretical level for now.

US Election Race Debates

I can barely sit through the agony of Republican debates not to mention the Hillary-Bernie roadshow. Now they want four more. Why not save your time and work on some self induced waterboarding technique?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thoughts on Deism III

Deism should theoretically emerge as a viable middle ground between atheism and theism but it still seems as though it is lagging behind the other two systems in terms of absolute numbers. It may be that many of those who would normally fall under either of the two categories are in all actuality Deists however I am not convinced that this explains the full picture. Classical deism lost its appeal some time ago (possibly due to the imprisonment of the creator) but why have the more 'warmer' types of deism not taken hold? Intellectually it stands on no less a solid ground than any counter ideology yet in terms of clout it is analogous to the Libertarian party in a battle between the Dems and the GOP. What is it missing? Could it be a lack of adequate spokespeople?

Deistic thoughts I am working on.

1. A belief that there is a God who transcends space and time. (I call it God for want of a name although I personally prefer the Kabbalistic term Ein Sof).
2. That it is impossible to know the nature of God. It cannot be truly defined.
3. That the universe operates according to the Laws of Physics. Life evolved through a combination of natural selection, genetic drift and other selection pressures acting on a genome whose variation arose as a consequence of mutation.
4. That God can intervene but such intervention is undetectable and does not contravene the laws of physics. God is a subtle actor who presents no evidence of understandable design.
5. That there is no personal God.
6. That revealed religion are merely man made attempts at trying to understand God and although some carry the wisdom of earlier thought they are all inherently flawed.
7. That humans need to develop their own moral code based on reason, logic and the collective thinking of what has worked in the past.
8. That some religious customs may serve a purpose with respect to group cohesion but they need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
9. That God is a minimalist in action but not necessarily a disinterested party.
10. That the afterlife is unknowable.
11. That skepticism and the scientific method are the best tools we have in understanding the world.

Thoughts on Deism II

I don't believe that these differences (gender diversity with respect to God) are a function of intelligence. Nor do I see it as a consequence of education (although this probably can cause a slight shift towards one direction or another). I think that it is more a reflection of the way that the two sexes see the world in general.It may be a consequence of hunter-gatherer past. I don't know. However the difference on the broader level seems apparent. On a deeper level it's a positive development as it allows for alternative approaches to problems that impact all of us. I am a bit skeptical of the Myers-Briggs testing (which has its foundation in the work of Carl Jung) but it has some relevance along the extrovert/introvert corridor and the thinking/feeling paradigm. It is in the latter that this difference expresses itself.

Thoughts on Deism I

I am very interested in the obvious gender differences that personify the way that men and women perceive, experience and appreciate God. While these are obviously group differences and cannot be reduced to the specific individual it does seem (at least on what I have read and personally experienced) that women seem inherently more spiritual as a whole and that their spiritual belief is rooted in a stronger sense of feeling and emotion. This seems to translate into a richer connection with God (although I am sure others would beg to differ). Deism seems more of a male orientated philosophy as it places at its center reason and cold logic which many men seem to gravitate towards. I realize that this is somewhat of a generalization but I do believe that it has merit for discussion.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Welcome 2016

Its difficult to believe that I have been blogging so long but I still, despite the drop off in frequency of posts, continue to enjoy making the submissions. I figure that when I don't I will close up shop.
So why not start the year with some great questions? Here are 12 worth thinking about.

1. Why is there something as opposed to nothing?
2. What are the limits of science? Has Cartesian Reductionism neared its level of usefulness? How do we incorporate the whole into our thinking?
3. How does complexity arise? Why is the sum of the parts so often less than the whole?
4. Is Randomness an illusion?
5. How are the Laws of Physics carried?
6. What is the relationship between consciousness, free will and the Anthropic Principle?
7. To what extent are we boxed in by our definitions of scientific terms? Discrete versus Continuous understanding of nature.
8. Why and how are we bound by perceived linearity?
9. The Subjective versus the Objective….Will Objectivism disappear altogether?
10. Why do systems become stable? How is this stability rocked? Is there an overall march toward a new zone? Is stability real or imaginary?
11. Why is our Mathematics limited?
12. What is an event? What comes together to make an event?