You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘CounterCurrent’ category.

I’ve been marveling at the current social phenomenon of “Replacement Theory” and all of the fear and loathing these words can generate. Anything that could plausibly rile up white folks is being scooped up and slung at the wall to see what sticks. The Republican fear machine needs and thrives on this kind of stuff. Fox News “Speaker to Animals” Tucker Carlson has been slopping it around the swill bucket lately as is customary for him to do. It’s become a meme with news coverage like a new Disney on Ice show.

Peering out from under my rock along the riverbank, it appears to me that there are a great many citizens in the U.S. of A. who enjoy nothing more than to get lathered up and vent their rage at the bogyman of the month. Some folks seem happiest and most alive when they are really hacked off.

I wonder how these folks will react when someone reminds them that social replacement is not new. After all, what happened in the forced removal of the Native Americans over the last 400 years? How many countries have we attempted to reconfigure to something more politically subservient by force or subterfuge? History is one long, highly blemished series of one people replacing another. Notice the irony? Historically, most change has been quite violent. Many nations have been complicit in the forced swapping of ethnic groups in the social and economic order in someone else’s land. It seems to be a natural turn of events.

If it is happening to the US right now, it seems to be relatively peaceful and quiet, except for the angry white nationalists out shooting people. More than a little change going on is merit-based selection in job placement and by the hard work of immigrants. If you are angry about being replaced by non-whites, first try not to murder people. Murder is the answer to a whole slew of poorly formed questions.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Colloquium at The Center for Contemporary Idiocy, Rand Paul Auditorium

Poltroon University, Guapo AZ

The Center for Contemporary Idiocy is pleased to announce a lecture and panel discussion on “The Demise of Roe v Wade: Will Anti-Abortion Single Issue Voters Continue to Vote Republican?”

The Idjota Award for Graduate Studies in Western Idiocracy will be given after the speaker.

Guest Speaker: Dr. Horst Statek van Klingenn, Distinguished Fellow, The Institute for Poststructuralism and Malign Idiocy, Pan Handle College, OK.

6:30 PM Refreshments

7:00 PM Speaker

8:06 PM Panel Discussion

Linked here is an earlier essay on the evolution of political correctness (PC) as I have witnessed it. Before the epithet of “woke-ness” came along there was PC. In the early 2000’s rancid and cynical criticism of PC was trotted out and displayed as some kind of analysis by ultraconservative broadcasters and Christian evangelicals. PC as an epithet was useful for casting fuzzy accusations and to infer a kind of pathetic naivety to the mindset of progressive people. The accusation was difficult to counter and it gained wide spread use.

To counter the accusation of PC as a negative, one had to convince the accuser that fair treatment for all was a good thing and that the use of racial and ethnic slurs was a bad thing, not an unconstitutional imposition on free speech or an implied slur on white people. Defending PC in practice meant holding the accuser’s attention long enough to step through the morals and logic of PC- a tough exercise in listening for some people. It is another example of how it is easier to destroy than to build.

I’m recirculating a few posts from long ago because I think they raise interesting points. This link relates to a problem with local zoning ordinances. The issue came to me after a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, some years ago where I got hopelessly lost on foot. I hope that reposting certain essays isn’t too tedious to the gentle reader.

Warning. I’m hammering on Trump. If this bothers you, please move along.

I really have to back off on the consumption of news. My attitude has become far more misanthropic than usual. Between the savage war in Ukraine, Trump’s traitorous boy crush on Putin and bills signed by that demon-seed governor of Florida, my head is throbbing from the noise of all the dissonant waves coming in. Surely, something is going right in the world, isn’t it? Maybe?

Part of what is stressful is the inability to intervene personally, to make a positive difference. Oh, to have 2 minutes to yell at #45. Or to remind DeSantis and the Florida legislature that their elementary schools have never taught sex education and have never given kids instruction on how to choose alternative genders or lifestyles. It would be disastrous for any teacher’s career and they know it. This LGBTQ instruction “issue” in K thru 3rd grade is entirely invented to agitate the excitable and poorly informed on a certain side of the bell curve. This is social conservative engineering boldly executed in plain view and vastly amplified by instant distribution on social media. DeSantis is maneuvering to be an alternative to Trump in 2024, which is a choice between bad and awful.

Trump is morally bankrupt. This should be obvious to any high school graduate who paid attention is school. He is a real estate developer who banks on his special gift of persuasion. His speaking style is well suited to that of an after dinner speaker. He teases his audience by saying naughty things and mugs and poses behind a false modesty, all of this while he is not making outrageous claims about his abilities. And many people eat it up. It is a very effective rhetorical style polished by years of practice. His time on reality TV has helped hone an air of authority and expertise in organizational management.

He learned that if you are going to exaggerate, make it big and repeat as often as possible. Throw great gobs of it and see what sticks to the wall. This is propaganda 101: Political persuasion through any means available.

As corrosive to American democracy as Trump is, there is a bigger problem. That would be the matter of his large crowd of eager voters. They seem to be of a disposition that instinctively distrusts government and lays a large part of the blame of alleged government malfeasance on liberalism. Since the days of Reagan, the word “liberal” has come to be an epithet through repeated encouragement by Republicans. Blame for societies ills on liberalism was further exaggerated by Newt Gingrich in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, this guy has reappeared and is frequently interviewed in conservative (Fox) news today.

I can remember stopping by a booth at the Boulder County fair in the mid 70’s which was occupied by the John Birch Society. They are ultraconservative, staunchly antigovernment and libertarian in orientation. I see many similar traits in the earlier Tea Party and in the current MAGA crowd. Unfortunately, once someone embraces this kind of mind-set, they rarely come back towards the middle in my experience. Distrust, fear and paranoia are things the human brain does very well.

Never in the history of humanity have so many people had a platform for the instant broadcast and receipt of political information. It is a challenge to the stability of a democratic nation when fringe ideas spread and are adopted across the population in a matter of days. Not everyone remembers history or has a grasp of basic political and economic concepts. In prior times, there were limits to the accessibility, reach and variety of news and opinion. There was also editorial control over what got published. Fringe letters to the editor or op-eds were published once and that was it. The reach was often limited to where the paperboy went.

With most of social media in much of the world there is no editorial control. Any brilliant or stupid post gets broad circulation with equal ease. The volume knob has been turned up for individuals who wish to practice the art of persuasion. Unfortunately for the Chinese and Russian people, their governments are clamping down on the content of both received and sent information.

Back to toxic news. Broadcast companies are businesses. Broadcast news has a job to do. It is to deliver as many eyeballs to ad messages as possible. It’s the same with social media. What gets aired is that which is compelling to the eyes and heart. And “compelling” draws eyeballs. To expect to get an education or a balanced view from commercial TV is a fools errand. Some people believe that “balanced” means that all views are equal. Well, some views are based upon a false premise and are unworthy of consideration. Also, the old saying “if it bleeds, it leads” still applies no matter what pious talk you may hear about journalism.

With the birth of every child, civilization must start anew. Parents and other adults are the major actors in rebuilding civilization and their first duties are to teach the child how care and fend for themselves in an often hostile world. Wariness is critical to surviving potential threats out in the open or those that lurk in the shadows. Adults must encourage wariness but not to the point of freezing solid in fear. Nuance is required in order to balance the threat/benefit relationship with the main goal of living as long as possible. In more precise terms, children must be educated and given examples of how to use that gained knowledge to not only live longer, but better as well. Seems obvious.

Today we see a movement in US civilization towards the disassembly of K-12 public education in favor of throwing those resources to conservative private and parochial education. Here in Colorado there is a silent group with out-of-state funding methodically getting far right, like-minded school board members elected. And it’s working. These groups wrap themselves in the flag playing Yankee Doodle, while often carrying a cross, and blow popular rightwing dog whistles as loud and often as they can. Currently, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the most popular generator of dread fear among a great many in the population.

The fear that the CRT “threat” seems to be aimed at is the American liberal arts education taught in the public schools and in universities. First, some clarity. A liberal arts education is not about indoctrinating kids to be a democrat. The word “liberal” has come to be an epithet in common usage by many. A liberal education is actually meant to learn about a variety of topics and ways of thinking- to be less dogmatic and narrow. It encourages open minds. It tries to be neutral on the religiosity scale as well. And it has been quite successful for generations. Look around and you’ll see an endless assortment of objects and systems whose invention was by people educated under the liberal arts education.

Definition from Wikipedia: “Usually global and pluralistic in scope, it can include a general education curriculum which provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines and learning strategies in addition to in-depth study in at least one academic area.”

It seems that encouraging open mindedness or broad knowledge is exactly what they don’t want. What they want is actually indoctrination into “their” knowledge and thinking using their narrow definitions. It is about a narrow form of mind control, not objective facts and analysis. There is a fear that an accurate study of actual US and world history or science leads kids astray, away from God and country, to a world of anti-Americanism and to eventual eternal damnation. But, an accurate accounting of US history must eventually come to grips with the moral issues of slavery and the origins of the Civil War or the long, unfinished story of racism. To paint it over with heroic tales of settlers on the Oregon Trail while ignoring details of the slaughter and confinement of Native American to the reservation is an affront to reality and in all likelihood will eventually be made known to students anyway. Hiding the truth is a fools errand.

In my estimation, the American liberal arts education in the public schools, while flawed, has been a success. It has helped to provide a vast store of knowledge and skill that has lead to inventions and systems that have extended and improved our lives. Yes, the story is not perfect, but it is not over yet. To place the education of our young in the hands of politically partisan actors peddling extreme conservative views and possibly into corporate control is to steer our civilization into a less democratic, darker future.

See the comments section for more elaboration on this topic.

Yet another mournful lamentation on Putin and Trump.

Yesterday, 2/22/22, Trump had words of praise for Putin’s move into Ukraine with “peace keeping” forces. He used the word “savvy” in his praise of the tactic. This is in addition to his spoken admiration of Putin in past years. But he also said that if he were in office this wouldn’t have happened. Trump’s acolyte, Tucker Carlson, seems to be issuing forth the same kind of spew. So, what is Trump really saying?

During Trump’s term he proved to be cool on NATO and America’s place in it. So much so that he spooked EU countries. By most accounts, he had little if any recognizable foreign policy and left a great many important posts unfilled in the State Department. Foreign affairs just didn’t capture his interest. Yet, he says he could have prevented Putin’s invasion if he hadn’t been cheated out of the presidency. I guess the invasion is maybe the fault of Biden supporters.

I have come think of Trump as a wannabe despot who admires Putin the despot (and others) as one professional may admire the work of another. Putin as leader is accustomed to having considerable control of Russia. Trump was in control of numerous private companies and thus not accountable to public shareholders. Both characters are used to the exercise of unquestioned power. Maybe it’s not surprising that there is mutual admiration.

Will Trump followers be disappointed by his open admiration of Putin? It seems doubtful. His supporters have an evangelical zeal for the man. A great many of his followers are conservative evangelical Christians who believe that Trump’s appearance on the scene meshes with their end-times theology. His appearance is related to the beginning of the apocalypse of prophesy. These supporters believe that the man is here due to supernatural forces that must play out and cannot be dissuaded.

If this is your belief, then it must be comforting for you. For the rest of us, it is an incoherent and destructive kind of nonsense. How can it be that the same religion that preaches love and gave us the Beatitudes would also give us a leader the likes of the ethically disabled Trump. Somehow the creator of the universe, the one who set the galaxies spinning and knows the movements of every flea in the tail feathers of every sparrow, gave us a malignant narcissist like Trump. It is not a question shrouded in religious mystery. It is what it appears to be- absurd. Ambitious and destructive characters like Putin and Trump have appeared regularly throughout history. And through the lens of history we can make some good guesses as to what they can do. Both are threats to democratic civilization in their own way and must be contained.

As to the original question, what did Trump mean by his comments, I don’t know. He makes things up as he goes and lies profusely. I don’t think that even he knows what he means.

The weighty voices of the GOP evangelical propaganda wing have activated following the awful soaking that Houston received. The wagging fingers of TV evangelists were not far behind to remind us of the looming existential threat.

We’ve witnessed a burlesque of  righteous-sounding preachers leaning in from the video pulpit and warning, solemnly and in no uncertain terms, that hurricane Harvey is only the latest in a series of calamities to befall our nation. Our corrupt society is wallowing in a fetid pit of sin and depravity. The storms were heaven sent they intone, to show Who is actually in charge.

It’s all so very clear to these folks. The root cause of the mass murder at Sandy Hook and hurricanes Katrina, and now Harvey is the grievous sin of omission. For what? For failing to put an end to abortion and gay marriage. They’ve been connecting the dots and these dots lead to perdition. An existential threat is on the move. It’s Old Nick up to no good.

The conservative fear machine has kicked into full ruckus configuration. They deploy their weapons of incitement via their heavy presence on AM radio and cable TV. For elections and in the face of national debate, these evangelical conservatives know that they can dependably frighten just enough people to swerve the Republican hive mind. Who are these pliable voters? I think more than a few of them are people who for one reason or another did not take advantage of the education opportunities decades ago and now find themselves near the terminus of a life of toil.

Conveniently for those right of center, the Democratic Party is comatose and strapped into an iron lung, wheezing away the years in an undisclosed location.

9/10/17, Addendum.  In case I was not clear, it’s my observation that conservative protestant evangelical organizations have become a menace to American civilization. It seems to me that the election of Trump and the support bestowed upon him by conservative Christian groups, many of whom can be found out in the open on his evangelical advisory board, has opened the door to opaque theocratic influence on the large scale conduct of American government.

It’s axiomatic that people have an inherent right to worship as they please. So imagine the nightmare of trying to control what people believe when religion is folded into the curriculum of the public schools. What a tragic misunderstanding of human nature it would be to attempt to impose religious doctrine upon students. Parents would have none of it. But, a private school may have much more flexibility to teach a particular sect of religious belief. Is it  a coincidence that privatizing schools is favored by many religious organizations?

Finally, there is the matter of magisteria. Steven J. Gould wrote about religion and science as being non-overlapping magisteria. A magisterium is defined as a “a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution”. A magisterium may or may not recognize an external system of laws, facts, or values. Gould maintained that science and religion were non-overlapping magisteria in the sense that the tools of science were of no use in solving religious questions.

The secular world can be thought of that which describes what is human made and of human concern. It can also be thought of as that which is independent of religion. It is not atheistic or better or worse in any way. In chemistry we might say that the secular is orthogonal or perpendicular the religious. A bolt, an integrated circuit, or a tractor would be in the domain of the secular. So would the National Electrical Code, city ordinances, and state and federal law. All of these items are contrivances made by people for purposes living a better or safer life. Added to these items would be mathematics, the sciences and engineering. That which is measureable like the Volt or the kilogram have no defining attribute which traces back to religious definition.

It has been said that the purpose of government is to protect ourselves from each other. I would extend that to include the general domain of the secular. Having secular government means that subjective interpretations of religious matters must be secondary. This is owing to the reality that there are many religious beliefs in the world and the question of whose religion will prevail in an action involving the public will rapidly become intractable due to disparate beliefs. The secular world has elements of logic, measurement and guidelines for evidence or objective observation. All of these examples could be contained within a secular magisterium.

Public schools have long been the institutions where secular matters were introduced and learned. Government at all levels has been steadfastly kept within the secular domain. There was and remains to be a need for government to manage the secular details of a thriving civilization. The religious magisterium has a heavy reliance on beliefs which is a subjective matter subject to interpretation. A democracy requires a goodly amount of objectivity and evidence.

The notion of non-overlapping magisteria raises an interesting question. What if elements in one magisterium want control of elements in another magisterium? To have elements of a subjective domain in control of elements in the objective domain is to introduce chaos in both. Since neither side has the tools to operate in the other we have to conclude that this circumstance makes no sense for either domains.

 

Dear Samsung,

I have owned a Samsung S6 smartphone for several years. Permit me to offer an appraisal of this device.

Satisfactory Attributes

  1. Satisfactory reliability
  2. Appearance, size, and weight.
  3. Fits in most shirt pockets for maximum personal utility.
  4. Several useful functions and features.
  5. A QWERTY keyboard for faster texting.
  6. Takes video and stills.
  7. Sends video and jpeg files.

Unsatisfactory Attributes

  1. Bad, bad ergonomics overall.
  2. Silicone protective cases prevent easy insertion into shirt pockets.
  3. No inactive margin on screen side by which to hold the phone without activating some feature.
  4. In general the worst ergonomics possible for a camera. It would be difficult to worsen the design.
  5. Subject to mandatory creeping featurism. This is a type of cancer.
  6. Screen difficult or impossible to see in outdoor daylight.
  7. Too many features. In this regard it resembles a universal kitchen tool. Eventually you realize that all you really wanted was to dice the potatoes.
  8. I frequently lose photographic opportunities because the f*cking camera was inadvertently toggled into some other mode, preventing activation of the “shutter”. See #3, this section. !%#@*&@#*&!

What do I really want?

  1. A flip phone that has a QWERTY keyboard, or
  2. A good purpose-built camera that offers basic telephony.

Why do I continue to use it?

  1. Expectation of accessibility by family, friends, and employer.
  2. Connection with friends and distant family via facebook.

Summation

Samsung, I pity you because you are stuck on the endless treadmill of ever increasing novelty. Because of this users are forced to adapt to updates of the Système du jour. I only wish that S6 purchase transactions would change in like manner. Listening to Samsung bitch about having to alter their enterprise system annually to accommodate the hidden needs of unknown organizations would bring a bit of cheer in a sadistic kind of way.

 

Enroute to other things I ran across an old Gulf R&D patent, US 3294685, titled “Organic compositions containing a metallo cyclopentadienyl”. Sifting through the description my eye caught the interesting content below:

July 1941. A test spray was prepared by dissolving 2.5 grams (3.2 percent) of iron dicyclopentadienyl in ml. of a typical household insecticide base oil. The tests made with this solution employed a dosage of IO-second discharge. An equilibrium :period of 15 seconds followed by an exposure period of 70 seconds, during which the mist was permitted to settle on adult house flies confined in a screen-covered dish, was employed in the tests. The results of the tests showed that of the flies which had been contacted with the base oil containing 3.2 percent by weight of iron dicyclopentadienyl, 53.6 percent were dead after 24 hours. Of theflies which were contacted with the base oil alone, only 13.0 percent were dead after 24 hours. Check flies which were confined for 24 hours without having been contacted with either the base oil or the base oil containing iron dicyclopentadienyl had a death rate of only 0.4 percent. The better than fifty percent mortality of the flies treated with the base oil containing iron dicyclopentadienyl is indicative of the insecticidal properties of naphthas containing a small amount of iron dicyclopentadienyl. Naturally, the amount of metallo cyclopentadienyl used in insecticidal compositions-will vary with the particular compound employed and also depends upon the particular insects for which the spray is intended. The amount of iron dicyclopentadienyl employed in insecticidal compositions intended for use on flies is between about 1.0 and 10.0 percent by weight.

Ya know, a greater than 50 % kill rate seems to be getting a bit sporty for the flies. The ol’ boys at Gulf were studying the suitability of a variety of ferrocene analogs for fuel additive application. What lead them to go from octane enhancement and smoke control to killing flies is not revealed in the patent.

Notice the nomenclature in the patent language. The word ferrocene is not mentioned. Looking at the timeline we see that the Gulf ‘685 patent was filed April 21, 1952, not long after the publication of this curious iron cyclopentadienyl compound by two groups, Kealy & Pauson on 12/15/51, and Miller, Tebboth, and Tremaine on 1/1/52. Though Pauson and Keely published first, an examination of the papers show that Miller, Tebboth, and Tremaine were first to submit- July 11, 1951 vs August 4, 1951 for Pauson and Kealy.

The day before Gulf filed the patent application, April 20, 1952, a groundbreaking paper by Wilkinson, Rosenblum, Whiting, and Woodward was published on the proposed structure of iron bis-cyclopentadienyl. It is reported that the name ferrocene was invented by Mark Whiting, a student of R.B. Woodward and coauthor of the 1952 paper in JACS. The name derives from the ferrous ion and the aromatic (“benzene”) nature of the cyclopentadienyl ligands.

The curious structure was proposed largely on the strength of a single C-H IR band at 3.25 μ. Since all of the C-H bonds appeared to be equivalent, the only structure compatible with the formula, charges and symmetry was the famous η5 (eta five) sandwich structure. Later the word metallocene finds use for this class of substances.

There is disagreement as to some of the details outlined above. An excellent article by Pierre Lazlo and Roald Hoffmann navigates some of the narrower channels in the history of ferrocene. It is well worth the read. Lazlo & Hoffmann suggest that Woodward is thought to have conceived the sandwich structure.

Ferrocene and derivatives would soon prove useful in many areas. A more obscure application is found in the field of rocket propellant additives and function as burn rate stabilizers. In fact, certain ferrocene derivatives appear on the US Munitions List, 22 CFR 121.1, Category V, (f)(4) Ferrocene Derivatives. A good overview of ferrocene and other metallocenes can be found in Wikipedia.

Circling back to the beginning of this piece, the patent application for Gulf ‘685 was filed 4/21/52, only 4 months after the publication on 12/15/51 of the Pauson & Kealy paper and two weeks later the Miller, et al., paper on 1/1/52. In the 4 months between Pauson & Kealy and the Gulf patent filing, two independent groups had published papers reporting the preparation of iron dicyclopentadienyl by different methods, a Harvard group had postulated a structure for the compound using IR data and a novel bonding type, and the Gulf R&D group had produced various analogues for testing as fuel additives. In this short time interval, the first organo-iron compound was taken from a literature source through industrial R&D and a patent application. As a premium, Gulf even determined that it had insecticidal properties. Much happened in a short time.

 


Wilkinson, Rosenblum, Whiting, and Woodward J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1952, 74 (8), pp 2125–2126. DOI: 10.1021/ja01128a527

Kealy and Pauson, Nature, 168, 1039 (1951). Received Aug. 7, 1951.  DOI: 10.1038/1681039b0

Miller, Tebboth, and Tremaine J. Chem. Soc., 1952,0, 632-635. Received July 11, 1951. DOI: 10.1039/JR9520000632

Laszlo P., Hoffmann R. ACIEE, 2000 Jan; 39(1):123-124.  DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-3773(20000103)39:1<123::AID-ANIE123>3.0.CO;2-Z

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 559,141 hits