Tag Archives: politics

Duverger’s law

See wiki. Sums up why America has a 2 party system.


How star trek evolved toward pacifism in the Vietnam war


A good read. It’s enlightening to see someone analyze the air dates to provide more context to some of my favorite episodes. Still, I thought “the Omega War” was pretty stupid with it’s extreme parallel evolution, and that really broke the 4th wall for me.

I wish Gene Rodenberry were still alive and writing. I’d love to hear his take on our modern problems, just as I’d love to have heard Hitchens have a field day with the Christians who wanted to massively retaliate against the Sengalese islanders who killed their missionary last week.

The “Little War” episode which focused on maintaining a balance of power was pretty inconclusive and I honestly wasn’t sure what to think of it. (I actually thought Kirk had decided at the end to leave the planet without giving them the flintlocks.)


It never occurred to me that “City on the Edge of Tomorrow” was supposed to be commentary on the Vietnam War, and I thought instead that it was commentary on WW2. Of them all it was my favorite episode, I loved the tragic drama, and how Kirk had to make a hard ethical choice and choose the ends over the means.

I also wasn’t aware of how much of the war wouldn’t have been familiar to Gene Roddenberry when the series began. So much of the war is obvious to me now, but back then no one knew much and there definitely wasn’t as much information or the internet. I had sort of thought the intellectuals would have knpwn netter, but it probably did take a long while for information and the truth to trickle back to America.


I would have liked to have seen Gene Roddenberry have a discussion with Christopher Hitchens on whether it made sense to invade Iraq, and to keep occupying it for 20 or more years. I also think “Day of the Dove”, should have been included on the list.


I get the impression Star Trek opposed war, and believed in self-defense and self-determination, and struggled with interventionalism. It did seem to oppose American exceptionalism as a form of arrogance like in that episode where Kirk and another Klingon commander were stopped from starting an interplanetary war by indigenous people they had thought were more primitive than them. Star trek tends to say leave the people alone until they’re ready to engage with you: That’s the idea of the Prime Directive. It’s the intuition pump Star Trek has popularized.

Still, religion based terrorism and refugees have changed the world and challenged Cold War era political doctrines. I wonder what Gene would say if he had lived through 9/11? Betrnard Russel sorta stopped being a total pacifist in the face of the Nazis, as Hitchens did in the face of “theocratic fascists” (which often meant non-secularists.) In all the Star Trek episodes that dealt with WW2, they just coincidentally intevened on the side of the allies. So much for that prime directive: clearly Gene hadn’t figured out a short algorithum with a better ethical calculus, and had to include unwritten exceptions to his rules.

Falun Gong is another cult that refuses medicine

View story at Medium.com

Link here. Back in the day I sided with them on the grounds of religious freedom, and because the CCP was harvesting their organs and ruthlessly trying to stamp them out. I didn’t have a perfectly consistent position because I always made exceptions that favoured Christianity.  Let’s just agree that both sides are bad.  I used to think religion were my allies in China, and that Christians would help improve the culture of China. I was naive, and in fact Christianity is not part of the solution to China’s problems. Although I think the altruism of Jesus might help them to be less selfish or profit-driven, America shows that isn’t the only kind of Christianity that could dominate, and China has its hands full with enough superstition  and dogmatic thinking already.

More Christians in China could reinforce pluralistic and secular multiculturalism, so their presence isn’t all bad. As long as they’re a defanged minority that can stimulate ideas and hopefully someday help Chinese people to debate effectively against Christian apologists abroad. (Sadly, Chinese people I’ve met care more about making money that debating or reching the truth, and they may not often be allies in preaching the virtue of secularism.) The state is after all part of their religion.

Ideally, someday China will open it’s mind to western philosophy and the flow of ideas and then someday maybe after they shred their autocracy they’ll become allies on the crusades for secular multiculturalism.  (That day is too far away.)


MAGA npc.jpg

MAGA people are the NPCs, but they unironically are copy pasting a meme that claims liberals are the fake people who repeat what they’re programmed to say. Meanwhile they listen to conservative media and will defend Trump from any criticism.

Moreover, we need to stop boomers until we know what the hell is going on

But really, we’re in a propaganda war and we lost a battle in 2016. If the left can’t learn how to be as funny the right, then it’s going to lose elections to dumb memes (like this one.)


Why the world is not ready for democratic socialism

I’ve taken to calling myself a democratic socialist since Bernie Sanders ran, but it’s more accurate to say we are social democrats and so are all major leftist European parties I know of. This means that we want income redistribution and a welfare state with consider protections, but we don’t actually desire to completely dismantle capitalism in the next fifty years. Anyone who tried to create a democratic socialist state would come under siege, so how could a democratic socialist state survive and thrive?

As I see it, we have to resolve a set of ideological challenges globally before any countries can have actual democratic socialism and make it last. Otherwise hostile external capitalistic states and wealthy ideologues will meddle in our elections and appeal to the baser instincts of greed and apathy that are in any state, attack the weak points, buy our democratically elected representatives, undermine the incentives, undermine the liberal education system, and undermine any attempt at a new rules-based world order. Otherwise, immigrants who want economic benefits without giving up totalitarian ideologies will enter and sabotage our democratic countries.This is what keeps me from allying myself fully with actual democratic socialism right now, even though capitalism is likely to waste our non-renewable resources and destroy itself without regulation.

During the cold war Kenneth Waltz (who created the structural realism theory of international relations) observed it is rare for democracies to fight democracies, and he suggested that is a necessary step to ending war. (The caveat being that democracies are more likely to distrust totalitarian states and to go to war to try and make them into democracies. Still, unless totalitarianism is ever desirable, then I am likely to believe that we need to spread functioning democracy to the majority of countries for peace and prosperity. )

Capitalism is just one of a bunch of ticking doomsday clocks. We ultimately have to find a solution to several problems at once because out if any of the doomsday clocks hit zero, an existential threat will rise and civilization or our species will perish.

One of those threats is the totalitarianism of Islam which is the only religion which has countries that give the death penalty to those who leave it. Several other countries like Russia and China are in an AI arms race, and in the not so distant future misaligned general AI could feed us bad information, be as bad as a nuclear war,  and kill us all. We must make it as unthinkable for states like China and the USA to go to war as it is for California to go to war with Nevada, otherwise anything like democratic socialism will remain out of reach.

Also, a evolutionary psychologist and libertarian I listened to thinks that due to how we evolved we are better at managing things at a small level with interpersonal relationships, than at  big level where it’s more complicated. It will take time to design systems and frameworks that compensate for those limitations,  and as long as the world is a turbulent mess in Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and parts of Asia, I just don’t see any breathing room for imagination.


I wonder what NATO should have done to prevent the advent of Putin?

I remember back in the 1990’s when history books and articles ended the cold war on a triumphant tone. There was a widespread expectation among victorious Americans that when Russia switched from a command economy to capitalism Russia would be forced to become a democracy. Many liberals and libertarians believed their economy would catch up, and then there would be shared interests that would cause them to become allies to NATO, and possibly against China. But of course Russia failed to change, and we must lay some of the blame on NATO for failing to coax Russia in a different direction when Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of Russia.

What could America have done to prevent the advent of Boris Yeltsin, the corrupt oligarchy, and then Vladimir Putin in Russia? It’s clear that America didn’t finish off the wicked dragon when it was beading on the ground, and the consequence is a resurgent Russia.

Kyle Kulinski is too soft on Russia

Kyle Kulinski is a progressive Democrat who runs a political channel on Youtube called “Secular Talk” where he gives his opinions on current news and political rhetoric. I sometimes tune into his channel and agree for a while, but except when he takes a utopian position on how we should speak kindly with dictators.

“Female Trump Voters Say Silly Things on CNN”

At 12 minutes in Kyle Kulinski says he wants to have a good relationship with Russia “to prevent world war 3.” I see this as a slippery slope, and find it rather disgusting. No matter what happens, there would still be a red telephone, just as there always has been. We can afford to take more confrontational stances than we already have, and to not appease thuggish dictators with gentle rhetoric without causing another Cuban Missile crisis.

Liberal democracies shouldn’t get along with Putin, anymore than liberal citizens should get along with fascists. I want condemnation of Putin, and I feel proud when my leaders do it. Furthermore, I consider it necessary and useful for America to lay out our ideological opposition to totalitarianism all the time, because our country believes in democracy and self-determination. It is in also in America’s geopolitical best interest to speak that way, as a voice of moral clarity, and then to strive for a liberal world order.

Appeasement can be just as dangerous of a slippery slope as saber-rattling. Our politicians can manage to criticize Russia or North Korea honestly, and even put sanctions on them without worrying that it’s going to bring about a war. Russia deserves to be credited with some trust; after all, they did possess enough rationality to not start WW3 during or since the cold war!) Kulinski doesn’t have to be so dogmatic about pacifism. He is free to position himself as an isolationist who opposes American intervention abroad, and who still expects his leaders to stand up for democracy abroad by criticizing Russia–which is the minimum liberal politicians can do.

While Kulinski has not been consistent about standing up for liberty throughout the word, he has been consistent over time about taking a cultural relativist position on liberty. I mean to say that he has been too willing to compromise his “liberal” principles for my liking, like when he had to attack Christopher Hitchens, (something I’ve already rambled about earlier.)  At one point in the video titled “What’s Your Take On Christopher Hitchens?,” he accused Hitchens of “losing his mind near the end and siding with the Neo-cons,” which he emphasized as though it were a swear word. To me it sounded almost like an ad-hominem attack, and like something you’d say to appeal to partisan viewers. (The fair thing to do would be to approach Hitchens’s position in the spirit of charity, avoid cheap attacks on his association, and to more directly attack his position.)

It’s very difficult to argue against Hitchen’s idealism. You can oppose the war in Iraq for many pragmatic reasons, but Hitchens’ position is the more moral one because its foundation is universal liberalism, which Kulinski still hasn’t realized.

Sorry Kulinski, but the best interests of America’s citizens requires moral idealism, and not just fluid diplomacy and free markets. If you want there to be good countries even if America falls then you have to fight for democracy everywhere you can. I say this under the presumption that “the veil of ignorance” should be a principle guide for how all citizens on Earth consider politics.

A response to when Catholics defend the Galileo and the backwardness of the Middle Ages

Pause to remember the Renaissance which means “rebirth” in French. Christians couldn’t draw, everything was flat 2D because they were focused on their inner spiritual world rather than the external world, and if Christianity were instrumental for progress then we would have advanced sooner within those 1000 years without needing to dig up ancient knowledge from the Greeks (and Romans.) We rediscovered old art and that is when we learned the techniques of foreshadowing and 2 point perspective which had been lost for a thousand years, and then only after reading ancient Greek philosophy were we ready for a scientific method, because Christian thought was always an obstacle. The moment science expanded from neutral topics and started to contradict the Catholic church and its dogma, the church fought back and then you had Galileo’s arrest and other heresy trials.

Ancient Greece was always a more advanced civilization than the most Christian countries that have ever existed during the Dark/Middle Ages because they had a freer spirit of inquiry. It’s a terrible thing when Christianity fights our values, and then when it loses it tries to claim credit for them. DarkMatter2525 made a video about that, titled “The theft of our values.”

A response to when Catholics defend the Galileo and the backwardness of the Middle Ages

You can’t say there was stagnation in the Middle Ages, because Christianity invented the crossbow

Funny how the first examples that you thought of were advancements in weapon technology. Yes, it’s natural for you to think of those because the Middle Ages were a barbaric time full of strife, sectarian violence and holy wars, as during the time when we were the closest to following God’s holy word. That was when we thought about the God and Jesus the most, and followed the bible the more strictly than at any other time in history. The result for Europe was close to hell on Earth, with disease, widespread illiteracy, superstition run amok, systems that perpetuated injustice, anti-Antisemitism, serfdom, disenfranchised women, and the Inquisition.

Now we would expect there to be some technological advances in a thousand years anywhere, but the question is why there wasn’t much more of it during that very Christian time period, and then why did it suddenly change? I don’t think it’s coincidental that when we found ancient knowledge during the Renaissance it triggered a Scientific Revolution. There is something about Greek thought and even its religion with all of the lazy gods which allows for freer thought than Christian monotheism.

Monarchs and elites helped by pushing back against the church; had they not done that then the new printing presses would have printed bibles and theological treatises which were what the handful of literate people (monks) had cared about for centuries. A division of power between church and state helped literate geniuses to communicate and spread revolutionary discoveries when they were separated by hundreds of miles, (and also allowed aristocrats to shield dissidents like Martin Luther who could further weaken the Catholic hegemony.)

Fundamentalist Christianity looked just like Fundamentalist Islam in the Middle East today, but how often do you hear about new scientific discoveries coming out of the Middle East? Their greatest technological advancements today involve breeding camels. If we hadn’t pushed back against the church, then we still would be where the Islamic world is right now, stuck in the 7th century during the 21st century.

It’s no coincidence that the period when we most strictly adhered to Christianity was a time when we fell backward so far that we forgot how to make concrete for one thousand years. Yes, the Romans knew how to do it, and they built the Roman Pantheon with it in 125 AD, and then shortly after most of the population embraced Christianity we lost the technology and literally forgot how to make cement for one thousand years. In fact, I was told when I took Art History at college that we never found the same exact recipe and to this day we still can’t make the same strong concrete in the way that the Romans did at the Pantheon.

I wish to ask you only out of amazed curiosity–whether you feel any embarrassment at arguing in the defense of groups of people who owe you no loyalty and who would absolutely kill you at the drop of a hat if they were still around? Do you really think the Inquisition, or the guys running the Salem witch trials in early Colonial America could be trusted to not back-stab you and be your allies? If not then why on Earth do you think you’re in the right when you try to revise history to defend the actions of such detestable people?

Take the pope, you say he met Galileo. Wonderful, let’s imagine how that might have happened in context.

Galileo wanted to publish a book that contradicted the church’s teachings about an Earth-centered universe. The Pope agrees to meets him, hears his idea and is impressed and says, “Well that sounds like a great idea. I will mandate it and make it the only belief you’re allowed to have.” Galileo then says, “Well that sounds very nice of you, but no thank you, that kind of misses the point.”

Like I said, don’t you feel any embarrassment when your internet posts shield people who banned thousands of books? Or a religious organization that banned the laity from owning a bible for centuries to prevent contradictions or biblical criticism, because it would weaken the authority of the priests?

Don’t you value the free speech that allows you to write what you’re writing on the internet? It seems clear to me that you keep two sets of books, and whenever you walk into a room to argue about religion you leave the book with critical thinking at the door. Religion comes to us with a smiley face and an ingratiating form, but you have no right to forget how it was when it was strong before it lost its claws.

We can’t just give kids body armor

We must either ban guns (and maybe limit 3D printing,) or force kids to lug heavy bullet proof backpacks and armor to school in addition to their textbooks.

I love that our great patriot General Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA and CIA has come out against gun violence and the insanity on the right. “More kids have been killed in High Schools in America in the last year than in Afghanistan.”


And the replies to the video on his twitter are priceless:

“A well-regulated militia: – Meets regularly – Observes its members conduct and fitness for duty – Expels crazy people and confiscates their weapons – Enforces rigorous safety rules when handling firearms – Obeys the law – Welcomes public comment – Respected by non-member citizens

*and respects all citizens & residents, & ensures they receive equal protection under the law”

“Oh, you mean the state run National guardsmen that help out during catastrophic disasters of weather and war? That’ll pretty much cover the guidelines of a well run militia. I’m good with that.”

We’ll handle Pence, but we need to impeach trump

I think Pence can be more easily reigned-in by his constituents. He doesn’t have Trump’s cult of personality and they would be demoralized if Trump were impeached which would hurt Pence’s base. Personally, I say impeach both of them since they ran on the same ticket which was compromised when Trump went to a meeting with his son in law and stayed in the same building as the Russians.

Impeaching Trump would cause a big disruption to the executive branch whether or not Pence replaces him. The first impeachment in American history would wound the Republican party’s respectability for a decade, and I think it’d be worth a year and a half of lame-duck Pence. If we get enough Democrats elected in 2018 to impeach Trump, then we can check Pence’s worst actions the way a minority of Republicans did to Obama for 8 long years.