Links 5/16/14

New Paltz Students Find $40K in a Couch The Little Rebellion (JW)

World Health Statistics 2014: Large gains in life expectancy WHO

Galapagos in ’emergency’ over stranded petrol tanker BBC

Even Tiny Amounts of Radioactive Food Made Caterpillars Become Abnormal Butterflies Smithsonian

The Neuroscientist Who Wants To Upload Humanity To A Computer Popular Science

Dracula’s Bran Castle is up for sale Sidney Morning Herald (furzy mouse)

Congress moves to turn back taxes over to debt collectors WaPo. “[A]t the request of Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose state is home to two of the four private collection agencies that stand to benefit from the proposal.” 

The FCC’s Tom Wheeler now has his loaded gun. Will he use it to defend the free Internet? Pando

Abramson Axed at ‘NYT’  Greg Mitchell, and What Might Leadership Change Mean for Times Readers? Public Editor, Times

Global Growth Worries Climb WSJ

ECB readies package of rate cuts and targeted measures Reuters

Hunt for abducted Nigerian girls ‘unlikely to have happy ending’ Reuters

Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa Black Agenda Report

Big Brother Is Watching You

NSA Collection: Show Me the $$ emptywheel. Domestic financial records collection. From the Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden receive 2014 Ridenhour Prize for truth-telling: (transcript) Corrente

A Spoonful of Sugar Fat Land Living

The Biology and Genetics of Obesity — A Century of Inquiries NEJM



Employee of ACA contractor said she quit because lack of work KMOV. Serco.

For Medicaid Patients, Access To Primary-Care May Not Be As Advertised  KHN. Film at 11.

Readers, I (lambert) am aware I still have a correction to issue on ObamaCare enrollment numbers. Unfortunately, I suffered a schedule slippage and then a collapse. My bad; tomorrow.

Recording seems to refute claims made by Anthem LA Times. Make sure you have a recording to back you up when they say you’re “in network.”

Risk of dying in hospital increases on weekend regardless of admission day, study finds Minnesota Post

UnitedHealth Leads Plan to Reveal Health Prices to Consumers Bloomberg

Should health care be rationed? It already is Bangor Daily News

Sanders to Host Single Payer Summit Single Payer Action. Not sure why S1782 bill needs 189 pages when HR676 needed only 30.


Workers Seize City in Eastern Ukraine From Separatists Times

Ukraine: French Photographer Confirms U.S. Mercenary Presence Moon of Alabama

Night of the Hunter: Family Values in American Foreign Policy Empire Burlesque

They’re lying about Ukraine, again: Primitive prejudice, stupidity and the reflexive compliance of the New York Times Salon (YY)

Russia and Ukraine gas talks stall FT

Second Anniversary of Colombia Pact Spotlights Administration’s Failed Promise of Labor Rights Improvements, Now Recycled to Defend TPP Negotiations with Vietnam amid Worker Riots Eyes on Trade

Xi’s Southeast Asia Strategy Tested by Vietnam Protests Bloomberg

Vietnam Protests: More Than Just Anti-China Sentiment Council on Foreign Relations

Sticky goings-on in Teflon Thailand South China Morning Post

Ouster of Thai PM Complicates Key U.S. Partnership in Southeast Asia World Politics Review. Stay away, Obama! Ukraine, over there! Stay away!

India Counts 551 Million Votes as Modi Projected to Take Power Bloomberg

Egypt’s Revolution Can Be Saved Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Boeing conducted unfair practices against U.S. engineers: labor board Reuters. What could go wrong?

Discouraged Workers Bloomberg

Getting Pfired isn’t Phunny The Confluence. Pharma.

Lunch with the FT: Tim Geithner Martin Wolf, FT. Still pushing the Big Lie that TARP made money, and old boy Wolf, sadly, doesn’t call Geithner on it. More: “’Most people thought I came from Wall Street,’ [Geithner] says. I agree.” Funny, I thought the New York Fed, “a private institution owned by member banks” that performs banking functions, and of which Geithner was President, was located at 33 Liberty Street, down there on the nether tip of Manhattan. Did I not get the memo?

Against against commodification (markets in everything) Marginal Revolution. I’m gonna bill for this link.

So the complete Bell Journal is online and I am not going to blog it The Yorkshire Ranter. Techies take note!

The girl who sparked Brown v. Board of Education Waging Nonviolence

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. CB

    I believe that’s a picture of Tarra and Bella at their elephant sanctuary in TN. Bella is several yrs dead, coyotes, the vets thought. Bella wasn’t accepted by the other elephants so Tarra and the dog roamed the sanctuary by themselves. Kind of unusual that an elephant would choose a dog as a fast companion rather than other elephants. Since Bella’s death, Tarra has rejoined elephant society.

  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Should health care be rationed? It already is Bangor Daily News

    ” If we agree to limit access to ineffective, marginally effective or downright harmful care, we could more than afford to expand access to everybody.

    Quite a remarkable statement when you think about it. Remarkably absurd.

    I’m trying to imagine who it is that WOULDN’T “agree.”

    1. CB

      And who sets the criteria? My, my, all that anecdotal ego flying around, a doc cat fight.

      1. James Levy

        I have to concur. Who decides? And who gets the exemptions because they are rich or politically connected? A system like the one Katniss is proposing must be built on trust, and we no longer trust anyone to set a standard and stick to it. It’s too obvious that all these systems from “too big to fail” on down are unjust. They cater to those with money and power.

    2. diptherio

      Presented out of context like that, the statement appears to mean something quite different from what it actually does. Just so no one’s confused, here are a few preceding paragraphs:

      In many cases, delaying care is actually a good thing. There is a growing recognition that in the U.S. some types of care are too accessible, resulting in costly and risky overuse of many tests and treatments that have little or no value, and others that may actually do more harm than good.

      In exchange for restricting access to some tests or treatments of little or no value, we could reduce overall health care costs significantly and largely eliminate cost as a factor in deciding who receives medical care and what kind of care they receive. In most other wealthy countries, the ability to pay does not enter into the thinking of either the patient or the doctor. [emphasis added]

      In this article, he’s suggesting that a single-payer system that rations care on the basis of patient need and therapeutic efficacy, rather than on ability to pay, would be a more rational and humane system than the one we have now. In this he is correct. He is not suggesting that we limit care to useless and harmful procedures, but that we limit the use of those useless and harmful procedures.

      1. craazyboy

        That may well be the biggest problem with US healthcare. The therapeutic efficacy and also diagnostic efficacy of equipment and tests of a large amount of healthcare dollars being spent is horrible. Then it would be relatively easy to collect efficacy data since the stuff is in full scale use and it is like a great big FDA trial, if there was someone collecting, analyzing, and acting upon the data. Not to mention the info would be of great value to doctors and hospitals because they would have better information about how to best do their jobs – rather than getting sued for not using the megabucks device or test that give false positives (or visa-versa).

        1. LucyLulu

          The problem with much of this wasteful medical care is not that providers don’t know that it’s ineffective. It’s that it’s being driven by patient demand and the pursuit of profits. For example, somebody who experiences chronic back pain will, in desperation, seek a surgical solution even if surgery is as likely to increase pain as alleviate it. Surgeons, who have spent long years learning and training for their profession and who make their money doing surgery, not on office visits, are biased towards recommending surgical solutions. Another person, experiencing acute back pain, expects his doctor to order an MRI at the outset, despite the vast majority will be symptom-free within 6 weeks, treatment or not.

      2. Skeptic

        “There is a growing recognition that in the U.S. some types of care are too accessible, resulting in costly and risky overuse of many tests and treatments that have little or no value, and others that may actually do more harm than good.”

        Bullseye! Some agency or economist or commission should do a report on how much
        “healthcare” is actually efficacious. A lot of it is not only hokum but also harmful. Here in Canada for instance as treatment for heart disease they will angioplast, stent and bypass you literally to death. Yet, these treatment have been PROVEN to have limited therapeutic affect.
        The fact that Placebo plays a large part in the success of a lot of treatments should also be factored in. My personal estimate of the efficacy of CDN Healthcare which is not even nutrition based would be about 50%, i.e. 50% efficacious and the remainder either useless of harmful.

      3. Lambert Strether

        Forgetting for the moment about lives saved by universal coverage, if you combine $340 billion of unnecessary, inefficiently delivered care with the $400 billion (minimum) you save on administrative costs, you’re starting to talk real money.

  3. Ulysses

    From the Salon piece linked above: “It is not encouraging, this stubborn adherence to the plainly untrue.”

    For the propagandists and corporate shills who dominate the MSM, the actual reality is always far less important than the preservation of the preferred narrative. When facts can be twisted, however awkwardly, to support the narrative, then the facts are twisted as required. When facts run obviously against the preferred narrative then they are simply ignored or denied.

    We have very little journalism left here in the “free world.” What we have is mostly stenography and public relations.

    “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” — George Orwell.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      My hope is that the projected reality becomes so cartoonish that even those of low intellect can appreciate it for what it is.

      Bullshit is only useful if someone believes it.

    2. Lambert Strether

      “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” Sounds like karma, actually.

      In fact, we’ve been an empires since the 1890s when we took the Phillipines and put down a war of national liberation with brutal methods. For whatever reason, the rot seems to be setting in now. “People are starting to stare.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And in a move we have since repeated a few times, (per Wiki):

        ‘Several days later, Dewey agreed to transport Aguinaldo from Hong Kong to the Philippines aboard the USS McCulloch, which left Hong Kong with Aguinaldo on May 16. arriving in Cavite on May 19.[18] Aguinaldo promptly resumed command of revolutionary forces and besieged Manila…’

        Aguinaldo, of course, was the leader of that war of national liberation you mentioned.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Congress…back taxes over to debt collectors.

    Didn’t the Romans call them tax farmers back in the good old days?

    1. craazyboy

      I hope Congress understands that typically debt collectors pay 5-10 cents on the dollar for “bad debt” (to the Treasury in this case), then try and collect the full 100%, which they get to keep, of course.

      Or maybe they do understand that.

      1. reslez

        From what I understand they typically try to collect far more than 100%, with all sorts of penalty fees and charges added in. The original debt snowballs into an unsurmountable burden that drives people to penury.

        Working as designed.

        1. craazyboy

          That’s true in general.

          Actually, I wrote my comment before reading the entire article. I’ve since read it and the article is very detailed and worth a read. This isn’t new legislation – it is passing an old program that was already in place for a time – and cost the treasury money.

          In this case they are get getting paid to attempt collections, whether they are “successful” or not. Many of the tax delinquent people appear to be broke and unemployed, at least for now. But you get paid to try and squeeze some blood. The article implies it’s a give away program for 4 large upstate NY collection firms.

          Of course nothing can be done about Grand Cayman.

          But we can get Putin.

          1. craazyboy

            In the case where they are employed, I know a couple people that had their paychecks garnished for back taxes – so the IRS has no problem doing that all by themselves.

    2. ambrit

      Yes, they were called tax farmers. Like that quaint olde trade in “baby farming.” (It quite literally means what it says.) As a cautionary tale on what we must guard against, tax farming is the canary in the coal mine for American civil society. Once “citizens” are officially objectified through the tax farming frame of reference, it is but a short hop, skip, or jump to “citizen farming.” Until recently, babies and children and the women who had and raised them were considered property. Which could be disposed of. This is a devolution we must fight. The Dark Ages were called that for some very good reasons.

    3. GuyFawkesLives

      If this occurs, then we could issue Debt Validation letters under 12 USC 2605. Can you imagine? LOL

  5. craazyboy

    Lunch with the FT: Tim Geithner

    Tim reveals he is from Planet Mongo – but had to live on Wall Street because those were the immigration rules handed him by the Men In Black.

  6. jfleni

    RE: Workers Seize City in Eastern Ukraine From Separatists

    Checkmate! “Sewer-mouth Vicky”, all the other lost tribes of Neocon morons in Dogpatch-DC, and all the Empire loyalists who want to interfere in somebody elses business! The local people will handle it themselves, and a good thing too.

    NeoNazi thugs and Neocons out! The best possible outcome!

    1. ambrit

      If this is not being stage managed from Moscow, then everyone better watch out. If it spreads, some good old fashioned Communism could erupt! As an added plus, what if the Kiev regime tries to put it down by force and succeeds? Russia would be on the horns of a dillemna. If Kiev fails, then the West bestrides the same dillemna. Either way, fun and games, except for all those prematurely dead people.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Not likely. The Ukraine’s unpaid gas bill owed to Russia is still under negotiation. This probably means the Kiev regime is bribing oligarchs with the initial bailout funds dispensed as apart of their national unity plan. The country won’t receive the international bailout funds promised if the Eastern Ukraine secedes. The oligarchs are putting on a farce show of force to keep the money flowing after the independence vote.

  7. optimader

    Hunt for abducted Nigerian girls ‘unlikely to have happy ending’

    Tragic Nigerian domestic event.
    How is the US national interest served by being involved in this?

    Reply ↓

    1. ambrit

      Dear optimader;
      That part of the world is still working its’ way through the legacies of Colonialism. One major problem we left the Africans was the questions of borders. None of the post colonial African states that I know of had its’ borders drawn to the wishes of the people on the ground. The Middle East is the same. So, you get separatist movements and civil wars. Wars based on mismatches in ethnic, tribal, and religious affiliations. The other aspect of this is; if you are going to claim the mantle of “Worlds Policeman” you had better step up to the plate in respect to outrageous behavior. So, this is one of those defining moments. We fail here, and even the shreds of respectability left to us are gone.

      1. Bill Smith

        It was ‘people’ who drew the borders last time. Which people get to draw the borders this time? Same problem, different people.

        Alas, if both ‘peoples’ came to an agreement that would be one thing. Not likely though.

    2. Katniss Everdeen


      Have you read the Black Agenda Report link “Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa”?

      As usual with BAR, it is quite informative.

      But you are right. Other than trying to redeem our tarnished and largely “unredeemable” reputation as benevolent cops on the global beat, our involvement serves absolutely no national purpose.

      Except to fill the media hole left when people got tired of hearing about MH370 still being gone without a trace.

      1. James Levy

        When does the chant of “blame the colonial powers” expire?
        I consider Nigerians to be like everyone else–human being with things like volition and responsibility for their actions. The Boko Haram pigs who pulled this shit are not absolved by brining up the British, nor is this atrocity Britain’s fault. It is the crime of the men who did it, period. They didn’t have to act this way. They’ve had 50 years to get their shit together, and tons of oil money to help them along the way. And it is the job of the Nigerian police and military to protect their own. The fact that they are a bunch of grifters who don’t do their job is also not Britain’s fault.
        All that said, we can’t solve Nigerians’ problems for them. They are grownups, and have to sort our their own mess. The US should not get involved, because American motives are suspect and the US can never abstain from being self-serving in such cases. The only thing we could do would be to surreptitiously slip the Nigerians the hard cash or gold to buy those kidnapped back, but we won’t, because that would be truly altruistic and therefore beyond the imaginations of the people who run this country.

    3. JerseyJeffersonian

      Trace it back to the takedown of Ghaddafi’s government, brought to you by those World-Class Purveyors of Chaos, the US and its pack of poodles. Boko Haram was massively empowered and linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in its aftermath. Sophisticated and plentiful weaponry, and bloody-minded ideologues thrown into the bargain. Whoo hoo.

      Of course, there is an upside; AFRICOM has something to further justify its existence. And the MIC is rubbing its hands in sheer glee. Not to be forgotten, there is all of “our” oil in Nigeria, and this crisis only serves to point out that NATO must step in and restore proper functionality to that near-failed-state, Nigeria, otherwise the flow might be interrupted…

        1. MyLessThanPrmeBeef

          I thought they did it to stimulate the economy and create more jobs…important national interests.

      1. optimader

        Actually I don’t necessarily think that, lets call it a Rhetorical question.

        If I were cynical I would say it merely allows cover for manned-over flights to update details across the emission spectrum, what lights up what doesn’t, who is where, what’s physically changed and how much. Regarding motivations, it could be our “peeps” that control the hoovering assets in the sky indeed think this is an opportunity in “our” national interest, whether it is or not is of course beside the point. In reality, if the children end up in a ditch on the side of a road we now own part of the failure to “find ” them. Par for the course.

        Or if I were really cynical I can contemplate it simply being a result of Michelle Obama ragging on BHO to demonstrate some theatrical interest so that at her next ethnocentric gig she can demonstrate that we (make that she and BHO) really do indeed care about the little people on the dark continent.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Stats 2014 – big gains in life expectancy.

    But are those extra years quality, happy years or lonely, painful years?

    Similarly, we can ask, are record wheat harvests organic, nutritious or GM, full of chemicals?

    Are guaranteed jobs ones people are passionate about or simply soul-draining and demeaning jobs that will make the champagne-sipping 0.01% feel about being green, since serfs and slaves are renewable and biodegradable?

    1. Romancing the Loan

      Given that those “extra years” are, if you actually read the stats, primarily due to fewer children in third world countries dying before the age of five, I’d say their extra years contain all three.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks, Romancing the Loan, I will read the article later.

        When it comes to life expectancy, quality versus quantity is important to me, as it applies to that specific issue (I appreciate the below comments shared by others here) but also because it is relevant to many other issues in life, some of which I inquired about in the earlier comment.

        That would be something I look for when I begin to read any article. I would be disappointed if the author focuses on numbers or math without looking at that.

      2. MyLessThanPrmeBeef

        I glanced at the article and am now curious about

        1. What can we say about countries with high life expectancy, with little difference between men and women? Gender equality and less wealth inequality?

        2. What can we say about countries with lower life expectancy, with little difference btw men and women? Gender equality and severe wealth inequality?

        3. What can we say about countries with high life expectancy and significant difference btw men and women? Your usual gender division where men tend to stress a lot more, voluntarily ad involuntarily?

        It’s interesting in some countries, like Iceland, where women live less than 4 years longer than men, who, by the way, is #1 in male life expectancy, whereas countries like Japan, women live 7 years longer than men, and which by the way, is #1 in female life expectancy.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      My mother-in-law has “lived” with Parkinson’s/Dementia for 6 or 7 years now (we are the primary caregivers). Not much of a life, and a fine example of why longevity isn’t always a good thing.

      This country owes Jack Kevorkian a posthumous pardon and a Medal of Freedom.

    3. GuyFawkesLives

      I got into a conversation yesterday, after seeing an assisted-living community’s numbers on how many men resided there vs. how many women resided there, that perhaps women outlive men only because in the past women’s lives were much less stressful than a man’s stress in business and supporting the family. However, it will be interesting to see if women continue to live longer with the women in the work force and sometimes being the sole bread winner of the household.

      Stress kills. We all know that.

      By the way, in looking at today’s stats of living longer vs. earlier times where we actually wore our bodies out with hard work, it is my preference to wear my body out with hard work and die at a younger age. I see what living longer produces and I don’t want any of it. We keep people alive far beyond when people feel like a contributing element of society (which is extremely SAD). My Mom is now blind from macular degeneration and that is creating all kinds of anxiety that pills alone cannot help. However, it is good to visit elderly people. I had a conversation with a woman in my Mom’s new home who emigrated to the U.S. on the run from the Nazi’s. She told horrifying stories that should continue to be told and re-told, lest we forget how power corrupts.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Vietnam and XI’s Southeast Asian Strategy.

    Speaking of Confucius, there is a Confucian Doctrine called Rectification of Names, about the importance of calling things by their proper names.

    It’s not unlike Socrates seeking to clarify definitions…what is happiness, justice, etc…

    So, notice that in the dispute between Vietnam and China over an area, that area is called South China Sea and not East Vietnam Sea nor North Philippines Sea?

    They probably need to use a more neutral name before they can proceed any further.

    1. craazyboy

      Well, it was probably named that by some 18th century English explorer like James Cook on his way to discovering Australia. The poor guy was in a sailboat at the time and had no idea of the importance of oil a couple centuries later, so give the dude a break.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You’re right. He’s not the only offender.

        The New World – really? It’s actually an old world.

        Mt. Everest – it’s Sagarmatha, No, it’s Chomolungma.

        It’s a long list of unforeseen mistakes…

  10. rich

    The Italian Disaster

    Commonplace in a Union that presents itself as a moral tutor to the world, the pollution of power by money and fraud follows from the leaching of substance or involvement in democracy. Elites freed from either real division above, or significant accountability below, can afford to enrich themselves without distraction or retribution. Exposure ceases to matter very much, as impunity becomes the rule. Like bankers, leading politicians do not go to prison. Of the fauna above, only an elderly Greek has ever suffered that indignity. But corruption is not just a function of the decline of the political order. It is also, of course, a symptom of the economic regime that has taken hold of Europe since the 1980s. In a neoliberal universe, where markets are the gauge of value, money becomes, more straightforwardly than ever before, the measure of all things. If hospitals, schools and prisons can be privatised as enterprises for profit, why not political office too?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘…markets are the gauge of value, money becomes, more straightforwardly than ever before, the measure of all things…’

      They may be just distant rumblings, but one can start by asking if it is sane, yes, I mean sane, to put monetary value on anything at all.

      Can someone really buy one hour of your life?

      And one can cause even more remote rumblings by asking questions like, instead of what is the purpose of life, something simpler, like ‘what is the purpose of science?’

      That is a worthy question because, it seems, as soon as a secret of Nature has been uncovered, aided and abetted by Science and her worshippers, it is used immediately to destroy or rape her.

  11. Garrett Pace

    FIFA head calls Qatar 2022 world cup a mistake

    Better to bake in the sun than disrupt professional leagues:

    Summers in Qatar are notoriously hot and humid, reaching temperatures of 120 degrees for most of the period of time the tournament is scheduled to occur. Qatar promised to build air-conditioned stadiums and other measures to allay these concerns.

    The worries about climate were so pronounced that some even proposed hosting the 2022 World Cup in the winter months, to avoid the heat. This proposal was later abandoned because winter is the season when Europe and most of the world’s professional clubs have their regular seasons. It was decided that the cost to leagues and clubs would be too great for such a switch.

    1. diptherio

      But what if it’s a really, really detailed map, doesn’t that make a difference? [/snark]

      This whole delusory way of thinking can be traced back to Descarte with his insipid cogito ergo sum. “I think therefore I am”, how ridiculous is that? How about “my back hurts therefore I am”? Makes just as much sense to me.

      I kinda feel bad for anyone who thinks that they can be reduced to a series of computations. I imagine his love life must be somewhat lacking…

        1. Vatch

          In either case, it’s a circular argument. “I think”, the premise, includes the word “I”, so the premise presupposes the conclusion “I am”. Perhaps a more valid form of the argument would be “There is a thought, therefore something exists”.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The following is not quite circular, but more like two mirrors reflecting each other into infinity…

            First, you read, there is a thought, therefore something exists.

            Then you realize the existence of the thought that ‘there is a thought, therefore something exists.’

            Then the next nesting thought:

            The thought that there is a thought that ‘there is a thought, therefore something exists.’

            Maybe at the end of it, there is an ‘I.’

            That means, for those who ever wondered ‘where is infinity,’ you yourself are at the end of that infinity.

            Put it in another way, infinity is you.

            1. john

              Sounds like a universe.

              There are other great thoughts on this. One proof is the anthropological. It argues against the wonder o unlikeliness of our fragile existance. Once one can wonder at wonder, one must exist in a favorible universe.

              I’m not into the circular logic that therefore God is perfect… and therefore must exist.

          2. john

            Not all circular arguments are false. In fact, all or most tautologies are true. Words are defined in relation to each other; concealing and revealing great depth.

        2. allcoppedout

          Thoughts in no way require a thinker folks, or a bad back. You ain’t thinking, therefore a smart-ass sweeps into the vacuum? Breakfast is the best meal of the day because one can be sure Descartes won’t be up in time? Lambert provides the French reading, Opti the Latin. In Johnson’s dictionary, Monsieur was a term of rebuke offered to a Frenchman. Latin, the finest language never spoken might have taught us the value of silence. Early smirk (say in French accent).

          1. craazyboy

            More problems during REM sleep and then deep sleep, but I don’t wanna think about it. Too scary.

      1. Jeff W

        There’s a whole topic of research now in psychology, embodied cognition, which modifies and inverts the traditional Cartesian claim to something like “I act therefore I think.”

        It’s actually a fascinating roundabout journey—cognitive psychology arose in response to behaviorism (or maybe the perceived deficits of behaviorism) and now embodied cognition is making similar (but perhaps not identical) arguments that behaviorism has made: complex behaviors can be explained by some features of the environment. (Neither the proponents of embodied cognition nor the behaviorists go out of their way to acknowledge the other.)

      2. Janie

        So Descarte goes into a bar and has a glass of vin. The bartender asks if he would care for another. He replies, “I think not”, and – poof -he was gone.

  12. tiebie66

    I often feel that I want to write Edward Snowden a letter just to say “Thank you” in appreciation of his immense courage and sacrifice on behalf of us all, myself included. Does anyone know how to do this? Or is there a petition or an open letter “Thank you” that one can sign?

Comments are closed.