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Showing posts from April, 2015

Ex_Machina misses how we're actually wanting

This might seem a bit cruel, but isn't it likely that the first thing that you'd test when you employed a company coder to gauge whether someone seemed real or not, is actually whether said person was so scared of actual alive people -- of actual alive women -- that putting anyone that resembled such before them would cause such a harsh psychic retreat they'd suddenly fantasize a computer "brick" as the most wonderfully receptive of playmates? I mean, isn't that now the most interesting thing about the Turing test? That at some point in time we actually didn't blink at the fact that someone who's life had been all math, and which would evolve all around circuit chips, was casually, readily associated as an arbiter of anyone or anything's degree of truealiveness? Shouldn't it have always been the Shakespeare test? The Yo Yo Ma test? The Bach test? The Gertrude Stein test? Shouldn't it have always been someone we associate with tremendous e…

Two full psychohistorical conversations (with all names other than mine, changed)

Rather than skimming through it, I finally read all of Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of our Nature." I'm guessing that the one thing others have not discussed is his description of the crazy, utopian 1960s. In a nutshell, he's not for it. It was a period of the relaxation of self-control -- "Do your own thing, Let it all hang out, If it feels good do it, Take a walk on the wild side." What happens out of all of this is what happens to, for example, the why-don't-you-all-fade-away band, the Who, where as he says one of the band members end up being a homicidal maniac, running over his bodyguard and such. For a peaceful society, you have to eschew these temptations to be free. If you're not up for it, perhaps you're lucky enough to be like Pinker and have a mother who dissuaded him from becoming other than the perfect mensch. 
So he's ostensibly telling us the good news -- society has gotten better; much better -- while warning us away f…

Ann Coulter, calling for sacrifice of young men

Salon.com has an article about how Ann Coulter is calling Christians -- her kind -- wimps, in face of confident, effective, aggressive atheism. This bit:
O’Reilly then asks Coulter how it is that the 80 percent of Americans who consider themselves Christians “are getting thumped, they’re losing . . . .  How did that happen?”
For Coulter, the answer lies in pusillanimous Christian leaders (abetted by spineless Republicans).  Their cowardice is, she says, “ridiculous,” because “the one thing every Christian should have is courage.  The most important thing in your life, eternity, is already taken care of.  Go out and fight.  You’re afraid of being sneered at by the New York Times?”
brings to mind deMause's description of the start of wars, where mothers are demanding courage and sacrifice and show of loyalty, from their suspect youth: 
That wars are seen emotionally as led by dangerous Killer Mothers, with war goddesses from Athena to Freyja and from Brittania to Marianne depicted …

Steven Pinker: No Utopian, he

Rather than skimming through it, I finally read all of Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of our Nature." I'm guessing that the one thing others have not discussed is his description of the crazy, utopian 1960s. In a nutshell, he's not for it. It was a period of the relaxation of self-control — "Do your own thing, Let it all hang out, If it feels good do it, Take a walk on the wild side." What happens out of all of this is what happens to, for example, the elder-defying, the why-don’t-you-all-fade-away band, the Who, where as he says one of the band members end up being a homicidal maniac, running over his bodyguard and such. For a peaceful society, you have to eschew these temptations to be free. If you're not up for it, perhaps you're lucky enough to be like Pinker and have a mother who dissuaded him from becoming other than the perfect mensch. 
So he's ostensibly telling us the good news — society has gotten better; much better — while warning…

People with short-term memory, or people with brilliant long-term, who well remember the terrors?

Paul Krugman, at his blog, has just explained why austerity-favouring politicians in Britain might well get re-elected. He writes:
Well, you could blame the weakness of the opposition, which has done an absolutely terrible job of making its case. You could blame the fecklessness of the news media, which has gotten much wrong. But the truth is that what’s happening in British politics is what almost always happens, there and everywhere else: Voters have fairly short memories, and they judge economic policy not by long-term results but by recent growth. Over five years, the coalition’s record looks terrible. But over the past couple of quarters it looks pretty good, and that’s what matters politically. This is the common sense understanding of how people work that liberals generally (always?) prefer, that they're basically good but have certain weaknesses that make them exploitable. He's wed to it, unfortunately, so that if it was only one quarter that looked pretty good, he…

Cosmopolitanism as a group-fantasy

... And the charge of "reductionism," often leveled against psychohistory, is simply misplaced, since it is not a failing but a scientific goal to reduce seeminglycomplex and disparate processes to simpler and more basic forces and principles. Lloyd deMause, Foundations of Psychohistory

DeMause's argument doesn't play very well right now. DeMause's goal, that we should "derive less from William Langer's famous 'Next Assignment' for historians to 'use psychoanalysis in history' than from Freud's initial hope that 'we may expect that one day someone will venture to embark upon a pathology of cultural communities,'" doesn't play well right now. It is very difficult for the cultured mind to shake out of thinking it as immature, eager, "conquistatorial," maybe spoiled ... as obviously untrue to the world as it is. An approach for a child who wants everything conflated for effortless, immediate consumption. 
Those…

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