Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.


Messages - Surly1

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 763
1
Surly Newz / Re: Giant Hogweed 🐽
« on: June 24, 2018, 07:57:12 PM »
Hey Surly, I ran into this news item and wonder if you had seen this bad assed weed near your home. It looks somewhat like Queen Anne's lace but MUCH BIGGER!


Giant Hogweed 👹     

Invasive, Blinding Weed Spreads to Virginia

Not yet, but I've read about it.

Thanks for the heads-up!

2

Az, I am of the studied opinion that the Earth ain't hollow. Sure, one can speculate that there may be a lot of something in the center that has some pockets due to some weird gravitational anomallies that exist at the center of mass that science has not discovered yet, but nuttin'can live below the lithosphere, as far as Im concerned. The rock eating bacteria critters that they have discovered in deep, deep places are still part of the biosphere. Even they cannot live above a certain temperature, which, by the way, gets too high even before the outer reaches of the lithosphere.

The folowing graphic is, IMHO, fairly accurate. Notice how far up the lithosphere is compared to all that matter below it. We've never gotten through it, you know.


If that Brooks pickup truck is powered with fork lift Trojan lead acid batteries, as it appears to me, the range is about the length of an average 18 hole golf course. That ain't competition for Musk. It wouldn't look too pretty on a golf course, either. ;)

A couple of years ago I read about a Russian boring project that was, at least at that time, the deepest penetration into the earth.

The Kola Superdeep Borehole was just 9 inches in diameter, but at 40,230 feet (12,262 meters) reigns as the deepest hole. It took almost 20 years to reach that 7.5-mile depth—only half the distance or less to the mantle.

Interesting article:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian-whats-deepest-hole-ever-dug-180954349/

3
Futurology / Re: Swedes GONE!
« on: June 24, 2018, 06:37:12 PM »
https://phys.org/news/2018-06-thousands-swedes-inserting-microchips.html

A belief in digital technology and a trust in its potential has strongly affected Swedish culture. And the transhumanist movement has built upon this. In fact, Sweden played an important part in the formation of the transhumanist ideology. The global transhumanist foundation Humanity+ was co-founded by the Swede Nick Bostrom in 1998. Since then, many Swedes have become convinced that they should be trying enhance and improve their biological bodies.

So as the world expresses shock at the number of people being microchipped in Sweden, we should use this opportunity to delve deeper into Sweden’s remarkable relationship with all thing digital. After all, this latest phenomenon is just one manifestation of an underlying faith in technology that makes Sweden quite unique.

 Explore further: Microchips get under the skin of technophile Swedes

Step right up and get your MARK of the, uh, um, well, ability to buy and sell, BEAST convenience right here! :evil4:

You get a group discount rate for the procedure if you can bring 666 souls of perdition people to get their implant all at once.  ( ).

I'll pass, thank you very much.

Yeah. Uhhh... no.

4
Surly Newz / Sargon and the Sea Peoples | Albert Bates
« on: June 24, 2018, 10:15:47 AM »
Sargon and the Sea Peoples | Albert Bates

Sargon and the Sea Peoples | Albert Bates

For hundreds of years, stories of marauding Sea Peoples were told to frightened children.

Back in 4300 BCE, Sargon of Akkad found the grain farming good in the broad, flat alluvial valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Being an accomplished bully and not fond of toiling in the heat of the sun himself, he assembled a gang of thugs and enslaved weaker people to work for him. They built vast irrigation systems, knocked down forests and opened up much of the fertile Mesopotamian Plain to oxen and wooden plows. With good soil, good seed and adequate rain, his tribe prospered and applied their surplus to erect a number of market cities that were considered quite grand for the period.

You can’t just knock down forests and dig long irrigation ditches and expect Nature to let you off scott-free, however. The plowing opened the soil to the sun and killed the rich microbial life built by those erstwhile forests. Irrigation made the fields salted and addicted. Major lakes silted. Without the trees and their fungal network, the weather changed. It stopped raining.

After a mere 130 years of prosperity, the Akkadian empire collapsed abruptly in 4170 BCE. There was general abandonment of agriculture, dramatic influxes of refugees, and widespread famine. The same calamity befell much of the rest of the region. Poorer tribes flocked to wealthy Akkad seeking help.

Faced with the rising tide of hungry people, Sargon’s successor thought a good solution would be a 112-mile-long wall, roughly the distance by patrol car between Brownsville TX and Rio Grande City, which Akkadians dubbed the “Repeller of the Amorites.” They may even have claimed they were going to get the Amorites to build it, but those clay tablets haven’t been located yet.

Fast forward a few decades and we find Akkadian cities in ruins, the plains desertifying, and smaller sedentary populations farther north around the shores of Lake Van trying to eke out a frugal living eating grasshoppers and frogs. It was a rough come-down from former glory.

Of course, the Akkadians were not entirely to blame. Their changing climate was also influenced by 1 to 2 degree cooler sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic that changed rainfall in the higher elevations. In their haste to develop, they had not left themselves any safety margin.

A few thousand years later another serious drought struck that part of the world — much of it within what is now Syria and Palestine — and by this time the population was much larger than back in Sargon’s day. The first wave of these “Sea Peoples” washed over Egypt in the second year of Ramesses II, 1276 BCE, but rather than build tent cities to house them, the Pharaoh simply trapped and slaughtered some 6000 people arriving in boats with all their goods, and then sent his chariots to drive stragglers back into the sea. A bit of a blowhard, Ramesses claimed a great victory and had the story inscribed in stone and read on ceremonial days.

Ramesses II

The Syrian drought continued, however, and Ramesses son, Merenptah, writes how, in the fifth year of his reign (1209 BCE), Libyans allied with the Sea Peoples to invade Egypt and were repulsed with 6000 casualties. Six thousand seems to be a popular number when you are killing Sea Peoples.

Then Merenptah’s son, Ramesses III, in c. 1200 BCE was informed they were coming again. The populations fleeing drought-stricken Syria had already destroyed the Hittite state and Ramesses III wrote, “they were coming forward toward Egypt.” Ramesses also makes the first recorded mention of the Israelites as one of those groups trying to illegally migrate into Egypt.

“If they would just report to processing centers they could apply for asylum,” Ramesses III might have said. But secretly he set ambushes all along the border and made especially effective use of his archers, positioning them along the shoreline to rain down arrows on approaching ships. Once the ships’ passengers were dead or drowning the vessels were set on fire with flaming arrows so that not even children could escape. Then Ramesses III turned his archers toward any survivors who made it to land. Egyptian records again detail a glorious victory in which many of the Sea Peoples were slain and others taken captive or pressed into the Egyptian army and navy or sold as slaves. For hundreds of years, stories of marauding Sea Peoples were told to frightened children.

Ramesses’s border defenses were so expensive they drained the Royal Treasury. This led to the first labor strike in recorded history.

Century-long droughts can be found at many points in the historic record. California experienced a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 CE and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years. Mexico experienced an abrupt climate shift between 800 to 1000 CE that brought dry conditions to the central Yucatan for 200 years, curtailing the era of monumental Mayan architecture. Lowland population densities plunged from 200 persons/km2 at the peak of the Late Classic period to less than half that by 900 CE. City complexes of more than 50,000 people, like Tikal, were abandoned to the rats and weeds.

Houston and Miami take heed.

Challenged by unprecedented environmental stresses, cultures can shift to lower subsistence levels by reducing social complexity, abandoning urban centers, and reorganizing systems of supply and production, as the Maya, Akkadians, Romans, Tiwanaku, Mochica, Athenians and many others have done, but more often — and even in those cases — they failed to recognize what was happening until it was too late to escape unscathed. They waved their arms, followed militant leaders, found convenient scapegoats, increased debt, took to the streets in protest, overtaxed their most vital resources, and kept trying to grow their way out as if growth was the only solution they could imagine.

It never works. Sometimes civilizations go the way of the Easter Islanders. Other times they are conquered and destroyed by an even more desperate and militant neighbor they foolishly made into an enemy.

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but he was peddling his Harvard theory of cyclic history and really could have done a better job of thinking that through. His actual theory was that both those who do not learn history and those who do learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Samuel Clemens added greater depth to Santayana’s theory, fifty years earlier, when he said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Last week, speaking at Wells College, I concluded by saying, “As a global culture, we can create social norms that would permit us to sustain healthy economies and ecologies into the turbulent climate future we cannot now avoid. There are neither technological nor resource barriers to prevent that outcome.” There are, however, biological limits, including the psychology of sunk investments.

Sad to say, even if the 45th President of the United States had not cheated and bullied his way through his education and actually studied history, it would not have made any difference. We are just in that part of the cycle now where stupidity trumps the obvious. The queues of refugees may not be quite the same as the Sea Peoples, but they rhyme.



5
Energy / Sabotage at Tesla?
« on: June 24, 2018, 09:57:34 AM »
And some would have you believe that Musk is the "idiot."

Just ask yourself the ageless question: Cui bono? Would would benefit from Elon Musk having manufacturing problems and being unable to meet demand?

Tesla sabotage/data theft scandal becomes even crazier

Tesla sabotage/data theft scandal becomes even crazier

- Jun. 21st 2018 2:52 pm ET

@FredericLambert

With leaked emails from Elon Musk on Monday, we first revealed that a Tesla employee had sabotaged software in the automaker manufacturing system and stolen data.

Now things have escalated as Tesla has sued the employee, Martin Tripp, and Tripp is attacking Tesla in the media in return.

As we reported yesterday, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Tripp after starting to get an understanding of the extent of his hacking and theft of documents discovered on Monday.

Tesla has accused him of hacking into its system from the workstations of his coworkers, presumably to hide his trace, and then sending the data to third parties and misrepresenting some of the data to media.

Now Tripp is firing back in the media claiming to be a whistleblower.

He told CNN:

I am being singled out for being a whistleblower. I didn’t hack into system. The data I was collecting was so severe, I had to go to the media,

CNN reported that media outlets had “yet to do a story about it,” but now that we have a better idea of the information that he obtained, it sounds extremely similar to stories published by CNBC and Business Insider over the last few weeks.

Tripp is now going on a media tour trying to push his side of the story.

He gave the Washington Post a screenshot of an email exchange he had with Musk in which he appears to be threatening him:

Things get crazier. Tesla said that a friend of Tripp told them that he was threatening to shoot up the Tesla Gigafactory 1 (via CNBC):

Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call from a friend of Mr. Tripp telling us that Mr. Tripp would be coming to the Gigafactory to ‘shoot the place up.’ Police have been notified and actions are being taken to enhance security at the Gigafactory.

The local sheriff department responded to the potential threat.

They issued a statement saying that they found no credible threat but they are still investigating:

On 06/20/18 the Storey County Sheriff’s Office received information of a potential threat to the physical security of the Tesla Gigafactory. Deputies responded to investigate the potential threat.

After several hours of investigation deputies were able to determine there was no credible threat. Further investigation into the threat’s origin continues. No additional information concerning the ongoing investigation will be released until it’s [sic] conclusion to protect the investigative process.

The names of all involved parties are being withheld pending the completion of the investigation.

Gerald Antinoro

Sheriff

Electrek’s Take

It’s certainly turning into a ‘he said/she said’ situation, but it is also certainly not looking good for Tripp.

Regardless of the possible terror threats, I don’t see how he thought it would be a good idea to not only send that email to Musk but also leak it to the media thinking he is coming out of it looking good.

On top of it, it now looks like he is clearly admitting to everything, but he claims that he is doing it as a whistleblower.

But as Musk explained in the email, what he is blowing the whistle on is fairly insignificant.

Business Insider had already reported on the alleged waste – seemingly based on information leaked by Tripp, but the story was debunked as it didn’t explain how the waste is any more significant or mismanaged than any other plant of this size.

If you want my opinion, the guy sounds like your average social media Tesla hater. Reading those emails, I can almost see the Twitter handles of the most notorious Tesla bashers out there.

Also it is interesting CNBC’s Lora Kolodny, who likely used Tripp as a source for a series of scathingpieces on Tesla, isn’t mentioning that fact in the current reporting of his “shooting up the place”. No retractions or updates to those stories have been made.

But that’s just my two cents based on what has come out so far.

What about you? What do you think of this weird situation? Let us know in the comment section below.

Guides

Tesla

Tesla

Tesla is a transportation and energy company. It sells vehicles under its 'Tesla Motors' division and stationary battery pack for home, commercial and utility-scale projects under its 'Tesla Energy' division.

About the Author


6
Geopolitics / Re: The Nuclear War thread
« on: June 24, 2018, 09:30:13 AM »
Sunday viewing - "WW3: Two and a half minutes to midnight" 8 December 2017. 52:20

A good look at the state of weapons of mass destruction in the world today.  All Doomers should watch this and then continue arguing about restaurants and whether they should serve Sarah Huckerby Sanders like a normal human being, or whether DD should sell Doom hats to make some money.  Funny world.

Let's all be sure to remember that if it isn't important to Palloy, it isn't important, and you should be ashamed of yourself as you take the knee in shame.

What a humorless scold.

7
Surly Newz / Doomstead Diner Daily 6/24
« on: June 24, 2018, 05:29:05 AM »




Doomstead Diner Daily 6/24

The Diner Daily is available HERE with even MORE sections and stories:
http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/news/

News digest brought to you by the Doomstead Diner.

Deer Survived for Years After Bone Grew Over an Arrow in Its Ribs

[url=http://www.livescience.com]www.livescience.com[/url] - Deer aren't usually considered especially badass, but one white-tailed deer in North Carolina turned out to be a lot more metal than expected. A close encounter with a hunter left the deer with sever…

Molson Coors said to be in talks with pot firms as legalization looms

[url=http://www.bnnbloomberg.ca]www.bnnbloomberg.ca[/url] - Molson Coors Brewing Co. has been engaged in discussions with several Canadian-based cannabis companies to invest in them and collaborate on future cannabis-infused beverages in a move aimed at stemm…

President Trump, Deal Maker? Not So Fast

[url=http://www.nytimes.com]www.nytimes.com[/url] - Mr. Trump’s approach so far has been to make expansive demands and apply as much pressure as he can. He argues that crushing sanctions he imposed on North Korea forced Mr. Kim to meet. He now hopes t…

Ingraham loses advertiser over 'summer camps' comment as network stands by host

thehill.com - InterActiveCorp., a media and internet company, has pulled its advertising from Laura Ingraham's Fox News program following comments made by the host referring to child migrant detention centers as "…

Trump-Putin summit: Wing-it meets meticulous

[url=http://www.politico.com]www.politico.com[/url] - President Donald Trump’s wing-it approach to diplomacy would face a tough test in a potential July summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is sure to bring a well-rehearsed game plan to a m…

Disney-buyout-fox-end-bubble - DollarCollapse.com

[url=http://www.dollarcollapse.com]www.dollarcollapse.com[/url] - As bubbles expand and hot money starts burning holes in corporate pockets, merger and acquisition deal terms begin to leave reality behind. Often one deal of such breathtaking size, scope and hubris …

‘He’s a political prisoner’: Standing Rock activists face years in jail

grist.org - This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Standing Rock saved Little Feather’s life. Then the U.S. government took it from …

The West Point Soldier Who Called It as He Saw It

[url=http://www.truthdig.com]www.truthdig.com[/url] - Editor’s note: On the outside, Spenser Rapone’s West Point graduation uniform looked like all the other cadets’. Underneath his dress uniform, however, was evidence of his political views: a T-shirt …

The DOJ has turned over additional FISA records to Republicans, and former intelligence officials say the implications could be 'catastrophic'

[url=http://www.businessinsider.com]www.businessinsider.com[/url] - Sign up for the latest Russia investigation updates here» The Department of Justice (DOJ) has turned over additional records of President Donald Trump's associates related to the Foreign Intelligence…

This Nation Is Beginning to Realize the Full Extent of What It Did to Itself in November 2016

[url=http://www.esquire.com]www.esquire.com[/url] - Optimism may be illusory, but it’s all we have at this point, so, when it stirs, anywhere, it’s worthy of nurture and support. Over the past week, ever since the administration*’s crimes against huma…

The GOP's political future looks a lot like this Florida retirement community — POLITICO

apple.news - Click here if the story doesn't open after a few seconds.

100 Years Ago, Socialist Leader Eugene Debs Gave This Speech That Landed Him in Prison

inthesetimes.com - The sun of capitalism is setting; the sun of socialism is rising. It is our duty to build the new nation and the free republic. On June 16, 1918—in the midst of World War I—socialist leader Eugene De…

What the Media Won’t Tell You About China

forbiddenknowledgetv.net - Is China fighting the New World Order? ReallyGraceful has made another superb video that covers the Opium Wars, the early incursions of the Rothschild banking interests and the Rockefeller petroleum …

Trump's Gang May be Incompetent At a Spectacular Level — But They're Also Cruel and Nasty to the Bone

[url=http://www.alternet.org]www.alternet.org[/url] - [The insurance] includes fewer benefits and consumer protections, bypassing significant requirements of the Affordable Care Act. [...] The new rules allow plans to exclude coverage for maternity care…

High-Tech Panopticon: CIA, Social Media, and the Surveillance State

Image result for High-Tech Panopticon

[url=http://www.newsbud.com]www.newsbud.com[/url] - The internet, social media, even the so-called Dark Web are a sprawling Panopticon, a prison without cells and bars where we are watched 24-7 by the national security state and its corporate partners…

Life in Gaza

[url=http://www.informationclearinghouse.info]www.informationclearinghouse.info[/url] - By Chris Hedges and Norman Finkelstein June 23, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - In a detailed discussion about the current state of affairs in Gaza as well as what the future could hold, author …

An Increasing Number of Struggling Americans Are Turning to Check Cashers and Payday Loans | naked capitalism

[url=http://www.nakedcapitalism.com]www.nakedcapitalism.com[/url] - Lambert here: I’ve always hated the phrase “financially literate.” The author says we need “more regulation of banks.” We do, but to nobble the “alternative financial services” “industry, so called, …

Subscribe to the Email Newsletter

Editor's note

The Doomstead Diner is a hub for discussion and information pertaining to the ongoing Economic Collapse of the Industrial Economy. The Diner is the result of many years of discussion and debate on many other forums. At Doomstead Diner, our goal is to collate much of the information we can to assist in planning for the world to come.

8
Surly Newz / Just Desserts
« on: June 24, 2018, 04:19:29 AM »
This occurred a couple of hours from me, but Contrary and I have decided to add a road trip to Lexington and The Red Hen to our weekend itinerary soon.
Barkeep, send the Fuckleberry-Slanders table a round of Prestones, and I'll have the schadenfreude appetizer, please. As as to the execrable tweet by Fuckleberry pere, he'll just have to find sautée of strangled dog on someone else's menu.

Why a Virginia restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave – and would do it again

Why a Virginia restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave – and would do it again

    • Updated
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders arrives to speak during a news briefing at the White House on Monday, June 18, 2018.

Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.

Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned just off Main Street in Lexington, Virginia.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders had just walked in and sat down, the chef informed her.

"He said the staff is a little concerned. What should we do?" Wilkinson told The Washington Post. "I said I'd be down to see if it's true."

It seemed unlikely to her that President Donald Trump's press secretary should be dining at a 26-seat restaurant in rural Virginia. But then, it was unlikely that her entire staff would have misidentified the woman, who had arrived last to be seated at a table of eight booked under Sanders' husband's name.

As she made the short drive to the Red Hen, Wilkinson knew only this:

She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

And she knew - she believed - that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an "inhumane and unethical" administration. That she publicly defended the president's cruelest policies, and that that could not stand.

"I'm not a huge fan of confrontation," Wilkinson said. "I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals."

As soon as she walked into the restaurant, Wilkinson saw that there had been no mistake. The Red Hen is no bigger than some apartments, and the group table was impossible to miss: Sanders in a black dress, her husband, three or four men and women of roughly similar ages, and an older couple.

"They had cheese boards in front of them," Wilkinson said. Like any other family.

The kitchen was already preparing the party's main course. Wilkinson interrupted to huddle with her workers.

Several Red Hen employees were gay, she said. They knew Sanders had defended Trump's desire to bar transgender people from the military. This month, they had all watched her evade questions and defend a Trump policy that caused migrant children to be separated from their parents.

"Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," Wilkinson told her staff, she said. "They said yes."

It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served - that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.

All the same, she was tense as she walked up to the press secretary's chair.

"I said, 'I'm the owner,' " she recalled, " 'I'd like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.' "

They stepped outside, into another small enclosure, but at least out of the crowded restaurant.

"I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion," Wilkinson said. "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

"I said, 'I'd like to ask you to leave.' "

Wilkinson didn't know how Sanders would react. She said she didn't know whether Trump's chief spokeswoman had been called out in a restaurant before, as the president's homeland security secretary had been days earlier.

Sanders' response was immediate, Wilkinson said: " ' That's fine. I'll go.' "

Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn't, so the servers cleared away the cheese boards.

"They offered to pay," Wilkinson said. "I said, 'No. It's on the house.' "

At the end of the shift, Wilkinson said, staff members left the usual overnight note in the kitchen for the morning manager: a problem with the credit card machine. Restock vodka and tequila.

If you've ever heard the term "to 86 someone," it comes from the restaurant industry - code for a table eviction.

"86 - Sara Huckabee Sanders," read the note, below the reminder to buy more Pellegrino.

One of the servers photographed the whiteboard before going home Friday. He had posted it to his public Facebook wall by the time Wilkinson woke up Saturday.

For all the angst that evening, Wilkinson said, everything had taken place with decorum. She had been polite; Sanders had been polite; the press secretary's family had been polite as they followed her out the door.

Not so much the rest of the world, as it discovered Red Hen waiter Jaike Foley-Schultz's post: "I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave."

A fountain of alternately celebratory and outraged comments gushed from Foley-Schultz's Facebook wall into the Red Hen's social media accounts, then its Yelp review page.

Five stars: "Thank you for refusing to serve a person who lies to the American people for a living."

One star: "They made some snide remark about a 'spit souffle' for the Florida nazi.'"

Between the fury and fawning of 2,000 people who almost certainly had not eaten at the restaurant, the Red Hen's Yelp reviews almost instantly averaged out to two-and-a-half stars. Another Red Hen in Washington was at pains to make clear that it had no affiliation with Wilkinson's restaurant.

And that was before Sanders confirmed the story in a late morning tweet.

"I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so," the press secretary wrote. "Her actions say far more about her than about me."

Added Sanders' father, forkmer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, on Twitter:

"Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the 'Hate Plate'. And appetizers are 'small plates for small minds' "

Wilkinson doesn't know where all this will leave the Red Hen when the news coverage dies down - or even when it opens again for dinner Saturday, for that matter. In a quick Facebook scan in the morning, she learned that people are already calling for protests outside the Red Hen, hashtag #MAGA.

As she spoke to The Washington Post, Wilkinson was on her way to a Main Street festival, which she helped organize under one of the other hats she wears around town, besides politically conscious restaurateur.

She didn't know what the reception would be like among her neighbors.

"This is a small enough town, and we're known," she said optimistically. "This is not going to be a giant surprise to anyone."

Meanwhile, "Red Hen" was trending toward the top of Twitter - 75,000 mentions within a couple hours of the first news stories.

"Whatever happens, we will soldier on," Wilkinson said. "Absolutely, yes, I would have done the same thing again.

"We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one."


9
Energy / Re: Coal Dust From The Forum
« on: June 24, 2018, 03:48:23 AM »
I moved this article from the Kitchen Sink over to Energy for discussion.  I also made it a Feature Article on the Homepage of the Diner Blog.  Nice work by K-dog!  :icon_sunny:

RE

Good one, KD!

10
Energy / Re: 🛢️ OPEC’s Agreement Sends Oil Prices Soaring
« on: June 23, 2018, 10:48:25 AM »
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/OPECs-Agreement-Sends-Oil-Prices-Soaring.html

OPEC’s Agreement Sends Oil Prices Soaring

OPEC issued a communique on Friday that called on a return to 100 percent compliance for the group, down from 152 percent in May. The announcement deferred country-specific allocations, likely because they could not agree on the details. The decision likely means that any country with spare capacity will be able to boost production. In practice, Saudi Arabia and Russia will carry the lion’s share. How individual countries make decisions about how much to produce, while still trying to stay below a collective cap, opens up a lot of uncertainty.


Two  questions:

1) What fucking good is a "cartel" if they can't control their prices?
2) If every producer is going to pump their asses off, in creasing supply, why will prices move down?

11
Surly Newz / The Duke St. Rollins Comedy Manifesto
« on: June 23, 2018, 09:34:47 AM »
Duke St. Rollins is a noted Facebook troll that I follow.

From time to time, poster s complain about the near-invisible moderation on the Diner Forum. To those worthies I say, you should meet the Duke.

The Duke St. Rollins Comedy Manifesto

The Duke St. Rollins Comedy Manifesto

Due to a sudden influx of overly sensitive pussies being offended by my recent posts, I felt it important to share the Duke St Rollins Comedy Manifesto again.

Fellow patriots, this page is constantly under attack. Not only by ‘Baggers, Paulbots, Palinistas and Republicunts of every stripe, but by whiny, humorless liberals as well. This is a disturbing trend. Political correctness is threatening to tear the heart out of our ability to successfully troll the assholes  who will take away our right to abort our children, suckle at the government teat and smugly proclaim our superiority while driving our Prius’ to pick up our welfare checks. So in order to set the record straight, I present to you the “Duke St. Rollins” comedy manifesto.

  • I don’t care about your feelings. If something that I say personally offends you because it brings back sad memories of one of the many great failures in your life you should go complain about it to someone who cares. If you think that I am attacking a person or group that you feel some sympathy towards, I probably am and you should go fuck off rather than complain about it. I really don’t give a shit. I think what I said is funny and I stand by it. Like this page and go sing Kumbaya with the other liberal pussies. [url=https://www.facebook.com/]https://www.facebook.com/[/url]sensitivehearts2011/
  • I swing a mighty ban hammer. Piss me off and you will meet it in person. I have no reason to give people who I disagree with a forum to spout off. There are millions of pages and groups on Facebook, so find one that agrees with your stupid opinion, because I don’t. Free speech means the government cannot restrict your right to express yourself; it does not guarantee an audience for your stupidity.
  • This page has no political purpose. I do not care about your cause. I do not exist to further the liberal or progressive viewpoints. I hate all stupid people. It just so happens that there are a lot more stupid people amongst the conservatives. If you tell me that by being crude I am “making us all look bad” I will ban the shit out of you. I am not like you. You are a pussy and I am a warrior. [url=https://www.facebook.com/]https://www.facebook.com/[/url]juststopityoufgt/
  • This page exists to be funny. A sense of humor is not something that everyone enjoys the benefit of having. Fortunately for you, I have one and it is fucking brilliant. If you don’t think that something is funny, bitching about it will not do you a damn bit of good. I have never retracted a single thing that I have posted and I am not going to start with you. Go fuck yourself.
  • So you’ve read this far and you find that you hate me and want to punish me for being such an asshole. Good! Click the unlike this page button and go away. Announcing your intention to leave the page because I have offended you makes you sound like a self-important asshole. I really don’t care if you unlike the page or go smoke the barrel of a .45. Just go the fuck away. There are still lots of people who appreciate the effort that goes into maintaining this page.


12
The Deep Consistency of the Trump Administration
Beneath the constant contradictions and reversals, the administration has a single through line: Its policies always serve to dehumanize those deemed not to belong.


PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP

On Thursday, in an interview with the Christian news program CBN News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a sharp departure from his previous statements on the unfolding humanitarian crisis at the southern border. “The American people don’t like the idea that we are separating families,” Sessions said. “We never really intended to do that. What we intended to do, was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime they have committed.”

But, in fact, the federal government did intend to separate families. In May, on a trip to two sites near the southwest border, Sessions made it explicitly clear that the forced disintegration of families was deliberate part of his new “zero tolerance” policy. At the first stop, delivering prepared remarks, he said, “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.” At the second stop, Sessions added: “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Sessions’s words will be parsed. There will be arguments about what constitutes intent in this context. The perpetual argument over when it’s appropriate for journalists to use the word “lie,” will probably resurface at some point. What really matters, however, is what Sessions’s lie reveals.

On the surface, it’s just the latest in a succession of political flip-flops that have defined the Trump era. He shifts his positions not only with the polls, but with the opinions of talking heads on television, and sometimes with the views of the last people with whom he has spoken. The president’s aides struggle to keep up with these rapid shifts, which means that on every position from Obamacare to criminal-justice reform to tariffs, there are usually soundbites of everyone in the administration saying everything. In this, Trumpism might be defined mostly by a lack of conviction and a corresponding unwillingness to ever own up to any one policy decision. The evolving White House take on its blamelessness in the destruction of families would seem to be a prime example of this nihilism as the prime and only directive.

But that conclusion misses out on the pattern of who tends to be hurt by this policy of manifold misdirection. For the thousands of families torn apart by zero tolerance—some perhaps permanently so—and for the children detained and subject to psychologically and physically harmful conditions, there’s no remedy for the Trump administration’s blunder. The same is true of the Puerto Ricans—perhaps thousands— who died in Hurricane Maria while the president bemoaned the size of the ocean between them and the contiguous United States. Even now, while the president attempts to cut a heroic figure with an executive order pledging to end a crisis of his own making, his supposed heroism lies not in suddenly respecting the human rights of the brown masses on the border, but in respecting the will of the his own base. Mercy isn’t the order of the day—mass detention and imprisonment will continue.

The idea that the federal government did not intend to tear infants from their mothers is contradicted by statements from leaders of every department involved in the deportation apparatus, and by the chief executive himself. In March 2017, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, current White House chief of staff and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called the prospect of forced separation a “tough deterrent.” Earlier this month, after the policy began to be implemented, Acting HHS Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families Steven Wagner said in reference to the prospect of family separation that “we expect that the new policy will result in a deterrence effect.” In his regular tweetstorms, Trump has offered support for this interpretation, tweeting last week that “children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country.” As outlined by the administration, the primary purpose of its zero-tolerance policy and of separating children from families was to make the penalty harsh enough to deter people from crossing the border.

In response to weeks of unfavorable press and grim polling, administration officials have tried numerous approaches to defend themselves. As my colleague Adam Serwer notes, the main defenses—that forced separation isn’t happening, that it’s actually good for children, and that it’s required either by law or inaction from Congress—were inherently contradictory. But as he signed an executive order that may or may not actually end the destruction of family units, the president tried a new argument, deflecting responsibility for his own policy. “I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” he said. The order itself takes the same tack, blaming Congress for “hav[ing] put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

“Look what you made me do,” is an argument more often offered by toddlers than presidents. But Sessions’s words on Thursday signaled that it’s the administration’s new line.

The United States has a well-documented history of abuses at the border and child-snatching from minority families, one that stretches across administrations past and present. Racism has for centuries set the parameters of who belongs in America and who doesn’t, and has at the whims of its champions created penalties to enforce its borders, whether at a fence in Texas or discriminatory housing covenants in suburbia. The statements from Trump officials in the current saga help illuminate this logic of immigration and citizenship in America. Whether it decides to keep families together or not, and regardless of what it intended to do in the first place, the administration has one consistent through line: Its policies always serve to dehumanize those deemed not to belong.


13
Moar government by major Republican donor.

These Private Prison Companies Are Already Profiting Off of Trump’s Order on Family Separation

By ordering that immigrant families be detained together indefinitely, Trump has provided a windfall to private prison operators.


Trump’s new executive order signals the administration’s desire for far more immigrant detention construction. (Getty Images)

BY DAVID DAYEN

The Trump administration has the goal, expressed in the order, of detaining families together indefinitely, until their immigration cases are complete.

The southern border has been a site of mass confusion since June 20, when President Trump released his executive order ostensibly ending the practice of family separation for undocumented immigrants. Senior Customs and Border Protection officials said they would stop referring parents crossing illegally for criminal prosecution. The Justice Department denied that shift, but also dropped charges on 17 migrant parents in McAllen, Texas before a sentencing hearing.

Whether prosecuting or not, the Trump administration still has the goal, expressed in the order, of detaining families together indefinitely, until their immigration cases are complete. That goal is contingent on convincing a federal judge to rip up the Flores settlement, a 1997 agreement that says migrant children can only be kept up to 20 days in non-secure, licensed facilities. On June 21, Trump’s Department of Justice asked a judge to change the rules, but the Obama administration asked for the same changes in 2016 and was rebuked.

Trump’s plan is also contingent on finding enough beds to house as many as 19,000 women and children in detention facilities. Military bases have been floated as a possibility, but that’s likely a temporary solution. And wherever they are held under Trump’s plan, someone will still have to perform day-to-day oversight of the families, and transport them around—and do the same for the 2,300 children already separated from their families.

All of which may explain why the stock prices of oligopoly private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic have been rising ever since the Trump announcement, a pure expression of the sacks of cash awaiting private companies if they contribute to caging immigrant families. These companies already run two massive family detention centers in south Texas that would be primed for indefinite detention. They also run immigration jails for individual border crossers without children. And they can construct more—in fact, that has become their business model.

Geo Group and CoreCivic are actually real estate companies, as a new report from the anti-privatization group In The Public Interest explains. In 2013, both companies converted into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which exempts them from corporate-level taxation as long as they meet a certain threshold of real estate assets. This tax shelter saved Geo Group $43.6 million in 2017 alone.

Instead of being contracted to manage facilities, Geo Group and CoreCivic want to build and own the facilities themselves. Top executives of both for-profit companies have stressed this desire in investor calls. This not only saves on taxes, it’s far more lucrative than operations management. Estimates from CoreCivic’s financial disclosures show they earn 71 percent more revenue per prisoner in owned and managed facilities than in ones they solely manage—and six times more profit per prisoner.

Trump’s new executive order signals the administration’s desire for far more immigrant detention construction. This is already in play; Geo Group is completing work on a 1,000-bed facility in Conroe, Texas, under a 2017 contract with ICE. Just today, ICE issued a request for information on “potential facilities to accommodate up to 15,000 beds,” something the private prison firms are well-positioned to deliver.

When a private company owns a detention facility, they have the incentive to lobby the government to keep it open. And as private financing deals charge higher interest rates, that sunk cost may keep the government interested in using the asset long term. It all amounts to entrenching a punitive model of immigration enforcement at the highest levels, for private gain.

The day-to-day operations can go to the private prison firms or a network of private contractors handling shelters in border regions, like Southwest Key, which has made at least $955 million on immigrant shelter contracts since 2015. These sites, incidentally, are awful, with a history of abuse of migrants and billions of dollars in settlement payments. By spending less money on personnel and maintenance these firms are able to increase their profits. That anyone would see these de facto jails as appropriate places for families awaiting outcomes of immigration cases is shameful.

Almost as lucrative as the sheltering contracts are the contracts to transport and deport migrants, either by air or by land. If minors ever get reunited with their families, some company will have to transport them as well. The need for this service ramped up significantly with the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the border.

Commercial airlines have balked at shuttling around minors ripped apart from their families. Defense contractors have become a plan B, including weapons manufacturer General Dynamics and MVM, a longtime contractor for ICE and the U.S. Marshals. MVM has earned close to $200 million since 2014 for transportation services. Recent job listings from MVM detail accompanying children on air and ground transportation. CSI Aviation also charters a number of flights for deportation, under the banner “ICE Air.”

Somebody has to finance all this activity, and that predictably falls to the big banks. A 2016 In The Public Interest report identified Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and SunTrust Bank as the primary lenders to private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic, providing $900 million in lines of credit for real estate financing and other business operations. Because of the corporate structure of these companies, they depend heavily on bank lending to survive.

SunTrust Bank, a large regional based in Florida, also has a significant lending dealwith MVM, secured by all of the company’s assets. SunTrust has a similar deal with Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., one of the private contractors operating shelters for unaccompanied minors.

There’s a better and far cheaper way to handle the Trump-created crisis at the border. Instead of blowing money on private companies to warehouse people, a case management pilot program, since discontinued, provided direct supervision and access to legal counsel after families were released. It was 99 percent effective in getting families to court and through the asylum process, at about one-tenth of the cost. The Trump administration discontinued case management last year, but it would be a far better and more humane solution.

There’s only one catch—the company that ran the case management program was a subsidiary of the Geo Group.

DAVID DAYEN

David Dayen is a freelance journalist and the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. He lives in Los Angeles, where prior to writing about politics he had a 19-year career as a television producer and editor.


14
Surly Newz / Re: How Is This Still a Thing?
« on: June 23, 2018, 07:39:54 AM »
Philosophy shrugged: ignoring Ayn Rand won’t make her go away

By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com Updated


The grounds of the former Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Why are human beings so cruel to each other? And how do we justify acts of sheer inhumanity?

The conventional explanation is that people are able to do terrible things to other people only after having dehumanized them. In the case of the Holocaust, for example, Germans were willing to exterminate millions of Jews in part because Nazi ideology taught them to think of Jews as subhuman, as objects without the right to freedom, dignity, or even life itself.

Paul Bloom, a psychology professor at Yale, thinks this explanation of human cruelty is, at best, incomplete. I spoke to him about why he thinks its wrong to assume cruelty comes from dehumanization — and about his grim conclusion that almost anyone is capable of committing staggering atrocities under the right circumstances.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.


Sean Illing

Can you sum up your argument about the roots of human cruelty?

Paul Bloom

A lot of people blame cruelty on dehumanization. They say that when you fail to appreciate the humanity of other people, that’s where genocide and slavery and all sorts of evils come from. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. I think a lot of real awful things we do to other people arise from the fact that we don't see them as people.

But the argument I make in my New Yorker article is that it’s incomplete. A lot of the cruelty we do to one another, the real savage, rotten terrible things we do to one another, are in fact because we recognize the humanity of the other person.

We see other people as blameworthy, as morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve. And so we treat them horribly precisely because we see them as moral human beings.

Sean Illing

I’ve always thought a campaign of genocide or slavery requires two things — an ideology that dehumanizes the victims and a massive bureaucracy.

Paul Bloom

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I disagree that those things are “required.” I think a lot of mass killings unfold the way you described it: People do it because they don’t believe they’re killing people. This is what some call instrumental violence, where there’s some end they want to achieve, and people are in the way, so they don’t think of them as people.

This is obviously what happened in the Nazi concentration camps. People were reduced to machines, treated like animals for labor. But a lot of what goes on in concentration camps is degrading and humiliating, and it’s about torturing people because you think they deserve it. It’s about the pleasure of being dominant over another person.

But if you merely thought of these people as animals, you wouldn’t get that pleasure. You can’t humiliate animals — only people. So dehumanization is real and terrible, but it’s not the whole picture.

Sean Illing

What does that say about us, about our psychology, about our susceptibility to this kind of violence?

Paul Bloom

Think about it this way: We’re all sensitive to social hierarchies and to a desire for approval and esteem. So we often fold to the social pressures of our environment. That’s not necessarily evil. I come into my job as a professor and I want to do well, I want the respect of my peers. There’s nothing wrong about that.

But our desire to do well socially can have an ugly side. If you can earn respect by helping people, that’s great. If you can earn respect by physically dominating people with aggression and violence, that’s destructive. So a lot depends on our social environment and whether it incentivizes good or bad behavior.


“IF YOU AND I WERE IN NAZI GERMANY, WE’D LIKE TO THINK WE’D BE THE RIGHTEOUS ONES, WE'D BE THE HEROES. BUT WE MIGHT JUST BE REGULAR OLD NAZIS.”


Sean Illing

Are our intuitions about why people do terrible things wrong? Are we too sanguine about human nature?

Paul Bloom

I think our intuitions are wrong in just about every way they can be. First, there’s this myth that people who do evil are psychopaths or sadists or monsters who are driven by the sheer pleasure of watching other people suffer. The truth is far more complicated than that.

Then there’s the myth of dehumanization, which is that everybody who does evil is making a mistake. They’re just failing to appreciate the humanity of other people, and if only we could clear up that mistake, if only we could sit them down and say, “Hey guys, those Jews, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, they're people just like you,” then evil would disappear. I think that’s bogus.

Sean Illing

Why is that bogus?

Paul Bloom

Consider the rhetoric of white supremacy. White supremacists know about the humanity of Jews and black people and whoever else they’re discriminating against — and it terrifies them.One of their slogans is, “You will not replace us.” Think of what that means. That’s not what you chant if you thought they were roaches or subhuman. That’s what you chant at people you’re really worried about, people who you think are a threat to your status and way of life.

Sean Illing

So cruelty isn’t an accident or an aberration, but something central to who and what we are?

Paul Bloom

It’s many things, and I don’t think there’s ever going to be a magic bullet theory of cruelty. I think some cruelty is born of dehumanization. I think some cruelty is born out of a loss of control. I think some cruelty is born out of an instrumental desire to get something you want — sex, money, power, whatever.

I think a lot of cruelty is born out of a normal and natural appreciation of the humanity of others, which then connects with certain important psychological appetites we have, like an appetite to punish those we think have done wrong. I think that, for the most part, people who do terrible things are just like us. They’ve just gone astray in certain specific ways.

Sean Illing

I tend to think of human beings as more malleable than we’d like to believe. Under the right conditions, is anyone capable of almost anything?

Paul Bloom

Wow, that’s an interesting question. I sort of believe that. I think, under the right conditions, most of us are capable of doing terrible things. There may be exceptions. But we’ve seen, both in laboratory conditions and real-world circumstances, that people can be manipulated into doing terrible things, and while there are some people who will say, “No, I won’t do that,” they tend to be a minority.

Again, I think the banal answer is that we’re swayed by social circumstances in ways that might be good or bad. You and I would be completely different people if we lived in a maximum security prison, because we’d have to adapt. There are powerful individual differences that matter, though. People can transcend their conditions, but it’s rarer than we’d like to believe.


“WHITE SUPREMACISTS KNOW ABOUT THE HUMANITY OF JEWS AND BLACK PEOPLE AND WHOEVER ELSE THEY’RE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST — AND IT TERRIFIES THEM.”


Sean Illing

I ask because I used to study totalitarian ideologies as a political theorist, and I spent a lot of time thinking about Nazi Germany and how an entire society could be led into a moral abyss like that. People look at that moment of insanity and say to themselves, “I could never have participated in that.” But I don’t think it’s that simple at all. I think almost any of us could have participated in that, and that’s an ugly truth.

Paul Bloom

I think you're right. We have this horrible tendency to overestimate the extent to which we're the moral standouts, we're the brave ones. This has some nasty social consequences. There was a great article that came out in the Washington Post last week about people who say, “I'm confused about the people who have been sexually assaulted, because if it happened to me, I would say no way, and I would put the person in their place, and I would speak out.”

This attitude is oftentimes scorn towards people who get harassed. They’re somehow morally weak, or maybe they’re just not telling the truth.

It turns out that one of my colleagues, Marianne LaFrance, did a study a while ago in which they asked a group of people, “How would you feel if you had a job interview and someone asked you these really sexist, ugly questions?”

Just about everybody says, “I would walk out. I would give the person hell,” and so on. Then they did it. They did fake interviews where people thought they were being interviewed, and people asked the sexist, ugly questions, and all of the women were just silent.

The point is that we don’t behave in stressful situations the way we think we would or the way we would like to. So yeah, if you and I were in Nazi Germany, we’d like to think we’d be the righteous ones, we’d be the heroes. But we might just be regular old Nazis.

Sean Illing

If your thesis is right, then it’s foolish to think we can get rid of cruelty if only we got rid of those noxious ideologies that justify it. In the end, it’s about us, not our ideas.

Paul Bloom

I think there are all sorts of ways we can become better people, and I think we are becoming better people. But if I’m right, there’s nothing simple about this. Acknowledging other people’s humanity won’t solve our problems.

Ultimately, we need better ideas, better ideologies. We need a culture less obsessed with power and honor and more concerned with mindfulness and dignity. That’s the best we can do to quell our appetites for dominance and punishment. Am I optimistic that we can do this? Yeah, I am. But it won’t be easy.


15
Israel is exterminating the Palestinians. The old are robbing the young in the U.S.. The fossils fuels are going going gone. Animals and plants that are not human are being exterminated.

Big deal that is the way the world is. If you can not cope it is evolution in action. Just die and stop whining.

Another happy acolyte of the Randian gospel. I got mine; if you don't got yours, eat a bullet.
Libertarianism in action.

Why humans are cruel

A psychologist explains why humans are so terrible to each other.


By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com Updated

The grounds of the former Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Why are human beings so cruel to each other? And how do we justify acts of sheer inhumanity?

The conventional explanation is that people are able to do terrible things to other people only after having dehumanized them. In the case of the Holocaust, for example, Germans were willing to exterminate millions of Jews in part because Nazi ideology taught them to think of Jews as subhuman, as objects without the right to freedom, dignity, or even life itself.

Paul Bloom, a psychology professor at Yale, thinks this explanation of human cruelty is, at best, incomplete. I spoke to him about why he thinks its wrong to assume cruelty comes from dehumanization — and about his grim conclusion that almost anyone is capable of committing staggering atrocities under the right circumstances.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.


Sean Illing

Can you sum up your argument about the roots of human cruelty?

Paul Bloom

A lot of people blame cruelty on dehumanization. They say that when you fail to appreciate the humanity of other people, that’s where genocide and slavery and all sorts of evils come from. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. I think a lot of real awful things we do to other people arise from the fact that we don't see them as people.

But the argument I make in my New Yorker article is that it’s incomplete. A lot of the cruelty we do to one another, the real savage, rotten terrible things we do to one another, are in fact because we recognize the humanity of the other person.

We see other people as blameworthy, as morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve. And so we treat them horribly precisely because we see them as moral human beings.

Sean Illing

I’ve always thought a campaign of genocide or slavery requires two things — an ideology that dehumanizes the victims and a massive bureaucracy.

Paul Bloom

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I disagree that those things are “required.” I think a lot of mass killings unfold the way you described it: People do it because they don’t believe they’re killing people. This is what some call instrumental violence, where there’s some end they want to achieve, and people are in the way, so they don’t think of them as people.

This is obviously what happened in the Nazi concentration camps. People were reduced to machines, treated like animals for labor. But a lot of what goes on in concentration camps is degrading and humiliating, and it’s about torturing people because you think they deserve it. It’s about the pleasure of being dominant over another person.

But if you merely thought of these people as animals, you wouldn’t get that pleasure. You can’t humiliate animals — only people. So dehumanization is real and terrible, but it’s not the whole picture.

Sean Illing

What does that say about us, about our psychology, about our susceptibility to this kind of violence?

Paul Bloom

Think about it this way: We’re all sensitive to social hierarchies and to a desire for approval and esteem. So we often fold to the social pressures of our environment. That’s not necessarily evil. I come into my job as a professor and I want to do well, I want the respect of my peers. There’s nothing wrong about that.

But our desire to do well socially can have an ugly side. If you can earn respect by helping people, that’s great. If you can earn respect by physically dominating people with aggression and violence, that’s destructive. So a lot depends on our social environment and whether it incentivizes good or bad behavior.

Sean Illing

Are our intuitions about why people do terrible things wrong? Are we too sanguine about human nature?

Paul Bloom

I think our intuitions are wrong in just about every way they can be. First, there’s this myth that people who do evil are psychopaths or sadists or monsters who are driven by the sheer pleasure of watching other people suffer. The truth is far more complicated than that.

Then there’s the myth of dehumanization, which is that everybody who does evil is making a mistake. They’re just failing to appreciate the humanity of other people, and if only we could clear up that mistake, if only we could sit them down and say, “Hey guys, those Jews, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, they're people just like you,” then evil would disappear. I think that’s bogus.

Sean Illing

Why is that bogus?

Paul Bloom

Consider the rhetoric of white supremacy. White supremacists know about the humanity of Jews and black people and whoever else they’re discriminating against — and it terrifies them.One of their slogans is, “You will not replace us.” Think of what that means. That’s not what you chant if you thought they were roaches or subhuman. That’s what you chant at people you’re really worried about, people who you think are a threat to your status and way of life.

Sean Illing

So cruelty isn’t an accident or an aberration, but something central to who and what we are?

Paul Bloom

It’s many things, and I don’t think there’s ever going to be a magic bullet theory of cruelty. I think some cruelty is born of dehumanization. I think some cruelty is born out of a loss of control. I think some cruelty is born out of an instrumental desire to get something you want — sex, money, power, whatever.

I think a lot of cruelty is born out of a normal and natural appreciation of the humanity of others, which then connects with certain important psychological appetites we have, like an appetite to punish those we think have done wrong. I think that, for the most part, people who do terrible things are just like us. They’ve just gone astray in certain specific ways.

Sean Illing

I tend to think of human beings as more malleable than we’d like to believe. Under the right conditions, is anyone capable of almost anything?

Paul Bloom

Wow, that’s an interesting question. I sort of believe that. I think, under the right conditions, most of us are capable of doing terrible things. There may be exceptions. But we’ve seen, both in laboratory conditions and real-world circumstances, that people can be manipulated into doing terrible things, and while there are some people who will say, “No, I won’t do that,” they tend to be a minority.

Again, I think the banal answer is that we’re swayed by social circumstances in ways that might be good or bad. You and I would be completely different people if we lived in a maximum security prison, because we’d have to adapt. There are powerful individual differences that matter, though. People can transcend their conditions, but it’s rarer than we’d like to believe.

“WHITE SUPREMACISTS KNOW ABOUT THE HUMANITY OF JEWS AND BLACK PEOPLE AND WHOEVER ELSE THEY’RE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST — AND IT TERRIFIES THEM.”

Sean Illing

I ask because I used to study totalitarian ideologies as a political theorist, and I spent a lot of time thinking about Nazi Germany and how an entire society could be led into a moral abyss like that. People look at that moment of insanity and say to themselves, “I could never have participated in that.” But I don’t think it’s that simple at all. I think almost any of us could have participated in that, and that’s an ugly truth.

Paul Bloom

I think you're right. We have this horrible tendency to overestimate the extent to which we're the moral standouts, we're the brave ones. This has some nasty social consequences. There was a great article that came out in the Washington Post last week about people who say, “I'm confused about the people who have been sexually assaulted, because if it happened to me, I would say no way, and I would put the person in their place, and I would speak out.”

This attitude is oftentimes scorn towards people who get harassed. They’re somehow morally weak, or maybe they’re just not telling the truth.

It turns out that one of my colleagues, Marianne LaFrance, did a study a while ago in which they asked a group of people, “How would you feel if you had a job interview and someone asked you these really sexist, ugly questions?”

Just about everybody says, “I would walk out. I would give the person hell,” and so on. Then they did it. They did fake interviews where people thought they were being interviewed, and people asked the sexist, ugly questions, and all of the women were just silent.

The point is that we don’t behave in stressful situations the way we think we would or the way we would like to. So yeah, if you and I were in Nazi Germany, we’d like to think we’d be the righteous ones, we’d be the heroes. But we might just be regular old Nazis.

Sean Illing

If your thesis is right, then it’s foolish to think we can get rid of cruelty if only we got rid of those noxious ideologies that justify it. In the end, it’s about us, not our ideas.

Paul Bloom

I think there are all sorts of ways we can become better people, and I think we are becoming better people. But if I’m right, there’s nothing simple about this. Acknowledging other people’s humanity won’t solve our problems.

Ultimately, we need better ideas, better ideologies. We need a culture less obsessed with power and honor and more concerned with mindfulness and dignity. That’s the best we can do to quell our appetites for dominance and punishment. Am I optimistic that we can do this? Yeah, I am. But it won’t be easy.


Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 763