Mail 734 Sunday, July 22, 2012
Democracy Is A Terrible Form Of Government – After Action Report?
First, the obligatory (though heart-felt and most definitely sincere) chit-chat about reading you since the early 80′s, still interested in your work, can’t wait to read your next blog, etc, etc.
I followed the events at Libertycon as closely as a man on a family camping trip with no 3G signal can, which is to say not well at all. I was hoping to see some summaries or post-mortems on some of the panels I would have liked to have attended, had I not been on said camping trip. Concerning the "Democracy/Terrible" panel, will there be any sort of video/audio/text of how it went down? I’m extremely interested in what the panel had to say on the topic as it dovetails exactly with a good deal of my research on what it would take, philosophically/culturally/politically, to take our current society from what we have to a popular and effective monarchy.
Keep up the great work.
I fear I wasn’t able to make notes at the panel, and my memory isn’t up to reproducing it. The formal panel title had the question, doesn’t science fiction tell us something better. We all of us answered ‘No’, which might have left us with little to talk about, but of course we found plenty. I pointed out that the Convention of 1787 might accurately be labeled a conspiracy to suppress democracy; that was certainly the goal of many of its members. Making the world safe for life, liberty, and property, even against the vote of a majority, was a major goal. The Constitution was intended to make the federal government just strong enough to survive and protect the nation against foreign powers, but not to interfere in the lives of most of the citizens; and the final sovereignty was reserved to the states and to the people, and in case that wasn’t obvious from the limited grants of power in the document itself, it was made part of the Bill of Rights.
Really, though, it’s not possible to summarize an hour of question and answer exchanges, from that panel or from the one on education this morning. And of course no one is going to answer the fundamental questions in an hour anyway. The people who attended seemed to think it was worth their time, and that’s about the best I can do. Thanks for the kind words.
Regarding alternatives to relativity:
It is a well-known conclusion in logic that scientific theories are underdetermined. That is, through any finite set of facts one may draw multiple theories to explain them. Facts are like the stars in the sky; theories are like the constellations we imagine to navigate our way through them. Hence the multiple quantum theories to explain quantum mechanics: Copenhagen, multiple-worlds, Bohm’s standing wave, Cramer’s transactional theory, et al. It is why the "crucial experiment" is impossible. If theory A predicts consequence Z, verifying Z does not prove A, the fallacy of asserting the consequent; and while verifying not-Z may (or may not) falsify A, it certainly does not validate B. There may be other alternatives to A. There is no Pr(Z), there is only Pr(Z|A), Pr(Z|B), Pr(Z|C), etc. We can only say that an observation Z is improbable given a model A.
The classic example was the Copernican v. the Tychonic model of the world. Both made the same predictions about the empirical facts — stellar positions, eclipses, sunrise/set, phases of Venus, etc. They were computationally equivalent. The Tychonic/Ursine model was better in some regards, such as the orbit of Mars. The Keplerian model was better than both in being mathematically simpler and dispensing with Copernicus’ epicycles. But heliocentrism became regarded as true-to-life mainly because assuming the Newtonian model of universal gravitation the observations made better sense.
Thank you for the succinct summary.
Online Physics Lectures
Dr Pournelle, once again, I have come across some interesting material on the web, for your on-line lecture collection, Milton Friedland does 10 tv shows:
I was lucky enough to come across this collection of tv shows from 30 years ago with economist and libertarian Milton Friedman hosting. 10 parts – 10 hours. I believe they were originally aired (believe it or not) on PBS. What makes it truly interesting is the formatting, where one half of each show is devoted to practical and historical examples of theory while the the other half is a moderated discussion with reps from government, academia, and business. It is something to see Thomas Sowell, Frances Fox Piven, and Donald Rumsfeld commenting from way back then. Could be yesterday.
I didn’t realize how much I miss Milton Friedman until I went through this series. Apparently, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of his birth.
I hope these links are new and prove useful and entertaining for you and your readers.
Free To Choose 1980 Vol. 1 – The Power of the Market <http://vimeo.com/26727003> …"
One of the things I pointed out in the education panel this morning is that it is no thoroughly possible to get a very good education without going to the schools, and without incurring a life long crippling debt by taking out huge student loans which mostly serve to drive up the price of education – that is, as usual in economic systems, if you put more money into some institution it will absorb the money and the prices will rise. Make student loans easier to get, adding more money, and higher education prices will rise to absorb all that money. You can only escape by going on line and getting an education without paying the exorbitant fees now demanded. Not only home schooling for grammar and high school, but much of so-called higher education including much of what is considered university level. We still have no way to giving credentials to those who learned outside the hideously overpriced monsters we have created, but I think the American people may find a way. Or perhaps it is only a science fiction idea.
And in a lighter vein
So papa, how did you like the iPad we got you?
Subject: next birthday
I got this long ago and it got lost in the shuffle; it is still relevant.
I have lived here in the People’s Republic of Madison for 13 years and sometimes have to get out of town just to retain my sanity.
Regarding the email you received about 119% turnout. I suspect the author was either being sarcastic or was referring to the fact that turnout in this election, along with Walker’s victory margin, exceeded that from the 2010 Fall gubernatorial election.
A lesser known reform from last year was passage of a Voter ID requirement for elections. That is currently suspended by order of David Flanagan, a Dane County (Madison) circuit court judge who signed the petition to recall Governor Walker. The case is currently on appeal and one hopes it will be overturned before the general election in November.
There were also 4 Republican Wisconsin state senators under recall on Tuesday. 3 of them won by large margins and the fourth apparently lost by about 800 votes. There were reports of buses full of union members from Detroit and Chicago traveling to Wisconsin on Tuesday to same-day register and vote. The defeated senator’s district is just north of the Illinois state line from Chicago so it’s conceivable that this may have turned the tide.
Thanks for your keen insights!
A word to the wise and all that….