Archive for June, 2017


The things we believe

I believe, for instance, that the government of Saudi Arabia addresses violent extremism basically by paying its violent extremists money, in exchange for them promising to commit their violent extremist acts in places other than Saudi Arabia.

I don’t have any evidence to hand for this, and I would not stake a huge amount on it (although I would stake a small amount), but it is something that I believe. It fits in with my theories of the world, I think I read something somewhere once that said it was true, and it just makes sense to me psychologically, fitting in with the motivations of the parties involved.

Various Trump fans and people with whom I argue on The Twitter believe that, for instance, President Obama treasonously sent one or more planes full of billions of dollars in cash to Iran, under cover of night, for some nefarious reason or other.

Stripped of the “treasonously” and “nefarious” and the implication that it was some private project of Obama’s, this is actually true. Just before the Iran Revolution, Iran had paid some U.S. entity like US$400 Million for some weapons or something, and when the revolution occurred, we just sort of held onto it, without of course supplying the weapons or something. Iran was not happy about this, and had over time gotten the attention of the folks at The Hague about it, and it looked like they might be going to find in Iran’s favor for like US$2 Billion for money and interest. To pre-empt this, and not have to either thumb our noses at The Hague or pay quite that much money, we gave them the $400 Million plus like $1.3 Billion in interest, held back until they released the hostages they were holding.

And it had to be in cash because we’d put into place so many sanctions against Iran that they were cut off from the international banking system, so there was no other way to get money to them. And it was at night (if in fact it was, I dunno) because Iran is like 9 hours ahead of Washington DC, so really it usually is, at one end or the other. Also because you probably want as much security (and obscurity) as possible around the moving of that much cash in any case.

People believe that this was treasonous and nefarious, though, because it fits into their narratives. Primarily, the narrative that President Obama was a Bad Guy, who was trying to Destroy America, and would have Seized All The Guns and Put Patriots Into FEMA Camps if the heroic NRA hadn’t stopped him, so failing that he just gave lots of money to Iran so they could destroy America for him. Or something.

Needless to say, I don’t find this very plausible. If Obama had wanted to destroy America, there were lots of other things he could have done, and didn’t do. Also he just seems like a very smart, beneficent, and cool guy to me. The Saudi government, not so much; they seem like selfish rich people who would not have huge reservations about just bribing their extremists to go elsewhere rather than doing anything more fundamental about them. So the first story fits my narrative, whereas the second doesn’t.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think there is any truth of the matter, or that I think I’m just as likely to be wrong as I am to be right. Quite the contrary, I believe that the story I believe is probably true, and the one that they believe is almost certainly false.

But it is interesting to think about how each putative fact does not stand alone, is not believed by itself, due to specific evidence for or against it; but rather exists as a supporting fact in a somewhat-consistent narrative.

And that, perhaps, the right way to try to get to the truth, and/or to get to consensus, is to try to find another narrative that one’s interlocutors also believe, and that the facts up for evaluation fit into differently.

(Note that “You’re an idiot” is a particular claim that will almost never fit into the addressed party’s narratives, and so isn’t much use for finding consensus there, although in some cases a significant fraction of onlookers may agree with it and applaud.)


Sunday, June 18th

Father’s Day! See this and this. Cards from kids!

I thought I would try writing in this here weblog again, because I like writing.

It’s hard to write stuff, because one doesn’t want to write endlessly about how Donald Trump being President was always a signal that you were reading a probably-cheesy dystopian-alternate-timeline story, and as it turns out, it still is.

But that is such a big thing, that writing about anything else seems like ignoring the Elephant In The Room, if you know what I mean.

As weblogged about previously, I’ve taken part in various marches; the Women’s March, the Not My President’s Day March, the March for Science. Maybe some others I forget. I have a rose (­čî╣) in my Twitter ummm name-thing (not the @-thing, the other thing) because I have joined the Democratic Socialists of America, and I have been all too often debating with Trump fans on Twitter.

This is a challenging thing to do, as one inevitably wants to prevail in debate, and try to convince the interlocutor(s) and even onlookers of at least the plausibility of one’s position, and one also wants to in some sense defend against the inevitable ad hominem attacks. (Or ad Eminem, as WordPress suggests.)

And yet those people are me also, fellow parts of the universal mind and all, fellow fragments of the Big Block, albeit apparently fragments from rather far away, and difficult to enjoy or understand.

Which brings me to what is, for me, the hardest thing about compassion (Compassion). I may have written about this before, but that’s okay.

I have, or think I have, no problem feeling compassion for people who are being mean to me; as long as there’s no dangerous physical assault involved, I can joke with them and try to tease out what they are upset about, and not mind that they have silly ideas because hey we all have silly ideas let’s help each other find better ones.

But what do I do when someone is being mean to someone else? How do I have compassion for the attacker? What form should that compassion take? If I am kind and joke with the attacker, am I normalizing their negative impacts on the victims? It doesn’t feel like a good idea to pal around with Nazis! (Internet or otherwise.) But I still want to express compassion, in some form.

Is punching him in the face in fact the best way to show compassion for not only the people that Richard Spencer helps oppress, but also Spencer himself? Or does one punch him in the face out of compassion for his victims, and then help him bandage up his nose out of compassion for him? Neither one feels quite right. Or maybe both do?

Speaking of Compassion and Oneness, I’ve been playing the game (“game”) Everything, from The Steam, and it’s wonderful. It’s a thing that lets you be all sorts of different things, from a hydrogen atom to a cow to a galaxy (and things off both ends), and that plays numerous Alan Watts discourses while you do it. What could be better!

Also I have been playing The Sims 4 some (see also the Sims 2 Stories, which are mostly back online now, woot!). I sort of skipped The Sims 3 for whatever reason, and now I am playing 4 in sort of vaguely but not really Legacy Challenge style. I started with a single Young Adult sim, Tolerance Boatwhistle, in a huge lot without much money, as required, and I’ve been playing just that one lot, without extending anyone’s life, as required, but I haven’t been keeping score or using the approved trait-picking methods for offspring or anything.

So far Tolerance Boatwhistle married standard sim Liberty Lee and they begat Prudence Boatwhistle (who never had a job, but survived on her paintings, and), who (with the help of standard character Alexander Goth, who has a female voice at least in my game, and who never moved in, but did die on the lot so we have his tombstone and ghost) begat Gladstone Boatwhistle, who married townie or something Hadley (heavens I’ve forgotten her last name), and together begat Consideration Boatwhistle (who became the ultimate Bodybuilder Bro, and) who married Giovanna something (I am terrible with names, aren’t I?), and who together begat Carlton Boatwhistle and his little sister Charity Boatwhistle.

Gladstone and his Hadley just recently died of old age within minutes of each other (the Grim Reaper, who is vaguely a friend of the family by now, didn’t even have time to leave in between), so they will soon be coming in at night to eat food and chat and possess various household objects, and there are just two adults and two elementary school kids on the lot (and six gravestones and therefore potential ghosts), and things are relatively simple.

Too simple, in some sense; the family has enough liquid cash and random income sources that it seems like no one has to actually ever get a job unless it’s required for an aspiration, and everyone’s moods are always pretty high except for a few days after the prior generation dies of old age.

But it’s a very soothing sort of world to spend time in and watch and give little non-urgent instructions to.

I‘ve also been playing WoW a bit, but it’s really boring now and I tend to doze off over it. I’ve tried to start playing No Man’s Sky again, but I dunno meh. Similarly for Spore. And Elite Dangerous’s bizarre controls still keep me from bothering to go back in there.

What else? ┬áLots of books! And work! And Manhattan and things! But this is getting longish, so I will try to remember how to “post” it.

Thanks for following along! This was fun, I’ll try to do it again soon (“soon”).




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