Chaos Patch (#24)

(Open thread.)

Saw Jesus Camp for the first time (and enjoyed it a lot). It should have been subtitled ‘A Study in Pwnedness’. There was the liberal anti-fundamentalist radio host who seemed to think America doesn’t have a State Religion. Then there were the radical evangelicals at the heart of the movie, who think their holy war is doing something other than sliding inexorably, culturally and politically, to the left. (Both sides were apparently convinced that the Pentacostal take-over of the SCOTUS was advancing smoothly according to the plan.) Some more recent debate about Christianity and politics here.

The rise of ODMS (On-Demand Mobile Services).

How Chinese Internet censorship works.

… the “war on terror” … has demonstrably failed Unless we’re missing something critical about the game. (This probably plunges a little too far down the rabbit-hole.)

An involved discussion of corporate personality (and ‘rights‘) is long overdue.

I wanted this for a T-shirt, but couldn’t think of a way to sneak off with it:

ADDED: I think the path to dictatorship Gödel feared starts with something like this: The President of the Senate declares that a rules issue is a Constitutional question. This enables a bare majority, exploiting the gaps in Article I, to rewrite the rules of the Senate. Such a rule change can enable the uncontested appointment of Federal judges. Those judges in turn can… Well, anyway, nothing like that would ever actually happen. (It’s not exactly the FDR approach, but it’s surely close enough.)

Some highlights from a week in chaos.

August 24, 2014admin 43 Comments »

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43 Responses to this entry

  • VXXC Says:

    If I read this am I gonna get pissed that it’s up on a Sunday? Serious question.

    I’ll read it Monday to be safe.

    enjoy your evening.


    admin Reply:

    By Sunday, you mean from a religious perspective? (Sorry, didn’t cross my mind — Chaos Patches ritualistically go up at the end of the weekend.) I don’t think there’s much gratuitous blasphemy — but I’ll let other be the judge.


    Puzzle Privateer (@PuzzlePrivateer) Reply:

    Depends on the attitude you watch Jesus Camp with.

    When I saw it I thought a lot of christains could be insulted, however I viewed it as a sad commentary on how far christianity has fallen


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 3:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    In an odd way, Jesus Camp gave me a sort of newfound respect for the funda-gelicals.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 3:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Prog-Trad Says:

    FYI, typo: ‘doing somewhere.’

    I shall make the film my evening watch tonight.


    admin Reply:

    Thanks, and enjoy.


    Prog-Trad Reply:

    Took me a couple of days to get round to it, but Jesus Camp was rather terrifying. Made an interesting contrast to the Anglo-Catholic Solemn High Mass I attended Sunday morning…

    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of my principle beefs with the fundies is aesthetic, as well as theological/historical/scientific etc… They don’t even have any incense or Latin, damn it!


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 4:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mai La Dreapta Says:

    Pentecostalism was my childhood religion, so I watched that movie with great interest a few years ago. I remember being disappointed, mostly because the moviemakers were mostly interested in politics, while I was mostly interested in religion. The politics, though, are excruciating: the leftists (and, I suspect, the filmmakers) believe there is a non-risible “theocratic” threat, and the Pentecostals think that GW Bush is appointed by God. The amount of delusion on both sides is staggering.

    I would like to see a good documentary about the religious experience of Pentecostalism, but I don’t know of one. The best film that I know of along these lines is The Apostle with Robert Duvall, but unfortunately the kind of religion that it describes is thirty years out of date.


    Izak Reply:

    You have to get through the politics to see the good aspects of the film. The part where they all pray to a cardboard cut-out of GW is a sign of the times….

    But what works about the film is that you’re getting a glimpse of what a serious religious movement will look like once ideologically detached from the civilization which has nurtured it. They’re not quite detached from the mainstream to a respectable degree (yet?) but there are certain images, which — when taken devoid of context — have a sort of poetry to them. The children are drinking water from old Pepsi and Big Gulp fountain cups. The woman uses some corporate bottled water as “holy water” to wash the sin from her followers. The children are on their knees, tears streaming down their cheeks, looking into the most ghastly and despicable depths of their reptilian subconscious minds and rejecting all animal impulses with righteous vengeance. And while doing that they’re wearing things like Pokemon and American flag shirts.

    You could look at them as products of American corporate capitalist doofiness, but they might actually just be vultures, picking from the carcass of a dying civilization.

    The disappointing thing about the snake-handling pentacostalists, to change the subject slightly, is that whenever I find youtube videos of them handling snakes during worship, they’re quite morbidly obese. So they may be picking just a little bit *too* much from the carcass of dying America.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 4:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    What is the concept of “Outside In”?

    I can guess, but it would only be a guess.


    Izak Reply:

    It’s kind of like how Will Smith would wear his school uniform blazer on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. To say he was wearing it “inside out” would be to insult the man’s ingenuity.


    admin Reply:

    It’s emergent / invasive (so any pontification on the topic from this end will be unreliable).


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 4:51 pm Reply | Quote
  • ho lee fuk, sum ting wong, wi tu lo Says:

    daily collapse report. drudge report for the collapse set.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 5:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • MLR Says:

    With all the back-and-forth over at The Ümlaut’s latest Beep Boop discovery that NRx is impossibru because [insert formula here], and reviewing Mencius’ Futarchy remark on how there is no test that proves a King is better, but that one must take the leap of faith, and my own topics in class that touched on the Divided Brain talk by Iain McGilchrist ( who also mentions Gödel’s demonstration of the limits of reason (that reason itself requires a leap of faith – we intuit that reason is useful, but that it can’t itself make an argument that reason is the only way to look at the world) … whoo~ all that build up to say that it came to quite a head last night when I went to see “The Giver.” I have no idea how this film got past the Marxist censors (bonus points for @Gaelic_Norseman: it also features Taylor Swift.)

    Best film I’ve seen since … well, no, I’m afraid it gets #1. One, giant RED PILL, unashamedly proclaiming how utterly broken modernity is, and how much more HarrisonBergeron it could yet become. I suggest #PrecisionOfLanguage as the new NRx battle cry (no spoilers from me, but I’d love to see some analysis from the crowd around these parts). It’s a stunning tribute to the Einstein sentiment about building a world that honours the service of the rational mind, and has forgotten the gift of the intuitive mind.


    Kgaard Reply:

    Innaresting. I went to see The Giver last night too and can’t say I had the same response. I see what you’re saying re the anti-Marxist tone of the message. That’s a legit point. But what really struck me was the way the kid was hauling around that damn BABY on his quest to the outer reaches of the known civilization. It would have made sense had the girl been with him (i.e. starting a new family) but what was the point of him taking the kid himself other than to blur sex-role distinctions and make it somehow cool for 18-year-old boys to be acting like nannies? I just had a really bad reaction to that part.

    The other thing I got from it was a reminder of dysgenic breeding … how each generation is somehow LESS than the previous one. Jeff Bridges is just so much cooler than the kid in that movie. It’s interesting how often studios have to go overseas now to find hard-bitten-looking young people for male roles. The US has had three generations of processed-food eaters and the negative effect is cumulative. In Europe it’s been only 1 or 2 generations, so as a general rule they look better than we do …


    MLR Reply:

    Well, while it’s fresh in my mind (and SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen it yet):

    I was astonished by how the film placed in such sharp relief how awful it is that we live in such an atomized world, where young people, like the young man in the film, are left without any guidance about… anything, from the images of the dancing at the (traditional vaguely Mediterranean?) wedding, to the yachting, the war and death, and the Christmas carols being sung (a Benetton ad this was NOT, save for one or two of the briefest flashes): all young people have today is grey-scale Baby Boomers telling them “Precision of Language” (ie. Political Correctness), and that imagery like that is … what did Katie Holmes’ character say about “love” … ah yes, that it was “beyond archaic,” which is exactly what so many other living, breathing elements of human life are labeled as in modernity.

    What got me, too, was how gentle it was in its take-down of the ones swept up in the left sides of their brains: how the “father” character, whose job it was to euthanize babies who didn’t “measure up” didn’t know what he was doing. He was all the information, and with that technology, one might assume he saw much more – but all that information didn’t help him to be wise; wise enough to see that the baby he lay in the box and sent down the shoot to “elsewhere” was dead, by his hand. The subject of “Hobbits” has been mentioned in the NRx Twittersphere, lately, and this is, I think, an insight into how we, too, might look a little more gently on the rubes swept up in the political leftism of our time: it’s not their fault; how are they to know better?

    The Elder’s – Merryl Streep’s character – appeal to reason was so strong, such a siren song, it was hard not to see its attraction, and its terrible cost, with a girl set for execution not 2 metres from her, beyond a window

    The baby was going to be killed: as quite literally the ONLY one who could see – really SEE – I’m sot sure what choice he had but to take this child that he had bonded with the way the Giver, as a father figure, had bonded with him. How could you leave someone so defenseless in a world like that? Yet it’s exactly what the generations you describe did to the young you see around you: and in far, FAR more insidious ways than giving them processed food.


    Kgaard Reply:

    Well, that all makes sense. Your take is a lot more interesting than mine …

    Alrenous Reply:

    Much of the reason I wanted a word for hobbits is due to the fact they follow and thereby promote progressivism but are primarily victims of it. It is their families which are destroyed by feminism, without ever having a say in what feminism is.

    Consider what a terrible crime this is. At first it seemed to me like all they needed was someone who could tell them what they did wrong. But by their nature they have issues listening seriously to anyone outside their thede; and by definition, anyone who knows better is elthede. Further, they’ve been instructed not in thinking for themselves, but in gullibility to Authority. Third, having made the mistake, there’s some protective denial involved. “Nobody could have done better; it’s not my fault.” Finally, it’s not clear they even can think for themselves; certainly, not on every issue. There simply isn’t time.

    These people’s lives are being utterly desolated, and proggies are not only razing the buildings but salting the earth.

    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    What do you mean godel and the limits of reason?


    MLR Reply:

    Incompleteness Theorem:

    1. If the system is consistent, it cannot be complete.
    2. The consistency of the axioms cannot be proven within the system.

    After stewing on all this for some time, I’d have to say – pretty forcefully – than if you’re NRx’ing, and you haven’t watched this:

    you’re going to end up doing it wrong.


    Alrenous Reply:

    I will watch the Giver when I can.
    I’m not sure how you can miss that the brain is divided. Useful jargon: system 1 and system 2. System 1 is properly the primary and evolutionarily old system, intuition. System 2 is the explicit symbolic ratiocination system.

    I’ve become disappointed with Godel’s incompleteness. #2 is just a re-statement that circular reasoning is a fallacy. #1’s proof I think commits a fallacy. First, I couldn’t find any examples of a material incompleteness. A formula that’s true, useful, but not provable within a system. I suspect Godel violated grammar with his self-referential sentence. If this is in fact the case, the halting problem’s proof is also fallacious.

    Further, even if true, #1’s domain only goes so far as logic itself. Forget the problem of induction, we have a problem of deduction, precisely because #2 is true. You can’t assume logic is true, you have to prove it. Without logic, ‘prove’ doesn’t mean anything. It’s a problem. I call this the Lovecraftian logical third rail, because it powers the whole system, but properly instantiating the logical structure in your consciousness is maddening; i.e. touching it electrocutes you. If logic isn’t self-justifying, it isn’t justifiable, which means it isn’t true, but if isn’t true I didn’t just prove that, but….

    Alrenous Reply:

    Err, “precisely because #2 is true.” should be #1.

    Erik Reply:

    I tend to interpret Gödel and the “limits of reason” as more specifically “limits of reason in the face of self-referential smartasses demanding you jump through their hoops”. The incompleteness theorem usually doesn’t show what the user thinks it shows, much like quantum mechanics, which the New Age woo-peddlers have a bad habit of bringing up in arguments about utter bullshit.

    Given a system S containing some axioms and some sufficiently expressive language for talking about propositions, one can construct a proposition P containing something isomorphic to: “P cannot be proven true from S.”

    There are a bunch of caveats, but the above pretty much sums up the first incompleteness theorem. If S can be used to prove P, then P is false, and S has been used to prove a falsehood (S is inconsistent). If S cannot be used to prove P, then P is true, and S cannot be used to prove a truth (S is incomplete).

    However, why is anyone trying to prove P in the first place, considering its malicious construction? I consistently fail to find this alleged limit to reason impressive in the least. I remain utterly underwhelmed, also, that reason cannot put a consistent assignment of “true” or “false” to the statement of the liar paradox (“this sentence is false”). Much like being told I can’t lick my elbow, I fail to see just what practical impact this has.


    Bill Reply:

    Erik I think you have it wrong in this sense. The idea of a complete mathematical system is already made by “smartasses demanding you jump through their hoops.” The Principa Mathematica is a book that basically turns into lists of various ‘potential’ mathematical ideas. This is about a big a hoop as one human can give another, a potential abstraction following an abstract symbolic logic.

    Without these first “smartasses” (Whitehead and Russel) you would not know whether a complete mathematical system was possible. In fact, you would be left with something like a mythology of math. In the end they proved that it was almost possible, not very satisfying… but better than not knowing anything.

    Also, regarding your idea that Godel’s proof is a paradox. This idea was common among mathematicians following their encounter with Godel’s idea, and many spent years trying to prove that Godel had made an error. No one ever proved he made an error.

    I’ve read two books that describe why Godel did not create a paradox. There is a fun one called “A World Without Time,” which is a fun book that deals with Einstein and Godel’s friendship and how their ideas intersect, and a more serious one is called “Godel’s Proof.”

    Basically your argument doesn’t hold water when you consider what it takes to prove the completeness of mathematics, which is a lot of smartassery. Your argument amounts to you saying that because math is complete in almost all situations you resent knowing that there is a hole in the system.

    zdyuv Reply:

    “self-referential smartasses demanding you jump through their hoops”

    Isn’t that what reason is in the first place? A subset of nature using a bunch of funny little stupid rules?

    As for practical impacts, there’s


    for starters. I mean, would you have predicted the impact of Babbage’s ideas back in the 19th century? And then there’s computational complexity. Knowing what can’t be done can end up saving a hell of a lot of time.

    Erik Reply:

    Bill, I didn’t say Godel’s proof is a paradox, and I don’t resent knowing that there is a hole in the system.

    I resent people treating the hole as a big deal which can be used to prove their pet idea, and I’ve seen quite a variety of pet ideas.

    To perhaps make the comparison to quantum mechanics clearer, there are people who think that quantum tunneling means it’s possible for them to drive their car into a wall and come out unharmed on the other side. I could defend the “possibility” of this at the level of a chance less than 1 out of the number of particles in the universe, or I could say “no”, and I think it’s the better choice to say “no”.

    Godel’s incompleteness can be pushed arbitrarily far down, as it relies on a diagonalization argument, meaning there are systems of axioms and language where the proposition P takes years to write out. The limits to reason then start to sound like a complaint about the permeability of neutronium to me.

    Furthermore, a complete mathematical system is possible. Godel’s incompleteness theorem applies to a) sufficiently expressive systems that are b) reasoning about themselves. An inexpressive system can be complete because it can’t express a proposition like P. An expressive system can have P proven from another system.

    Bill Reply:

    Erik, Ok, I get where you’re coming from. Thanks for clarifying.

    nydwracu Reply:

    Precision of language? Rectification of names.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 7:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Michael Says:

    its been about 6 years so i cant remember much, im “catholic” so obviously it seemed a bit low brow .but knowing a lot of fundamentalist from my Idaho life i was also sympathetic. I can assure you they can handle snakes in the morning and rip apart and rebuild a skidder in the afternoon.They are not Luddites or socially naive they totally get how they are perceived and are amused they are also well armed honest to a fault fiercely patriotic the women respect the patriarchy in a astoundingly sophisticated way,They are usually the most in contact with the secular world so are most aware of the disconnect between their worldview and the heathens who they love as Jesus instructs, they are never judgmental of the non believers in fact its really hard to anger them they are just constantly working on their faults i get into their confidence because of course because years of Catholic school i know my bible christian history and theology and because my AA background is sort of evangelically based so i speak the lingo and am politically simpatico . if there’s a reason to suppport the religious leg of the triad its these people
    i think the movie is a southern fried variation and so even more alien but
    what I do remember is my friend almond being appalled almond is a Brooklyn born red diaper baby who spent her summers in a kibbutz which she has quite fond memories of though shes only vaguely religious, I don’t know I found that amusing.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 8:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    Don’t think I’m gonna like Jesus Camp. This sort of movie always hits a little too close to home. I know what it’s like to experience that sort of religious fervor. If I had never become skeptical of such religious fervor to (for example) actually change lives for the better on average, I probably never would have become Catholic. Interestingly, I joined the Catholic Church because I thought that sort of religious fervor was frowned upon. Not really, only you cannot get any power within the Catholic Church with it. And now it seems, the Catholics want me to press on to get this same sort of fervor. Oh the crosses a spiritually autistic true believer must bear.

    Thanks for the tip on The Giver. Gonna stick that on the queue.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 8:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    In 7th grade in my English class, we read both The Giver and Harrison Bergeron. Having had a girlfriend who loved the so-so movie Equilibrium, I think liberals embrace these stories because they are romantics, and don’t realize that they critically strike at the center of their philosophy (many of these liberals don’t properly understand their own side’s thinking anyway.)

    Their reasoning goes like this, “How terrible it would be to live in a world without FEELINGS!”

    But the stories aren’t really about that.

    Equilibrium is forgettable, but is good. It even includes an odd bit about Catharsis as well.


    Alrenous Reply:

    I found the one scene with the music redeemed everything leading up to it. For some reason, I need that kind of set-up to properly appreciate the aesthetic system. Ref:

    Even at this accelerated pace, though, the fiddler’s movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience — unseen, unheard, otherworldly — that you find yourself thinking that he’s not really there. A ghost.

    Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts.

    “It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah . . .”

    The word doesn’t come easily.

    “. . . ignoring me.”

    Bell is laughing. It’s at himself.

    But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

    There’s also a relevant Theodore Dalrymple piece-within-a-piece. A vignette where pubgoers are actively repelled by good music in favour of crap.


    Posted on August 24th, 2014 at 11:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    @MLR Kurt Godel took a book called the Principa Mathematic, which claimed to be a representation of a complete mathematical system, and then proved that there was one equation that the Principa Mathematica couldn’t represent, but that the Godelian equation had to be true for the for rest of the system to be true. Which is a long way to say that no mathematical system can be totally self-contained, a.k.a. mathematical systems are incomplete, hence the incompleteness theorem.

    Later in life Godel was Einstein’s best friend. For one of Einstein’s birthday parties Godel proved time travel was possible. Only problem was that you would need so much fuel that you would have to burn the entire Earth. Einstein even admitted that if special relativity was true Godel was right, time was something you could move through spatially, and that the human experience of time was subjective and limited. I have the paper where Godel described the rocket you would need for time travel, but I can’t understand the math which is full of odd looking symbols. The book is a few hundred pages, and Godel’s paper is short. Amazon has the book for 2 dollars.


    MLR Reply:

    This background encapsulates quite nicely what I think NRx’ers need to be alert to: that the defining quality of Prog modernity is to decontextualize, fix, make static, define, denote, and ultimately make lifeless. Doing battle on their terms will never work. Trying to fight them with better, more pure, more perfect, more lifeless algorithms will never, ever work. MM’s debate with Hanson on Futarchy demonstrated that so well, and he’s to be commended for holding his ground (without the benefit of leisurely writing a blog article… or comment) that you need to take a leap of faith; so, too, with reason. There’s nothing reason can offer by way of its own arguments to prove that rationality is the only or best way to see the world, rather we intuit with a leap of faith that reason is useful. The Prisoner’s Dilemma demonstrates the limits of reason.

    MM said it consistently in that particular debate; it’s one of our jobs to articulate it, now, in real time when we’re being confronted with the lifeless Beeps and Boops the left will offer. Nothing demonstrates that more than looking into a young person’s face and seeing how utterly freeing it can be for that one person in front of you to be told that filling in all the boxes with neat little check marks the way your left hemisphere (and modernity’s voices) would like is NOT all there is.

    NRx may or may not go anywhere (whatever your “anywhere” is), but if those of us who SEE can’t impart some peace to the young people in front of us, we have nothing but a future of Belle Knoxes and Elliot Rogers to look forward to.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Intuition complements reason, it’s a shortcut, like serendipity. But never abandon reason, that’s insanity. You can make giant leaps forward disconnected from the grounding of solid reason but you should then go back and build a path connecting the two. Don’t underestimate reason by assuming the priors must be fixed, or assuming our priors are their priors. Reasoning isn’t a box, it’s all we have for meaningfully discussing the universe with each other.


    MLR Reply:

    I’m afraid that has it precisely backwards. Reason is the servant, and intuition is the master.

    “It’s all we have for meaningfully …” No, it’s not.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Trying to fight them with better, more pure, more perfect, more lifeless algorithms will never, ever work.

    If purifying your algorithms makes them more lifeless, you’re doing it wrong. Addendum: that all religions are wrong doesn’t mean religion per se is wrong. Most atheism is founded on an argument from ignorance – I can’t imagine how spirituality could work, therefore it doesn’t work. Pure hubris.


    Posted on August 25th, 2014 at 12:51 am Reply | Quote
  • Fek Says:

    More from the science of ‘trollology’:


    Aeroguy Reply:

    The abstract of that should read:
    Self identified internet assholes are in fact actual assholes.

    What groundbreaking survey monkey produced study will the psychology students come up with next?


    Posted on August 25th, 2014 at 4:41 am Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    David Friedman says in _The Machinery of Freedom_ that he’s not a utilitarian. What do you call the approach he takes in “What Does Optimal Population Mean?” It looks to me like utilitarianism, except that it’s defined over a specific, limited set of people, and he’s using a lottery (with a Rawlsian “veil of ignorance”) in order to justify comparisons across different hypothetical futures. I think this approach is defensible for what he’s using it for, but if it isn’t “utilitarianism”, then what do you call it?


    Posted on August 27th, 2014 at 1:54 am Reply | Quote
  • nydwracu Says:

    I’ve always suspected that the flaw Gödel saw is the fact that the Constitution can be arbitrarily amended.

    But maybe I overestimate his sense of humor.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    I assumed he was making a mathematician’s joke.

    The constitution grants congress the power to set weights and measures. It also defines terms of office in years.

    Easy solution to permanent power – set the value of a year to 5,000 days or 50,000 days.


    Posted on August 27th, 2014 at 2:48 am Reply | Quote
  • SanguineEmpiricist Says:

    Land if I ever manage to buy you a second/NRx home in Monte Carlo, will you do exctasy with me?


    Posted on August 27th, 2014 at 7:59 am Reply | Quote

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