The Greatest Engineering Project Ever Open Thread.

mmghosh's picture

For those of us minutely following ITER, the possibility of seeing the project come to fruition within our lifetimes is simply amazing.  


A great write-up for those who need an introduction.


Years from now—maybe in a decade, maybe sooner—if all goes according to plan, the most complex machine ever built will be switched on in an Alpine forest in the South of France. The machine, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, will stand a hundred feet tall, and it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons—more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower.


For the machine’s creators, this process—sparking and controlling a self-sustaining synthetic star—will be the culmination of decades of preparation, billions of dollars’ worth of investment, and immeasurable ingenuity, misdirection, recalibration, infighting, heartache, and ridicule. Few engineering feats can compare, in scale, in technical complexity, in ambition or hubris. Even the iter organization, a makeshift scientific United Nations, assembled eight years ago to construct the machine, is unprecedented. Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, are invested in the project, which is so complex to finance that it requires its own currency: the iter Unit of Account.

No one knows iter’s true cost, which may be incalculable, but estimates have been rising steadily, and a conservative figure rests at twenty billion dollars—a sum that makes ITER the most expensive scientific instrument on Earth. But if it is truly possible to bottle up a star, and to do so economically, the technology could solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years, and help save the planet from environmental catastrophe. Hydrogen, a primordial element, is the most abundant atom in the universe, a potential fuel that poses little risk of scarcity. Eventually, physicists hope, commercial reactors modelled on ITER will be built, too—generating terawatts of power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and scant radioactive waste. The reactor would run on no more than seawater and lithium. It would never melt down. It would realize a yearning, as old as the story of Prometheus, to bring the light of the heavens to Earth, and bend it to humanity’s will.


With an Apollo-like commitment, Janeschitz told me, fusion’s remaining problems could be worked out within a lifetime. But the funding would need to come in significant amounts, and mostly at once, not dribbled over decades. As he sketched out his vision, he alluded to an aphorism by an early Soviet tokamak pioneer, a quote that practically echoes among the halls of iter’s headquarters: “Fusion will be ready when society needs it.”

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This Isn't Complicated, Principal Moron & Company

M Scott Eiland's picture

A little history to explain exactly how and the specific way in which you are idiots. There's a 71 year old United States Supreme Court ruling dead on point on this issue. Note the date--the middle of World War F***ing Two--and note that the Supremes were overturning a precedent it had set down less than two years before, both facts indicating that they were really, really sure this was the right way to go with this--enough to put up with all of the criticism that followed. The precedent thereby set down in stone for seventy-one years is that you can't make kids say the Pledge of Allegiance. Period. This is not No-Life Newdow crap. Now, stop bugging the kid, expunge his record of any of the results of your petty totalitarianism, apologize in public to him, pay off his lawyers--and there *will* be lawyers soon if there aren't any already--and be glad you idiots still have jobs.


Here endeth the lesson.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Fascinating link: thanks, Scott

Jay C's picture

Though one would think, as you note, that this type of case is a long-settled matter of law, the last line of the Wikipedia entry on the Barnette case was something of a surprise (well, not really):


At 2006 proceedings cosponsored by the Justice Robert H. Jackson Center and the Supreme Court Historical Society, Supreme Court law clerks from that Court were on a panel with the two eponymous Barnettes. Just as she and her sister had in 1942, Gathie Barnette Edmonds noted that her own son was also sent to the principal's office for not saluting the flag.

At least nowadays, we've gotten rid of the Bellamy salute!

How A Tie For Fourth In A State Track Meet Becomes Awesome

M Scott Eiland's picture

Meet Charlotte Brown--pole vaulter. She's almost totally blind. Qui audet adipiscitur.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Fox... if it were true


...cuts to Bolling, who is saying “that there’s one more piece to this. Don’t forget that [Benghazi] was prior — prior — to Osama bin Laden being taken down, and the thought was, the discussion was, ‘Is President Obama, going into the reelection, soft on terror or not?’”

Bolling then interrupts himself, as an off-screen producers informs him of something: “What, it was after?”

“Yes, much after,” Dana Perino can be heard saying.

“My bad,” Bolling said, “I take it back.”

“But a great point, if it were true,” Perino added.


All cable teevee news is asinine, but Fox is the leader.

There's a witch somewhere


But according to two reporters – one from Fox News, one from the L.A. Times – the congressman was in especially rare form on the House floor last night. Responding to Democratic allegations that the new Republican Benghazi committee is a “witch hunt,” Sessions argued, “Well, Mr. Speaker, that must mean there is a witch somewhere.”


I'm sure this will be a prudent use of our tax dollars. Team red, team blue, press X to continue.

"Why Hillary Fears Monica"

M Scott Eiland's picture

Tammy Bruce reminds us that the apparent frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination was an active enabler in her husband's misbehavior, not a passive victim:


Think about it. You’re married to a man with no pants. He uses women like other people use washcloths. But you need him to get the power you think you’re entitled to, so you help in destroying the credibility and lives of anyone who exposes your husband for what he is.


It’s bad enough when a man is a sex addict. It’s even more obscene when the one woman who could stop him chooses instead to enable her predator husband because it will get her something she wants. That’s cold, and malignantly narcissistic.


The bullying of Ms. Lewinsky begins again because she dares to be present, dares to defend herself, dares to take her life back. Nothing says “war on women” more than the feminist liberal Democratic hero having her feminist liberal Democratic media sycophants go on the offensive to destroy an inconvenient woman.


Lewinsky played a rather large role in her own misfortunes, but the Clinton White House employed a rather large operation devoted to destroying any women who were unfortunate enough to have an encounter--willing or otherwise--with the Bubbajunk and decided to say something about it. Anyone who thinks that the Clintons are any less devoted these days to that sort of personal destruction of those who bring up inconvenient realities in the name of politics is kidding themselves.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

You guys go with that

HankP's picture

and let all your vicious little rabid weasels keep pushing it. Seriously, please keep it up. It helps Democrats immensely when Republicans remind everyone what nasty a$$holes the GOP is every year or two.


I blame it all on the Internet


M Scott Eiland's picture

Because the comment section *here* wasn't wall to wall left of center people saying "Hillary is a monster!" in 2008. Tammy Bruce is just pointing out part of a larger problem for HRC--*she's* a nasty piece of work, and there doesn't seem to be a dashing "community organizer" available to rescue you guys from nominating her this time around.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It wasn't

HankP's picture

Harley was pretty obnoxious about it, but not everyone was.


I blame it all on the Internet

Didn't Say That Everyone Was Doing It

M Scott Eiland's picture

But it was certainly enough to chase Trickster off, though admittedly some of that was self-inflicted (the earnest explanation of the difference between lies and spinning as applied to the Clinton resume--and why what Obama was saying was lies and not spin--was definitely giggle inducing in a bipartisan way).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It was wall-to-wall


"Hillary is a monster" here?




Uh, ok.

Glad You Agree -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

If you


see that as an agreement...


Well, ok then... How about those "The Clapper" ads, huh?!


Plus, "I've fallen, and I can't get up!"



*...backs away slowly...*

Speaking Of Golden Oldies

M Scott Eiland's picture

"She Is A Monster", by Spin Doctor, and guest starring Harley!

Careful backing up there--you never know what old skeletons you might trip over in this place.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Wall to wall?


Only if you don't get the whole "wall" analogy.


But go ahead and dig through those folders.

Actually. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I just used the search function here and typed in Hillary Monster. This diary was the top link--there were plenty of other ones from 2008. As anyone who was actually there and paying attention could have told you.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



OK I tried your investigative approach. There was one Hillary Monster diary. Eleven comments. (11).


Past that, unicorns, Benghazi, Vince Foster, Area 51 and Elian's dolphins.

And Plenty Of Comments

M Scott Eiland's picture

I never said "multiple diary titles called HRC a monster."

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Uh OK, whatever


Yes, it was pure wall to wall hatred of HRC back in 2008, and the blowjob stories plus Vince Foster, White Water, cocaine dealing, and a close analysis of Bill Clinton's n*t sack will be pure gold for your team.


Press X to continue.

Glad You Agree

M Scott Eiland's picture

Incidentally, how many comments would we find in the archives here by Democrats calling Obama a monster, or by Republicans calling Dubya a monster? Context matters here.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



I am totally amazed. This sausagefest blog is a bellwether for 2016 and beyond. Polls across america are skewed. Romney's gonna take it in a landslide. We have the math.


Go Santorum. And Bush. And Cain. 9-9-9. And Rand. And all you crazy sweethearts. Please stay as sweet as you are.


Red/blue. Press X to continue.

Plenty Of Democrats Here

M Scott Eiland's picture

And the person *not* at this blog who most famously called HRC a monster is a woman that Mr. Obama had no problem giving a rather high profile job later. "Monster" aside, I see plenty of angsty quotes here about the idea that HRC is going to win the nomination in 2016. Sure, the Republicans could nominate another clunker and she could still win--but as of now I sense a rather huge lack of enthusiasm among the Democratic electorate, and they've given the Republicans plenty of fodder that can't be dismissed as part of the mythical "vast right wing conspiracy."

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Hanlon's Razor rules out conspiracy with great emphasis


The GOP is in full self-destruct mode at present, gibbering and ranting about impeachment.  As for Benghazi, the GOP needs to be careful with this prosecution:  2 will get you 5 they'll screw this up and they're being warned about that possibility.  The Democrats are being stupid about this, too, bobbing and weaving, when they should just let the GOP swing their puny little fists.  The charges won't go anywhere:  the denial hurts the Democrats more than anything the GOP could possibly do.  Nobody's playing this smart and the GOP has the most to lose. 


True, the Democrats aren't exactly enthused by their prospects.  It's a tough time and I suspect the Democrats will lose a few seats in the midterms if things don't change.  It won't be the end of the world.  The gerrymandering has reduced the competition to a few acres of ground.  It's not a referendum on Obama, that's the problem with gerrymandering.  Long term, the GOP won't win the White House again in my lifetime.  God answers prayers, especially for the stupid.


Fear is mostly anticipation. The GOP doesn't know whether to defecate or go blind, confronted with the possibility of HRC running.  The GOP will do as they always do, nominate the Most Likely Chump and he will blow up as predictably as next Tuesday's sunrise.  Set your watches by it, gennemens. 

Fer crissakes, why not drag the corpse of Vince Foster in, too?


Washington Times.  Tammy Bruce is such a piece of work.  Maybe someone will observe she's been chased out of polite company since the days of OJ Simpson.  It's like some Chatty Cathy Doll, pulling her own string   brrrk! Hillary Clinton is a Bully!  brrrk!  If any human being has been through the hamburger grinder, it's Hillary Clinton.  And the day Hillary is elected President of the United States of America, I hope Tammy Bruce dies of a burst brain aneurysm.


M Scott Eiland's picture

Pointing out that liberal feminists in Southern California were visibly more concerned with not offending local black officials than they were at pointing out the BS involved in the "OJ was framed!" narrative did rather thoroughly damage her standing with said liberal feminists. Pointing out the hypocrisy of said liberal feminists in giving Bill's groin and hands a free pass in the name of the cause didn't make them like her much, either. Of course, calling that collection of vipers "polite company" is stretching things a tad.

Maybe you should amend your comment to say that you don't wish her bad luck, but that you hope she's run over by a bus: that seems to be a popular approach these days.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm not the one dragging in dead rodents from Moonie Times


as if Tammy Bruce were providing any insight.  Spiteful hag.  Annoying black people is her stock in trade.  Since NOW ran her off, like all those disgruntled pinkos who composed the bulk of the Neoconservative movement, she's screeched like a raging harpy, clawing at her former pals.  Truth is, she's nothing but an Ann Coulter wannabe, without Ann Coulter's wit or style.  With Ann Coulter, you know she doesn't believe any of it.  It's kinda like Steven Colbert in his Conservopersona.  Coulter does it to get Liberals upset, and she does pull the Liberals' chains, to tremendously amusing effect.


Tammy Bruce is different.  It's not clear she actually believes any of this, either.  Ever seen a bad divorce?  Of course you have.  Not sure if you did any matrimonial work, I'm told it's a nightmare.  Some divorces are reasonably amicable, others, these poor people will rage and blether over every last chipped plate in the basement closet, not so much that anyone wants it, but that they want to hurt their partner.  Tammy Bartlett used to be a big-time feminist.  Now look at her.  Pitiful, really.  Grief becomes rage if allowed to fester.  Rage in turn gives way to madness.  Tammy Bartlett's rhetoric is redolent of that I've heard in bitter divorces.  Nobody gives a damn about Clinton getting his wiener waxed all those years ago. 


Hillary Clinton went off to Congress, kept her head down and her nose clean, made friends, won over a rural and mostly-Republican constituency in New York State -- absolutely no politician has survived the vitriol and scorn such as was heaped on Hillary Clinton.  She endured.  Something to be said for that skill, that she outlasted her enemies.  The likes of Tammy Bruce are no more to be feared than a bit of dog doo on the heel of Hillary's dress shoe. 

Smacking Tammy Bruce Around Doesn't Make. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .HRC any more lovable (and I notice you don't address the merit of TB's criticisms of NOW and their fellow travelers--wise move there).

Interesting theory about Ann Coulter--though rather amusing in light of the arguments I've heard here and elsewhere how she's so ever much more evil than Michael Moore is. Whatever I've heard said about Lord Pork-Pork, none of it has been "he's putting on an act."

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'll have an opinion on feminism when I grow a uterus.


NOW is what it is - and it ran off Tammy Bruce for Saying Dumb Things.  Hoof-in-Mouth Disease.  If NOW have evolved into a more-liberal and less-overtly-feminist organisation, it's made the right enemies in the process.  That's important, as I always say.  I don't like umbrella feminism for a variety of reasons:  mostly because women are so diverse.  What issues do they all have in common, upon which all women agree?  See where this argument is going?  Conservative women have their organisations, that's all good.  CWA is out there, too.


Ann Coulter has lots of liberal friends.  She's a nice person by all accounts.  C'mon, anyone can see through Ann Coulter's schtick.  Can't you?  Do you reallyreally think she wants the USA to invade all these countries and convert them to Christianity?  It's so obtuse and wickedly funny, granted, the act is getting kinda old.  But then, she's not exactly reduced to the county fair circuit like Sarah Palin, another woman who clearly doesn't mean what she says.  Slight difference though, Sarah Palin doesn't understand the meaning of what she says.  At least Tammy Bruce can't plead non compos mentis for her utterances.  What's the standard for an insanity defence?  You have to understand what you're doing.


But back to Hillary:  nobody gives a rat's heinie what Hillary's enemies are saying.  They've all been heard before.  They shot their wads decades ago.  They're old hat.  Speaking of the county fair circuit, Moonie Times editurdials do not count for anything, anymore.  Let's not drag them in here or I'll have to special order a crate of messenger shooting buckshot.

Easy, buddy. I'm a feminist. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Every intelligent man is a feminist.


If he has any sense, a man will listen to women.  Seems to me that's what men should do, maintain two open ears and one shut mouth.  If women have any questions for us, they'll ask and we'll answer them.  In the meantime, the in-between time, best for all concerned to listen to what women have to say.  That's why I don't have an opinion on feminism.  It's an endless source of irritation for women, that when they speak, men invariably respond as if their opinions were being solicited, rather than simply listening.

Women Should Be Treated Like Human Beings

M Scott Eiland's picture

Which includes telling them they're full of c*** just as you would a man who was full of c***. Perhaps a tad more politely.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Some years ago, I took tango dance lessons.


An elderly Spanish couple taught the course, a man and his wife, still stone col' gassed in love with each other after many decades.  I asked them how they managed the stunt.  The husband responded to me, gravely, in Spanish. 


It's no different than the tango itself.  The key is to keep a few millimeters of distance between yourself and your partner (feminine).  The essence of woman is mystery, as is the essence of manliness.  Dispel that mystery and love will die.  Maintain your distance and posture and love shall last beyond the grave.


Do not presume to tell anyone they're full of c***.  True as it may be, women have no monopoly on common sense or received wisdom, there's no advantage gained from saying such things.  We're wired up differently.  More is learned from listening than speaking.  Two ears. One mouth.  That's the rough proportion in which those organs of perceptions ought to be employed. 

"Do not presume to tell anyone they're full of c***. "


Let's just get that title up there and think about it.

Let Me Know How That Works Out

M Scott Eiland's picture

I have a feeling that applying that mode of thought consistently over political life in general would be, ahem, not terribly useful.

And yes--Tammy Bruce was rather ill-suited to working for a bunch of hypocritical idiots who were more interested in serving liberal politicians than actual women. Much to her credit.

As for Coulter, I'm not in the "she's hot" crowd and don't find her writing terribly compelling, so I've never given her much thought--but liberals seem to think she's the Antichrist, Adam's Apple and all. Maybe they should follow your example and assume she's doing a full metal Colbert act.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

You ought to try it. Remember, politicians are not born -


they are excreted.  None of them believe anything they say.  They want power, they say what it takes to get it.  Writers develop a schtick, I have a schtick, you have your own.  I could spot one of your comments with no name on it.  I kinda know you by now.  Certain grudging respect, you might say.  I take political writing seriously.  But the outrage thing just ate me up before I saw the truth of it, that though it's out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, most of what get said is what others are saying better.  Humans don't do much original thinking. 


To transcend all that Thinking by Proxy, you have to see these politicians aren't really hypocrites so much as they're deeply flawed, power-hungry people, not much different than us.  They seek power and are willing to pay the price to get it.  That price is their beliefs.  To represent others, they're reduced to nothing, as St Paul said, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.


They become nothing - by choice.  They will say anything.  To anyone.  They will grovel before money, grovel before important people, they're not merely hypocritical, that would imply they are actually saying one thing and doing another - this is different.  They will say anything and do anything.  For anyone.  As long as they get their power fix. 


Al Franken once said a wise thing:  "The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They're about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover."  Politics is just an extension of that process - the vulture press feeds on the carcasses of politicians and it's good for the world at large, not to have these rotting monsters littering up the landscape.  We get the government we deserve - because we prefer empty opinion and plastic bletherous outrage to thoughtful discussion about the issues affecting everyone.  The politicians don't care.  Because we don't care. 



So you think


HRC is unpopular? Are the polls skewed?

Bring it on


I'm sure a 20+ year old issue over a blow job is gonna turn all the kids into Santorum/Cain/"Ted" voters.


Frothing spite from the geezers on the right over the incorrect behavior of imaginary feminists twenty years ago will have them all getting married, knocked up, and praying to reagan's corpse over a tar-sand lamp in their Obama-hovels.


Also, American Jews will start voting republican based on the democrats' hatred of israel, and women will too because Obama wasn't manly enough to lull them to a peaceful sleep every night.


Plus, OJ jokes are still as funny as the "I can't program my VCR!" routines that have them rolling in the aisles in the nursing homes.

Imaginary Feminists?

M Scott Eiland's picture

Hardly. But it's impolite of me to interrupt the mythmaking process, and pretending the Democratic primary season of 2008 never happened. Of *course* it's only the EEEVILLL Republicans who think HRC is a nasty piece of work.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Quite a


colorful imagination. I mean that in a good way.

Comment, Not The Commenter

M Scott Eiland's picture

I really don't care how you claim to *mean* it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



If you want to think HRC is unpopular, go right ahead.

Brilliantly cruel animated short.


JohnnyExpress from AlfredImageworks on Vimeo.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

It's so cool that a film like that


can be made by one person. He had help on rigging and logo design and a couple of other things, but basically it was just one guy.


And oddly (or not oddly) these 3D auteurs are pretty hard to find, compared to other techniques. The technical challenges narrow the field considerably. To have to be a great storyteller on top of being a good designer of visuals and movement and have technical proficiency on top of that... that doesn't leave a lot of people left.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

The whole thing was cool.

Jay C's picture

Exceptionally so. Thanks, Jordan.

It's pretty amazing. The voicing and sound design


really sell it, and that was done by someone else. Woo also had animation help, but still, it's a huge amount of work for just a handful of people.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

"He's Like Evil Tebow"

M Scott Eiland's picture

From The Draft Day Adventures of Johnny Football.

Throwing out a question to all the Ohio Forvmites (and you know who you are): is this a light at the end of the tunnel for Cleveland pro sports, or another train wreck in waiting?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm not from Ohio

HankP's picture

but the big problem in Cleveland is that they can't seem to commit to a coach or even an overall philosophy of what kind of team they want to be for more than a year or two at a time.


I blame it all on the Internet

Life Cycle of the Cleveland

brutusettu's picture

That looks like too many steps to me

HankP's picture

I think they're keeping it simpler than that - just upend the org chart every year and replace people at random.


I blame it all on the Internet

Sorry Man--Didn't Mean To Jinx It

M Scott Eiland's picture

Your flow chart was apparently missing the "player pulls a Ricky Williams by smoking weed when he knew he was subject to testing, is looking at a year suspension as the stupidity tax" step.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

He likes that stuff too much

brutusettu's picture

And on a related note, getting tipsy w/o doing anything truly illegal, that wouldn't warrant a year long ban, getting high does, what a country.

The Union Agreed To It

M Scott Eiland's picture

And he knew that he could get tested--he'd already been busted once (for what he claimed was coedine in cough syrup)! I'm not *morally* outraged by the weed--I'm offended by the stupidity involved in doing something that hew was likely to get caught at that will result in losing his livelihood in an age-limited profession for a year, and letting down his teammates and fans in the process.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The owners pushed for it, that's safe to assume

brutusettu's picture

ability to use pot probably wasn't high on the list of the unions goals.


-smoking it or taking it some other way during the season or offseason still isn't wise if they value their ability to perform physically at a high level.  

Braylon Edwards liked going 5,000 mph down a highway late at night, getting completely and utterly wasted while driving other times.  KII liked pulling stunts on motorcycles.  Gerard Warren went around night clubs with an illegal gun on his person.  Simply using pot or getting tipsy at home or with friends isn't as dumb as Edwards or KII or even Warren. 


At least now other fans are less likely to get disappointed while playing the Browns.


M Scott Eiland's picture

Though the fact that most NFL contracts aren't guaranteed might have made NFL owners less pushy about putting "stupid s***" prohibition clauses into their contracts, since someone who mashes themselves on a motorcycle and isn't a franchise type player can just be cut to fend for themselves.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

All We Need Is To Add A Disney Theme Song. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .and we're all set!

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Plus Some Draft Picks Haven't Panned Out

M Scott Eiland's picture

I seem to recall a couple of relatively big name college QBs that went belly up rather quickly. Maybe Johnny Football will be the one that breaks the streak.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Sure, but that happens to every team

HankP's picture

the Seahawks are considered very good at the draft, but they've had several failures in the past 4 or 5 years.


I blame it all on the Internet

I haven't watched much of any Texas A&M games

brutusettu's picture

(curse you backspace button, longer post lost)



Manziel likes to carry the ball near the orbit of Pluto.  Let us hope this gets fixed.


A&M had offensive players drafted #6 and #7.


I don't know jack about the rest of the offensive, I hope that they don't have a lot of fringe NFL roster players that made Manziel look better with stealing the show.  a la Omar Jacobs at BGSU.

I also hope Mike Evans isn't like a Jeff Samardzija, where Samardzija is 90% responsible for Brady Quinn getting paid like he was.

However It Turns Out. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .the Browns were definitely the story of the first round of the draft. The rest is up to the players themselves, and fate.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"The Sanity Challenged Man From Cleveland. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .has just issued a statement from his comfortable, bathrobe wearing spot in front of Drunky's Convenience Store to register his strong objection to being compared to that senile old fool in the Senate." "He punctuated his statement by vomiting."

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



home of the legacy hires, starbursts, John Yoo, KLO the Immaculate and hard core racist commenters. And founder. Plus they haven't turned a profit in years, if ever. I can only imagine what their yearly cruise is like.

Even a blind pig can find an acorn sometimes. Harry Reid


is just too embarrassing for words.  He's just awful, really he is.  Best to let NRO take this trick and move on.  Isn't there enough truth about the GOP we might accurately heave at them without Makin' Up Shid ?  Makes the Dems look like idjits.  We're constantly after them for paranoid little fantasies, best to condemn such babbling fugues in our own. 

Im no Reid fan


but NRO is a whole 'nuther level of grime beneath the linoleum.

When Fibbernacci Harry Reid lied about Romney's taxes


he completely annoyed me.  Romney's little tax avoidance schemes were grist enough for the mill, but they were not tax evasion.  Wasn't it enough Romney had a bunch of offshore accounts?  Let me tell you, Harry Reid sh*t the bed on that one.  I wish Romney would have sued him for libel, just to make an example of that wizened little troll.  Want to hurt someone, really bust his teeth out?  Tell the truth about him.  Telling cheap, easily disproven lies is the HOV lane to  Crazytown.  I just hate Harry Reid, bitterly hate him.  A disgrace to the Democratic Party, giving life to every nasty thing said about us as Democrats.


brutusettu's picture

 Shorter KB:

"Stalin doesn't have a monopoly on lying to the masses, funneling nearly all of the benefits of what is produced to himself etc"


Shorter Ian Schwartz:  

"(I, Ian, am doubling down, Ian is telling you all again, twine CANNOT be used to mark a path out of a labyrinth.  It's used to knit clothes or blankets or the like, but only to knit.  Why don't people think Ian has a clue how lessons from fables can be applied?  Everything has one use or one lesson.)"

That was quite the Orwellian response from Krystal Ball

Bird Dog's picture

Sad. This shouldn't require explaining, but the point of the Animal Farm was that utopian left-wing solutions to concentrated power can and will produce even more dangerous concentrations, all done in the name of “progress” and “equality”. The problem is that the utopians end up building a system more oppressive than the one it replaced. That this book is being used by Ball to obscure that point rather than illuminate it is itself Orwellian. That she doubled-down on her stupidity only shows that she's twice as stupid as previously thought.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

AF turns from bad to good to worse fast. So if slow, not AF?!?

brutusettu's picture

-Piketty has a book that apparently claims over the long haul, capital/power becomes dangerously concentrated.  i.e. basically AF with pigs in control after a decades and decades and decades long trek, instead of basically overnight.  

Or is it that AF tried to get a utopia, and that people not trying to build a utopia cannot muck things up over the long haul?



WSJ blogger tossed a hand grenade at Piketty, KB just tossed it back.  WSJ got hoisted by their own petard.  All the Orwellian accusation lobbed around won't toss the grenade back.  


the fox never really wanted those grapes, AF only applies to left wing utopias----

The lesson of the Russian Revolution


if there is a lesson - the idealists lack the cynicism to see the New Boss appearing in reaction to the Old Boss.   Power isn't concentrated on the strength of "progress" and "equality".  That's the revolution.  No, the concentration of power is done by eliminating rivals.  Charge them with unpatriotism, heresy, anti-revolutionary attitudes.   That's how power is concentrated.  It's how Stalin got rid of his rivals.   Progress 'n equality.  Puh-leeze.  The Conservatives are having a conniption about this analysis of Animal Farm - because it's true.  The Pigs took over, first by accusing everyone else of disloyalty, then by conniving with the Men.  And that's conservative rhetoric, not Liberal.  That's why it's so alarming.

I taught my kid the Russian Revolution out of Animal Farm.


The boy wanted to be home schooled, I took it on myself to work with him.  Animal Farm is an exact parable, right down to the very last character, of the Russian Revolution. 


But who were the Men who played cards with the Pigs?  Krystal Ball is not wrong to draw the capitalists into the story.  All this hee-hawing about Orwell - if I see anyone else around here misusing the adjective "Orwellian" I'm going to laugh at him.  Orwell pointed his bony finger at capitalism, too.  So let's not get all bent out of shape about Ian Schwartz.  He's not wrong.  The Men of Animal Farm were the capitalists who played footsie with the Pigs.  There is no goddamn way around that statement. 

Yes, and the pigs reached their nadir


when they became just like the men.

The men became more like the pigs, too.


When the smoke had blown away from the the Russian Revolution and Stalin began to horse around in the late 30s and early 40s, remember, Animal Farm is published in 1945, the USSR had become critically dependent on imported hard currency.  The USSR ruble was worthless.  When Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev tried to stand up to Stalin, they were all accused of being anti-Leninists.  One by one, they were picked off.  But Stalin had to implement a few of Trotsky's policies, he really had no choice.  Part of that bargain was selling to the West, but Stalin held the monopoly on all trade with the West. 


But there were outfits who dealt with Stalin, lots of them, the same sort of people who deal with Putin, who has grown astronomically rich by controlling all such trade, a good deal of it through his intermediaries.  It was a new thing.  The Men did become like the Pigs. 

Who knew that Steven A. Smith was Richard Sherman's...

Bird Dog's picture

little voice inside his stomach.



What can I say. It made me chuckle.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

That Says It All

M Scott Eiland's picture

The "relatively calm and sensible" voice in Richard Sherman's stomach/head is *Steven A. Smith*. That's like having your inner voice urging in favor of chastity being Wilt Chamberlain.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It works for Sherman

HankP's picture

I'm just glad he'll be a Seahawk for another 4 years. He's the kind of player you really don't want to see on the other side of the ball.


I blame it all on the Internet


M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

$900 billion.


That's how much money Obamacare is projected to save the federal government according to a new analysis of CBO numbers from CFRB

With April's updated projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), spending on major federal health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act's exchange subsidies) has now been revised downward by $900 billion, or 0.4 percent of GDP, cumulatively from 2011 through 2021, just since their March 2011 projections. Buoyed by a 23 percent drop in the cost of Medicare Part D and a 15 percent decline in the projected costs of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) new coverage through Medicaid and the exchanges, this remarkable slowdown has been a bright spot amidst an otherwise still dim fiscal outlook.

Yep. Republicans definitely picked the wrong week to pray for a train wreck.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


M Scott Eiland's picture

Relative to the size of the program, the largest reduction actually occurred in Medicare Part D, with nearly the largest nominal dollar reduction in spending despite being very small compared to major federal health care programs. This downward revision is in large part due to the broader slowdown in prescription drug costs stemming from the so-called "patent cliff," as a number of widely used, high-cost drugs have come off patent recently.

In other words, a large chunk of this otherwise largely speculative (seven years out? Yeah, that's persuasive and likely to go as planned) savings prediction is apparently due to someone not bothering to read a calendar before now. Obviously, this is a deeply competent organization whose findings should be taken VERY SERIOUSLY.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm afraid I can't hear you over the sound of


Obamacare working.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I'm Not The One You Need To Convince

M Scott Eiland's picture

Maybe the Democratic senators hiding under their beds so they won't have to be seen with Obama on the campaign trail would be more receptive. Oh well--a lot of them will have less to worry about by mid-November.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

As Larry Wall observed about the Perl programming language


"What is the sound of Perl?  Is it not the sound of a wall that people have stopped banging their heads against?"  Thus it is with Obamacare.

Republicans: Lying or Stupid?


Drop another penny in the "stupid" jar; it seems that Congressional Republicans actually believe their own nonsense political spin even in the face of overwhelming facts to the contrary. 

Republicans were visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain claims about ObamaCare, such as the committee's allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.


Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate.


Republicans also stumbled in asking insurers to detail next year's premium rates. Companies are still in the process of calculating prices, and they have a strong financial incentive not to air early projections in public.


“Has anybody done any kind of analysis?” said a frustrated Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), vice chairman of the wider Energy and Commerce Committee. “You all have conducted no internal analysis on what the trend line is for these premiums?”

Turn the machines back on! TURN THE MACHINES BACK ON!!

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Oh yeah

HankP's picture

whatever happened to those arguments that were going on here about how the enrollment numbers were inflated and there's no way that the exchanges would ever reach their targets?


I blame it all on the Internet

I don't want Winthorp back, not after what he's done.


Uh, you mean keep Valentine on as managing director?

Outrageous! Kids these days!


But never fear, the Folx at Fox have this situation well in hand and are pointing their cameras in the right direction.


You betcha.  Were it not for this brilliant piece of Investigative Journalism, ordinary, law-abiding Americans would remain ignorant of Wild Behaviour in Our Trubbled Yout.  A colossal harrumph is in order here, gentlemen.  Harrumph, harrumph!  Can I get an Amen, brother Scott?  Or at least a hearty harrumph?  Harrumph, I say.  Harrumph.

Wild behavior

Jay C's picture

So, in a bold act of trailblazing investigative journalism, Sean Hannity went in search of "wild behavior" on Spring Break in Florida??


What's going to be his next shocking exposé? Gambling going on in Las Vegas?

I'm Too Busy Being Grateful For You Not Posting A Picture

M Scott Eiland's picture

Lest we have a re-occurrence of the Late Great Controversy over the Kate Upton Turnpike Map.

Though a few cautionary tales to the young people inclined to be, ahem, adventurous might be wise given the fallout from this incident.*

*--Kids, just because it's not illegal doesn't mean that it's going to be helpful to your employment future and your desire not to be publicly humiliated and/or reviled if the news gets out.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The world is burdened with young fogies.


Old men with ossified minds are easily dealt with. But men who look young, act young and everlastingly harp on the fact that they are young, but who nevertheless think and act with a degree of caution that would be excessive in their grandfathers, are the curse of the world. Their very conservatism is secondhand, and they don't know what they are conserving.

-Robertson Davies.

Did You Follow That Link?

M Scott Eiland's picture

I'm pretty sure this sort of thing isn't what Mr. Davies had in mind as desirable in general, even if we accept that no crime took place (which seems to be a reasonable--and therefore mandating no prosecution--conclusion from the facts on the ground as laid out at the end of the piece).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Mr. Davies has been dead a good long while now.


As for the dangers of drinking copious amounts of intoxicating spirits and swapping nearly-equally copious amounts of genetic material, I cannot seem to get a suitably emphatic harrumph from you. 

I'm Not Really Inclined To

M Scott Eiland's picture

I do watch FOX News now and again--I don't do so because I view Sean Hannity as my moral compass on the weighty matter of Spring Break. That being said, I would strongly recommend that such activities be engaged in with participants who are quite emphatic in advance about being enthusiastic about the experience, and who have a strong aversion to telling the world about it afterwards. Being the fodder for Amanda Marcotte's latest deranged misandric tantrum is not something I recommend for anyone.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

TV news outfits run the same story every spring.


Word to the wise: it's an excuse to show bewbs on television. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Also criminally callipgyous bew-tocks.


Betcha Old Square Head Sean wishes he could jump up and bite one of 'em. 

or beau-tocks?


Since they so often are.

Charlie The Lying Scumbag Is Still Charlie The Lying Scumbag

M Scott Eiland's picture

You were just fine with being a Republican before Marco Rubio kicked the living s*** out of you in the 2010 Republican Senate primary polls, Charlie. Meaning the political principle that your pathologically suntanned @$$ is embracing is "being a sore loser." Here's hoping you suffer a humiliating loss in November, followed by a slow, painful death in obscurity.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Think of Charlie Crist as a RINO, - with one exception


He was at least honest enough to abandon the INO part of RINO.  Long tradition of this sort of thing, going the other way, when all those Dixiecrats had a Road to Damascus experience and realised they were actually Republicans. 

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Sure are a lot of pricks who need kicking these days.

He Certainly Took His Time "Evolving"

M Scott Eiland's picture

He didn't seem to have much problem encouraging the Democrats to stick a knife in the back of their (black) nominee for Senate in part of their pathetic, doomed effort to beat Rubio in 2010. Note that he didn't declare himself a Democrat then--he waited until Obama was safely re-elected. Brave, brave Sir Charlie the Scumbag hid under the bed until it didn't matter any more.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Wouldn't it be embarrassing if you were a caveman and your wife


evolved - but you didn't?   Crist may be a scumbag but he's an evolved scumbag.  He sees the writing on the wall:  the GOP Taliban inquisitors are roaming the land, enforcing its dogma on Teh Gayz, Negroes and other Pigmentally Challenged Persons.  If he's taken a hint and run for the Democratic Hills, can he be blamed for behaving like the cockroach he is, down deep, running when the housewife turns on the lights? 


Bill Buckley once said the Conservative stood atop the steamroller, yelling Stop! Stop! To which I’d respond, the Conservative is the guy who got rolled over by that steamroller like Wile E. Coyote and got up to repeat some variant of his previous idiocy, having learned nothing from the first umpteen times he and his forebears got run over by the same steamroller.

"Those who learn from the past are doomed


to stop repeating it."  

- American Conservatives

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

If only they did learn from the past, American Conservatism


might embrace those notably Jeffersonian virtues embodied in his inaugural address

"though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

Utter the word "minority" today and every goddamn Republican in Congress will jump to his feet and bark and slaver like a pit bull at the end of his chain, lunging and snarling.

One Of The Great Moments In The History Of

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . . the Democratic Party was when they delivered the coup de grace to Arlen Specter's political career in 2010, which was a similar monument to opportunistic scumbaggery. Here's hoping Charlie's career is similarly killed off, and that he lives long enough to truly appreciate how thoroughly he has been repudiated.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Arlen Specter had worn out his welcome in PA.


Stuck around far too long.  What was it, something like five, six terms?   He didn't have much longer to live.  Didn't know when to get out of the game - for which I won't fault him, de mortuis nihil nisi bonum.  Specter's sudden conversion to Democratic Faith was always suspect, as is Crist's, to a limited extent.  But the conversion testimony of Charlie Crist seems more germane to this subject.  As Reagan once said of his conversion from Dem to Repub, I didn't leave them, they left me.


And the GOP has changed enough for a yawning chasm to open up between the GOP Old Guard and the new Tea Party Know-Nothings.  Charlie Crist is hardly alone in being charged with the Heresy of Insufficient Conservatism.   If he scurries down the drainpipe to escape the rolled up newspaper of that young jackanapes Marco Rubio, I can't blame Crist.  Florida politics are funny.  Literally.   Maxwell's Field Equations cannot possibly describe the Flawda Weirdness Magnet.

I needed an introduction to ITER


Thanks for putting me onto a very good article, manish.

Neil deGrasse Tyson craps on philosophy


deGrasse Tyson derisively describes philosophy as:


"asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."


It's an unfortunate attitude, especially for a public figure encouraging a general critical reasoning/skeptical outlook on the world. Besides ignoring all the past and current mutual influence between philosophy and science, it's ignorant of a common aim to philosophical learning and scientific literacy.


Tyson got the latter right with a quote of his I've always admired:

It's unfortunate he doesn't know that studying philosophy empowers people in the same way.

Never heard of the guy


but maybe he's sort of got a point.   Obviously "asking the deep questions"  is a valuable thing and someone ought to be doing it.  I can believe it empowers some people.  But it's not for everyone,  and maybe not for most.


I've known more than one person that started asking the deep questions and did not get good results.   One turned seriously alcoholic,  another became increasingly erratic,  dropped out of everything and disappeared.  Another was a mental wreck for six months,  came to a crisis,  and only recovered by resolving not to think about certain deep questions ever again.  FWIW all were engineers - maybe our brains just aren't built for that sort of thing.  And needless to say all were utterly useless, or worse, during their philosophical journey.


Of course lots of people take a philosophy class or read some books and don't end up on suicide watch.   I'd guess that's because most are keeping it at a distance,  e.g. just a course they have to pass,  or some intellectual entertainment,  rather than something they will take to heart and use to inform the big decisions in their lives. 


There's a class of people whose best strategy is to focus on the immediate task at hand and let the overall direction be set by some higher power,  whether that power is animal instinct,  religion,  ideology,  their boss,  an mentally stronger spouse, the conventions of their discipline, etc.

This reads like a chain letter, eeyn.


"John, a systems engineer from Portland, began reading Heidegger in his spare time. Less than a week later, he was struck and killed by a bus. He was 41 years old."


Also reminds me of Aronofsky's film Pi. And Edgar Allen Poe stories. Are you sure maybe engineers don't suffer more acutely from the dangers of philosophy than, you know, normal people?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



- nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses - not destroyed - not dulled them."


What you suggest is very possible.

I remember when I first learned about synthetic division


a technique used in EE all over the place.  I remember I stood up in class, angered, and yelled at the math teacher.  "Why on earth didn't you bother to teach this instead of all that mess with long division?"  The teacher, clearly taken aback, said "Well, that's just the way the curriculum outlined it..."


Folks who must solve problems in the real world are liable to Dreadful Nervousness when confronted by Theory.  We prefer Theorems. 

I had the same emotion


regarding z transforms and laplace transforms.

It used to be


students would be taught how to do transient circuits the hard way (e.g. set up and solve a set of coupled differential equations) for months,  and then switch to Laplace transforms so they'd appreciate it.


However,  cruelty for the purpose of character building is no longer the fashion in pedagogy,  so we've cut back to roughly one week of doing it the hard way and then go straight to the transforms.


And also (relevant to the theory vs practice debate),  we used to spend a lot of time on why the Laplace transform stuff works,  and proving that it's rigorous.   But now we're heading back toward the old Heaviside attitude - "the proof  is in the laboratory".



That's exactly what they did. My undergrad was mechanical but born out of an old mech-elec degree. We spend 2 years doing it the hard way in multiple fields before they let us in on that one. Taught me the power of the written word that one. Turns out the whole secret was tucked away in these book-thingies in a library just a few hundred yards from the scene of the crime.

God in his infinite mercy allowed PSpice to be invented


to save us from the Hell of the LAPLACE NUM / DENOM implementation. 

Posh Spice?


"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

The real PSpice


looks like this:

Cleaner, non-greasy skin tone,  despite being older than Posh Spice and written in Fortran.  I usually run it with the speakers off but I'd guess it can sing better also.     

I delivered


room service to Sporty Spice once, way back in the mid-nineties. True story.

Did she tell you what she wanted


what she really, really wanted?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

When you're feeling


Unsoldered and alone
We will take you,
Where you got an ohm.
Smilin' and dancin',
Everything is free
All you need is
Colours of the resistor
Spice up your life....


Thank you.


That was good for a laugh!

Listen up, take my advice -


we need five for the power of Spice. Give it up, give it out, take a stand, scream and shout! One, two, three, four, five - Spice Girls!  F taking argument t being all real numbers greater than or equal to zero   - Spice Girls!

You Just Gotta Have (The Tell-Tale) Heart -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

That is surprisingly obnoxious and narrow-minded.


There's a whole big world of unknowns that isn't "out there" where science can get at it.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Mathematicians have been pulling their weight.


They're out in front of science, in the forge of Hephaestus, giving scientists the weapons they need, before they know they need them.  They're working hard and therefore stay relevant.


Where are the philosophers?  It sure would be nice, from where I sit, plunking away on my little projects, to be able to demonstrate the limits of expert systems using proper terminology.  I'm stuck with cheezy little terms such as Brittleness to describe an overtrained system which can't effectively cope with minor exceptions.  When AI started down this Primrose Path of rules-based system design, I said at the time it was a fool's errand, that we'd need better frames of reference.  Where was philosophy then, to support my position?  Well, computer science and the physics and engineering communities pushed on without philosophy, producing all the smarts in systems you use ever day, the autofocus and automatic exposure systems in your cameras, games AI, I have a rice cooker which uses fuzzy logic AI.  Now that we need something more akin to an unconscious frame of reference, over which we can float better AI, where are the philosophers?   AI people are stuck with a bunch of cranks in our own community, metric buttloads of Industrial Strength Woo about Vinge's Singularity.  It'll never happen and I'll tell you why:  da Vinci told us centuries ago:


Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.


The reason part of that little mandate is the job of the philosophers, not the scientists.  When philosophy gets around to learning our vocabulary, out here where the metaphorical rubber meets the road, it will then be able to do a proper job of de-woo-ification.  It's not our job, in science, to apply rigour to the reasoning process.  Nor is it our job to foresee the consequences.  It would be awfully useful to have some guidance from philosophers as surely as we get guidance from mathematicians.

What makes you think it is philosophy's job


to lead the way in empirical science, much less applied problems of designing automated systems? Now flip the question around: what makes you think it hasn't? Your complaints here appear to be grounded in bad assumptions in answering both of those questions.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Does mathematics give us insight into empirical science?


Or does it forge the tools for the theorists who in turn hand off the task of running the experiments to the empirical guys?  Empiricism is a fine thing but "common sense" is the apotheosis of foolish consistency and the hobgoblins of the little mind are crapping all over my happy little back yard.  And here's why.


Philosophy is the domain of reason.  That's its entire mission, to give us the "philosophical" underpinning for all else that follows.  Let's flip the question around:  why haven't user interfaces progressed any faster than they have, over time?  Why aren't they more intuitive?  Why has Computer Science been crapping out platoons of Bright Young Things who can't reason their way out of a paper bag?   I get to deal with them all the time now.  And I am not impressed.  The only ones who seem to do well are the Liberal Arts kids.  And that should surprise nobody:  they're more acquainted with the fundamentals of the human condition, intuitively deriving the basic principles of successful systems design.   For this reason alone, though I could provide a thousand more, specification writing, database design, security systems, testing methodologies, training strategies, but most specifically user interfaces - philosophy has not made its case, a case which very badly needs making.  

Yes indeed mathematics does


give us insight into empirical science. In fact, empirical science tends to be mathematical in nature, concerned almost entirely with form, extension, duration and number. Quantification. 


It sounds like your complaint is with Computer Science courses. How can it be philosophy's fault that CS departments are turning out kids who can't reason their way out of a paper bag, when there are 3000 years worth of critical reasoning to draw from and learn from? Maybe CS curricula need to include more Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle, Kant, hell Isaac Newton. Hire more professional philosophers even at the expense of paying weenies like Mark Zuckerberg five figures just to come give a talk.


In fact it sounds to me that the fault may have the same origin as NDGT's snide remark, which is, a drastic over-valorization of empirical, results-driven materialism at the expense of nonlinear logic, hermeneutics, ethics, poetics, etc. The academic world has spent the past 100 years becoming excessively, even uffishly materialistic. You see science-envy in nearly all of the humanities, and including some of the "softer" sciences as well. Observe the scorn heaped on Freud by modern psychologists... even some of those who practice "dynamic" psychology by carefully changing all of the terms so as not to betray Freudian precepts. 


It's a mania. It reminds me of the mania for ever greater "realism" in CGI movies and animation and video games, which almost invariably comes at the expense of things like character, dynamic plotting and actual artistry.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

As for Freud and his haters, I can only respond with poetry


as is my customary response around here.  The poets always say it better and Auden, my favourite, says it best:

He wasn’t clever at all: he merely told
the unhappy Present to recite the Past
like a poetry lesson till sooner
or later it faltered at the line where

long ago the accusations had begun,
and suddenly knew by whom it had been judged,
how rich life had been and how silly,
and was life-forgiven and more humble,

able to approach the Future as a friend
without a wardrobe of excuses, without
a set mask of rectitude or an
embarrassing over-familiar gesture.

Freud was where it started.  If he was not so right about so much, he would never have attracted so many enemies.  In life, if you must make enemies - and this problem seems unavoidable - it's important to make the right ones.


If Freud Was Getting Started Today. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .the gender feminists would be screaming "HATE SPEECH" at his every utterance. Stock in companies that sold reliable earplugs would soar.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

He's not though.


That's like saying if Thomas Jefferson were around today, he'd be terrified of trucks and airplanes and would look silly as all hell in stockings and wig, and stink of horses and sweat. Not to mention the slave owning. Would today's Black Americans dare to be as shrill as your imagined Gender Feminists? Would the sale of earplugs soar in this case?


Times change.

If Freud was getting started today,


he would be working in neuropathology & neuroscience, since that's where he began his career with Meynert and then Charcot. There aren't many scientists with Freud's ability to synthesize complex fields, and it'd be fascinating to see what he came up with today. Of course, it wouldn't be "Freudian."

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

As I was looking up that bit about Diogenes and the brothel


and came on this little doozy, from Diogenes Laërtius

Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, "Here is Plato's man."

Blame is the argument of the weak.


The Departmentalisation / Compartmentalisation / Not Invented Here-ism / of modern academia has built ivory towers for every sort of discipline.  I've said repeatedly Philosophy should invade the CS Department and roust out the bad thinking going on over there.   Their next target for invasion should be the Education Department.  Lord knows there's tons of Fluffy Thinking going on in that Den of Iniquity and Unreason, all of which should be hauled out with the trash.  Philosophy has always gotten along well with the Liberal Arts and the Math people.


NDGT has to deal with his own ignorance of what philosophy brings to the table - and he's challenged philosophy to send out a champion to fight him.  I'm under no illusions, I drifted into software from linguistics, where I happened upon the work of Quine.  But I've got my own history lesson:  philosophy has built an Ivory Tower for itself and has pissed gallons of ink out the window on the rest of us below. 

So the poor, perennially understaffed Department of Philosophy


is going to muster their faculty, roust them from their broom closets, count themselves lucky if they can find more than half a dozen, and then launch an invasion of the huge, massively-endowed CS Departments in their gleaming new multi-million dollar annexes? I've been witness to a couple of interdepartmental struggles and I gotta tell ya, I don't like philosophy's chances.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

If the Dee Phils need a strategy for victory


they might begin by posing better questions, luring the unwary SciWeenies out into cleared fields of fire, where they can be demolished.  CompSci, especially, for all its fine talk about logic, hasn't made any progress against the problem of testability.  Why can't software do a better job of bug detection?  Because, for all its cheap talk about code review and testing harnesses, CompSci is demonstrably flabby and self-deluded.  Completely lacking in the rigour philosophy would demand of an argument.  

The problem with Comp Sci

TXG1112's picture

The real issue with Comp Sci is that it isn't engineering. Modern software development is like asking physicists to design and construct buildings. Sure they understand the math, but that doesn't help you actually build it.

--- I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.

I have stoutly resisted the title Software Architect or Engineer


or any variant upon that self-aggrandising hooey.  I am a Programmer.  I respond to two people, the User and the person who signs my timesheets.  The software people are surprisingly deficient in logic, the sort of logic which can manage expectations in line with what's possible.   Philosophy might help them along, managing the relationships between the people who must use the building, the architect who articulates those needs and the building contractor, who must turn those plans into a building which will stand up for the foreseeable future.   All three are different people, all three should have some respect for each other's blind spots.   CompSci, as you correctly state, is not engineering.  But it ought to be and could be, were it forced into accepting its limitations and leveraging what other disciplines might bring to the table.  

Diogenes had his lamp, Jordan.


From Plutarch, Morality:

I will tell you what happens to such admirable fathers, when they have educated and brought up their sons so badly: when the sons grow to man's estate, they disregard a sober and well-ordered life, and rush headlong into disorderly and low vices; then at the last the parents are sorry they have neglected their education, bemoaning bitterly when it is too late their sons' debasement. For some of them keep flatterers and parasites in their retinue—an accursed set of wretches, the defilers and pest of youth; others keep mistresses and common prostitutes, wanton and costly; others waste their money in eating; others come to grief through dice and revelling; some even go in for bolder profligacy, being whoremongers and defilers of the marriage bed, who would madly pursue their darling vice if it cost them their lives. Had they associated with some philosopher, they would not have lowered themselves by such practices, but would have remembered the precept of Diogenes, whose advice sounds rather low, but is really of excellent moral intent, "Go into a brothel, my lad, that you may see the little difference between vice and virtue."


Oh please. Philosophy needs to toughen up and get right.


Where once it was nimble and sharp, philosophy has gotten senile.  When physics and computing and cosmology needed philosophy most, especially in metaphysics, the philosophy communities failed us.  If it wants to be taken seriously, Philosophy needs to get its shaggy ass out of the ivory tower and provide some leadership.  And take some math and physics courses, too.  Be sorta useful to read some logically sound philosophy papers, you know, ones which don't re-dissect Being and Nothingness again. 

Being and Nothingness


Philosophy in America and England couldn't possibly be less concerned with that book, one I've never read, one I'm certain was never assigned for any graduate course in any of the three graduate departments I've been affiliated with, and one I can't ever recall being specifically mentioned by any philosopher who's ever been within earshot.


What I have in mind is that a core function of every philosophy department in every college and university in the US and UK is training students in general logic and critical reasoning skills, and then expecting students to exercise those skills when discussing the topics of specific courses.


I wasn't born this fabulous, Blaise, I was specifically trained to whip all y'alls butts in arguments.

Rigour in Philosophy is badly needed, now more than ever.


You are preaching to the choir.  I did say it would be a fine thing indeed to find more logically sound papers and less bilge about Being and Nothingness.  Philosophy needs to put on a lab coat.  WVO Quine, (for all his faults, and he has been superseded by his excellent students, WVOQ's still my survey point for the landscape of philosophy) bitterly complained about the deconstructionists, calling them sophists.  Quine knew math.  How many philosophers are versant in math or computer science or physics?  I really don't know.  I don't see their papers turning up in AI, where their inputs would be most useful.  Ascribe it to my own ignorance of the subject but my nose is pretty close to this particular Grindstone of Sisyphus and I don't see the philosophers pulling their weight on this subject.  And neither does anyone I know.


Case in point: as AI advances and the physicists and cosmologists like Steven Hawking have their doubts about where it's going, Neil deGrasse Tyson begins to slam the philosophers for not having an answer when one is needed.  If philosophy is unable to provide us with the answers we need, and have needed for over 40 years now, I do wish someone would come down from the Ivory Tower and give Hawking the answer to his question.  That is philosophy's job, to provide such answers.  And it just hasn't.

Quine's excellent


I gave a paper last month that touched on Quine's work and someone Quine co-authored a book with commented on it.


How many philosophers are versant in math or computer science or physics?  I really don't know.


For any X, there's the philosophy of X. Philosophy of physics is a common specialty within philosophy of science. I keep track of Columbia University's David Albert, who sometimes picks fights with practicing physicists and himself has a PhD in theoretical physics.


re; math, I got my degree from one of the top ranked philosophy of math departments and struggled through some of my professors' books on the topic.


Computer science is of interest to people like me who are specialists in the philosophy of mind and follow computational modeling in cognitive science. From neural networks to Bayesian networks, some philosophers are more than versant, they're actively contributing. 


I don't see their papers turning up in AI, where their inputs would be most useful.


You linked the other day to the "Frame Problem" pg. on wiki that lots of philosophers have written on -- including Jerry Fodor, Daniel Dennett, and Zenon Pylyshyn.


I do wish someone would come down from the Ivory Tower and give Hawking the answer to his question.


Some philosophers are with Hawking on this one, including one of the most famous philosophers living today (David Chalmers), who does joint work with Ray Kurzweil and his Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.


I think Kurzweil's a crackpot, Chalmers doesn't understand the field of artificial intelligence very well, and Hawking is exercising bad judgment.


Anyway, I don't have a prob with criticizing philosophy for not being more relevant to other fields and to society.


But it doesn't help when someone like Degrasse Tyson craps on the very idea of philosophy, instead of encouraging it to more wisely use the small amount of resources at its disposal. 

Many thanks. Here's what I want from philosopy of [X]


In my case, it's the philosophy of AI.  It's clear the next big move in AI is implementing an Artificial Unconsciousness.  I want some guidelines on how not to do it.  There's an old truism in chess.  Someone asked Richard Réti, a famous chess player "How many chess moves ahead do you think?"  He replied.  "Only one.  But it's the right one."  In short, I don't necessarily want philosophy to give me the Right Move, first because I don't like hypermodern chess openings, but I do want philosophy of AI to help me prune away most of the bad moves.


Connectionism is a dog that had its day.  Told everyone I knew at the time, this simply won't work.  Symbolic logic will demand symbolic representation.  And here comes philosophy, about two decades too late, with some rationale for why this is so.  Maybe philosophy should have been paying more attention to John McCarthy at the time, back when he was inventing LISP.  Philosophy should have rammed its pointy head into the CS Department in a bigbig way and loudly proclaimed You're Doing It All Wrong And Here's Why:  Reasoning is Our Domain.  And the philosophy people would have been right.  And we've wasted a great deal of effort, because for one reason or another, the CS people weren't listening to the Philosophy Department or the philosophers weren't learning to program, it's all past history now. 


Philosophy's most pressing task is to clean out the Stables of Augeas over in the CS Department.  Lots of bad thinking going on over there. But to paraphrase John McCarthy "those who don't speak math are doomed to speak nonsense"



"Philosophy should have rammed its pointy head into ...


... the CS Department in a bigbig way"


Hah ... the most well-known philosopher of mind the past 50 years (Jerry Fodor) tried his damnest to shut down connectionism more than 25 yrs ago and has been railing aggressively against it ever since. Obviously it didn't work.


Personally I don't know which research programs are going to make significant progress. I see the bottom-up Google Brain and related "deep learning" neural network stuff at Stanford making some progress. I see graphical modeling like Bayes nets making progress. Neither of these are logic-based.


But AI is still remarkable in many ways for its lack of progress, which is why the Singularity is not an important worry, and I don't know that re-focusing on the McCarthy style symbolic logic framework is the best route. It's not like talented people haven't been continuing McCarthy-style work


I think Chomsky has a reasonable take -- a computer program is basically a theory and we're eons away from having a theory of intelligence.


Instead of worrying whether AI systems that are smarter than humans are going to replicate with ever-smarter "offspring", we might wonder whether human scientists are perhaps running up their biological limitations in formulating theories of intelligence. 

Oh don't I know it! Fodor was demanding more rigour


and the entire CompSci world retreated into the nearest mango tree and started flinging poo at him.  Except those of us who weren't really CS types - and saw his complaint as valid at the time. 

Mr Tyson is silly.

mmghosh's picture

Not everything of value has to have a "purpose" - I thought teleology had gone away a long time ago.

Why so defensive? There's nothing wrong with deconstructionists either.

Nor with Being and Nothingness.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Be not merely good. Be good for something.


If and when philosophy poses some interesting problems, the Science Guys will be tempted to compose some solutions.  Computing horsepower has increased faster than the philosophy to support it.  We're still dealing with the implications of what Paul Feyerabend had to say about the Philosophical Ivory Tower

The withdrawal of philosophy into a "professional" shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth – and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending.

-to which the philosophical community responded with much screeching and sh*t-flinging, but precious little in the way of actual refutation.  Quine had a great deal to say on this subject as well.  Now Catchy has been good enough to provide us with a little guidance on this subject and I'm counting on more from him.  If I don't know about where philosophy of [X] is going at present, it may be that Feyerabend was right. 

A powerful campaign from Amnesty



The campaign is primarily aimed at Nigeria's government, but I think it applies to America's DoJ if Nigeria won't step up.