Repost-Shakedown, Breakdown, Takedown, Everybody Wants Into The Crowded Line

**I’m reposting as I believe this same dynamic between Socialist Left and Union Left, Activist Left and ‘Neo-liberal’ Left, Collective Identity Left and Individual Liberty Liberalism is now playing out in many American cities and increasingly in our National politics.

It’d be nice if many secularists and political liberals said something like the followingIf we continue to secularize society, we will entrench many postmoderns, activists, radicals, people steeped in resentment, and narrow socialist ideologues, but the gains in liberty will be worth it.  We understand human nature well enough to create lasting institutions which can preserve liberty.

If you haven’t heard, open socialist Kshama Sawant (yes, really) of the Seattle Council Of Nine, desires Amazon and others pay at least $150 million dollars as part of a ‘head-tax’ to address the ‘homeless crisis’ in the city. Four of her fellows agree.

‘They estimate the so-called “head tax” of about $500 per employee would apply to 500 to 600 companies and they are calling for it to be spent on low-income housing and emergency services for homeless people. The council has been planning to vote later this month.’

It’s just a start, mind you, phasing into a more permanent revolutionary revenue stream tax within a few years.

Amazon however, disagrees, and has halted construction on a downtown site in response (occupying something like 1/5 of premium office space in the city).

Long-story short: Seattle is growing rapidly. The housing prices are through the roof. Many arrivals are ambitious, skilled and entering the job market at the higher-end (Amazon works people pretty hard). There are many other less-skilled people looking to gain skills and jobs.

Seattle is also attracting many mentally-ill, drug-addicted people into the city. Many increasingly wander the streets and are encouraged to use public services and set-up tent cities alongside highways, taking-up settlement on public property (I’ll just link here as to final judgments about such matters…).

As for me: I’m currently [overhearing] a strategic political meet-up for the pro-head tax side in a coffee shop. Here’s what I’m picking up:

  1. Their opponents are clearly ‘immoral.’
  2. Their opponents clearly have a lot of money, but they simply won’t cough it up and clearly don’t care. In fact, their opponents are choosing to spend money to mobilize people against them unfairly (a lot of projection, that). Did I mention ‘opponents?’ There’s a lot of ‘opponent’ talk.
  3. ‘Leverage’, ‘narrative’, press releases, ‘messaging’, mobilization, planned protests are all mentioned. I infer a weakness in their position from their postures and subject matter. I’m thinking both realize this will take work. Both lament the label ‘socialist.’ I check the latest news and see that iron-workers shouted Sawant down.
  4. As I suspect is the case with most coversations based upon shared principles, ideology and future planned action, there is a curious mix of praise and competitive false praise, familiarity and convenience. There’s reinforcement of certain touchstones (class, industrialization, greed, the ‘industrial revolution’) and concrete action (Friday 5 pm, mayor’s office etc).

Having seen this a few times (my biases should be pretty clear :)):

Claim you have knowledge of how the world really is (usually some direct or warmed-over Marxism)–>

Claim that a better world is possible (utopia) through immediate political action–>

Claim that the ‘oppressor’ is responsible and blame the ‘oppressor’ for pretty much all injustices in life (filthy capitalist golden-geese like Amazon)–>

Claim anyone outside of your ideological lights is insufficiently ‘woke,’ falsely conscious, morally hollow and eventually either for or against you in supporting your conception of social justice–>

Organize protests/meetings/ to demonize and extract money, gaining political power while constantly projecting all of your intellectual/moral/ideological motives onto the ‘oppressor.’

We all need better advocates of liberty, and better ideas, than this.

Ah, Seattle:

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Fun fact: During times of stress, Josef Stalin is said to have marched his fingers just so across his desk, transgressing his own boundaries!

As Seen In Seattle-A Little Piece I Like To Call ‘Stalin’s Fingers’

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Fun fact: During times of stress, Josef Stalin is said to have marched his fingers just so across his desk, transgressing his own boundaries!

You might have noticed those tiles already look a little drab and dated, even though construction only finished a few years ago.

The above mural is part of the new Capitol Hill light-rail station on Broadway.

More here on the piece (apologies to all comic/graphic artists ahead of time, for not portraying your craft with as much fidelity as it probably deserves).

Our muraliste is a comic/graphic artist tapped to make signs and symbols for all the Community:

‘Forney, originally from Philadelphia…landed the light rail station gig back in 2008 after submitting a series of paintings of hands in provocative positions to Sound Transit — paintings which had originally been featured in the 2007 Seattle Erotic Art Festival. The series was called Big Fuckin’ Hands.’

Get it?  They’re hands, and they’re…well…you know.

Oh boy…

As for People’s Republic of The Northwest Territories, there’s that Diego Rivera-esque mural in Kane Hall at the University Of Washington…multi-ethnic laborers of the world uniting for the common good.

Comrade, I must confess: I see myself in those square-jawed, virtuous workers, gathered above their apparently crayon-scrawled manifesto.  For long years now, I, too, have dreamed of controlling the means of production, in solidarity with all the Workers Of The World!

The Seattle Monorail has always looked to me like a cross between the Disneyland monorail in the 50’s (actually updated due to market forces) and the crown-jewel of Pyongyang’s subway system.

A bullet to the future, frozen in time!:

All aboard!:


These public projects tend to become repositories for all the hopes and sacrifices people around here make for the  ‘-Isms’ (counter-culture anti-establishmentarianism, vaguely warmed over socialism, environmentalism, radical collectivism, activism of all stripes etc.).

Many people don’t always know what they’re for, exactly, but it’s often easy to tell what they’re against, and it’s you should you choose to play the bad guy in their passion-play.

Fascist!

Don’t try and make too much sense of it:  Cargo-Cult thinking is often in effect when it comes to the economics of these projects:  The cost, numbers, budgets etc. usually come later.  First seems to be the solidarity, the ‘sacredness’ and the tiny shrines which have sprung up this past century around which people gather in common cause.

You must show some belief in the vision.

Related On This Site:

Daniel Dennett: ‘Postmodernism And Truth’

-Amtrak to the Future!:Repost-From The New Yorker: ‘Writing Powered By Amtrak’

-A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

-Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

***I’m sorry for the glare and the lack of composition.  I am but a humble prole passing through the Great Hall Of The People’s Transit.

The Great Ones-Some Links To Earthquakes On the Cascadia Subduction Zone

There was a good Kathryn Schulz piece at the New Yorker entitled: ‘The Really Big One,’published in July 2015, which Nick Zentner at Central Washington University uses as his jumping-off point for discussion.

The above hour-long talk is designed for lay-people and starts with the basics, catalogues the current evidence, and leads to current understanding:

On average, every 250-500 years or so, the Cascadia Subduction Zone can rip {partially or} at once, and can generate an earthquake (with tsunami) of potentially 9.0 or greater {if all at once}.  The last big one is known to have occurred 316 years ago, on January 29th, 1700.

Oh boy…

-This timeline is not exactly reassuring

-People are keeping track of these {local} things.

-Out on the coast, there are layers of rocks, sediment and mud indicating a momentous and terrible night.

-Monitor all current seismic activity here.

Below the surface

**Fun fact: There’s also a different fault right under Seattle (running roughly along I-90), that let loose around 900 A.D., and sunk a whole flank of Mercer Island, leaving a ghostly underwater forest.

Because Seattle was under a glacier not that long ago, it’s a long way down to bedrock, and this means bad news for transferring energy during earthquakes:  A big bowl of mud and looser glacial deposits, drumlins and hills prone to landslide, ending abrubtly in water, does not a good recipe make.

Check it out:

Some Tuesday Links-EM Drive, Climate Predictions & Academic Seepage

-Hey, it seems to work so far:

According to the law, for a system to produce thrust, it has to push something out the other way. The EM Drive doesn’t do this.

Yet in test after test it continues to work. Last year, NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory team got their hands on an EM Drive to try to figure out once and for all what was going on.

Jerry Pournelle has a link (scroll down) Peer reviewed, eh?

Ok…let’s go to Mars faster than planned…but hold on, seasteader types…

How about test-pilots?


Via Jerry Pournelle, Bob Zubrin on the some of those climate change predictions (Romantic roots, Rationalist lights, collectivist beliefs that can veer into the deterministic, anti-capitalist, and radical):

Let’s be a little more realistic about doomsday, shall we?

Fossil fuels actually seem to be greening the planet:


Intellectuals, you don’t say?

These wouldn’t be the types Theodore Dalrymple might have been discussing?

Group Preferences: Opiate Of The Intellectuals’

What are they telling me my moral concerns and actions should be today?:

‘Clearly the example of a transsexual Muslim airline pilot was meant as a reductio ad absurdum and not as a real or actual concern.’

Repost-From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’-Still Pretty Relevant

Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues’

From IBTimes Via Youtube: ‘NASA Mars Rover Finds Evidence Of Lake’

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It looks like Gale Crater has its advantages.

Research papers here. A summary of some of what’s been found so far:

‘Research suggests habitable conditions in the Yellowknife Bay area may have persisted for millions to tens of millions of years. During that time rivers and lakes probably appeared and disappeared. Even when the surface was dry, the subsurface likely was wet, as indicated by mineral veins deposited by underground water into fractures in the rock. The thickness of observed and inferred tiers of rock layers provides the basis for estimating long duration, and the discovery of a mineral energy source for underground microbes favors habitability throughout.’

You can also watch a 12/05/13 press briefing from JPL discussing those papers above.  These rocks are much newer than the older wet period theorized.

They’re more focused on the search for organic carbon, now, within the environments they’ve discovered.

Via The Mars Science Laboratory At NASA: ”Mount Sharp’ On Mars Links Geology’s Past And Future’Via Youtube: ‘The Challenges Of Getting To Mars: Selecting A Landing Site

NASA Via Youtube: December 21st, 2012 Mars Curiosity Rover Report

NASA Via Youtube: ‘The Martians: Launching Curiosity To Mars’NASA Via Youtube: ‘Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) Mission Animation

Repost-A Few Wednesday Thoughts Towards a Theme

Recently, British thinker Alain De Botton floated the idea of building an ‘atheist temple’ in the heart of London.  He recommends combing through religious practices for useful organizing principles in response to the New Atheists.  You can read more about it here, which includes a radio interview/podcast.

Did the Unitarian Universalists get there first, with a mishmash of faith and secular humanism?

Towards a theme: Perhaps you’ve also heard of the Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas:

‘The Rothko Chapel, founded by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A tranquil meditative environment inspired by the mural canvases of Russian born American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the Chapel welcomes over 60,000 visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world.’

There’s even a suite of music by Morton Feldman, entitled ‘Rothko Chapel’

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Simon Schama has a four-part series on Rothko available on Youtube.

Here’s Robert Hughes, whom I’d identify as an art critic with roots in the Anglo-American tradition.

“Mark Rothko was obsessed with the idea of an abstract art that would carry the full weight of religious meaning.”

Sadly, Rothko killed himself.  To be fair, that was a tall order to fill.  Hughes’ also discusses the American romantics, brushing up against the wide open wilderness, and raising questions of transcendence in the linked video.

Like me, you may have gotten a whiff of something almost New Age about the chapel.  Here are some people congregating there to do yoga:

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Lastly, to beat my favorite horses, I just wanted to contrast the above with the portions of our politics and culture which depend upon traditional religion, and upon resistance to the pursuit of virtue through collectivist political philosophies, which often finds common ground in secular humanism:

Addition:  Big theme, small blog?  Does art always seek its own space?

Related On This Site: Douthat argues that organized religion is on the decline in America, and in its place are rising new-age, self-help, mega-churches, and vague spirituality: Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Divided By God’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & AtheismRepost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Repost: A Debate: Would We Better Off Without Religion?…One of the new atheists and a 68er and socialist, materialist and relentless critic of religion, and especially faith: Via Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue

Nussbaum argues that relgion shouldn’t be a source for the moral laws From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

From Joel Kotkin: ‘Despite the Great Recession, Obama’s New Coalition of Elites Has Thrived’

Full piece here.

It’s not just New England, Northeastern Democrats, urban areas and the coasts who voted for Obama, but:

‘There is a growing synergy between science, academia, and these information elites. Environmental policies pushed by the scientific community not only increase specialists’ influence and funding, but also the emergent regulatory regime expands opportunities for academicians, technocrats, and professional activists. It also provides golden opportunities for corporate rent seeking, particularly among those Silicon Valley figures involved in a host of heavily subsidized “green” ventures, most famously Solyndra.’

Related On This Site:  Look out Omaha…people are coming your way?: …Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture…and like Brooklyn with craft beer, the sons and daughters of the Midwest…? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

Mead discusses his then new book entitled God and Gold:  Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World.

Maybe there are other options besides Fukuyama’s Hegelian end point of history, and Huntington’s Clash Of Civilizations with regard to our current dealings with the Islamic resurgence and its anti-modern, ant-Western, theocratic impulses (liberal internationalism and Obama’s foreign policy have certainly created problems, but there are underlying issues the West will face):

Mead argues that religion, government, free-trade, capitalism, sport, and especially naval power have shaped our two cultures which have thus shaped the world (a [economic] model he suggests originally came from the Dutch).   He is an Obama voting Democrat, a broad thinker, and teaches at Bard College.

This blog welcomes large, grand visions that posit the possibility of finding truth in philosophy, political philosophy, the social sciences and foreign policy not merely based upon reason alone, and a post-Enlightenment pursuit of reason alone which includes scientism, secular humanism, materialism, postmodernism, relativism etc. trickling down into the political realm.  Hopefully, Natural Law and Natural Right get a fair shake here in the pursuit of truth, though they needn’t necessarily be guides to constitutional interpretation.

Some of this has been in the water (the Atlantic?) lately, but it’s quite interesting.

So, it’s easy to feel vaguely good about our relationship, as happens quite practically here, but let’s not forget moments like these:

washingtonburns.jpg

This is a depiction (thanks to impiousdigest.com) of British troops burning the White House, as they indeed did.

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Related On This Site:  Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  We’ll have to make things better ourselves, and our politics is way behind.

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin? Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’……From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

On Americanization: China is growing a middle class, Brazil, too.  People want more freedom, more options after they industrialize: Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

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From OregonLive.Com: ‘Big Earthquake Coming Sooner Than We Thought, Oregon Geologist Says

Full article here.

“The amount of devastation is going to be unbelievable,” says Rob Witter, coastal geologist with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. “People aren’t going to be ready for this. Even if they are prepared, they are going to be surprised by the level of devastation.”

The last big Cascadia subduction zone earthquake likely occurred on Jan 27th, 1700, at magnitude 9.0. The article suggests an occurence anywhere from 300-350 year intervals up to 400-600 year average intervals (new research suggests the former). It’s just over 311 years and counting.

USGS info here.  Some earthquake preparedness FAQ’s also from the USGS.

Thoughts and prayers to the people of Japan.  There may be at least 10,000 dead.

Related On This Site: …From The USGS: February 14th, 2011 Earthquake Near Mt. St. Helens-4.3Seattle Earthquake-January 30th 2009-4.5 On The Richter ScaleFrom The Seattle Times: ‘Hard Lessons Learned Since The 2001 Nisqually Quake’

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Atul Gawande At The New Yorker: ‘The Hot Spotters’

Post here (abstract only, full article requires a subscription)

Gawande points to a study recognizing a group of people that disproportionately uses medical resources:

‘His calculations revealed that just one per cent of the hundred thousand people who made use of Camden’s medical facilities accounted for thirty per cent of its costs.’

And a potential solution for these ‘super-utilizers:’

‘In addition to physicians and nurses, the Center employs eight full-time “health coaches,” who help patients manage their health.’

‘Health-coaches’ frightens me a bit.  I’m still worried about politicizing the issue further; entrenching health-care as a right, which will also make it a political football (soon to be third-rail), potentially unionize it, open it to many more forms abuse and fraud (and diverging political and healh-insurance goals).

A door to single-payer?  What about rising costs?

A reader sent in two quotes from Henry Hazlitt, libertarian economist:

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

and

“The first requisite of a sound monetary system is that it put the least possible power over the quantity or quality of money in the hands of the politicians.”

Related On This Site:  Atul Gawande At The New Yorker: ‘Testing, Testing’From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”

From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?

A Few Health Care Links-03/18/2010

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