Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Things Today

December 14th, 2017 by G.

  • A partial-birth abortion Democrat got elected in deep red Alabama.  “Deep red.”  Demography matters, and every state now is on the left of the spectrum 20 years ago.  Progress  mindlessly churns on.
    • The GOP candidate was a bad candidate for all sorts of reasons.  But that’s populism for you.  No one is in charge, its not organized, its not thinking long term.  If it were, it wouldn’t be populism.
    • Whatever you want to call the vague malcontent right movement that has coalesced behind Donald Trump, it is feeling like taking risks and is therefore is prone to overreach.  The establishment and the establishment media still have considerable power and can exercise it when given an opening.  They did in Charlottesville and they did here.
    • A really good insight was in a couple of places at Instapundit.com.  The insight was that if the GOP establishment accomplished anything and ever did what they said, the voters wouldn’t have to keep picking crazier and crazier people on the hopes of getting someone crazy enough to actually follow through.  The voters are populists because the elite is incompetent at best and probably disloyal.
    • The Republican establishment is like the Bourbons.  They learn nothing, they forget nothing.


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December 14th, 2017 07:06:50

His Majesty on democracy

December 13th, 2017 by Vader

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

I realize this is not original with His Majesty, but he’s been repeating it a lot lately.

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December 13th, 2017 20:51:34

It Kind of Makes Sense

December 13th, 2017 by John Mansfield

This morning on the radio they were talking about the year’s most frequent Google searches. It was said that the most searched person was Matt Lauer, which prompted my internal question “Who’s Matt Lauer?” And though quick use of an internet search engine would indeed educate me, I have a hunch that I would prefer remaining ignorant.

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December 13th, 2017 13:34:05

The Blind Spot of the Sane

December 13th, 2017 by G.

I had a dream last night.

The Dream

In the dream, there was a residence school for the extremely gifted run at the highest levels of society.   Generals and CEOs and Senators were all involved in or interested in the school in one way or another.  The school included teenagers and young adults and even some adults.  K through Postpostdoc.

The most unusual feature of the school was that students would abruptly become “sane.” (more…)

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December 13th, 2017 11:02:40

Regarding #metoo

December 12th, 2017 by Vader

I live in an area that has a lot of conifer forest.


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December 12th, 2017 19:26:16

The Day and Hour Pocketwatch

December 11th, 2017 by G.

In the Anthropological Time Machine, you can only communicate with other times and only to the extent the knowledge won’t change history.  Motto:–“At least you will know.”  A surprisingly large number of people are still able to use it.

A man from our time was chatting with a man from 20,000 A.D.  (more…)

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December 11th, 2017 07:02:02

Is our specific situation in life (time, place, class, race, family etc.) a random allocation?

December 09th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

(Note, this is cross-posted from my ‘Notions’ blog – it is aimed mainly at non-Mormon Christians; but it may also be of interest here… As you probably already know; I am continually astonished and fascinated by the way in which Mormon Christianity is based on such a radically different set of metaphysical assumptions concerning the basic nature of reality.)


We are incarnated into this mortal life – and each person finds himself or herself in a different situation: different times in history; different places on the planet; different sex, class, race; different parents…

There seems to be only two basic possibilities:

1. That the allocation of souls to bodies is a random process. We are equally likely to end up anywhere.

2. God ‘places’ us into some specific situation.

The first ‘random’ possibility implies that our situation and sex is a matter of indifference to God and to our-selves – one situation is as good as another. This choice is pretty much entailed by the mainstream Christian belief that each soul is created some time between conception and birth – each soul starts out identical, so there is no point or purpose in placing a specific soul in one place rather than other.

The second ‘placing’ idea implies that we have different needs in mortal life – and this implies that souls are different at the point of incarnation, which also implies that we have a pre-incarnation existence. This doctrine of pre-existence has been non-mainstream for Christians since about the time of Augustine of Hippo – but is held by Mormons among others.

This is a good example of the way that metaphysical assumptions affect theology. Mainstream Christians are pretty-much compelled to assume that our situation in life is random, and meaningless – in now way is our actual life-situation ‘tailored’ to our spiritual needs.

Whereas Mormons, and others who believe in pre-existence, are compelled to assume that God must have placed us into our specific life-situation with at least some regard for what situation will benefit us; and potentially this placing would be highly-exact (although human free will or agency will surely make it impossible for the placing to be fully-exact – since any niche would be changed by the choices of the people around it).

Aside: the question of sexual identity – man or woman – is another point of disagreement between mainstream and Mormon. The mainstream view sees the human soul as newly-created from-nothing – and sexual identity therefore as secondary, and in principle it might be male, female of something-else, or nothing. This links with God being neither man nor women, but containing both.

But for Mormons it is doctrine that every person is either man or woman – nothing else is possible in a deep and ultimate sense (whatever the effects of disease or environment), and this identity goes all the way down and back to eternity. Furthermore God is a dyad of Man and Woman: Heavenly Father and Mother; Jesus was a man; angels are either men or women etc…

It can be seen that Mainstream and Mormon Christianity, while both being genuinely Christian, are based upon distinct metaphysical assumptions.

And these basic assumptions lead to big differences in how we personally regard our specific situation in life: for Mormons our situation is meaningful because designed for our needs; whereas for mainstream Christians our situation (and indeed our sex) is random.

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December 09th, 2017 04:30:28

Philly to small businesses: How DARE you defend yourself with bullet-proof glass!

December 08th, 2017 by Bookslinger

A Philadelphia city council committee wants small businesses to remove safety glass. Vote pending by whole council.


The reporter conflates a couple different issues, so I’m unsure if the real issue is the bullet-resistant plastic windows, or a licensing issue about selling individual cans of beer, and how the 30 seat threshhold figures in.  Snippet: (more…)

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December 08th, 2017 18:02:40

Life is not a Video Game

December 08th, 2017 by G.

I went out in the dark to bring in some more pecan logs for the fire.  I heard an owl hoot.  I hadn’t heard it before.  It must be newly arrived in the pecan orchard.

I don’t know the word for the emotion I felt.  But I felt something.  The deep texture of reality touched me.

And I thought that modernism tried to simplify and strip down life to a few abstractions and universal principles.  It was the era of “machines for living,” which inevitably means eliminating complexity and texture and variation to make the management task easier.

Which was unsatisfying.

So the next phase was post-modernism, where we added back variation and texture and complexity, but only at the user choice.  Whereas life was supposed to be a machine before, now it was a machine with lots and lots of user options, or as the insanity increased, maybe even without underlying machine–user options all the way down.

Modernism is simple conceptual games like Pong.  Post-modernism is the modern gamer market, where you can modify your character in innumerable ways, preselect all sorts of options, and download various skins and music to taste.

But postmodernism is all just you.

Which is unsatisfying.

I did not opt for the owl hoot.  The smell of the pecan smoke I did not create and could not have imagined, and neither the chill in the air, or the stars.


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December 08th, 2017 06:44:43

Walter Lippmann on Obamacare

December 07th, 2017 by Vader

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December 07th, 2017 15:51:46

An Interesting Philosophical Argument

December 07th, 2017 by G.

1.  “Reality is . . . in a realm untouched by communication, not dependent on communication – a realm that we can know directly – each for himself.”
2. “we can only know that reality we conceptualise, and conceptualising means thinking – we cannot know anything of un-thought reality, because to know is to think.
Therefore assuming God wants us to know reality, things must be set-up such that we can know reality by thinking…”
3.  Reality is itself a kind of thinking; else we could not know it.  Reality therefore seems to be God’s thinking, and God’s thinking is knowable creation.
4.  If we ourselves are to participate-in reality, we must affect the universal divine thinking – which (I believe) implies that we ourselves need to be divine.

It’s not laid out with the rigor of analytic philosophy, which is all to the good.
I am also not a philosopher, thanks be to God.  So I will only say that I have my doubts about #1–I find it hard to express, but I am pretty sure that sociality is inescapable and is part of how we know things.  In fact, I think that the latter parts of the argument would entail that reality is a form of divine communication–and #3–because our own ability to participate in reality implies thoughts that are not thought by God, which implies an outside to divinity, which need not be limited to us.  In other words, I reject the notion (though I don’t think this is precisely what Bruce C. intends) that our delight in the sun and the moon and the wind in the pines is solely a delight in some aspects of God.  I reject it because it is not my experience.  I don’t think #3 is flat wrong either, of course.
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December 07th, 2017 06:36:32

Ennobling the Line

December 06th, 2017 by Patrick Henry

Image result for housecarls

Housecarls at Hastings

God is first described as a father and second as a king.  We could stand to be more patriarchal than we are, but we at least have experience of fatherhood and take God’s fatherhood seriously. Small r-republicans that we are, we ignore exploring His monarchy.

Let’s fix that.

We in the Church are an elite group who are oath-bound to God and to each other.  We live a stricter rule than most Christians.  The God to whom we have pledged everything in return gives us magnificent gifts and in certain places marvelous titles of power.  He calls us his noble and great ones and has sworn fellowship with us.  Because of us, he also promises the same to our ancestors and our descendants.

We are God’s housecarls, we are his warband.  He has ennobled us, us and our whole lines.

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December 06th, 2017 08:55:11

A Ridiculous Made-Up Example

December 06th, 2017 by G.

From Scott Alexander’s review of Inadequate Equilibria:

Or, to take a ridiculous example from the text that will obviously never happen:

Suppose that there’s a magical tower that only people with IQs of at least 100 and some amount of conscientiousness can enter, and this magical tower slices four years off your lifespan. The natural next thing that happens is that employers start to prefer prospective employees who have proved they can enter the tower, and employers offer these employees higher salaries, or even make entering the tower a condition of being employed at all. The natural next thing that happens is that employers start to demand that prospective employees show a certificate saying that they’ve been inside the tower. This makes everyone want to go to the tower, which enables somebody to set up a fence around the tower and charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to let people in.

Now, fortunately, after Tower One is established and has been running for a while, somebody tries to set up a competing magical tower, Tower Two, that also drains four years of life but charges less money to enter. Unfortunately, there’s a subtle way in which this competing Tower Two is hampered by the same kind of lock-in that prevents a jump from [Facebook to a competing social network]. Initially, all of the smartest people headed to Tower One. Since Tower One had limited room, it started discriminating further among its entrants, only taking the ones that have IQs above the minimum, or who are good at athletics or have rich parents or something. So when Tower Two comes along, the employers still prefer employees from Tower One, which has a more famous reputation. So the smartest people still prefer to apply to Tower One, even though it costs more money. This stabilizes Tower One’s reputation as being the place where the smartest people go.

In other words, the signaling equilibrium is a two-factor market in which the stable point, Tower One, is cemented in place by the individually best choices of two different parts of the system. Employers prefer Tower One because it’s where the smartest people go. Smart employees prefer Tower One because employers will pay them more for going there. If you try dissenting from the system unilaterally, without everyone switching at the same time, then as an employer you end up hiring the less-qualified people from Tower Two, or as an employee, you end up with lower salary offers after you go to Tower Two. So the system is stable as a matter of individual incentives, and stays in place. If you try to set up a cheaper alternative to the whole Tower system, the default thing that happens to you is that people who couldn’t handle the Towers try to go through your new system, and it acquires a reputation for non-prestigious weirdness and incompetence.

Sometimes the towers take more than four years off your life.  For women, sometimes they destroy their chance for family.

Some towers offer a Satanic bargain when you walk in the door.  They will give you your four years of life back–but you have to agree to drink and drug until you can tolerate strangers having sex with you. But this isn’t wildly recognized as a Satanic bargain because Satan is clever.  He doesn’t offer it as a bargain at all.  Instead, there is a cultural expectation that anesthizing yourself like a whore to let your body be used like a whore is the exciting part of Tower Time.  It is as if there were a widespread notion that the best part of receiving riches and power from the devil was the chance to offload your soul.

There are a few niche towers where in exchange for not losing four years of your life you get marriage and maybe a first child.  These are viewed as retrograde and oppressive.

There is a rumor that there used to be a mythic tower where you didn’t lose four years of life if you sought beauty and wisdom.  The employers don’t like the rumor, because if there were another reason to go to the Towers other than getting a good job,  you couldn’t count on the aspirations of Tower alums.  The Towers hate the rumors as a vampire hates garlic.

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December 06th, 2017 07:24:30

To Hold the Priesthood is to be a Man under Authority

December 05th, 2017 by G.

Nathan Eldon Tanner - Natural Gas - Alberta's Energy Heritage

Every now again you find something new from the General Authorities, on a question you’d never even thought to ask.

Elder N. Eldon Tanner offered a heuristic for priesthood work and a way of thinking about priesthood authority that I had never seen before.


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December 05th, 2017 07:30:06

The Meaning of Sleep

December 05th, 2017 by G.

God bless Dr. Charlton.  If he did not exist, we would have to invent him (but would be unable to).

Our starting point should be that the basic inescapable features of life are meant and have a point and a meaning in the divine plan.  Things like breathing, eating, talking, sleep, and elimination. (more…)

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December 05th, 2017 07:06:17