Friday, December 1, 2017

Etiology of Social Dementia - 18

Once upon a civilization
I. Individual Dementia Pales In
Comparison To Group Dementia

This post declares that The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump is not as dangerous as the group dementia that produced him is.

The simple argument supporting that declaration is that he is only one person.

An individual who is a member of a group of about 62,984,825 million people who, in varying degrees, have the same group dementia.

One thing that has happened to most civilizations by far is something that has been fatal to each and every one of them.

That something is the dementia that produces and ends up in suicide:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). There is no cure for the final symptom of that group dementia, there is only prevention by way of avoiding it altogether in the first place.

The components of that group dementia were pointed out in an encyclopedia piece concerning that historian quoted above:
"In the Study Toynbee examined the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in the course of human history, and he concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and the civilizations then sank owing to the sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Unlike Spengler in his The Decline of the West, Toynbee did not regard the death of a civilization as inevitable, for it may or may not continue to respond to successive challenges. Unlike Karl Marx, he saw history as shaped by spiritual, not economic forces" ...
(Encyclopedia Britannica, emphasis added). The show stopper, in terms of remedy, in this type of group dementia is that it is a contagious dementia.

That form of dementia is contagious whether individual dementia is or is not contagious (see e.g. The Red Hot Debate about Transmissible Alzheimer's, Can Dementia Be Contagious?).

Group dynamics, in this context, are contagious to those who become ideological members of a demented group of a society.

Applying that to current society we can easily recognize the rampant nationalism and militarism in our culture.

Focusing on the third factor ("tyranny of a despotic minority") tends to be much more difficult.

So here are the numbers concerning the minority we are talking about:

(Federal Election Commission). A minority consisting of some 62,984,825 people voted for President Trump (but it was a smaller subgroup within that group who cast the 304 electoral votes that won the election for him).

II. On The Meaning of 'Despotic' and 'Minority'

The historian Toynbee (quoted in Section I above) identified the suicidal characteristics of the despotic minority group as nationalism, militarism, and tyranny (Reeling From Flynn Deal, Alex Jones Issues Civil War ‘Red Alert’—for 15th Time in Two Months).

The 62,984,825 voters are a minority, and the 65,853,516 are a majority by definition (a slim 2.09% majority).

Moving on to 'despotic' we find that in that violent insurrection oriented group sense, it is associated with despotism:
... societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.
(Wikipedia). There need not be a dictator or other autocratic individual in order to meet Toynbee's description set forth in his study, especially in the sense of the description "the tyranny of a despotic minority."

In this sense, a minority means a group composed of a population less than the majority of a society (but wielding substantial directional influence).

Note that this would not be possible in the United States if it was a democracy rather than a constitutional republic with an Electoral College that can elect presidents without a majority popular vote (as in the 2016 election of Donald Trump).

To fit into the Toynbee description, all that is needed is that the group be despotic in nature, which is to be 'authoritarian' (a synonym).

This type of authoritarian despotism requires two fundamental characteristics:
Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want -- which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I'm going to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the nation.
(The Authoritarians, book by Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, PDF). Put those two together (leaders and followers) in a group with despotic ideology and we have a structure matching and composing a despotic group of the type that historian Toynbee wrote about.

But, in this case the despotism is "soft despotism" to wit:
"Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people.

Soft despotism gives people the illusion that they are in control, when in fact they have very little influence over their government. Soft despotism breeds fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the general populace. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that this trend was avoided in America only by the "habits of the heart" of its 19th-century populace."
(Soft Despotism, Wikipedia). The way the despotism is maintained by a minority has been explained by "the father of spin" (The Ways of Bernays).

III. The Current Soft Despotism
Is Hardening Into Tribalism

The concept of tribalism is probably easier for us to understand, because it has been engineered to fruition in our time:
"But then we don’t really have to wonder what it’s like to live in a tribal society anymore, do we? Because we already do. Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous. I don’t just mean the rise of political polarization (although that’s how it often expresses itself), nor the rise of political violence (the domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and ’70s was far worse), nor even this country’s ancient black-white racial conflict (though its potency endures).

I mean a new and compounding combination of all these differences into two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other."
(America Wasn’t Built for Humans). The group psychology at work forming our minds and thoughts when tribalism prevails is enmity towards "the other."

Recent scientific papers have pointed out that our culture, and in some cases our subculture, is "remodeling" our brains all the time:
"Beyond such internal mechanisms of variation, environment-driven plasticity lends yet another layer of complexity to the brain. The brain is capable of remarkable remodeling in response to experience. Signals originating from the environment can cause both widespread and localized adaptations. At the level of individual cells, structure and function are continually changing with the environment in a dance of lifelong brain plasticity, and some experiences, such as stress or physical exercise, affect the growth, survival, and fate of newborn neurons in neurogenic regions of the brain.
Traditionally, cells are defined by the tissue to which they belong as well as their particular functional role or morphology. This classification represents a developmental trajectory that begins early in embryogenesis and is hardwired into each cell. But other differences among cells are more subtle. Multi-dimensional analyses of gene expression and other metrics have revealed remarkable heterogeneity among cells of the same traditional “type.” Cells exist in different degrees of maturation, activation,plasticity, and morphology. Once we begin to consider all of the subtle cell-to-cell variations, it becomes clear that the number of cell types is much greater than ever imagined. In fact, it may be more appropriate to place some cells along a continuum rather than into categories at all.
Brain cells in particular may be as unique as the people to which they belong. This genetic, molecular, and morphological diversity of the brain leads to functional variation that is likely necessary for the higher-order cognitive processes that are unique to humans. Such mosaicism may have a dark side, however. Although neuronal diversification is normal, it is possible that there is an optimal extent of diversity for brain function and that anything outside those bounds—too low or too high—may be pathological. For example, if neurons fail to function optimally in their particular role or environment, deficits could arise. Similarly, if neurons diversify and become too specialized to a given role, they may lose the plasticity required to change and function normally within a larger circuit. As researchers continue to probe the enormous complexity of the brain at the single-cell level, they will likely begin to uncover the answers to these questions—as well as those we haven’t even thought to ask yet."
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 5). We know more about some of those dynamics than those previous civilizations did, civilizations that went down by "suicide" (self-destruction).

Will that superior scientific knowledge we have be sufficient to make us aware of ways to avoid the suicidal fate that engulfed previous groups (which we call "civilizations") recorded in our written history?

IV. Conclusion

The previous post in this series is here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 13

Source of N. Korea's Lifeblood
The government knows that oil is the lifeblood of the economies of current civilization, including the nations within it.

For example, the government acknowledges that "Oil is the lifeblood of the American economy" (, U.S. Department of Energy).

That is why, on this date in 2009, I pointed out: The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil., and why today's post is in the series it is in (The Peak Of The Oil Wars, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

Both WWI and WWII were concerned at their core with oil related problems between nations, initiated by the U.S. embargo of oil (Wikipedia, United States freezes Japanese assets, How U.S. Economic Warfare Provoked Japan’s Attack on Pearl Harbor).

There is news being reported that reminds us of a quote about history: "History repeats itself, and that's one of the things that's wrong with history." - Clarence Darrow

That news concerns a statement made at the U.N. recently by the U.S. Ambassador, which was aimed at China and N. Korea:
"Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.

'We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,' she said. It was not immediately clear what actions the United States would take, but the Treasury Department has developed sophisticated sanctions over the last decade. Those sanctions, leveraging the economic heft of the United States, can be used to lock companies out of the global financial market.

China announced in September it would reduce shipments of refined petroleum products to North Korea to 2 million barrels per year. Last year, China sent 6,000 barrels of oil products per day to North Korea necessary to keep its agriculture, transportation and military sectors running, according to the U.S. Energy Administration."
(Nikki Haley to China: Cut off oil to North Korea, emphasis added). The only way that can be done is to shut down a pipeline and/or do a blockade of N. Korea's port:
"For decades, the Chinese oil giant has sent small cargoes of jet fuel, diesel and gasoline from two large refineries in the northeastern city of Dalian and other nearby plants across the Yellow Sea to North Korea’s western port of Nampo, five sources familiar with the business told Reuters. Nampo serves North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.

CNPC also controls the export of crude oil to North Korea, an aid program that began about 40 years ago. The sources said the crude is transported through an ageing pipeline that runs from the border town of Dandong to feed North Korea’s single operational oil refinery, the Ponghwa Chemical factory in Sinuiju on the other side of the Yalu river, which splits the two nations."
(How North Korea gets its oil from China, emphasis added). Whether that is done by China or the U.S., it would be an act of war because the nation's "lifeblood" would be cut off, and the nation would die economically.

With N.Korea having nothing to lose, then, war can be reasonably expected as a result.

The previous post in this series is here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Here Come De Conservative Judges - 6

"This is my first order !"
This series began years ago in March of 2009 when I sensed a slow coup in the works (Here Come De Conservative Judges, 2, 3, 4, 5).

It is a coup that, like slow moving glaciers (see video below), moves so slow that the import of the movement cannot be detected by the everyday "nothing to see here folks" narrative (A Tale of Coup Cities, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

The body politic has been sleeping through a right-wing take over of the judiciary, the last bastion of civil liberties, moving like a slow train towards downtown authoritarianism (The Authoritarians, by Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba , PDF).

In the first post of this series I quoted a Newsweek article that among other things, pointed out:
For the past quarter century, the courts have been conservative, but so has the government. Few new sweeping regulatory schemes became law. Now the Roberts Court has tilted markedly more conservative than the Rehnquist Court—at the same time the voters elected a more liberal set of politicians than they had in half a century. Republican presidents appointed seven of nine Supreme Court justices, as well as two thirds of the federal appeals judges who make most key rulings.
(Newsweek article, pointed out in Here Come De Conservative Judges, 3/16/09). As the D.C. world turns toward worse and worse choices as it moves along Highway 61 towards more wars, the judicial branch situation gets worse:
President Donald Trump has nominated more unqualified judicial appointees than any other president so quickly into his first term, a whopping four out of 58, according to the nation's preeminent legal group.

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee of the Federal Judiciary, which has been evaluating judicial appointments since the 1950s, has assessed 53 of Trump's 58 nominees and found four "not qualified."

“It’s certainly unprecedented,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond law school and expert in judicial nominations.
(NewsWeek, Trump Is Nominating Unqualified Judges). The same magazine is still pointing out the grave danger and the congress is still approving them as if this is all business as usual.

A decision made yesterday by one of those Trump appointed judges, who had been on the bench only two months, is instructive (Even before court victory, Trump’s pick to lead consumer watchdog began reshaping agency).

I won't offer a way to stop this, because there may not a way to stop it at this stage of the slow moving coup.

The previous post in this series is here.

Lyrics to the following song can be viewed here:

Monday, November 27, 2017

On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction - 28

Fig. 1 Nature Global Warming Index
In the previous post of this series I mentioned a new software module which I was constructing.

I indicated that it is designed to assist with selecting sample World Ocean Database (WOD) areas to use as representing what is generally happening to the oceans as a whole (On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction - 27).

I even began a new series to describe the progress with that project (Oceans: Abstract Values vs. Measured Values, 2, 3).

The subject matter involved, sometimes called "cherry picking" and sometimes called "selection bias," is relevant to not only thermal expansion theory, but is relevant to any issue that relates to global mean averages of ocean temperature and salinity.

A recent paper "A real-time Global Warming Index" published in Nature (link at Fig. 1) discusses some of the issues regarding the selection of data sources regarding air temperature changes over the years.
Fig. 2 All about the surface

Another paper from years ago discusses the issues regarding selection of tide gauge stations that reasonably represent global mean sea level rise (Global sea level rise).

Yet another paper goes through the paces concerning ocean temperature and salinity measurements (Objective analysis of monthly temperature and salinity for the world ocean in the 21st century: Comparison with World Ocean Atlas and application to assimilation validation, PDF);

Fig. 3a
Fig. 3b
Fig. 3c
Fig. 3d
Fig. 3e
Fig. 3f
The graph at Fig. 2 shows the ocean surface anomaly which has a similar trend to the anomaly of air temperatures shown in Fig. 1.

But I haven't found a discussion of a global mean based on proper locations of measurements.

Measurements chosen so that they render a balanced overall view (such as GISTEMP).

One paper discusses the mean (A monthly mean dataset of global oceanic temperatureand salinity derived from Argo float observations, PDF).

In that paper they talk about not being able to use certain datasets because of various degrees of lack of uniformity.

But, like the old problem with tide gauge station measurements that caused consternation before Bruce C. Douglas set forth the Golden 23, the quality of the measurements is not the problem.

The problem is which WOD zones or layers to use as a representation of the whole.

Until that is done, including all depth measurements available down below the 2,000 m mark, calculating thermal expansion seems baseless.

The software module (version 1.5) now uses several combinations of WOD layers which prove that selection of WOD Zones is just like selection of PSMSL tide gauge locations.

That is quite obvious in today's graphs which compare: 1) all WOD zones, 2) the Golden Six Layers, 3) an alternate six layers, and 4) an abstract group described at section "II. New Software Module" here.

The graphs in today's post show that any calculations of thermal expansion, or global mean average temperature and salinity changes, cannot competently be set forth unless and until "The Golden" locations are hypothesized and thereafter not falsified.

Temperature (CT), salinity (CT) and thermal expansion all vary according to the areas used to compute those values (see Fig. 3a - Fig. 3f).

The reason why I hypothesize "The Golden Six Layers" as an appropriate selection is that it matches the abstract, the GISTEMP anomaly, and the surface temperature anomaly closely enough to be conducive to providing a reasonable knowledge of what is taking place down under the surface.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.