SocraticGadfly

June 23, 2021

Noam Chomsky, intellectual genius? Not so fast: Part 1, public policy

Is Noam Chomsky perhaps above my intellectual pay grade? Yes.

Genius? No.

First, the political side, in part one of a two-parter.

Per a person touting him as such a genius, if he has been that much of a Glenn Greenwald fanboi, doesn't that alone undercut his claims there? (I'm not the only person on social media to have a reaction like that.)

And, as I've written about more than once, I have little regard for the alleged political genius of supposed actual leftists, even self-proclaimed socialists or Marxists who, nonetheless, go into the voting booth every four years and next to "President" pull the lever for the Democrat half of the duopoly. I mean, he opposed the Vietnam War, but voted for Dear Leader to continue the Iraq War and presumably before that for Slick Willie to expand NATO, that may have been an indirect contributor to Balkans wars and very much directly contributed to freezing Boris Yeltsin's Russia out of the peace process.

Last year, I busted his chops hard for telling people not to vote Green, including his signing a letter to that effect. I also busted the chops of self-proclaimed Maoist Barbara Ehrenreich and others. In other words, Noam practices "lesser evilism" and did before 2012, telling people to re-elect Dear Leader over Romney while not mentioning Jill Stein. Weirdly, if you will, Noam gave money to Ralph Nader in 2000. But, given what happened in Florida, Noam may believe the myths, nay canards, that Nader gave Bush the election.

What's REALLY funny is that the Wiki bio link has Chomsky acknowledging that we are, in fact, a one-party state in many ways. But, he still wants you to vote for the one party. Or else, he doesn't really believe that. It's called sheepdogging. He's a duopolist. So's Henwood, Reed and others.

Now, if I wanted to riff on Emerson and claim this is a foolish consistency cum hypocrisy, and call that the mark of genius, then he's a political genius. Having no idea what sheepdogging he did before 2016, I'll pass, though.

Part 2 will address Noam's big claim to fame: Linguistics and generative grammar.

June 22, 2021

Coronavirus week 63: Chinese defector spills beans on WIV

Big if true! Red State reports, with links to Washington Free Beacon, that Dong Jingwei, a vice minister of state security for China, has defected to the US, and has a boatload of COVID-related information. That said, take some of what Red State spins out of this with several grains of salt. A site to which Red State linked, Spy Talk, says that Red State hinted at this three weeks ago, and claimed that the information on COVID included bioweaponization. It should be noted nothing about that was in the new RS piece. On the third hand, even if that's not true? The early June timing of the RS piece, plus other chatter, explains why the lab-leak hypothesis gained new traction earlier this month.

Former ProPublica head Dick Tofel calls out much of the media for earlier twosiderism on the lab-leak hypothesis, just like I called out Orac. He surely still won't listen.

Peter Hotez says the Delta version of the virus could create "two COVID nations," especially in areas where vaccination rates remain low. Texas was still below 40 percent of adults fully vaccinated, and with summer air conditioning season offering virus-conducive conditions, don't be surprised if the state gets in trouble.

June 21, 2021

Stop the Boban bullshit

No, ESPN, and anybody else, Boban Marjanovic NOT a junior Arvydas Sabonis, contra hints in an ESPN story, though Sabonis was not named by name.

And, no, he wouldn't have been a different player in the Shaquille O'Neal era.

Nor in the Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain era.

First, so what if he has the 11th-highest PER in NBA history? It's based on somewhat limited, situational minutes.

The reality?

Boban has little lateral movement speed or acceleration. On defense, his blocked shots come from a mix of his 94-inch wingspan, not falling for ball fakes, and probably disciplining himself not to fall for ball fakes because he's got limited leaping and limited vertical acceleration.

And, really, not THAT impressive. His blocks/48 are lower than noted swatters Dikembe Mutombo and Mark Eaton.

The limited lateral movement speed means that, other than blocks, he's not a great defender nor a great defensive rebounder, all things considered. He's certainly not a passer of note.

Now, on different eras, he might indeed have been a great player in the George Mikan era, but we ain't there.

He's more than just a height freak, unlike Manute Bol, and less of a height-and-size freak than Gheorghe Mureșan, but let's move on.

June 18, 2021

Needed: Climate radicalism

Joe Biden returning us to the Paris Accords without admitting their actual Jell-o, or "the Squad" accepting his 10 percent of their 10 percent knockoff of the original Green New Deal, while still paying full devotion to capitalism, doesn't get us bupkis on climate change.

Ben Ehrenreich tells the truth, noting that Biden had issued drilling permits before the pause on them, and taken many other half-steps. It's in the larger framework of analyzing a paper co-written by 17 scientists about just how self-screwed we're getting.

Ben even channels his inner Ed Abbey.

As innocuous as it may sound, “growth” should be understood to describe the frenzied ruination of nearly every ecosystem on the planet so that its richest human inhabitants can hold on to their privileges for another generation or two. Rejecting the idolatry of growth means tilting the organization of our societies toward other social goods—health, for instance, and the freedom to exist on a planet that is not on fire. This should not be unimaginable.

Can't be much blunter than that.

He ties this to Biden's pledge of racial "equity" and the issue of long standing of climate justice.

That said, contra "The Squad's" knockoff, Ehrenreich holds zero hope for the future under the current dispensation:

It is of course foolish to the point of derangement to imagine that Joe Biden would consent to any such transformation.

He does end with a glimmer of hope.

(I)t would be just as naïve to believe that current political configurations are any more stable or permanent than the climate, or any less vulnerable to concerted human action. If we do actually listen to the science, then we understand what ghastly futures await us and we know how bold we must be to avoid them.

But, there never was much hope. Ben notes that carbon offset pledges by big companies would require an area more than half as big as the US become entirely forested. (And that ignores that rising temps may lower forests' ability to be carbon sinks.) He also notes that most of the current climate plans rely on aggressive use of the still largely unproven technology of carbon capture.

The original paper is worth its own read. It's "we" is the whole world, including the Global South. Sub-saharan Africa is a ticking time bomb, for example. It looks to face some of the worst problems with climate change, while most of the countries with the world's highest birth rates are there at the same time.

Mass extinctions continue as the nations of the world failed to meet a vacuous 2010 pledge.

That's a vacuous pledge based on UNCC claims that are too conservative. As World Met notes, per Counterpunch, we're almost certain to break 2C. My own prediction is that we've got a 1-in-4 chance of 3C by 2050 and will almost certainly be that high if not higher by 2100. Sadly, though, the author of that Counterpunch piece is a career Democrat bureaucrat at the EPA who claims Status Quo Joe's infrastructure plan is like the Green New Deal.

Biodiversity loss continues, perhaps contributing to COVID-19.

IPCC modeling remains on the conservative side (it DOES, Michael Mann, Katherine Hayhoe and other climate change conservatives), meaning most people don't know how bad it is.

Finally, per Yale Climate, how does equity factor in?

In reality, it makes good talk, but unless Biden's prepared to set aside money to relocate millions of non-rich people who can't do that on their own, especially if they're renters who can't leverage homeowners' insurance in some way, equity doesn't factor in.
 
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At the same time, this is NOT just a US problem. Allegedly climate-woke Europe is not so much; it loves it some biomass burning. I know that Europe doesn't have the same solar power potential as the US, but it's not that far off on wind. And, because of an overall milder climate and other factors, it's less energy-intensive than the US. (We're not the worst, though; that's the Aussies.)

Not only is it not carbon-neutral, but any idiot can see that deforestation affects the environment in other ways. And, there's surely a risk of "better burner" trees that are also relatively fast growers being touted for biomass monocrop reforestation. To some degree, that's already happening, with loblolly pine being planted as a replacement tree in the Southeast. And, it's not "waste wood,"either.

Linked within that piece is another one, from 2015, reminding us that Dear Leader, with his "all of the above" strategy on energy production, came close to going down Europe's road.

Here's your nutgraf, from the main link, about the biomass "harvesting" in the US:

Even if new trees are planted in their place, many studies suggest they will take decades, and in some cases centuries, to absorb enough carbon to “pay back” the carbon debt from burning the older trees. That’s a problem, because scientists don’t believe the world can wait decades, much less centuries, to cut emissions. So at a time when global demand for pulpwood is already rising, the U.S. is already the top supplier, and the world is supposed to be expanding its carbon sinks to avoid climate calamities, the green-sounding technology of bioenergy is pulling even more carbon-rich wood out of U.S. forests.

Exactly. We need radicalism here, too.

Will Status Quo Joe give us that?

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In case you suspected otherwise, Gang Green neoliberal environmental groups aren't going to give us climate radicalism, judging by the Massachusetts chapter of the Audubon Society selling carbon credits to Big Oil companies via the Cal Air Resources Board for trees it (I HOPE) never intended to log in the first place, then getting all butt-hurt when Pro Publica et al started asking questions.

Meanwhile, the CARB itself looks like a gutless wonder in all this. Shock me. California's water sustainability system is almost as loophole-ridden as Arizona regs requiring new residential developments to have a guaranteed 30-year water supply.

And, as the likes of Fancy Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Betty Crocker, Dianne Feinstein, show, California "librulz" are wasted space in national politics, courtesy of a willfully hypercapitalist Cal Democratic Party.
 
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And, while it's nice that a climate-concerned hedge fund has now gotten its candidates on eXXXon's board of directors, remember that the bottom line is the capitalist bottom line for these companies. Engine No. 1 even admits this. Remember, per Einstein, expecting more of the capitalism that got us into this situation to fix it is insanity.

And, per the World Meteorological Organization, that situation, re the target temperature of the Paris Accords' nonenforceable 1.5 C, has a 40 percent chance of arriving in the next five years. Sadly, Michael Mann (along with many of his "climate MSM" fellow travelers) appears to be, not a climate change minimalist, but a climate change "moderate." He, Katharine Hayhoe and others of their ilk are like GangGreen environmental groups. Hayhoe and some others have been political noobs before, including doubling down on attacking those who pointed this out. Like me. Per that link, we could perhaps call them "climate change Obamiacs," who think that singing Kumbaya enough will fix this. It's people like them that lead me to continue to wonder if the James Kunstlers aren't right after all.

June 17, 2021

The shit has hit the fan with the Dallas Mavericks

And, to be honest? The future there is more likely to be fugly than beautiful, IMO, with Rick Carlisle joining Donnie Nelson out the door.

Old NBA fans will remember the old nickname for the team: the MavWrecks. We could be back there, as the shadow of owner Mark Cuban's consigliere, fixer, omerta-whistler, etc. Haralabos Voulgaris, looms in the background.

The implosion has taken all of four days.

To refresh our memory? 

Per the Athletic, and a Dallas Snooze story with the Cuban Sandwich's denial reaction, his analytics guy Bob Voulgaris, a former professional gambler, had pissed franchise player Luka Doncic over the past year and also head coach Rick Carlisle.
 
Now, I had blogged on Monday about how Doncic's dislike of Carlisle was coming out, and how Cuban probably needed to replace him. As for Cuban's rejection of that, I noted the Atlanta Hawks midseason hiring of Nate McMillan. I then tied in that information before doing an update yesterday on where the team stood. That included the Voulgaris meddling.

CBS had a piece with more quotes from the Athletic than the Snooze does. This is the nutgraf:
Multiple league and team sources tell The Athletic that Voulgaris has been the most influential voice within the Mavericks front office since joining the team, either initiating or approving virtually every transaction made over the past two seasons. Those same sources add that Voulgaris has frequently gone as far as scripting the starting lineups and rotations for longtime head coach Rick Carlisle.
So, even beyond his analytics work? Why does he have Bob Voulgaris oing this? Payback? Blackmail?
 
Little did I know then that Carlisle might only be No. 2 on the list of people Cuban needed to fire. Little did I know that Carlisle would NOT be No. 1 on Bob Voulgaris' list of people to fire.

Because next, out, but not by choice? Cuban, at the clear prompting of Voulgaris, shit-canned Donnie Nelson yesterday as Mavs GM. And, per the piece, it's clear that Marky Mark was lying his ass off with his denials of the Athletic piece. Since that piece is behind a paywall, I've not read it, but I wonder if Battlin Bob and the Cuban Sandwich suspected Donnie of talking on background to the website. Or maybe, with his resignation, they thought Carlisle was leaking.
 
And now, today? Carlisle found out he has balls and has resigned. Yes, Carlisle found his balls and went Johnny Paycheck!

 
Meanwhile, the Mavs will likely enter this year's draft without having hired a GM to replace Nelson. Bob Forde's Sportsology is working on a search, but it will take time. Shane Battier is among possibilities but would he leave the Heat? Contra "The Smoking Cuban" at Fansided, no fucking way Danny Ainge is coming to Dallas. Nor is Masai Ujiri. Michael Finley as an in-house promotion is most likely, especially if seen as "controllable" by Voulgaris. And, that means Bob Voulgaris to further fuck things up for Luka's future.

Aside from Jalen Brunson, solid and serviceable at his slot, the Mavs have basically sucked about as much over the last couple of years as before.

Then, there's the matter of free agency.

Most names on this free agent list likely aren't happening. And, that sets aside fans wondering how well Cuban and Donnie Nelson are as free agent whisperers. (Frankly, they still strike me as being used as rich stalking horses by agents and little more.) It also now raises issues of how much Voulgaris is involved with that. And, for that matter, how does this affect their resigning of their own free agents? Tim Hardaway Jr. is the biggie, of course. Josh Richardson will almost certainly opt in on his option and Boban Marjanović ain't going anywhere.

Or with trade recommendations. As in the not-so-unicornish Kristaps Porzingis. And, yes, he put his imprimatur on that one, too.
 
And then, there's the new hot plate matter of a replacement for Carlisle. This has to be someone Luka wants, not just someone Bob Voulgaris wants.

Ever since Magic Johnson got Paul Westhead fired, a year-plus removed from an NBA title, different storye. Especially on free agency. LeBron James wouldn't have finalized The Decision to be Miami if Pat Riley ain't there. The best coaches and GMs know that, too. And, the best players know they know that.

Back to the Mavs.

I previously said, why not look at Jason Kidd? But, the question to be asked now, is would a Jason Kidd look at the MavWrecks? And, if Finley is the GM, would they co-exist as two fellow ex-Mavs players? Would other NBA coaches, like Terry Stotts or even retread Stan Van Gundy, want it?
 
Assistant Jamahl Mosley has already been touted by Woj as well as gotten Luka's seal of approval, anyway. Seems like he has the inside track.  

And NO, Dum Fuqs out there, Dirk Nowitzki is NOT going to be a temporary head coach OR a permanent one. Any Mavs fans dumb enough to believe that Dirk is walking in some door to rescue the team deserve the owner you have, and his Kenny Rogers sidekick. And, no, Dirk's "special consultancy" in GM and coach searches isn't a rescue, unless you're counting the Cuban Sandwich's hopes that this will rescue his self-induced PR clusterfuck.

This all said? A diabolical sidebar. What if Cuban didn't want to fire Carlisle but some part of him "accepted" he'd leave after Donnie Nelson got fired, since Carlisle said he and the Sandwich had been talking back and forth for a week?

Coronavirus, week 62: David Corn has teh stupidz

Supporting the natural angle? Chinese scientists claim to have found a new strain of coronavirus in bats similar to COVID-19 in humans. Sounds good; will you be letting WHO et al look at this?

Yay .... Texas is now all the way up to one-third vaccinated.

A federal judge threw out the Jared Woodfill-filed lawsuit against Houston Methodist as well as throwing out a request for a preliminary injunction, calling it "frivolous."

David Corn, still smoking his conspiracy theory crack, co-blames Putin for the 400K or so COVID deaths on Trump's watch. Putin has much to be blamed for (but the imprisonment of Navalny shouldn't lead us into twosiderism toward a character problematic himself), but this is ridiculous. And, of course, the US is now over 615K deaths.
 
California is unmasking, with statewide vaccination at 66 percent. Capital & Main has more, with the read-through being just like in other states with larger and diverse populations, the population groups with the lowest vaccination percentage are poorer minorities and rural white wingnuts, for generally different reasons.