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Comments by bob

On “Now Testing Factlink Plug-In

Not sure of anything - but I wrote the comment hit "Post" or whatever and it asked me to sign in and didn't post the comment.

As for FB, Tw and social media in general, its mainly a matter of managing my cognitive load.  It really is a matter of zero sum cognition for me so out of necessity my threshold for FOMO is pretty high.

And yes Happy New Year!


Now the editing functions are back.  Musta been a while since my last comment - had to fill in name etc.  Now functions are there and the font of the comment is back to a readable size.


Tried to leave the following comment in (1) of your comment within the post:

"I've noticed only Disqus in any of the sites I visit and think of commenting. It's been kinda mysterious to me why anyone uses them. Disqus doesn't function any better that I can see. Just curious, what advantages are there to adding them?"

But it seemed I had to sign in to FB or Tw. Not on either and just kinda resist "opening an account" situations unless its something I want in general. So for instance I don't leave comments with Disqus sites.

I realize my this may be somewhat idiosyncratic, but hey, why stop now.

Also your editing functions seemed to have disappeared. I found them useful. Any chance of bringing them back?

On “The Sane and Rational and Decent Torturer

If you design a health care law without anywhere near adequate regulation and oversight, then morally, if not legally, yes.  How a law is implemented (the regulatory and oversight framework) is to a significant degree, the actual law.

In any case, the analogy is inapt.  This was not passing a law(s), but indeed establishing the regulatory and oversight framework for their unconventional and innovative implementation.  A health care law empowers a class of vendors, not specific ones.  Here specific vendors were selected to implement a controversial interpretation of existing law.  One can reasonably take their selection as a reflection of both the stated and unstated goals of the program.


I dunno.  My short term memory of the DC quote you provide in his defense seemed sincerity challenged when I watched it - I'll go back and see what I think now.

But in support of my original interpretation is the end of the interview where he says that  no prosecutions should occur because no crime had been committed.  Horrifying chaos and amateurism are at best minimally mitigating if the program was legally constructed with the care he describes.  For the legal care to be operative as mitigation, evidence of an operational care must be evident.  The care with which he reports the program was legally  constructed indicates he thought criminal acts were a possible outcome of the activity they were designing.

Since the program was designed to go right up to the line of criminality, if the line is crossed there is,  at least, criminal negligence in its execution.  Perhaps one could assert that "chaos" justified a pardon of unlawful acts, but not that unlawful acts had not occurred.

At the time of listening to the interview I took his assertion  that great legal care had been taken in the program's construction to mean it was a feature of the program operationally, to design it so it in fact would cross the lines it established without consequence to the program's designers and operatives.

While unprovable at this point, I think it is implicit in much of the critics arguments.

On “The Ephemeral Sublime vs The Triumph of Death

Certainly, the phrase "ephemeral sublime" evokes at least on this occasion  the "eternalization of the evanescent", but it's not what I meant.  This undoubtedly results from my rather sketchy thought, and subsequent rendition of what I did mean, even with my autocommentary.

But still I did at least gesture toward a different meaning in my reference to Emptiness.  Indeed, I mean ES to be pretty much Emptiness.

So the appearance of the ephemeral I see as an opportunity to meditate at turns analytically and experientially  on the idea that "causes and conditions supporting an object or process are all always changing, are ephemeral, as is their result – the object or process."

If this suggests only eternalization  , then it is poorly stated.  I hope it also suggests negation, and then the impossibility of both the eternal and the negated as the points of focus.


On “Less Ephemeral: Site vs Blog

Your observations on the changes in the infoverse summarize things well.  The boundary between site and blog can be indistinct and rather porous and wobbly, but the distinction does capture a difference of use and expectations.   These continue to evolve, and so like any neighborhood, some people move out, in, die, get born which leaves long time residents sometimes something between bewildered and bemused.

So, against your suggestion, I will argue with myself philosophically.

My use of "ephemeral" contained carried some baggage not readily apparent from my quote.  First, I regard the word as frequently an emphatic redundancy, an idea we previously discussed.  "Existing for a short time" is the general definition.  Short here may be long there.  So in the sense that everything is short from a sufficiently long perspective, "ephemeral" may be regarded as a redundancy.

Quoting myself yet again in a discussion of what I called the "ephemeral sublime".

After all, to the extent that anything exists, it exists ephemerally.  In past posts, I’ve discussed the Buddhist presentation of Emptiness.  The causes and conditions supporting an object or process are all always changing, are ephemeral, as is their result – the object or process.

The view-point and the time scale one uses in considering something determines whether it seems to exist for a long or short time.  Seen from the perspective of cosmic time, all of human existence is ephemeral.

The implicit presence of this kind of time scale as backdrop is what makes the “short time” of the ordinary sense of ephemeral mean something worth mentioning at all.

I bring this up to introduce the sublime.  Certainly both blog and site have a shot at it, even if only ephemerally.

On “The Decline of Political-Cultural Blogging in One Page

When I set AG coming up on 3 yrs ago, I decided not to include a blogroll because they seemed to me to be generally in a state of digital ruin.   I could see they once functioned as a community building tool, but all the dead links I encountered said that was becoming more and more in the  past.

It also recalls for me, now, an erstwhile passage from my exploration of digital ruins, Post #74

What changes and what stays almost the same in the experience of abandonment and ruin as one travels through digital-analog space?  This socially created, technologically mediated, transduced space deforms, re-forms, informs, conforms, confounds, conjoins the experiences of human and machine individuation and collectivity moment to moment, each arising as ephemeral wholes dependent on their decaying parts.

The passage now exists as a saved draft in my dashboard, and now here.  The words in random order still occupy Post #74.

No conclusion to all this, just sayin.

At any rate, I like the current update in the site.  It's getting much closer to the sense I have of what you've been working towards.

I hope everyone has a thankful Thanksgiving.




On “Melhem’s Compulsions (the two-sided failure in Syria contd.)

I don't take such phrases as categorically poor writing, although I leave to your judgment in this case.  Whether Chaucer in The Knight's Tale, describing  death as being "Allone, withouten any compaignye" or Shakespeare's murderous "most unkindest cut of all",  I rather like the non-conforming unruliness of the well crafted redundancy.


Your  metaphor of "non-converging parallel lines" is apt and perhaps more than an emphatic redundancy.  In non-Euclidean, curved for example, space, locally parallel lines do indeed converge.  So your phrase suggests a distinction from Euclidean space that is both distorted to highlight the effects of a local, sub horizon defined space, and that is thought of  as a neutral container neither  formed or influenced by human social interactions.

The rhetorical advantage of thinking Euclidinally is its appearance as identical with a rationality built on its success with local engineering projects.  However, once our lines extend past the horizon, we can begin to see they will in fact converge, and this advantage breaks down.

Readers of AG with good memories will recall my short discussion of "social space"  relating to tech issues, but that I think retains some relevance here.  The space politics operates in is certainly both the one of distances and areas rendered in standard units and the one created by the uneven application of human technology, ideas and emotions.

On “Islamic Statism and Historical Necessity

I guess part of my point was that there may be a difference between events happening more quickly, and history happening more quickly.  The persistence of history's average pace (containing large variability) I suspect might hold, would result from the average pace of human emotional processing.  So far tech really hasn't affected that.

I wasn't aware of all the ST backstory -I guess that illustrates the dangers of making a reference without knowing the source material well (this probably  won't prevent me from doing it again in the future. oh well)


Colin, you write:

They or we can hope that in our technological age even very complex and conflictual historical processes may sometimes reach their end points more quickly, but why should we presume that they will develop by any other means than they seem to have done in all ages?

As you suggest with your rhetorical ?, we shouldn't, or at least we should hope they don't at least as much as we hope they do.  The idea that tech will create the conditions for what amounts to an end of history (at least on Earth a la Star Trek)  is implicit I think in a lot of what drives a range of thought/action ranging from technophilia to transhumanism.  This may be stated as an expectation that the sheer accumulation of tech progress will create a kind of Moores's Law for politics.  As  result, another kind of "self-evident" truths are biding constructed.

Another way to put it is that the only end points are deaths.

On “Last Comment on Comments (Read The Comments 3)

I take DRTC as a reaction as much as anything else - as such representing an understandable although not articulated critique, and therefore mainly unaware/uncaring of its limitations.   Vox does seem to combine this with an air of smugness at its particular brand of dumbing downess.  So I guess I see the commentlessness a symptom not the disease even as they see it as a feature not a bug.

For my part, I view your planned heightened prominence of commenters with some alarm.  I just as soon some of my comments never see the light of a Wireless Mobile Device again.  This may derive partly from my non-participation in social media, and I recognize that it may represent an idiosyncratic view that is unhelpful to the development of your blog.  Further expression of this is the fact that I never comment at sites using the externally hosted commenting systems you mentioned.  They always seem to be trying to herd me into behavior I don't have an interest in.

On the other hand, you have a vision of possible alternatives in blogness and I find that interesting and would like to see it play out.  My ambivalence perhaps is a feature not a bug.

On “Open Thread

I like the change from Recent to Featured Comments combined with Recently Active. I'll be interested to see how it works as the novelty wears off.

On “the latest dream of reason

I haven't written explicitly about this complex of issues over at AG mainly because to make any case about them involves constructing interrelated arguments about the natures of intelligence, consciousness and being that have too many moving parts. So I've used a more hit and run approach.

But yes, brain as bone sums up a lot of it. Even that escapes the ontological question of "boneness".

In any event, as I understand it, the "machines are going to eat us" crowd includes not only predictions of malevolent machines, but basically indifferent-to-us-machines, that simply pursuing their own projects, destroy our habitat.

These strains may include the reasonable assertion that intelligence can look quite different from human intelligence. If so, humans will have a difficult to impossible time of anticipating/understanding machine intelligence/agency/action. (I think "machine intelligence" is a better phrase than AI - the "artificial" carries all by itself a lot of distracting baggage. But even this gets into quandaries.)

In AG terms, I your concluding remarks remind me of Heidegger's idea of our enframing of ourselves as standing reserve based on our own technological understanding of being.

On “Collateral Casualty of the War against War

Or "War, But Not War War, But Maybe War After All"

not contradicting, maybe amplifying your post

On “Open Thread

I dunno - seems to defeat the idea of "Recent Comments", and maybe occasionally make it look non-sequetorish or that one person is talking to perself.


btw why do your comments mostly not show up in the "Recent Comments"?


On “The 1.x-State Solution 2: “What the Conflict Is Really About”

I can't recall the last time I said that anything would be simple. The Zionist project itself provides an example of making the improbable happen.

Anyway, I find this exchange helpful. I have not much more than a superficial historical understanding of these events. Approaching it in a broad strokes manner frequently seems not much of a disadvantage, but here it does.

I do find your Boer allusion interesting. It seems to me that the nation state/settler/colonial frame negates implicitly all "naturally rightful ownership based on indigeneity". Of course the colonial enterprise also requires a robust regime of exception making to develop. Then it becomes one of the sources of its decline.


Part of what I found useful in the Khalili piece was that the "necessity" of subjugation of the Palestinians for the Zionist project to succeed was identified in 1923 by Jabotinsky, amplifying your phrase "from the beginning". At this point, the assertion of an absence of " a practicable alternative" throws us into historical counterfactuals or asserting everybody did what they had to do's.

At this point we're entering I think a discussion of whether or human choice, free will and morality are possible, or if all that represents "folk psychology", eliminating everything but a neurological materialism.


You write: "In sum, and given the practical mutual exclusivity of ethno-national claims, Zionist political, legal, military, and economic strategy from the beginnings up to this week’s headlines can be interpreted as, among other things, necessarily a more or less systematic if inconsistently enunciated effort to pre-empt a Palestinian national project, to make it not just improbable, but clearly impossible except on radically diminished terms."

Expanding on your point is this.

On ““no uplifting realist”

Quite so. I do think what you suggest entails at least a ballpark, or at least a part of town level of specificity for at least 2 of the quantitative specifics.

So what I'm suggesting might be satisfied by the advocates of war saying "we need a million troops and a shitload of $", Or, "we needs boots on the ground for 50 yrs". There probably are some single condition statements that would make the point. "We need a war tax to do this." "We will need to start drafting people into the military to do this."


I don't know if Obama has it right or not. But it seems that those who say he has it wrong, that it is not enough, don't quite say what is right, what is enough. I will take this sort of thing seriously when it says "the US and allies should invade Iraq/Syria with x number of troops, be committed for a minimum of x years at a cost of $x to be raised in the following manner. After that, I/S will be (select where on the continuum of tolerable to glorious), ruled by (select us or them)." Or something.

The point is not to assert one knows the course of history, but to be clear about what one's goals and intentions are.

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