Readers’ discussion

July 18, 2023 • 9:15 am

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) is under the weather today (the Brits would say “poorly”), once again due to severe insomnia. In lieu of posts, I’ll ask readers to engaged in a discussion, and I wonder if it will actually get off the ground.

Here are some topics, but they’re just suggestions:

a. The perennial favorite: will Trump be the GOP Presidential candidates next year? If so, will he beat Biden, whose hat is already in the ring?

b. Is it time to get rid of the word “woke,” replacing it with something like “political correctness”? (Franky, I’m tired of people taking me to task for saying “woke,” though everyone knows by now that it’s pejorative.

c. How much longer will the war in Ukraine last? And what will be the outcome?

d. Should universities and scientific institutions issue “official” statements on politics and ideology (e.g., criticizing the Supreme Court decisions on abortion or affirmative action)? These are almost universal, as you know, but are prohibited at the University of Chicago.

e. Why does Lauren Boebert keep getting elected to Congress?

f.  Why is there something instead of nothing?

g. Breaking news: Trump has been informed that he’s likely to be indicted for refusing to accept the results of Biden’s election, and promoting the events that led up to the January insurrection at the Capitol. Will he be convicted? If he is, will he be jailed? (Note that this is a serious charge!)

162 thoughts on “Readers’ discussion

  1. OK, here goes:

    Trump is a candidate so bad that he would lose to any nominee the Democrats might run, except for one. Strangely, that one is the one they look like picking.

    Meanwhile, Biden is a candidate so bad that he would lose to any nominee the Republicans might run, except for one. Strangely, that one is the one they look like picking.

    1. There was the recent poll that Jerry had posted, placing Biden ahead of Trump by I think 1%. Of course its early days, but that seems a toss-up where the outcome would depend more on the electoral college than the popular vote.

      1. Doesn’t the outcome always depend entirely on the Electral College, not the popular vote? That’s why both candidates campaign in battleground states.

          1. And the last two Republican Presidents lost the popular vote but won the EC: W. and Trump. My prediction is that no Republican will win the popular vote in Presidential elections ever again. I think the GOP knows this and so must rely on cheating: restricting access to the polls, gerrymandering esp. in swing-state legislatures, taking control of state electoral administrations, pressuring and criminalizing the work of election officials, convincing their base of the Big Lie…hell, a third of Trump voters think Jan. 6 was a false-flag operation perpetrated by antifa and the deep state.

            At least SCOTUS didn’t fall for the Independent State Legislatures doctrine. That would have surely doomed our democracy.

          2. Everything you said is absolutely true, especially here in Texas
            where the GOP controls almost every seat of power even though
            the big cities vote Democratic. For the GOP elections are an annoyance
            and they would be very happy without them.

          3. Likely the bloc vote of black voters who go 90% Democrat must play a role in GOP (and Democratic) strategy. Suppressing that turnout must be Job 1 for the Republicans, inflating it ditto for Dems. Nothing personal, but you either want to win or you don’t. In close states, every voter you can convince to stay home counts.

          4. The Electoral College is the Constitutional mechanism for electing the President, not the popular vote. Why do you think it is somehow dishonest for a candidate to devise a strategy that leads to victory in that Constitutional process? If you think that only Democrats should ever be President, why not just say so?

          5. That’s pretty low. So, just to be clear Leslie, you are okay with the following . . .

            “. . . restricting access to the polls, gerrymandering esp. in swing-state legislatures, taking control of state electoral administrations, pressuring and criminalizing the work of election officials, convincing their base of the Big Lie…hell, a third of Trump voters think Jan. 6 was a false-flag operation perpetrated by antifa and the deep state.”

            All of which, and much more, is well evidenced. Buyer beware, ehh? All’s fair in love and war? Quit whining about cheating and man up? Speaking the truth about scumbags just reveals that you must think that only Democrats should be president? Or do you think all of the clear evidence of these sorts of activities by the RP are merely fake news? Say it ain’t so.

          6. What darrelle said, but OK, I’ll take you up on it.

            When it comes to 2023 and the GOP’s continual move towards fascism, I’ll happily say it: only Democrats should ever be POTUS. (This view could change, of course, but as of now, it stands.)

          7. If any of those things Darelle accuses the Republicans of are provable crimes and not just underhanded bare-knuckle winner-take-all tactics that you wish were illegal, then prosecute away. Otherwise, yes, I’m OK with it. The people who want their man to win are presumably OK with it, too. The ones who want him to lose are naturally agin’ it and swear that they would never do things like that if they wrote the rules.

            I don’t expect many people here will vote for a Republican in 2024, or ever in a million years. I get that. But to say Donald Trump should be barred from office because he’s “unfit” or a probable (unproved) criminal is not for Democratic partisans to decide. The voters can elect whomever they want and juries can acquit whomever they want. If they make foolish mistakes because they went collectively insane, well, that is one of many arguments against democracy and juries.

            If Mark says “there oughta be a law” that only Democrats can be President, (or Senators, or Congressmen, or judges) there is a legislative mechanism to accomplish that. Knock yourself out. It would be most ironic if, in defence of democracy, it was the Left that outlawed opposition parties….or perhaps it wouldn’t be, come to think of it.

            Your best bet is for Mr. Trump to be defeated convincingly. That will take the steam out of him. Putting him in jail before that is probably the worst thing you can do. Even if he deserves it.

            I should shut up now.

      2. It will only get worse when Biden is forced to campaign and :shudder: debate. He’s going to look even older and more feeble, he’ll be overpowered and trip over himself in any debate as he tries to look strong, and the gaffes will mount. As Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It (portrayed by the amazing Peter Capaldi) would say, “he walks like his dick is made of glass.”

        I don’t know if the Dem Party couldn’t make him back down and thus didn’t want to run someone against him in the primary, or if they decided to actually anoint him as their nominee for the next election. If it’s the former, there’s really nothing the Party could do, as an incumbent President who is seriously challenged in a primary will be severely hampered in the general. Otherwise, one has to ask what the hell the Party was thinking.

          1. Amy Klobuchar has been my favorite candidate since 2019. Centrist, sane, and no serious baggage. She’s repeatedly won over more conservative voters in her state with her way of speaking and her actually liberal (rather than “progressive”) policies. I’ve seen her as the perfect candidate for ages now.

  2. Another suggestion: I am interested in hearing opinions on Eliezer Yudkowsky’s AI doomerism. There seems to be an appreciable disconnect between those without an intuitive grasp of the threat posed by a superintelligence and those who clearly do.

    1. Is this something recent that he’s said or put out, or just his general concern about AI alignment? I’ve always been impressed by his intelligence and reasoning, and I would certainly rather err on the side of caution, but I’m not sure if he’s gone harder on the certainty of negative outcomes more recently.

    2. I don’t see how he can go from an AI that is smarter and faster than humans –> the death of all humans. Meanwhile, it seems to me that every major new technology, since horseless carriages, has been chased by intellectuals announcing that it will doom us.

    3. EY’s doomerism is based not on an intricate understanding of AI, it’s developments, and its mechanics, but on philosophy. He has zero experience in the field as far as I’m aware and has been banging this drum since the mid-2000s. The only reasons he’s become the face of AI doomerism and is looked to as an “expert” is because he was a prominent figure in the “rationalist” sphere, he’s famous for his longstanding AI doomerism, and he sounds (and is!) very smart. But look up the history behind Roko’s Basilisk because it’s pretty hilarious. Someone mentioned a particular type of scenario in which AI might either force us to do its bidding and torture/destroy those who do not, and EY responded with an unhinged comment and immediately banned all discussion of the idea from his site for the following five years. Did he not understand the Streisand Effect? For information on the idea, see the following link, and for his original unhinged reply, see the section titled “Topic Moderation and Response”:

      Sorry, but he gets on my nerves. He’s a very smart guy and may end up being right, and he has an excellent grasp of decision theory and some philosophy, but he’s certainly not an expert in the field, which makes it frustrating to see him skyrocket as one particularly during a time when more public and private expertise in AI safety is needed.

    4. Eliezer Yudkowsky Is clearly intelligent but reportedly has never attended high school or college. I learned myself that intelligence only gets you so far, you also need experience. My background is in computer science and I just don’t feel he has that good of a grasp on the field. He’s said some interesting things, but he’s not someone I take very seriously.

  3. (b) No, since if you replaced “woke” with anything else they’d instantly complain about that word as well. (f) Don’t know. Better stop there or I’ll break Da Roolz.

    1. The discussion about the term is a red herring. I don’t think the woke want to discuss their preferred policies which are most often stupid or non-starters (ie, they have weak electoral support only).
      So please no more discussion about whether the term woke is a good one.

    2. I was going to say the same thing about “woke.” It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you’re using it to describe a political viewpoint you don’t support and you criticize typical “woke” subjects, people who support them will object, and likely call you “right wing” at least, if not worse (“fascist” and “nazi” seem to be the popular boogeyman terms today).

  4. “Why is there something instead of nothing?”

    Because being is, and…

    “There is just no alternative to being.”

    (Rundle, Bede. /Why there is Something rather than Nothing./ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 112)

      1. One problem is the meaning of ‘nothing’. Currently, even if you show that empty space (say Minkowski space) is unstable, we are starting out with spacetime and some principles of physics.

        The word ‘nothing’ in ordinary use has concrete meanings. When I ask “What’s in that cup” and receive the answer ‘Nothing’, I know what the word ‘‘nothing’ means. The cup is empty — the molecules of Nitrogen in the cup do not count as something. When an investigation comes up with nothing, we know what ‘nothing’ means. The same applies to the word ‘why’. The question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing in this cup?’ makes concrete sense to us. However, if you remove the context given by ‘in this cup’, we are left with ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ I don’t think it is a meaningful question anymore.

        We can put words together and form grammatically correct statements and questions — religious people do this all the time, sometimes on WEIT. It need not mean they are meaningful.

    1. I’m sure it has something to do with entropy, but ask a physicist. I’m sure Dr. Carroll has a good answer.

      1. Indeed. But in my limited experience, using the Anthropic Principle in an argument often annoys people. I have no idea why.

  5. “Is it time to get rid of the word “woke,” ”


    But the term “Critical Social Justice” – formulated directly from that literature (e.g. D’Angelo), would be just as handy – if not more so, as it “engages” (as they say). But I think in precise terms “woke” is post-structuralist thought – perhaps with United States characteristics (borrowing from Mao Zedong).

    I read this from James “Conspiracy Theorist / guy who said “genocidal hatred […] of white women” on Twitter ” Lindsay :

      1. Right, but that just shuts everything down – a guaranteed way to get ignored – and after all, communism has never been accomplished – though I thought it had been.

        But jeez, I gotta say, I never read Marx until this year – seemed a dead idea – and waste of time – but apparently, like religion, Marx was expressing a bug in the human software that simply runs nonstop. Unbelievable, Marx’s writing!

      2. DrBryden, as to replacing woke with communist:
        The left is not woke, and wokism is not left. See, for instance, Susan Neiman’s latest book.

        “Unless you are concerned about class issues, pushing working-class people up, social mobility, economic inequality and trying to redress that, if you’re not interested in those things I don’t think you’re left-wing in any meaningful sense. So the whole identitarian movement, the whole LGBTQIA nonsense, the critical race theory nonsense, all of this stuff is essentially an upper-middle class pursuit. It has got nothing to do with being left-wing at all. I would argue it’s more right-wing actually because it’s concerned with posh people and their interests.”
        Andrew Doyle, comedian, broadcaster, &
        author of “Titania McGrath’s Woke: A Guide to Social Justice” (2019), “Titania McGrath’s: My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism” (2020), “Free Speech and Why It Matters” (2021), “The New Puritans: How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World”(2022)
        Quote is from: Andrew Doyle & TRIGGERnometry DESTROY 2022. Dec 2022, @ 25:05

        1. “The left is not woke, and wokism is not left.”

          That’s false, because there indubitably is a woke Left, which is what Richard Rorty calls “the post-Sixties cultural Left”. Although it is not as economocentric as the Old Left—in the sense that it is not so much “concerned about class issues, pushing working-class people up, social mobility, economic inequality” (Andrew Doyle)—, it is nonetheless located at and rooted in the left side of the spectrum of political ideologies. I call it the New New Left.

          “The heirs of the New Left of the Sixties have created, within the academy, a cultural Left. Many members of this Left specialize in what they call the “politics of difference” or “of identity” or “of recognition.” This cultural Left thinks more about stigma than about money, more about deep and hidden psychosexual motivations than about shallow and evident greed.

          This shift of attention came at the same time that intellectuals began to lose interest in the labor unions, partly as a result of resentment over the union members’ failure to back George McGovern over Richard Nixon in 1972. Simultaneously, the leftist ferment which had been centered, before the Sixties, in the social science departments of the colleges and the universities moved into the literature departments. The study of philosophy—mostly apocalyptic French and German philosophy—replaced that of political economy as an essential preparation for participation in leftist initiatives.”

          (Rorty, Richard. /Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth Century America./ Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. pp. 76-7)

          “When the Right proclaims that socialism has failed, and that capitalism is the only alternative, the cultural Left has little to say in reply. For it prefers not to talk about money. Its principal enemy is a mind-set rather than a set of economic arrangements—a way of thinking which is, supposedly, at the root of both selfishness and sadism. This way of thinking is sometimes called “Cold War ideology,” sometimes “technocratic rationality,” and sometimes “phallogocentrism” (the cultural Left comes up with fresh sobriquets every year). It is a mind-set nurtured by the patriarchal and capitalist institutions of the industrial West, and its bad effects are most clearly visible in the United States.

          To subvert this way of thinking, the academic Left believes, we must teach Americans to recognize otherness. To this end, leftists have helped to put together such academic
          disciplines as women’s history, black history, gay studies, Hispanic-American studies, and migrant studies. This has led Stefan Collini to remark that in the United States, though not in Britain, the term “cultural studies” means “victim studies.” Collini ‘s choice of phrase has been resented, but he was making a good point: namely, that such programs were created not out of the sort of curiosity about diverse forms of human life which gave rise to cultural anthropology, but rather from a sense of what America needed in order to make itself a better place. The principal motive behind the new directions taken in scholarship in the United States since the Sixties has been the urge to do something for people who have been humiliated—to help victims of socially acceptable forms of sadism by making such sadism no longer acceptable.

          Whereas the top-down initiatives of the Old Left had tried to help people who were humiliated by poverty and unemployment, or by what Richard Sennett has called the “hidden injuries of class,” the top-down initiatives of the post-Sixties left have been directed toward people who are humiliated for reasons other than economic status.”

          (Rorty, Richard. /Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth Century America./ Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. pp. 79-80)

          1. Richard Rorty (1931-2007) is one of the most important and most original American philosophers, and he is usually counted among the postmodern thinkers. There is truth to this (he once described his political position as “postmodern bourgeois liberalism”, even though the best label for his philosophy is “neopragmatism”), but he has criticized the post-sixties academic left (the woke left) particularly for its neglect of economic factors of inequality and injustice.

            “It is time to revive the kind of leftist politics that pervaded American campuses from the Great Depression through to the early sixties – a politics that centres on the struggle to prevent the rich from ripping off the rest of the country.”

            (Rorty, Richard. /Philosophy and Social Hope./ New York: Penguin, 1999. pp. 260-1)

            By the way, he wasn’t very happy with the word “postmodernism”, because…

            “The word ‘postmodernism’ has been rendered almost meaningless by being used to mean so many different things. If you read a random dozen out of the thousands of books whose titles contain the word ‘postmodern’, you will encounter at least half a dozen widely differing definitions of that adjective. I have often urged that we would be better off without it – that the word is simply too fuzzy to convey anything.”

            (Rorty, Richard. /Philosophy and Social Hope./ New York: Penguin, 1999. p. 262)

            He also stressed that…

            “Insofar as ‘postmodern’ philosophical thinking is identified with a mindless and stupid cultural relativism – with the idea that any fool thing that calls itself culture is worthy of respect – then I have no use for such thinking.”

            (Rorty, Richard. /Philosophy and Social Hope./ New York: Penguin, 1999. p. 276)

            For an introduction to Rorty’s philosophy and politics, see:

    1. Although the term “woke” originated as a pejorative, I’ve thought the targets have used it to apply to themselves as well. Although the right and center left would describe the characteristics differently from the far left. If this is so, then whether it’s a pejorative any more depends on how it’s used.

  6. F.

    Old joke. A guy with a doctorate goes to a party, and gets introduced to a man as “doctor.” The man says, “Say this is great, I’ve got this problem here with my back. . . .” The PhD stops him, and says, “I’m sorry, I’m not that kind of doctor.” The other man apologizes and goes off to mingle. After a while he comes back, and says, “I’m having trouble with one of my teeth. . . ,” and the PhD stops him and says, “I’m sorry, I should have been clearer. I’m a Doctor of Philosophy.” The man apologizes, and goes off to mingle again. After a while he comes back and says, “So tell me, Why is there something instead of nothing?”

    1. Now that is funny. I think WOKE should go away. DeSantis took it as his main thing and woke goes to Florida to die. So did he.

      I seriously doubt Trump will be the nominee. How many indictments can you vote for anyway. Will he be tried before the election. Maybe on the documents /classification thing. He could/should do time for this one.

      The republican party is on the road to ruin. Their plan is to scrap all aspects of our current system and give total power to the executive. Frankly there would be no need for congress and almost no need for a justice system. I think you call it Fascism. Do not think we are ready for this. The Heritage group or foundation is working on it.

  7. in re ” Why does anyone stupid and / or evil keep getting elected to Congress ? ”

    ans: We Other Stupid and / or Evil people, of whom there are beaucoup and always
    have been, wanna keep on continuing to be the dumbest and the most evil demons among the Rest of Us. Power / Control BY these of the Masses.

    Dr Maas

    1. Why? Because, above all else, American people want to be entertained. But though Tr*mp will still be able to fund raise of his merch, no one really wants that aging grifter back; same old tired rants, no new material.

      And the “new” slogan? “Make America Great And Glorious Again”? MAGAGA?? Please…gag me with a slogan, as the kids used to say.

  8. My thoughts on some of these questions:

    1. Trump will NOT be the GOP nominee. A bold prediction, but there it is.
    2. Yes, “Political Correctness” is forever the preferred term (see Diane Ravitch’s book “The Language Police”). “Woke” can be traced back to 1938 to a Leadbelly song (where he spoke at the end). The word has been perverted by the Right to mean something is isn’t. Being woke is fine, but only if you consider its original usage. “Stay woke” means “Pay attention and be alert.”
    3. As for the war in Ukraine, it’s my position that there should be no “negotiations.” The only thing here that needs to happen is for Russia to get out of Ukraine—and I mean all of it, including Crimea. As to when the war will end? Probably next year.
    4. Trump will go to jail for something. I’m not sure for which among the many charges (because I’m not sure which is considered the gravest), but he’s not going to get off or have charges dismissed or receive an acquittal for all them.

    1. 1. Trump will NOT be the GOP nominee. A bold prediction, but there it is.

      If Trump is not the GOP nominee because he fails to win a sufficient number of delegates during Republican primaries and caucuses, Trump will tear the Republican Party apart. Trump is unable to accept defeat in an honest election. He will claim that any primaries or caucuses he loses were due to the elections being stolen from him. (Recall how, in the first contest of the 2016 primary season, the Iowa caucuses, Trump claimed Ted Cruz stole the contest from him.) Trump will not be able to blame his primary losses on the Democrats, so he will claim that the deep-state RINOs have conspired to rig the elections against him, leading to a civil war within the Party. Trump will either run as a third-party candidate or tell his hardcore, dead-end supporters to stay home on general election day.

      I’m offering 10-to-1 odds that, if Trump is not the Republican nominee, he will not attend the 2024 GOP national convention in Milwaukee next July and will refuse to endorse the GOP candidate or to take the stage in the traditional show of party unity among the also-ran candidates.

      1. That’s a bold bet there, Mr. Kukec. I won’t take it, since my hunch is Trump gets the R-nomination “no-matter-what.” But I would love to witness the scenario you envision play out. The GOP is playing with a hand grenade in Trump, it’s a hot potato they can’t get rid of and don’t want to hold and no one knows when the pin will be pulled. When it finally blows (it has to, right?) we’ll see who goes up with it.

        1. You may recall, Mark, that months before the 2020 election, I predicted that, were Donald Trump to lose the election, he would not give anything resembling a traditional concession speech, that he would not participate in the peaceful transfer of power to his successor (one of this nation’s noblest traditions), and that he would not attend his successor’s inauguration (another noble American tradition).

          Compare this with the conduct of Barack Obama who, shortly after the 2016 election, invited Donald Trump to a meeting in the West Wing (despite all the arrant lies Trump had told about Obama, among them that Obama was not a natural-born US citizen and, thus, ineligible to hold the office of the US presidency) and who, along with First Lady Michelle, welcomed Trump and his wife to the White House on the morning of Trump’s inauguration. Also attending Trump’s inauguration were George W. and Laura Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton. (George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter sent letters of apology to Trump, explaining that their health problems prevented them and their wives from attend Trump’s inauguration, held outdoors in January in Washington, DC.) This is how reasonable adults, raised and acculturated by responsible parents, act in social situations implicating the national interest.

          OTOH, never before in US history has a major political party nominated to the office of the US presidency a person of such abject moral character as Donald Trump — a person manifestly unfit, by any meaningful measure, to hold public office.

    1. If there were nothing we couldn’t ask the question, therefore there has to be something. Does that work?

  9. I think it is possible that he might be condemned to house arrest, (with electronic tag). This will probably not stop him exerting influence on the large horde of Trump lovers.

    1. Yeah. I can’t be the only one who hopes that his lifestyle will catch up with him any day now and he’ll have a massive myocardial infarction and drop dead of a cardiac arrest. It’s not charitable, perhaps, but when I think of people who have taken much better care of themselves and died younger, and are finer people, it’s hard to feel too bad about wishing for him just to be taken out of the game by nature.

      1. If he and Putin simultaneously suffered fatal heart attacks I’d consider that proof of God’s existence.

  10. a: no and not applicable.

    b: I find the word “woke” to be quite ugly except as the past tense of “to wake”. I’d gladly consign it to oblivion.

    c: Certainly, not until after Putin dies/is deposed, possibly never. Even if Ukraine expels Russia from all of its territory including Crimea, there will always be the danger of Russia mounting a new offensive. Russia cannot be trusted to honour any treaty it signs.

    d: I’m in total agreement with you on this one.

    e: the total stupidity of a group is proportional to the product of the stupidities of the individual members (not the sum).

    f: why not?

    g: maybe not of this specific charge, but he will be convicted of something. I think he’ll die of natural causes before he sees the inside of a prison.

  11. “Critical Social Justice” is imo a better term than “woke” because it’s less flip and engages more with the identifying claims. It’s harder to work with, though.

    Like others, I have tried to ask advocates what term they think should apply to a collection of the more extreme versions of such elements as these:
    -critical race theory
    – gender, not sex
    – privilege & oppression as lens to understand the world
    – call out & cancel all bigotry
    – disagreement stems from hatred/bigotry
    -high sensitivity to slight
    -tendency to handle conflicts by appeal to authorities or third parties
    -Victimhood gives status/ epistemic priority

    They seem to either deny they do this or just want it called something like“reality” or “being well informed about marginalized people and communities” or “caring about others.”

    1. My objection to “critical social justice” is basically my objection to “social justice” – what is “justice” in this context? It’s like “equity”; it means whatever the speaker wants it to, without any sense, at least to me, that there is a meaning that all can agree on.
      But “justice”, like “equity”, sounds desirable.

      1. An “exonym” is a term used to describe a third party that the third party neither recognizes, nor uses itself. On the whole, if we wish to fairly engage with the opposition we ought to avoid them as much as possible. If the “woke” consider the term “woke” as a slur along the same lines as, say, “terf,” then specifying critical social justice might be enough to set it apart from other meanings without sounding to them like we’re name-calling.

        After all, many of them will refer to “Gender Critical Feminism” even though they deny that it’s got anything to do with what they consider real feminism.

    2. Would calling them the “elite” or the “privileged” help? Feels like they don’t have a rebuttal to that.

  12. (b) “Politically Correct” was tried out in the 90s – it didn’t sell. The wokesters appropriated the term “woke” and wore it proudly throughout 2020. (Now they deny it, of course.) They own it, they need to keep having it thrown back at them. “Critical Theory” is the technical term for woke ideology, but sounds too much like “critical thinking”. Besides, we need an adjective and a perjorative one is very appropriate.

    (d) The only statement they should issue is that their mission is the objective pursuit of knowledge and that all postmodern ideas are rubbish and are so destructive that they are among the few ideas that should actually be banned.

    (e) For the same reason the “Squad” members do. She wins the primary because those favor extremists and the general election is all about party, not the candidates, since so much is at stake these days regarding majorities. This kind of thing will keep happening until we get rid of primary elections.

  13. E) I think it’s just a sub-phenomenon of the whole incumbent reelection bias. Though Congress has rarely had an approval rating over 20% and it has even hovered near single digits not too very long ago, nevertheless, incumbents get reelected over 90% of the time. Some of this is probably “better the devil you know than one you don’t” thinking, but I think a lot of it is just a form of bias: “Yes, Congress is terrible…but it’s all the OTHER congresspeople, not the one(s) from MY state/district that are bad!”
    Of course, the candidates chosen in the primaries are the ones that appeal to the most extreme voters, since they are the ones who vote in primaries, and then, after that, again, people just vote for the incumbent unless something truly extreme forces them to do otherwise…if they vote at all. And, of course, less extreme voters, who might be more measured in their voting, are probably turned off by the candidates from whom they have to choose after the primaries have chosen their caricatures of humanity, so they just abstain, because it’s hard to tell sometimes who would be the lesser of two evils…and again, at least the incumbent is a known evil. Even Boebert.

  14. a. If I were forced to bet, I’d bet that Trump won’t be the RP nominee. But I don’t think that’s a good bet. If he is the nominee I don’t think he would beat Biden.

    b. I don’t have a preference. I know what, or who, is meant by woke when it is used these days. Personally I think it would make better sense to add something like “uber” or “neo”, or something clever that gets across that the people being described aren’t merely woke, but are so woke that their brains have fallen out. I also wouldn’t be opposed to something like “illiberal left.”

    c. I’ve no confidence in any guess of mine about wow much longer the war in Ukraine will last. Russian leadership, both government and military, seems so unstable to me that big changes could happen very suddenly. Or the conflict could drag out for several more years. Neither would surprise me. I think the outcome will eventually be a free Ukraine, including Crimea, and a ruined Russia. Ruined as in a failed state. Sort of already is, but worse. And Putin won’t survive it.

    d. I agree with your position, that it would be better if they did not. Perhaps in certain extreme circumstances I could be convinced that a particular instance of doing so was okay, but that invites the problem of who decides when it is or isn’t appropriate.

    e. Because enough people in her district, possibly leveraged by RP tactics such as gerrymandering (I don’t know in this particular district), prefer her more than their other choices to represent them. A sad commentary on the state of our society.

    f. Likely because in reality there really isn’t any such thing as nothing.

    g. I think it likely that Trump will be convicted on some of the charges brought by the State of Georgia. It’s possible that justice will be subverted in this case, any case particularly involving Trump, but I’m pretty sure that the evidence demonstrating his guilt is incontrovertible. Just what the public has seen reported so far is thoroughly damning. Except to people suffering from delusion.

  15. My $0.02

    I think “woke” is here to stay; although it is now a pejorative (rightly so), it is a term with unmistakable connotations. Irrespective of how the New Racists have contorted its original meaning, everyone now understands what it means. Coming up with a new word is unnecessary and would lack the implicit understanding the term has acquired. Using an old term like “political correctness” would only confuse the meaning of both.

    Although I think Trump may get convicted, he will not go to jail.

    I agree with Sastra above; nothingness is unstable, therefore something is inevitable.

    I thin Boebert is in office for two reasons; the political primary system we have almost guarantees that the most divisive and outlandish candidates get nominated and the fact that politics (like religion) poisons everything, so the people of CO’s 3rd district see democrats as even worse than the moron they selected.

    I do not think Ukraine will win the war. I think an uneasy stalemate will develop where Russia will lose much, but not all, of what it has stolen. It will be not unlike the situation in Korea where the war never really ends, Meanwhile we’ll be distracted by the coming war with China.

  16. Regarding “woke”, I use the term “regressive Left” which I find descriptively adequate.

  17. Regarding the conflict in Ukraine. No one really knows how long it may last. One would think the Russians left in Russia will either find a way out of the country or a way to get rid of Putin. Some think they have already lost 10 years or more due to Putin and it gets worse all the time. The Ukrainians are not going to give up and they at least have something to fight for. What the Russians are fighting for, I have no idea.

    1. I still see the war as a game of attrition, but how that plays out seems uncertain. If nothing dramatic happens, Russia will win as they replace their losses and meanwhile Ukraine cannot. So it could end in a whimper with an exhausted Ukrainian military, unable to negotiate from a point of strength. Recent news is that Russia has amassed 100,000 troops and nearly a 1000 tanks in the Kharkiv region. This cannot be countered.
      Meanwhile a Ukrainian victory depends on sudden events that flip the calculation. The Ukrainians can break through and panic the undisciplined Russian lines and inspire a surge in popular protest against the war in Russia. Or some military coup could crop up in Moscow, having been simmering under the surface.

      1. It is not a given that Russia can replace their losses. Even if they can continue to do so, just throwing unwilling poorly trained and equipped conscripts towards the front line doesn’t work well against a well organized, trained and motivated opponent. We’ve already seen that with the cream of the Russian military crop. The best forces Russia had were so poorly trained and equipped that Ukraine destroyed them in the first few months. How is Russia going to properly train and equip their new conscripts when they weren’t capable of doing so with their best before the war even started?

        When a nation’s most elite fighting force, and the only one that produces any results, is a mercenary force that reveals how truly poor your military capabilities are. Does Russia have enough money to hire enough mercenaries to win the war? Are their enough mercenaries willing to sign up to fight Russia’s war to win it?

        The real fear, I think, is what Russia will do when, not if but when, it’s clear for all to see that they are being pushed completely out of Ukraine. Will they start using chemical weapons? Nukes? That’s the thing to fear. Using conventional warfare they can not win this war. In the strategic sense they’ve already lost it. That’s been clear since about the 2nd day of the war.

        1. The use of 1000′ conscripted prisoners wasn’t bc Russia was running out of better soldiers. Putin wanted to use bodies that would thin out the ranks of Ukrainian soldiers and deplete their supplies. All while not raising too much ire from the uninformed Russian public who I think barely know what is really going on. Incredibly cynical and cruel to do that, but that’s Putin. The strategy was rope-a-dope, and I think it was pretty successful given the significant Ukrainian casualties against the Wagner forces. A problem for Russia, I think, is that if they have to really tap into their professional forces and take increased casualties, then the Russian public will notice and start to object. So Putin is making sure to wear down the Ukrainians before he really roles up his sleeves, so to speak. I hope I’m wrong, of course!

          1. To be clear, the Russian army is a conscript army, not a professional one like most western armies. That has always been the case, even when they were the Soviet Union. The difference between the Soviet Union and Russia today is that corruption and incompetence rose to such high levels for so long that the military machine they inherited from the Soviet Union became a neglected shambles. Both hardware and people. Numbers do of course have some advantages, but it won’t be enough. I think you are putting too much stock in image of their military that Russia has worked so hard to maintain.

            Russian’s casualties have been far greater than Ukraine’s. They don’t have any significant “real military forces” to tap into.

  18. “Woke” has been stolen twice. It began life as a signal for black people, especially in the south, to be super aware of threats from racist police. Leadbelly had it as such in a song early in the 20th century. Gradually, however, after the 1960s, Social Justice Warriors gradually spun it broadly, to signify the personal psychological shift of worldview away from America – Freedom – Enlightenment – Individualism – Capitalism. to that of egalitarian “New Man,” which Marx said must happen for the state to wither away. (Erich Fromm wrote a whole book describing this required transformation of every human.) “Wake up and stay woke, don’t stay asleep in the normative American repression. Study and train in liberatory Critical Methods and read Marx.” Thus the term could be applied much wider than the specific issue of police-on-black violence.

    Those of us not inclined to communism (or anything on the spectrum of it all the way back to the Democratic Party) have stolen it from SJW. For instance, we deliberately use it as a collective noun, “The Woke,”, meaning the army of them in the streets and on campus, and in the Congress of the USA. “Woke” has come to stand for the entire body of neo-Marxist or neo-Maoist theoretical structure and praxis as it takes the Long March Through the Institutions.

    The theft of “woke” is a triumph and a brilliant weapon. The Left would LOVE to have people stop using it – ‘the wrong people woke up.’ But that would be like giving Iwo back to the Japanese after the battle.

    P.S. Why do Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her elder alter persona Bernie keep getting elected?

    1. I like the word woke. As you say it’s been broadened to mean pretty much anything the right is against so it’s a very good and in biological terms an honest signal telling me a lot about the person who uses this term.

      1. Very fancy, Tony.

        Just so you know, we on the NotLeft don’t mind if our crass and blustering usage of “The Woke” sends out a signal for automatic dismissal or outright dislike of us. Our target is not the YesLeft; it is the vast Americanist middle in the flyover who need it to grab onto. That is working, big time.

        It does interest me, however, to know what you mean by the “biology.”

        1. It’s not about dismissal, it’s just a signal that contains information. The word “woke” has been broadened enough to mean pretty much anything but that doesn’t mean it’s lost the ability to convey meaning. Using it signals that the user is part of a tribe that has certain qualities and beliefs.
          Here’s a quick summary of signalling theory in biology
          I say it’s an “honest signal” because there is a cost that goes along with throwing around the word woke but it is more than made up for by finding ones’ own tribe.

          1. Your second sentence is completely self-refuting. The rest is just wading in the debris of the wreckage.

          2. Heh. oh well. At least I got the something rather than nothing question right.

  19. (b) I favor the term pop-Left, which encompasses both “woke” and its predecessors in previous generations, such as dopey Maoism in the 70s, making excuses for Stalinism in
    the 30s through 50s, etc. etc. To enlarge the frame, what about “pop-postmodernism”?

    (c) However the war ends, Putin & Co. have insured that Russia retrogresses into a dismal, isolated, and steadily declining backwater. If it is lucky enough to become a
    failed state, that might improve matters for parts that escape (such as a separate
    Siberia and a separate Pacific/Amur/Far East Republic).

    (g) The orange Donald will surely be convicted on multiple charges. However, he will never see the inside of a jail cell. Instead, he and his lawyers will spend the rest of their lives in courtrooms, mounting endless legal delaying maneuvers and appeals.

    1. Please don’t shoot the d*g!

      I, too, am horrified by the recent Fascist pronouncements by the orange-faced traitor to this nation. But I have enough optimism to believe that, between his increasingly extreme rhetoric and the many indictments coming against him, enough Republican voters will edge away from him during the primary season that he will not win the nomination. (Then we can bet on whether he runs a third-party campaign, possibly from a prison cell.)

      Why is there something rather than nothing? Neil Young sang, “Everybody knows this is nowhere.” Perhaps we exist in/as nothing? I contend that this answer is just as coherent as the question itself.

  20. Regarding Trump. He said that he received a target letting from Jack Smith on the big case, the insurrection. He also said he has four days to report to the grand jury. I doubt he will be speaking other than to say the 5th. If and when this one gets to trial it will be the end of Trump. Only his cult will follow him down this rate hole.

    1. Finally. I hope they release the indictments as they did in the documents case. Should make for very interesting reading.

    2. I don’t at present see how Trump can go to prison for the insurrection. What he said before and during has been combed over pretty well, hasn’t it? I’ve not heard about a smoking gun type directive from him where he actually told people to storm inside the building and do violence. I think that is what would be needed for actual prison time.

      1. Yet it’s strange how so many insurrectionists cited their reason for storming the capitol: “Trump told me to.” Many blame Trump; I don’t know if that has standing or not.

        1. He Trump, was front and center in every aspect of the Jan. 6 event. He was in the middle of the fake elector business. He instructed the insurrectionist before and the day off the insurrection. He hammered on Pence to make it happen but Pence refused. He would have been directly in the middle of it at the capital except the secret service would not take him. Instead they returned to the white house. All of the coordination with others is known to the prosecution. Jack Smith has all of this and more to put it to Trump. Smith has everything or he would not indict. Good grief, they already put some guys away for 18 years. You have no idea how many have flipped on Trump.

          1. I think it’s all is a matter of technicals, and the fact that you practically need blood on their hands before rich and powerful people can be convicted and jailed. Yes, Trump was involved as you say, but that isn’t good enough, imo. On that day, he said things like “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” In the court of law, that won’t stand as a call to specifically smash down doors. It could just mean to vigorously protest, since mere protests are often described as “fighting”, and his lawyers will cite lots of examples of just that from both the left and right.
            His lawyers will also point out his line: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” There he is, covering his ass again! But that is clear enough to acquit him of this particular charge.

          2. Please Mark. You simply do not seem to have been following much of this thing. If you are in fact watching any TV is sounds more like Fox. This guy is dead meat.

  21. A few contrarian thoughts (in no particular order:

    1. Despite all of the negativity one reads in the MSM, Biden has in fact been a very good president, worthy of reelection if his health permits it. Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo has been particularly eloquent on this point.
    2. I agree with an earlier comment, that once the right appropriated (and IMO perverted the meaning) of “woke”, it is no longer a term with any meaning. I’d go further that on balance, what keeps me awake night is not the authoritarian left, which after all lacks any real position of power, but rather the autocratic right, which has amassed frightening power, starting in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
    3. Regarding official positions of Universities, I don’t think the decision is quite so clear cut as it’s often made out to be. Case in point: how about a university responding to the Dobbs decision by making a statement designed to reassure students that reproductive care will be available to them?
    4. Finally, Lauren Boebert has only been re-elected once, and that was a squeaker. So maybe there’s hope. Or, she will lose a cage match with MTG and will resign in disgrace.

    1. The identity-politics left controls the media, Hollywood, K-12 education, academia, universities, the FBI/CIA, the military, Wall Street, SV, Tech, big corporations, NGOs, etc. That’s a lot of power. The prevalence of DEI (racial quotas) provides some measure of where real power lies. So does the prevalence of ‘gender-affirming care’ (child mutilation in less polite terms).

      1. “Identity-politics left?”
        Being a Trump supporter is the epitome of identity-politics; it’s a cult FFS.

        And you make some pretty outlandish assumptions of what the “left controls.” The media? that’s controlled by Big Business which is more aligned with the GOP since they only care about money and want less taxes, this is the same with Wall Street. And the FBI/CIA and the military? Puhleeeze.

        1. The dominant power of the identity-politics left is demonstrated (proved beyond all doubt is more like it) by the prevalence of ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ in public schools. At one time Drag Queens were limited to adult cabarets. Because of the massive power of the identity politics left, they are deemed ‘appropriate’ (even mandatory) for 7-year old children. I vividly remember reading a bitter lament by a liberal/leftist online. He stated ‘we are going to here a lot more about trans than the minimum wage over the next year’. Of course, he was right. Perhaps all of this is wrong (for the Democrats). But it is where real power in the US lies. ‘Gender-affirming’ care is another data point. The fact that we are even having this discussion is a demonstration of the power of the left (the identity-politics left, not the economic left). AFAB/AMAB may be scientifically wrong (sex is not ‘assigned’ at birth). But real power in America is held by the church (who claim to believe this nonsense), not Galileo. Should I mention that PNAS refused to publish the Coyne/Krylov Merit paper? Should I mention that Jamie Dimon took a knee to support BLM? Should I mention the long list of corporations that have bought into DEI? Should I mention the NAS heads (J. Coyne lists them) who have denounced the SCOTSUS decision. This is not a minor point. In California, the people voted against racial quotas (twice as it turns out). Of course, they (racial quotas) have been maintained, because of the absolute power identity-politics left. At one time corporations and the GOP were aligned. That was before corporation were taken over by the identity-politics left.

      2. There is more chance that there is actually nothing rather than something than there is that the “identity-politics left” controls the military, Wall Street and FBI/CIA. Even K-12 education is powerfully influenced not only by California but also Texas and Florida.

    2. 3. I don’t see how state run Universities could offer reproductive care of a sort that is deemed illegal in that state. And even private Universities probably couldn’t either. At the very least, clinicians and doctors offering abortions would justifiably fear arrest.

      1. Private universities aren’t above the law. Someone does an abortion that’s illegal in that state, he goes to jail if he gets caught. The university has nothing to do with it and specifically has no power to provide (or compel its employees to provide) illegal services to its students or anyone else.

        I suppose, if I’m getting @Bruce’s drift, the university could say it will arrange and fund the travel of students out of state to thwart its home state’s abortion law. This would, I should think for a state school, prompt immediate retaliation from the state in the form of a punitive budget cut or the dissolution of the Board of Governors and firing of its CEO. Depending on how each state’s law is worded, even a private university (or any other NGO like Planned Parenthood or a private citizen) could be charged with aiding and abetting an abortion if it actually did this, regardless of where the abortion itself happened. Apparently, a law doesn’t have to specifically call out “aiding and abetting”. The general principles of criminal law allow the offence to be alleged for any crime.
        Scroll to “Targets for Abortion Laws; Potential Aiding and Abetting Liability”

        But (and this in response to @Bruce, too) I think all that’s beside the point of Kalven. The university can promulgate and publicize any internal policy it wants, including paying for students’ abortions where they are legal. What Kalven proscribes is the university’s taking a public position on the abortion question itself. A university that had endorsed Kalven could not call for the state legislature to change its abortion law, or call for packing the Supreme Court so the case can be decided correctly next time.

        I don’t mean to jump on @Bruce. The Kalven report calling for institutional neutrality is there to prevent chilling of speech. A professor who is pro-Life (or anti-Court packing) should not have to worry that she won’t get tenure because her contrarian views don’t conform with official doctrine.

  22. My suggestion would be to keep using ‘woke’. People object to ‘woke’ because it has become a negative reference. Of course, it should be a negative reference. The phrase ‘political correctness’ actually comes from Mao (it may predate Mao, see Note that if PC should replace ‘woke’, it will have the same negative implication as ‘woke’, for the same reasons.

  23. How about another: How is it that RFKjr has any traction, and if he winds up running for POTUS as an independent, will he siphon off more votes from the R or D candidate?

    And for anyone with only arms-length familiarity with what he spouts, you could do worse than spend the time of this podcast with rational people that dismantles his allegations. Just in case you find yourself in the presence of one of his disciples.

    1. There is another and more serious problem. W. Va. Senator Joe Manchin (the gadfly of the Democratic Party) is going around talking about running as a third party candidate. Or he could just be trying to get attention. You never know with that guy.

    2. Yes, “this podcast with rational people” is This Week in Virology (TWiV) episode 1017 and features, as a guest panelist, Debunk the Funk host Dr Dan Wilson, a molecular biologist, who addresses a number of the subtleties of rfkjr’s lies. An important hour and forty minute video for anyone who wants facts to combat the anti-vaxer craziness from neighbors, friends, or relatives.

      1. Whoops. I mean TWiV 1026; though episodes 1017 and 1019 also address dis/mis information in the life science realm. Mea culpa.

  24. “Why does Lauren Boebert keep getting elected to Congress?” Briefly, Colorado used to be a Red state. It became purple, now it’s solid Blue. Because of population growth, mostly of immigration from other states. Boebert used to own a bar & grill in RIFLE – a small rural town west of Glenwood Springs – called SHOOTERS. The district she represents is holding out against THE WOKE invasion. She stands for the way Colorado used to be – the WILD WEST – all about God, guns, and Trump. Remember, Hunter Thompson (another crazy) was nearly elected sheriff of Aspen (1970). Now, Aspen is Davos West.

  25. A pessimist here-

    a. Trump will be nominee. It will be so close. Enough to give us anxiety.
    b. Just keep the word “woke”. Everyone knows what it means now.
    e. Boebert lives in gun country and out in those areas, that is a priority. She will win again.
    They are also good religious Christians in that area.
    g. Trump will not go to jail. It sure would be fun seeing that. They don’t want to excite the
    -RFK Jr. sure is a loon.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure about Boebert winning again. She only won by 546 votes against Frisch in 2022. He’s running again in 2024 and so far has raised 3x the money Boebert has. Polls have them neck to neck, though I don’t have much faith in polls these days.

      1. Have we reached PC? (Peak Crazy?) I say no— we’ll have more poorly made deep fakes like whatshisname having his head grafted onto Clink Eastwood’s body and gun.

  26. The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the expression ‘under the weather’ originated in the US but its use is very widespread in the UK and perhaps more frequent than ‘poorly’. Either way, I hope you will soon be feeling ‘in the pink’.

  27. Alternate topic:

    Pronouns – what say you?

    I conclude to – by any means necessary – subvert the pronounists. That means – if made to “give your preferred pronouns”, I would :

    • write “male” or “female” in email signatures instead of the pronounist way, or “pronouns : decline”, etc.


    Because “he” and “she” are linguistic, and if someone thinks I look like the opposite sex it will not precipitate an existential crisis – begging the question what “preferred pronouns” are doing for any given person?

    1. I dislike them, but I would become quite excited if the norm was to instead announce something randomly interesting and weird about yourself under your name. Like I’d like to learn what is your favorite dinosaur. Or if you ever went skydiving.

    2. I forgot the hard question : a person wants to be called “he” when it is obvious they are not, and vice versa.

      If they’re a male, “he” is the correct grammar and vice versa. At that point – they are using me and society for some personal interest which I am not interested in.

      I still don’t know what I’d do.

      1. But of course his position is that he is a he, no matter what your lyin’ eyes tell you.

        So there.

        Safest is to use the person’s name in all instances where you would normally use the third-person pronoun. It will sound stilted but better that than have a micro-aggression slip out.

        This is what gets my goat. The pronoun business only applies when two people are talking about someone, who might not even be present to take offence. But there is always the risk that either of you will rat the other out to HR, so you both play the charade. It’s all about making you afraid.

  28. Maybe I’ve been reading too many reader comments in the NYT and WAPO, but it’s unbelievable to me what so many people are saying about the economy (not here – in general).

    Ridiculous stimulus under Trump that mostly went to the top 10%, leading into a pandemic. During and coming out of the pandemic, a well-aimed (if slightly too large, in hindsight) stimulus under Biden halved child poverty, kept Americans employed (unemployment is now at its lowest since 1969), and supported significant upward mobility among lower wage earners (when’s the last time that happened??) And despite the predictions of Chicken Littles of every stripe, avoided a recession, while navigating the most severe, war-fueled global supply chain disruption in decades. All with a *huge* increase in private, US-based manufacturing investment and associated jobs, while managing to pass meaningful infrastructure and climate policy, and funding, in the face of “own the libs” Republican obstruction (who even got help from DINOs). And now inflation is back under control, a process that took *years* in past cases.

    And staring us in the face is the fact the U.S.’s post-pandemic recovery, and current state of its economy, is vastly superior to just about *any* other major nation.

    Inflation has hurt a lot of people, but the larger picture *has* to be considered when judging leadership.

    He didn’t do it all himself, but Biden *is* responsible for mostly good decisions when it comes to the economy. So, by any standard, how is he not a fricking hero? If you don’t think so, then please tell us, in what alternate universe, under whose leadership, using what alternative plan, or even in what fantasy, would we be in better shape? What am I missing??

      1. Why the snark? What did KD33 write that isn’t true? At least try and refute it with something meaningful, not just a flippant remark that means nothing.

        1. I took Michael to mean that only someone who wears a tinfoil hat could fail to see things as KD33 (and presumably Michael) do. I didn’t get snark at all.

          1. Yeah, that’s a good point, but to me, it’s still ambivalent. I guess Michael can clarify, and I apologize if he wasn’t being snarky.

          2. You’re right, I saw a couple other comments by Michael on this thread, and he wasn’t being snarky. Subtlety outflanked my brain density. But thanks, Leslie, for the correction.

    1. I agree, and I’m glad you made the comment. I considered doing it but was too depressed to make the effort. Seems like most even among so called rational folk fall for the propaganda. Or perhaps many are stuck in a pessimism mobius loop.

      Biden’s administration has been unexpectedly remarkable, but few on any side have even noticed or perhaps have chosen to not believe it. Or maybe they just don’t care. One of the most important metrics of a leader is the people they surround themselves with. Whether it’s Biden or the machine around him the results tell the tale, for anyone who cares to take an unbiased, or at least less-biased, look.

      I freely admit, I’d prefer another DP nominee for president simply because of Biden’s age. I don’t believe Biden is currently infirm, I’ve seen no good evidence to suggest it and plenty that refutes it, but at his age it could happen very quickly. I wouldn’t mind seeing Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar as POTUS.

  29. Re: something versus nothing

    Simon Blackburn has asked why is “nothing” our default position. When I imagine nothing, there are two things still present: blackness and me observing this black nothingness. Obviously, I am not good at this game.

        1. I was of course joking, though I really did argue exactly that back when Krauss’s book came out and caused so much discussion. Can’t remember when that was. Let me look. That was 2012, so nope, I wasn’t first. Damn. Now you’ve ruined my moment of pride.

          But really, I’ve never believed that I was the only one that thought of the argument.

  30. My favorite poem by Piet Hein goes
    The universe may
    Be as great as they Say
    But it wouldn’t be missed
    If it didn’t exist

    I’ve always thought that was as good an answer as any to the question of why there is something rather than nothing.

  31. Why is there something versus nothing? [note the verb “is”]

    There is no such concept as “nothing.” No such thing as “a beginning.” No ‘outside’ or ‘above’ (as in supernatural.)

    There is only existence. “Is” is it’s identity, verb, and essence.

      1. “There is only existence. “Is” is it’s identity, verb, and essence.”

        Another way of saying it:
        “IS’ is the verb of existence. It tells the entire fundamental story of the universe. As soon as it appears in a claim by a human being, she must honor “IS” by not invoking something that has not been shown to exist — instead, she must identify the thing by reference to objective reality. She can “believe in” things that don’t exist, or make a poem or story involving things that don’t exist, but it is unfair to make truth claims for it.

  32. Since I’m Australian you can take these opinions with a barrel of salt.
    a. Trump will probably be the nominee. The GOP are too scared of his base to do otherwise. I doubt he’ll beat Biden (assuming Biden lives long enough). Trump hasn’t won an election yet and I don’t think even the EC will get him in but maybe.
    b. I think Woke is a good term. It tells me a lot about anyone I see using it. “Cloud” could be an alternative
    c. I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to see the end of the war in Ukraine. All the parties are too invested in it continuing.
    d. The “official” arms of universities are basically corporations and like many other corporations, issues statements of concern about people for marketing reasons.
    e. People are sick of ordinary politicians saying they care while their lives get worse and worse. Since any politicians that might actually change something get shut down the only alternatives people are offered are entertaining freaks.
    f. The use of “is there” in the question excludes nothing as an option.
    g. This only makes Trump more likely to be nominee. It’s just more proof that he’s a maverick outsider that the elites who want to keep you down all hate.

    1. “The use of “is there” in the question excludes nothing as an option.”

      Exactly what I said in #41 just above, but you got it in one line. Brilliant. (do they have that word down under?)

    2. Donald Trump won the election in 2020, Tony. The winner is determined by the Electoral College, which he won. The national popular vote is irrelevant to the contest, just as it is in any other first-past-the-post election.

      Both candidates plan their campaign strategies around the EC vote. That’s why they have “battleground” states, in which both candidates campaign most ardently. If the popular vote directly determined the victor, both candidates would campaign across the country because a vote in Massachusetts or or in Idaho would count as much as one in Wisconsin or Georgia. If the popular vote counted, you can’t assume that it would break the same way as when it doesn’t count, especially when it’s close. Why should an apathetic voter bother to come out to vote in a landslide state where one side always wins?

      Our current Parliament contains a re-elected Liberal minority government whose MPs received 33% of the popular vote, against 34% for the Conservatives. Yet no one argues that the Liberals didn’t really win. Indeed one of their strategists tweeted that the goal should be to try to form at least minority governments with just 30% by efficient distribution of the Party’s support and not waste it on landslides.

      1. I live in California. People think it is vastly Blue. Consider that the Reds don’t vote very enthusiastically for President — the state goes all or nothing for the Dem; the results back east are determined before the polls close in CA.

        If we went by popular vote count (and as you say, Leslie, strategists would change their strategy!) the Blues might not be so happy to discover a vast number of Red votes they never had to previously consider. Instead getting ‘all’ of CA, Blue might only get half …… or less!

  33. I think it is logically impossible for existence to have a cause. Anything that could cause existence would have to exist before existence itself and that makes no sense.

    I don’t think that nothingness being unstable is relevant to the question of why does anything exist. Nothingness being unstable is a misnomer because the nothingness being referred to is actually empty space or vacuum which is very much not nothing – it has properties: dimension, place, volume, instability and I imagine many more. So, while this unstable “nothingness” seems to be involved in creating matter it cannot be involved in creating existence itself. To do that it would have to create itself first and do so while not already existing.

  34. ‘Woke’ might be replaced by ‘Critical Narcissism’, or ‘C.N.’ for short.

    ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ is actually the question ‘What is the nature of matter?’ – which is the domaine of physicists, not philosophers. The common understanding of ‘nothing’ bears no relationship to physical reality. And there is no other state than existence, whatever the form.

    1. I’ll cast the third vote (Tom Steinberg being the second) for “Critical Narcissism”. Maybe that will ultimately revert “woke” back to the ownership of the movement of Black activists who originally adapted it for their (very different) use.

  35. Please lose your use of “woke” as a descriptor. Critical Narcissism (CN) as suggested above by Russell Moran or perhaps Cringeworthy Thinking (CT) might do. Though I share your frustration with the folly you characterize as “woke”, your use of that term puts you too close to the tRumpazoid crowd who sling it about as they march with confederate and nazi flags. You make good arguments, but lose that term. It grates on me when you rail about “woke” and then post a tribute to a child murdered by nazis — knowing that nazi sympathizers and wannabes are saying woke woke woke. So please find a better term.

  36. Please lose the term: woke — as a descriptor. Critical Narcissism (CN) as suggested by Russell Moran (#44, above) might do, or perhaps: Cringeworthy Thinking (CT). There may be other clever, catchy terms. Seek them. “Woke has been appropriated as an epithet by some of the most loathsome elements of our society — frequently used by the tRumpazoid crowd who march with confederate and nazi flags. Though I sympathize with your frustration and irritation around the folly and antics that you characterize as “woke”, it grates on me — knowing that the fascists and nazi wannabes are also going: woke, woke woke about any damn thing.

    1. You make a good point. Once a word is appropriated by the fascists as “enemy” or “evil”, it’s time to move away from said word.

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