All posts by Number9
About AI: Geoffrey Hinton Has His Epiphany
(CNN) Tucker Carlson out at Fox News
(CNN) Tucker Carlson out at Fox News.
This is a great day for American democracy, anticipated more than a year ago in (CNN) ‘Something has changed’: Stelter on Trump and Fox relationship.
This outcome may be viewed as a cynical measure to reduce future liability. But morally average people purchase only as much morality as they can easily afford.
“Red Rupert”, who at Cambridge kept a bust of Lenin in his room, may have found his affordable epiphany.
Multiple factors augur a 2024 win for Dems:
- Abortion rights. See Repeal of Roe Versus Wade; the Beginning of a Republican Decline.
- January 6.
- Trump anathema to independents.
- Lack of a Trump alternative.
- Felony prosecutions of Trump et al.
When Cardinal Richelieu died in 1642, a contemporary observed,
“If there is no Hell, he has lived a very good life.”
(CNN) Leaked Pentagon documents provide rare window into depth of US intelligence on allies and foes
(CNN) Leaked Pentagon documents provide rare window into depth of US intelligence on allies and foes.
This blog relies on open source. In this case, it is supplemented by private observations. Since the last administration, I have hypothesized, with low confidence, of a possible mole. The mole would have these characteristics:
- Free agent, unbound to a particular adversary. Supplies both Russia and China.
- Understands distribution lists very well; sources only information that obfuscates the source.
- Amoral, without ideological rancor.
- Motivation entirely financial.
- Completely unafraid of discovery.
- Clients have no obligation to protect this source.
- May have the ability to falsify the record of access.
Manhattan DA Trump Felony Charge Will Go to Jury
Prediction. The Manhattan DA’s Trump felony charge will go to the jury.
The devil is in the details, of translating a noun, “supremacy” of the Supremacy Clause, to a verb, “preempt”, with the adverbs “broadly” or “narrowly.”
While the Federal Election Commission claims broad preemption, the actual case law favors the prosecution.
Killing of Vladlen Tatarsky (Maxim Fomin)
Was this an act of domestic resistance, or Ukrainian? Opinions vary. There isn’t enough evidence to distinguish, while Russian propagandists spin fictions to serve the state.
One constant should be considered in every argument. In 2015, several rebel commanders were likely assassinated by the Kremlin. See Rebel Commander Aleksey Mozgovoy Killed in East Ukraine, Frozen Conflict?
This option is no longer directly available. If the Kremlin desired to use the state security apparatus to neutralize a Tatarsky, Dugin, Girkin, or Prigozhin, they couldn’t do it:
- A substantial minority, the ultra nationalists, would attempt to violently overthrow Putin.
- The security apparatus is riven. An order might be leaked, sabotaged, or never executed.
- A program to defang ultra nationalists must not be attributable to the broader Kremlin.
Implication. If the Kremlin eliminated Tatarsky, proxies were employed. With traditional Russian skills of subversion and infiltration, proxies could even be obtained from anti-war groups. The Russian political cycle up to 1953 has numerous examples of the use of one faction or creche used to destroy another, followed by its own destruction.
The prototype is the killing of Sergey Kirov, discussed in Juan Guaido Watch Your Back; Trump says ‘Russia has to get out’ of Venezuela Part 2.
Coincidentally, Kirov was killed in Saint Petersburg.
Indictment of Donald Trump
Punditry will shortly observe that the indictments make Trump virtually unelectable. Already anathema to independents, he becomes doubly anathema. If Biden adopts a tough immigration policy, he may even peel off a few liberal Republicans.
New York is one of the few remaining states that use grand juries to return indictments. This makes it hard to blame the event on prosecutorial whimsy.
Republican messaging will be difficult:
- Trump is not a disgrace to the party; he’s a credit.
- Thank you for your service. We have to choose an electable candidate.
- DeSantis is the ideal Trump Mini-Me.
Perhaps it’s time to build that Trump Tower Moscow. I hear Ed Snowden is looking for some altitude with attitude.
Nashville Elementary School Shooting; The Mind Virus Spreads
(CNN) The latest on the Nashville elementary school shooting.
In Highland Park Shooting; I had a Bad Feeling the Night Before, I wrote,
I had a bad feeling the night before. It wasn’t clairvoyance, insight, or prediction. In another time, it would be misplaced neuroticism. Now, strangely appropriate. A mind-virus, a meme, afflicts vulnerable young males, incubating in near silence like the rabies virus, fulminating to a state of calculated rage.
In Facebook, I wrote,
We begin with reality of the group mind, not as the helpful superintelligence of (Wikipedia) collective consciousness, but of the atavistic human, the crowd run amok, the groupthink of hatred, of awakening the Beast in Five Million Years to Earth.…Facebook is a distributed computing entity with biologic and nonbiologic elements.
Facebook is a cyborg. Long anticipated by science fiction, the dystopian future has arrived. Scores of movies had us choking on popcorn. Now that the rising waters of a dystopian future are soaking the carpet, our responses are loudly indignant, ineffectual, and trivial in comparison with the threat.
There is the mistaken confidence that as sentient, living beings, we cannot be seriously challenged by social media, “computer programs”, AI or otherwise, or combinations of ourselves with such entities. Crucially, we assume democracy will continue to thrive.
Though “mind virus” may seem a literary trope, Audrey Hale, murderer, was infected by such a virus. His access to guns enabled the deed, but the idea of murder with a gun was the proximal cause. This mind virus hijacked his free will, and disarmed his antibodies of social conscience. The disease vector, the entity which transmitted the virus to a new host, was social media.
The mind virus challenges the uniqueness of a package of DNA or RNA which infects cells of a carbon based life form with malicious instructions. The definition of life itself expands. Quoting (Wikipedia) Life,
Alternative definitions based on the notion of life as a phenomenon and a living individual have been proposed as continuum of a self-maintainable information, and a distinct element of this continuum, respectively. A major strength of this approach is that it defines life in terms of mathematics and physics, avoiding biological vocabulary…
This is also a description of immaterial life. Computer viruses approach life as closely as nucleic acid viruses, which is to say, not quite. Both require physical systems to infect; living organisms or machines. The next morph is an immaterial virus that infects a victim verging on immateriality: the mind.
Though Audrey Hale was under the care of mental health professionals, mind viruses are resistant to treatment. Malaria and yellow fever are hard to treat; eradication of the disease vectors — mosquitoes, is paramount. A crucial difference with social media: No one advocates for mosquitoes.
Responses to mass shootings deplore the events, while failing to acknowledge the interconnections between events. “This has to stop” sounds like an argument; there is no arguing with a virus. Statisticians will discover that in the overwhelming majority of shootings, mass media is accessory to the crime. In the minority which are not, indirect connection is likely. No one schemes in a vacuum. Social media is killing people.
Unlike the nearly impossible eradication of mosquitoes, the social media disease vector can be mitigated by statute. Political will is absent. A very old saying predicts a dire future:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
(CNN) Putin says Russia plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus
(CNN) Putin says Russia plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus.
For close similarity, see Russia to use Dirty Bombs in Ukraine?
Xi’s nuclear admonition may have been deprecated consequent to the lack of material support from China.
A warning to Vladimir Putin: What goes around comes around. See
Note to China re Russia; Dmitry Medvedev Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine.
Putin, Xi, and the Mandate of Heaven
The past lives on in each of us, in what is known as culture. One such element, autocracy, had only occasional challenge until revolutions of 1848. Vladimir Putin, in collaboration with the Russian Orthodox Church, has latched onto the divine right of kings.
With the demise of Communism in China except in name, elements of Confucianism fill the ideological gap: good government, social harmony, work ethic, and respect for authority. Confucianism is not a religion; it is a system of thought with some vague religious elements, such as Tian, 天 – Heaven. This is Xi Jinping’s own cultural heritage from China’s past: a system of thought incomparably advanced compared to most Western manifestations, predating modern, that followed the Golden Age of Greece.
We oppose authoritarian systems. Yet it is important for us to realize that they come in many grades of quality. Some provide good government. Some start well, though they appear time limited. Some start well and end badly. Some slip into monstrosity. Confucianism, which co-evolved with autocratic dynasties, holds that a ruler is deposed when he has lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Xi was met at the airport in Moscow by the Minister of Tourism. He met with an obviously ill Putin, who used ambiguous language to reject his peace plan. Xi left early, skipping a last day of meetings. It is likely that in Xi’s cultural reference, Putin has lost the Mandate of Heaven. Accordingly, provision of military aid would go against the will of Tian. Putin’s end is so ordained.
Many in the West are surprised by the outcome of this meeting. Some may anticipate Xi will prop up Putin to prevent Russia from entering the Western orbit. We should prepare ourselves for further surprise. Xi may realize that to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs.
The immediate post Putin period will not resemble the post-Soviet breakup, which featured profound ennui. It will be hyper-charged with violence among the elites. This may spread into the masses through those in the elite with followings, or the lower echelons of the security apparatus. A Terror will follow, a prolonged process that will result in fracturing, by the efforts of local authorities to keep the Terror out. It will end in exhaustion, but without the political evolution of rapprochement with the West. That may come later.
What Xi wants is described in Reply to China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang; (CNN) China’s new foreign minister warns of conflict with US, defends Russia ties. It will be crucial for Xi to identify the moment to act.
At that moment, the Russian Federation’s sense of common identity will be superseded by multiple identities of small states without common purpose. The Russian nuclear deterrent will be void, except for Russia itself.
Economic unions with the Asian remains of Russian Empire will be the first steps, followed by actual abrogation of the Unequal Treaties.