5, 2013
Crisis: TYT on Syria, lack of evidence, obscene payments, genius, clusterf@#k
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. TYT: Syria Attack Resolution Approved By Senate Committee
All Scrubbed Up, Nowhere to Show
Groundhog deja clusterf@#k
4. 10 Ridiculous Perks Given to College Presidents and Celebrity Profs
5.  I Dream of Genius

About ME/CFS


This is again mostly on the war against Syria (?), with an addition on the ridiculous and obscene payments college presidents get these days and a view of genius.

1.  TYT: Syria Attack Resolution Approved By Senate Committee

The first item today is a fairly long video by The Young Turks, that takes over 18 minutes, that I liked, firstly because it shows that the issues are complicated, and secondly mostly because of Jimmy Dore, whom I mostly agree with:

That is, I agree that the U.S. government played this very badly; it will be a war crime; and I do not believe it really is about chemical weapons.

Also, it is a reasonable discussion.

2.  All Scrubbed Up, Nowhere to Show

Next, an item by Robert Parry, who shows he has seen this done before:

This starts as follows:

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U.S. “intelligence community has scrubbed and rescrubbed the evidence” proving that the Syrian government launched a poison gas attack on Aug. 21, but this supposedly spotless data is still being withheld from the American people.

So, just a little more than a decade after President George W. Bush misled the nation into a disastrous war in Iraq, President Barack Obama and his team are trying to sell a new war with Syria by presenting even fewer details.

Members of Congress also are reprising their roles from 2002-2003, displaying almost no skepticism as they get “classified” glimpses of this well-scrubbed intelligence. And, the mainstream press has slid into the same careless acceptance of U.S. government proclamations as fact, just as it did a decade ago.
And it ends as follows:

One also might assume that if the intelligence were truly a “slam dunk,” the Obama administration would have figured out ways of highlighting the evidence. The fact that all the details are being kept from the American people should be regarded as a prima facie case for believing that Rep. Burgess is right.

There is an old journalistic adage, “show, don’t tell.” But the Obama administration is doing the opposite, “tell, don’t show.” One has to wonder why – if the evidence has been so “scrubbed and rescrubbed” – Secretary Kerry doesn’t want to dress it up and put it on display for the world to see.

Quite so. And indeed my own answer to the last question is that there is no decent evidence.

3. Groundhog deja clusterf@#k

You may have noticed Jon Stewart is back leading the Daily Show. Here is an item of his about the war with Syria (?) and Senator John McCain's preoccupations with playing poker:

4. 10 Ridiculous Perks Given to College Presidents and Celebrity Profs

Next, an item on quite another side of the crisis: The ridiculous and obscene sums of money mere college presidents are gettting these days, essentially for doing nothing at all, and indeed not only in the U.S. but also in Holland, although it has not yet been quite as ridiculously obscene as it has been in the U.S.:

Surely, part of the reason is to assure cooperation of these folks - and they nearly all can be bought.

5. I Dream of Genius

Finally, an item that does not have much or anything to do with the current crisis: what is genius?
Joseph Epstein discourses on the topic in Commentary Magazine:

I liked it (and I do have an IQ well over 140, but I agree with Epstein that doesn't say much or anything, except that I have and had a good scholastic aptitude, as indeed also was shown in university, which did me no good, since I was and am ill).

Here are a few quotes taken from the essay in the order they appear in:
Genius is rare. Schopenhauer thought a genius was one in a hundred million. In this realm if in no other, that most pessimistic of philosophers may have been optimistic. Distinguishing between a man of learning and a genius, Schopenhauer wrote: “A man of learning is a man who has learned a great deal; a man of genius, one from whom we learn something which the genius has learned from nobody.”
Yes, indeed, except that it may not be a question of learning. Here is Epstein's own definition:
My own definition is as follows: Be he a genius of thought, art, science, or politics, a genius changes the way the rest of us hear or see or think about the world.
That seems good enough to me, though it is not exact. Indeed, one also needs to make a distinction:
A distinction needs to be made between genius and talent. “Talent is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot reach,” wrote Schopenhauer. “Genius is like the marksman who hits a target, which others cannot see.”
With the addition "until he hits it". Next, there is another addition to make: That there are false geniuses - clever men, who in fact were mistaken:
With the names Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud we enter the murky waters of geniuses who are today perhaps better thought the intellectual equivalent of false messiahs. Marx and Freud each made people see the world very differently than before they wrote, but we now know that they made them see it falsely. Most people no longer believe in either the Class Struggle or the Oedipus Complex. Marx’s and Freud’s license to genius has, in effect, expired.
Next, there is the problem what IQ has to do with intelligence and genius. Incidentally, my own view is: Very little, except that one has to be intelligent to be a genius (in the above sense: See Kim Peek for another sense) and IQ is a fair predictor of scholastic aptitude:
IQ was derived by dividing mental age by actual age and then multiplying by 100. What IQ chiefly showed was a propensity, or want thereof, for solving abstract problems. (The Scholastic Aptitude Test similarly predicts nothing more than one’s chances of doing well in college.) Chess players, mathematics wizards, memory freaks tended to score highest on IQ tests.
Finally, there is this on what intelligence is supposed to be:
Intelligence, as anyone who has thought at all about it will long ago have concluded, is multi-valent, or of many kinds. Howard Gardner, the Harvard developmental psychologist and the leading investigator of intelligence in our day, has concluded that there are at least seven types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. (He later added an eighth, naturalist intelligence, or that of people with a gift for observing nature.) Each of us is likely to be better endowed in one or another of these than in the others. “No two people,” Gardner concludes, “have exactly the same intelligence in the same combination.”
I don't think I quite agree with Howard Gardner, but he surely is right in insisting that "intelligence" is of many kinds, and also that a conventional IQ - which is a scholastic aptitude test - does not say very much about it.

And there is one thing I mostly missed: Geniuses create things - ideas, art - that are truly original and are really valuable, and that would not be there, at least not at their time, without them.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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