2018/12/02

Where Aren't They?


Where aren’t they?

Enrico Fermi once conducted a thought experiment (gedankenexperiment) in which he found that even with only sublight travel technology, it should be possible for the first starfaring civilization able to build more starships at each stop to occupy every habitable niche in the galaxy in only a million years, which is a blink in galactic time. His question is, if this has happened, why aren’t we being visited every day by many of them? The obvious answer is that perhaps we are, but that we are just not seeing most of them.

So perhaps the question to be answered is “Where aren’t they?” By this reasoning they should be everywhere. The Universe may a very crowded place. Forget the vision of the galaxy as a largely empty wilderness or frontier. It is more than likely to be filled, largely with beings having a common biological origin. I call them “exotribes”, or exos, to consider that they may not have a strong connection to a civilization, as such, except what they can carry with them.

FTL

The most promising approach to FTL appears to be the Alcubierre-Froning drive. It would enclose the travelers inside a space-time bubble that would glide across a warp in space-time like a surfer on a wave. There would be no motion through space as such, but the bubble would move, which could be at a much higher transport rate (not ”speed”) than light through a vacuum. The bubble would protect occupants from debris and radiation, and would maintain gravity and the ship clock as of the point of departure. Transport termination is by collapsing the bubble. I call such vessels “jumpships”, and their drives “jumpdrives”. They need not use the Alcubierre-Froning technology.

The great challenge is maneuvering thrusting. Hopes are to extract enough energy from the vacuum field, and there are efforts, the so-called “em” drive, has might approach this.

Back in time

A jump is not just transport in space. It is also transport backward in time. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the transport rate is 100 times the speed of light, or 100c, and that the target is 50 light-years distant. That means that from the viewpoint of an outside observer the trip takes only six months. But when it arrives, it will find itself 50 years back in the past. How is that determined? Not by reference to the ship’s onboard clock, which maintains the time at the point of departure, but by reference to a “standard clock”, one of the most convenient of which is a neutron star, which are plentiful in the galaxy, and once created, spinning. They slow down at a more less fixed rate due to loss of mass and spin angular momentum by emitting gravity waves. By measuring the spin rate just before departure, then again after arrival., the travelers can get the amount time they have gone back, which would be 50 years in this example.

When you look at the night sky, you are seeing objects not as they are now, but as they were hundreds, thousands, or perhaps billions of years ago. If you jump that distance, say, 50 light-years, you are also going back 50 years in time, from the perspective of where you left. That also means you cannot return to the time of your departure that way. To return 50 years you just have to wait for 50 years to pass, or engage in accelerative transport, which is hazardous without shielding.

When a jumpdrive bubble forms, it captures the gravity/acceleration at its point of departure. When it arrives and the bubble collapses, the traveler is subject to the gravity/acceleration at the point of arrival. If points of departure and arrival are not chosen carefully, the traveler may find himself in crushing gravity, or flung off into deep space at a high speed. He may even find himself on a collision course with a massive object.

For most voyages it may be unwise for jumpdrive users to venture far, usually not more than 200 light-years. The uncertainties of farther voyages may be too hazardous.

Communications among outworlders is also a problem. If a jumpship traverses 50 light-years, it arrives 50 years in the past of its point of beginning, as seen by observing “clock” stars like rotating neutron stars, whose spin period slows at a steady rate. At that point, -50+δ, it can send a light signal, at the speed of light, back to its home, whose year is set at 0. Which arrives 50 years after the year at which it was sent, from what is now a new outpost. The light signal would arrive home at about 50+δ years at its home, where δ is the increment of time spent preparing the signal. From the standpoint of home, that is close enough to instantaneous. Only 50 years late. If the home then sends instructions, by jumpship, they arrive shortly after, -50+2δ, when the light signal was sent from the new outpost. Not instantaneous, but with more than a 50-year time gap. Not real-time.

To view the future of some world, someone on, say, the homeworld, would have to traverse to some point, say 25 years in the future of the target world, and use telescopes to view the target world. The images could then be sent, say, to the homeworld, which could view the future of the target world from -50 years to – 25 years. Hose images could then be shared with other expeditions, including those to -50 year expeditions. They could see what would happen, but not in time to prevent anything.

Each journey back in time makes some changes. Each of those changes creates a branch of the timeline, which I call a “diaverse”. Diaverses can be few and similar. They can be very different. They can also reconverge, in points that share different pasts and the same future. Too many jumps can create a plethora of conflicting timelines, that may sometimes need to be repaired to reduce the confusion. There may be exotribes that can move between diaverses, what I call interdiaversal transport. Perhaps making “repairs” to them.

Creators?

Some reported conversations with exos show they seemed to have reverence for what might be translated as “creators”, with no information what they might be.

In our future it seems likely that some of us will genetically engineer some of the more promising Earth species, like bonobos, octopi, parrots, ravens, dolphins, or some reptilians like geckos to have human-level intelligence, then seed them on suitable planets we might find. Their descendants might now be visiting us, seeking their origins. This could explain why they don’t disclose themselves. Their creators may be us, and they may not want to disturb their own creation.

Civilizations?

People seem fond of imagining every exo ship is a voyage of discovery representing a “civilization” much like our own, a large society with many members, perhaps occupying many planets. There may be such societies, but it is unlikely any visiting ship “represents” any of them. Ships may originate that way, but it is likely they are long cut off from their origination world. They may carry their “culture” with them, but that can be done in holographic records, a small one of which could carry everything notable about them. They might try to send signals back to their origin, with no way to know if they had been received, or whether there was anyone to receive them. They would themselves be an outpost, a detached colony, that might stop at a suitable location, or proceed onward. If one stopped, it would likely be at a site with enough resources to sustain them until it was time to move on. The most likely such locations would be planemos, rocky planets with a hot core, not bound to any one star. Hey would burrow into it and extract energy from the core.

That is why I call exo visitors “exotribes”, because they do not represent vast civilizations.
Pileup in the past

If each jump generates another (nested) diaverse, and the number of jumpers are always growing, it would seem that the diaverses would pile up at the center (origin) of the Universe, at which point one might expect them all to converge at once, and trigger another Big Bang. Instead of one Universe stemming from one Big Bang, There could be countless number of new universes being created every moment, each expanding toward infinity. Each new universe would clean the slate of diaverses, and begin generating many more. Exos, including us, may be continually driving the creation of new universes.

1044 New universes a second?

The most plausible rate of creation of new universes would be one on each Planck unit of time, which is 5.39 × 10 −44 s. Rounding off, that would be about 1044 Big Bangs a second, since forever. Each Big Bang would start time for that universe, from the viewpoint of an observer inside it, which would tend to think there had only been one Big Bang, and there had been only one, from its standpoint. Each would expand into oblivion.

Souls

When we search the stars of our galaxy, what are we looking for? Mostly Earth-like worlds with dry land masses, abundant fresh water, mild climates, moderate daily and seasonal weather changes, Earthlike gravity, fertile soil, and not too unfriendly natives. In other words, a frontier like that of North America in the 19th century. When we contemplate settling Mars we dream of terraforming it so we can walk around on its surface without protective suits. Leaving aside the unlikelihood of finding such a world, would we really want to settle its surface the way we settled North America? The answer is probably not. On Mars we plan building habitats under ground, protected from environmental hazards, with a life support system that does not depend on surface conditions. Should we plan to do anything else wherever we go? No.

It is likely those are the same choices any visiting exos would have been making for a long time. Surface living is not that desirable, even if available. Surfaces might be pretty to look at, and local lifeforms might be interesting to study, but that is a matter of esthetics or curiosity, not economics, and it is likely exos would be making economic decisions.

The persistent question concerning exos is what do they want from us or from our world? It is too easy to assume they are like us, with our ambitions and values. Apparently they are not. If they were we would have grounds to worry. Our treatment of other peoples on lands we visit has too often not been admirable. It can’t be energy or minerals, which are widely available at many places from which it can be more conveniently extracted. About the only thing that might be found here would be miniature black holes, but we have no evidence of their existence or their presence nearby.

It seems unlikely that they would need our world for food, unless they enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the taste of fresh game. If they wanted our bodies, we would notice that. No, it seems more likely they would collect some essence of us, perhaps what we call “souls”.

There has long been speculation concerning whether we, or some of us, carry a soul that could survive death. There are reports of remembering past lives, or of having “near death experiences.” But what could a “soul” be? Intelligence seems to be carried by the neural nets of the brain, perhaps enhanced by quantum entanglement, because intelligence seems to propagate genetically. But if the brain is the orchestra, perhaps performances of it can be preserved like sheet music, or a hologram of performances. This might be transferred from vessel to vessel as what the Vedics called akashik records.

Can such records persist without a vessel, the way sheet music can? If so then perhaps what exos are collecting are records of memories, feelings, or characters we call souls. Clearly they are some kind of artifact. They might play them for entertainment, or use them as money to buy things they want. The noble souls of more spiritually advanced beings, might have a higher value. On the other hand, so might the sordid souls of evil beings. Evil can be more entertaining. Our tribe could certainly provide plenty of each.


Exo conformity

Reports from alleged contactees indicate the behavior of exos is extremely regular, either because they are under tight control, or because their design prevents them from deviating from a norm. There are no criminals, no cheaters, no miscreants, no psychological deviants, no eccentrics. But also no comedians, no creative artists. They are much like social insects, which are generally siblings, acting in concert not under central control, but as emergent behavior of a swarm, responding to ques from nearby individuals, but not centrally directed. Such conformity can be a strength for an army, but not for individuals operating independently, or taking leadership roles not assigned by the group as a whole. For us diversity of talent is strength, for theirs perhaps a weakness.

They seem to have more in common with social insects than with human Terrans.

There is also a view that other civilizations will be millions or billions of years more advanced than our own, as though the rapid progress that has been made over the last century could be extended indefinitely. That is unlikely. Scientific and technological progress is like mining. There is only so much to find, and when it is, progress will not move far ahead, but settle on more accessible things, like biology or history. Such progress is an investment, made in the expectation of a return. That is also true of progress in individual intellectual development. We imagine exos to be superior to ourselves, in every way. In fact many humans today may be as intellectually gifted as any exo.

So forget “Type I”, “Type II”, or “type III” civilizations. There probably are none. There may no return on that kind of investment. No Dyson spheres.

In the movie Forbidden Planet the inhabitants, the Krell, made a stupid mistake that a human college student would not make, of not testing a new technology before putting it into widespread use. (Humans sometimes make such mistakes, so it can’t all be blamed on one stupid civilization.)

So the best of the exos may not be advanced far beyond the most advanced humans.
This may also be the result of exo groups being so small. It may take many more before creative individuals or comedians become manifest.

Thralldom

One of the most disturbing aspects of reports of contact with exos is the way they can control our minds, making us their puppets, for their purposes.

For their purposes.

Of what avail is the technology of starflight without the technology to resist mind control? Is there one master exotribe that rules them all? Or are some able to maintain their independence? We want to be one of those. Else it is all for naught.

We also do not want humans to have the technology of mind control over other humans. Independence is for everyone.

Do some exos see us as a threat, because of our warlike ways? Enough of a threat to resist our venturing into the galaxy? Those warlike ways can also be a force for liberation, which may be the greatest threat of all.

Space Force

Proposed by President Donald Trump to become a new service branch, alongside the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Mission, dominate Earth: Nuclear missiles (mow restricted by treaty), kinetic projectiles (not restricted), beam weapons, reconnaissance (Might adsorb National Reconnaissance Office).

Mission: External threats: Asteroids and comets, exo invasion.

Mission: R&D: Get supervision of advanced research, especially top secret special access projects TSSAPs) , gradually disclose results.


Summary

The issue of FTL taking travelers back in time has been addressed by theoreticians like Alcubierre, but none of them seem to have thought through the matter from the viewpoint of travelers.

Notes:
  1. 1. Alcubierre-Froning drive. One way to move faster than light.
  2. Diaverse”, from the Greek, diakládosis (διακλάδωσης) in which the prefix diaklád- emphasizes its branching structure. “Verse” comes the Latin “universum”, which is mixing linguistic roots.
  3. EM drive. And here. NASA testing this concept, based on extracting energy from the quantum vacuum. Also see TR-3B, speculated to be in service since the 1990s, using an electrogravitic drive.
  4. Kinetic bombardment. First proposed by science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, and known by different names such as Project Thor, involves bombarding Earth with non-nuclear, non-steered ballistic projectiles about the size of a telephone pole, composed of a heavy material like tungsten, which on impact would produce about as much damage as a nuclear blast, but without the radiation or stigma of using “nukes”. It would be effective at destroying deep installations such as the Iranian nuclear base of Fordow, southeast of Tehran.
    The method,
    using meteorites, was used in a science fiction movie, This Island Earth, about bombardment of a planet, Metaluna, by a race called the Zagons. Defense was done with an “ionization layer”, until the projectiles broke through an incinerated Metaluna. Also in the movie was an example of a mutant slave who turned on its masters as destruction was imminent


2018/11/20

Earth changes?

The phrase "earth changes" is often used to refer to some kind of disastrous event that will adversely affect much if not most life on Earth, including human life. There is thought about preparing ourselves for it, but the phrase is vague about what it could be.


CMEs, SPEs

Among the kinds of CMEs that can severely threaten much of the life on Earth are the coronal proton ejections (CPE) or Solar Proton Events (SPEs)  that have occurred several times in geologic history. One such event today could wipe out much of humanity and leave the Earth devastated. It could bring radiation, massive wildfires, and other destructive events.


It differs in severity from coronal mass ejections like the Carrington event of 1859, Those are CMEs, but do not in general threaten life rather than power grids, which could be devastating enough in this modern age of dependence on electronic devices of all kinds. There are calls such as the Shield Act to harden electric grids against them.

The main suspected SPE impacted the earth about 12,900 years ago. There may have two such events, 12,837 years BP and 12,639 years BP. They could have been a principal cause of the final termination of the Pleistocene megafauna and even of several genera of smaller mammals and birds. There is also evidence of one such event in 2012 that missed the Earth by only two weeks. One of the things that it does that could cause mass extinctions is to raise the level of proton (cosmic ray) bombardment to fatal levels. They are also suspected of causing massive, planet spanning wildfires.


Grazing planemos


There are interstellar objects that might make a grazing contact with the sun, We recently had one such object, Oumuamua, an odd-shaped body about ten times longer than it was wide, with other strange attributes. The general name for interstellar planets, not bound to a particular star, is planemo. Most of them are expected to be round. They could be as large as planets. The term generally applies to a rocky object, likely with a hot core, that could wander among the stars, and could provide a site for an outpost for star travelers, if the core is hot enough to geothermally support such an outpost.


Notes:



  1. Did A Massive Solar Proton Event Fry The Earth?
  2. Solar flare nearly destroyed Earth 2 years ago: NASA

2018/11/04

Written Constitutions Better

Written constitutions better

For forms of government let fools contest. That which is best administered is best.
Alexander Pope

That seems to be the guiding constitutional doctrine in the few countries without written constitutions, most prominently the United Kingdom. Those who have viewed the British comedy series, Yes Minister, and Yes Prime Minister, should have gotten some insight into some of the problems with a government of a few elected officials, dominated by a professional civil service that never seems to change.

The term “shadow government” was coined in the UK to refer to the “shadow” components of the civil service appointed by previous “governments” or ministers thereof, who continue to follow the policies of those tat appointed them, and often seem more accountable to thr now “shadow” ministers of the party that appointed them, if different from the party now nominally in power, who are expected to become their new bosses if that party comes to power. In the US, which uses the term “administration” for what are called “governments” in UK parlance, the term “deep state has come to be used for what is called “shadow government” in the UK. In the US “shadow government” refers to what is sometimes called the “military-industrial complex” and its “top secret special access projects” (TSSAP), funded  without accountability to Congress or the President.

Veteran journalist Sarah McClendon once asked then president Bill Clinton about UFOs and aliens (what I call exos). He declined to answer, and replied, “Sarah, there is a government within the government, and I don’t control it.” That meant that the president himself did not have access to what government was doing about that subject.

Then senator Barry Goldwater once asked then Gen. Curtis Lemay about the same thing, and was warned “Don’t ever ask me about that again.” That doesn’t mean Lemay was not “in the loop”. Perhaps only that he was afraid of those who were.

During the Stalin era and through the time of Gorbachev the Soviet Union had a fairly good Constitution, by the standards of sound constitutional design, but the reality was something else. The Communist Party ruled. It controlled the first, NKVD, which became the KGB, which became the FSB.  It assigned a party agent to each government official, as the shadow official for that puppet official, who made all the important decisions. The Red Army was separate, but had its own shadow officials, and controlled the GRU, or military intelligence organization. Vladimir Putin is a former FSB official. The Soviet Union fell apart because the Party fell apart, and the Army fell apart, and refused to fire on civilian protesters (the only time in history when “flower power” actually worked). After that, the former FSB and GRU officials saw an opportunity to divide the spoils of the USSR and become rich oligarchs.

If two such powerful nations are not constrained by their constitutions, then what use are constitutions? Actually, during much of this era the two nations were nearly in technical compliance with their own constitutions. The problem is that the framers of those constitutions did not anticipate how the spirit of their constitutions might be violated while complying with the letter of them.

1.      The US Constitution does not provide that debt be budgeted, only spending. Agencies are limited in how much they can spend but not in how much debt they can generate. Any agency can create debt which the US government is obligated to pay, without limit. Now it would be possible in principle for a TSSAP to operate without generating debt, but it would still have to report zero, and thus to that extent reveal its existence.
2.      The US Constitution needs to forbid Congress to make anything legal tender on state territory, or issuing debt instruments in payment of debts, anywhere. That means not to make debt instruments, like Federal Reserve notes. It already does, by not authorizing it. Only making legal tender by states is mentioned. Nor should agencies, like TSSAPs, get the Treasury to print more Federal Reserve notes for its use to exceed debt budget restrictions. The Constitution needs to forbid anything other than gold oir silver coins, or energy certificates, redeemable for some number of joules of energy, to be legal tender.
3.      However, TSSAPs could also be funded by either trade, such as importing and selling addictive substances, as documented in the reports Dark Alliance, by Gary Webb, Day 1, Day 2, Day3, or by accepting donations from private parties or other nations. Some of what the US government does is to extort such donations.
4.      Constitutionally excluding shadow officials from replacing “”constitutional” officials is a more difficult problem. Most constitutional officials are going to want advisers, and it is only a small step from being an adviser to being a decider. Frequent testimony by an official to a legislature can help, but it is not obvious how to constitutionalize that.
5.       It needs to be made easier for outsiders, like grand juries, to investigate and expose official wrongdoing. Killing an outside investigator or a whistleblower needs to be treated as treason, with the death penalty.

There are more reforms, but these will do for now.

The UK is often said to have an “unwritten” constitution. That is not quite true. It is comprised of hundreds of documents, or fragments of documents, going back almost 1000 years, some written in an English that is incomprehensible to modern readers.

We have books online that contain most of the important such documents:
Select Documents of English Constitutional History, George Burton Adams and H. Morse Stephens (1904) — Collection of excerpts from the main documents that comprise the English "constitution".
Sources of English Constitutional History: 600-1937, Carl Stephenson & Frederick George Marcham (1937) — Collection of the documents that define the English "constitution".
The publisher of this second one asked us to take it down for copyright violation, which we did. A few years later, with no prompting from us, they asked us to put it back online. We we did, within a few minutes.
For many years the only place where such documents could be found was on our website, hosted in the US. Nowhere in the UK. The last time we checked this was still true. To us this seems embarrassing, and may explain a great deal why Brits think that have no written constitution. They have what passes for one, but most of them don’t know where to find it.

There have been attempts to draft a written constitution for the UK by several political science academics. No lawyers or lawmakers. They are pathetic, and haven’t gained much support. The problem with them is that they only attempt to codify most of existing practice. But the UK is a federal state, combining several countries under a single House of Commons that tries to function as a constitutional convention for a unitary republic, and it is not a unitary republic. Any well-written constitution of government needs to recognize that fact.

They also try to constitutionalize the monarchy, as some other “constitutional monarchies” have tried to do. That doesn’t work. Monarchy and constitutional republican government don’t mix. It is the essence of monarchy to be unbound to any law or constitution.

Now that does not mean the legislature can’t create a statutory office of monarch, appoint a member of the “royal” family, pay him or her a salary and expenses, require him or her to perform ceremonial functions, and tax him or her like any other citizen (not “subject”, loyalty is to the Constitution, not to the person of a “monarch”). People might think they have a monarchy, but it would only be for show. In any case, this can be done by statute and does not belong in a “constitution”. People might want to keep their monarch, but that is only to satisfy tradition.

Another instructive effort was the attempt by some political leaders, most prominently Valery Giscard d’Estaing. It was put to a referendum in the counties of the European Union, and rejected by the voters of two of them, most notably, France. That killed the project. It is not a constitution. It is too long, and written like the party platform of a socialist party, full of handouts to various special interest groups and promises that could not possibly br kept, but largely devoid of the content that a true constitution needs to have, which is a tightly written list of powers, duties, and non-powers. The proposed EU constitution spoke of vague “competencies”, by which it presumably meant subject-matter jurisdictions, without defining the powers for such jurisdictions.

The people of France deserve credit for making the wise decision to reject that atrocity.

We have written what is initially billed as a “model constitution” for the US, as how it should have been written. We put the Bill of Rights, which we call Immunitates, in a separate document, which is made difficult to amend. It is binding on all levels and every branch of government, in every country.

The final provisions of the Constitution are actually tailored for the UK, and it is ready of adoption by that country. With minor modifications, it could adapted to the European Union, and to any federal republic, like Germany, Switzerland, India, Mexico, Australia, Canada, or Brazil. With further modification it could be used by Israel. Note that selection of officials is not done by direct election, but by multistage process called fetura (Latin for breeding), which alternates random selection with merit selection. There is little scope for political parties in such a system, and people do not vote for parties, but for individuals, at the first level.

The head of state is called a leiter, the head of government the executor, and the head of defense the protector. The three roles may be combined in the same individual. Each is required to consent to legislation from a bicameral diet.

Judges, or richters, are appointed for life to a pool of richters, from which richters for particular courts and cases may be drawn at random. Richters are also selected by fetura.

Could the people of the UK be led to support such a constitution? No way to know, but someone needs to lead such an effort.

So is it better to have a written constitution? The lesson of history seems to be that it is. But constitutions or laws are not magic self-enforcing machines. Any of them can be subverted if enough people are determined to do so. The question is whether other people will have a standard by which they may oppose such subversion. How can anyone decide whether government is best administered? Ultimately it is a political decision, but good people need a standard in writing. Unwritten constitutions, like unwritten laws or contracts, aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.








2018/09/12

Disparate impact not a measure of disparate treatment

Are disparate outcomes always the result of discrimination against protected groups? Many on the left claim claim that, but are they factually correct? They seem to want to deny all evidence that discrimination is not a significant cause, and to attack anyone trying to present such evidence of differences in merit as "racist", "sexist", "homophobic", or "xenophobic" to shame them into withdrawing their evidence. But do such attacks have any merit themselves? Are differences in hiring, lending, or congressional district drawing the result of "institutional racism" or whatever is the latest popular target for scorn?

It is the thesis of this article that while there are cases of what might be called "institutional racism" at play, for the most part it is now almost insignificant, and attacks on it more often an attempt to deny selection for merit in ways the accuser doesn't like or doesn't want to accept.

The touchy issue centers on IQ, used as an estimate of general intelligence g. Despite ages of attempts to measure it in an unbiased manner, too many measures appear which attempt to measure it that tend to agree, which tend to estimate the average IQ of white Americans as 100, of Black Americans as 85, of Hispanic Americans and Native Americans as 90-95, of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans, and Scots, as 105. and Ashkenazi Jews as 115. Those numbers tend to predict the success of those groups in school and in the workplace.

Those who attack those who make these points generally commit an error in logic and statistics, They try to cast them as asserting that everyone in one of these groups Has the average IQ of that group. They way to use the statistics is to compare the performance of persons of about the same IQ from any group. If those performances are about the same, and they are, then that can be taken as compelling evidence of the absence of discrimination of one group by another, contrary to the doctrine of some that there is pervasive systematic discrimination operating. The evidence is clear. There might be a little discrimination at work, and that is troublesome, but the amount is so little that it doesn't make any difference to average performance. It may then be seen as not just the best predictor of performance, but the only one that matters. That is not the result that satisfies the narrative of "social justice warriors".

A perverse effect of such disparate outcome jurisprudence is that it tends to validate the proclivity of "social justice warriors" to find bigotry everywhere, even where none exists. That enables them to shame virtuous people into irrational, and ultimately harmful, behaviors.

Notes:

1. Disparate impact was established United States Supreme Court as Ricci v. DeStefano. At the heart of the Ricci case was the doctrine of disparate-impact discrimination, which the Supreme Court first articulated in its 1971 decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Company. At issue in Griggs was the requirement that employees hired into service jobs at the power company's facilities had to possess a high-school diploma and achieve a minimum score on an IQ test. The plaintiffs argued that these rules disqualified too many black job applicants, thereby violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that job criteria with an adverse or exclusionary effect on minorities — even if those criteria were "neutral on their face, and even neutral in terms of intent" — could violate the Title VII ban on race discrimination in hiring. The Court further stipulated that employers could escape liability for "disparate impact" only if they demonstrated that their adverse selection practices had "a manifest relationship to the employment in question" or that they were justified by "business necessity."

In the Ricci case, a 5-4 majority of the Court read the facts narrowly to conclude that New Haven's civil-service exam was sufficiently related to the jobs in question to survive scrutiny and ultimately sided with the firefighters who had sued to have their scores reinstated.


2. The Dead End of “Disparate Impact”, Amy L. Wax, National Affairs, Summer 2012

"In the sphere of employment, the key questions are: "Why do some people compete more effectively than others for jobs and social rewards?" and "What can be done about it?" These questions are complicated and pressing, and the law of disparate impact does nothing to address them. It in fact only distracts us from finding urgently needed answers."

3.  Why Cognitive Inequality Matters, Stefan Molyneux.

4. Heterodox Academy. Challenge political correctness.

2018/07/10

U.S. Supreme Court: Issues with current contenders

The four current contenders for the U.S. Supreme Court, including the nominee, Brett Cavanaugh, do present some constitution issues.

Unenumerated rights

The first issue is presented by the statement by nominee Brett  Cavanaugh in his acceptance speech, that he would not find rights not explicitly recognized in the main Constitution.. This has been an issue since the nomination of Robert Bork, who considered the Ninth Amendment, which calls for the nondisparagement of rights that are not "enumerated" (made explicit) somewhere in the Constitution, as amended, to be an "ink blot".There is strong opposition to Supreme Court judges doing that, especially from so-called "conservatives", who don't understand that constitutional rights are all "immunities", restrictions on the powers of government. They are not "privileges" to receive a sufficient amount of public resources, such as for education, healthcare, elder support, or any other objects of public subsidies.

Interestingly, in the case of Roe v. Wade, the Fifth Circuit decided that a "right to an abortion" was a Ninth Amendment right of a woman  "to choose whether to have children", which by the 14th Amendment, was "incorporated" for the states. This presented the Supreme Court with an apparent problem,  because there was opposition to funding unenumerated rights in the Senate. The Fifth Circuit found a Ninth Amendment "right  to choose whether to have children". So the SC tried to sustain the Fifth Circuit without embracing the Ninth Amendment. The result was an incoherent opinion. There was no way to avoid the Ninth Amendment.

It would perhaps too much to expect a nominee to venture into an extended discussion of what a "right" is, and what it is not. It is awkward to say "I will not find a 'right' to a sufficient amount of a public resource." That is too complicated for most senators. So the candidate denies he will try to find any "unenumerated" rights. That is somewhat disingenuous, but the issue needs to be discussed.

When "life" begins

One of the potential nominees, Amy Barrett, has been reported to have stated that human "life" begins at conception. That is a misstatement of the issue in Roe v. Wade. which in its essence was not about "life" nut about "personhood" because "Rights (immunities)" attach to "persons", (roles in court), not to "life", despite what the Declaration of Independence says. (That is why some activists have sought to move the commencement of "personhood" back to conception. That would be a mistake. We cannot allow each state to redefine "personhood", because if we did, a state could define some people to be nonpersons, without rights. So there has to be a uniform definition across all states if the protections of the Constitution are not to be meaningless. That is the basis for finding the right to be incorporated under the Ninth Amendment, as the Fifth Circuit did.

So when does "life" begin?

Not at conception. Each individual is the latest in an unbroken chain of life that goes back to at least the point when the first single-celled organism became a multi-celled animal, which occurred about 650 million years ago, during the pre-Cambrian era, when the surface of the Earth was covered with ice ("snowball Earth") and there was only one continent, Rodinia. We are all descended from that multi-celled organism. That is when "life" began.

So when does "personhood" begin?

This was declared by the jurist Edward Coke in the 15th century, and later restated by legal scholar William Blackstone, in the early 18th century, who provided most of the definitions for terms used in the U.S. Constitution. They held that "personhood" begins at natural birth, or induced natural birth (they had Cesarean sections in those days). Some of the states later found that personhood began with baptism, entry of a name in church records, or even later. Not at "conception", the date of which could not have been defined with any precision in those days, or even now.

Consider what would happen if we defined "personhood" to begin at conception? It would make every fetus the ward of a court, with the court having power to supervise the pregnancy. It could order the woman to continue a pregnancy, and not terminate it, under penalty of law. That would be forced pregnancy. Do we want that? Every pregnant woman chained to a bed. Anyone see the play "A Handmaid's Tale". Good way to stop everyone from having sex.

Need for uniformity

Incorporation of a Ninth Amendment right is required by the need to have a uniform definition of "personhood" (legal role) across all jurisdiction, since constitutional rights attach to "persons" and not just to "citizens" or "life".  If states could define personhood, they could deprive anyone of rights by defining him to be a "nonperson". Thus a state could find that Blacks are not persons as a way to deprive them of their liberty.Thus a state could find that Blacks are not persons as a way to deprive them of their liberty

Notes:

1. Roe v. Wade, 1221 (N.D. Tex. 1970) (“On the merits, plaintiffs argue as their principal contention that the Texas Abortion Laws must be declared unconstitutional because they deprive single women and married couple of their rights secured by the Ninth Amendment to choose whether to have children. We agree.”).

2. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

3, A Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood.

4. Robert Bork and the Inkblot, Kurt Lash.

5. Constitutional views on abortion

2018/04/29

Collusion?



The word “collusion” is much in use today, not because it is a crime (it is not), but because it sounds sinister. It has generally been used in attempts to investigate whether Trump colluded with Russia in a way that would be grounds for inpeachment and removal of Trump from office. That would not put Hillary Clinton in that office. It would put Mike Pence there, and Trump would undoubtedly continue to rule by telling Pence what to do, in much the way the Communist Party ruled the Soviet Union before it fell, by having a party official for every government official, telling him what to do. Or like Putin continued to rule Russia while Medvedev served in that office. Impeach Pence. Being guided by a shadow government is also not an impeachable offense, or every president since 1913 would be in violation. Remove Pence and the presidency just passes to the Speaker of the House. Sorry Hillary, but none of these things leads to a do-over of the 2016 election. Not before 2020.

So what is the reasoning of Hillary supporters? It seems to go like this:

1. An excellent candidate like Hillary Clinton could not possibly have lost an honest election.
2. Therefore, the vote count had to have been hacked. But who has the means to do that? Only Russia. Perhaps.
3. Would Russia have wanted to elect Trump? Not without a strong inducement. Perhaps the return of Alaska, or help in regaining control of Eastern Europe. Would anyone, even Trump, have had the means to offer such an inducement? Not really. No US. president has such power. Not even paying off enough Russian oligarchs would likely be enough. (Give them all our Uranium? That’s already been done. By Trump’s opponent.)

Early in this controversy some of the intelligence agencies, led by the CIA, reported that the 2016 presidential election had been :hacked”, but not in ways that changed any election outcomes. This was an irresponsible report to make, because most computer=naive people will seize on that word to conclude that election outcomes were flipped. The use of that word has fueled the entire “Russia hacked our elections” narrative. It should be noted that those people have not sought to make vote-counting systems more difficult to hack, but to attack the suspected beneficiary of such a hack and to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It seems they don’t care about flipping elections in favor of Democrats. Only in favor of Republicans.

2016 election outcomes were not flipped.

There are too many different kinds of voting machines in too many voting precincts in more than 3000 counties. There are no centralized vote counting machines, although there are machines that add the number of votes from each precinct. But a simple recount can reveal if there are any discrepancies. Much has been made about voting machines being hackable, but there are too many voting machines of different makes and models. Hacking an election remains a potential threat, but the solution remains voter verifiable paper ballots, such as those used in Brazil. Absentee ballots are a greater path to corruption. The greatest threat is still trucking in millions of illegal entrants and inducing local voting officials to accept them. That can only be done in a few areas, however. Requiring state-issued voter photo ID is the best way to prevent that, although it has to be made easy to get them.

This point is well -made in an article in Fortune, 5 Reasons Why Hackers Can’t Rig the U.S. Election, by Jeff John Roberts, August 9, 2016.

What should have been done

1. The special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, should never have been charged to find “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia without specifying a reasonable deadline for reporting his findings.

2. He should have been charged to find only successful “collusion” to change the results of the 9016 election, not “collusion” of any kind.

3. He should have charged only with the above, not with finding violations of other statutes, especially 18 USC 1001 (which is arguably unconstitutional as usually applied). Only seek indictment of perjury under oath.















2017/07/21

May the President pardon himself?


Article II §2 of the Constitution states that the President  "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." It also states in §3 "he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This defines his power with respect to law. He may not make, suspend, or repeal laws, but only execute them. He is not a monarch, and it is a source of confusion to take a term out of British monarchical practice and carry it over to American constitutional practice. That change in context changes the meaning. 

The Constitution also states in Article II §2, "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." That is essentially synonymous to a right to "equal protection" of the law, which was included in the 14th Amendment.

What is a pardon, for a president? Not for a monarch, but for a president. It is simply his determination not to enforce a criminal conviction and sentencing order of a federal court. It has no meaning until after there is a conviction, because the crime is  not defined until then. Nor may he issue a pardon before conviction as a way to prevent a trial. He has no power to prevent a trial, including a trial of himself, although the court may not have personal jurisdiction over him. Nor may he use it to remove personal jurisdiction from any other individual. A court has personal jurisdiction if the defendant appears in it, unless it is a special appearance. 

A pardon is not a reversal of a conviction. Even after a pardon the conviction stands, and may be enforced at any time, until it is reversed. A president cannot bind his successors, any more than a monarch may. His decisions and determinations expire when he leaves office. (That includes executive orders.) So, yes, he may pardon himself.

But the pardon doesn't last forever. The conviction may be enforced when he leaves office.




2017/06/10

Russian "interference" in U.S. elections?

Much is being made about Russian "interference" in the 2016 presidential election, and about possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to interfere to win the election for Trump. However, the suspicions are lacking in evidence.

However, we do have a classified report from the Director of National Intelligence, the declassified version of which is linked below. It Seems to have at least tacit support from other agencies, and it can be expected to be the basis for other investigations on the subject.

Despite the use of the word "Hacking" in the URL of the report, the only hacking discussed in the report is of the private Clinton server containing and sharing classified documents. It repeatedly says, "DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying." In other words, there was no known hacking of vote counts.

However, the report is also loose about what constitutes a "Russian actor". The hackers using the handle "Guccifer.2.0" are presumed in the report to be working for the Russian government, which Putin denies. However, that they might be independent is entirely plausible. Russia harbors a swarm of hackers, mostly bent on selling drugs or stealing page rank. It seems doubtful that all of them would work for the Russian government. Of course, the government would soon have what they found.

So what kind of "collusion" with Trump supporters could there have been? Giving the Trump people advance notice of what they found ans asking them what to do with it? So the Trump people said "Upload it to Wikileaks." So what. That is not "collusion".

In the report it says that "Guccifer.2.0 is identified as Romanian. That was the original Guccifer (without a version number). The report may be confused about all the Guccifers.

The hacking of the Clinton servers was easy for almost anyone to do. It appears that many people did. That it revealed evidence of criminal wrongdoing is hardly "interference" in our election. We need more of that kind of interference in every election. It is also doubtful that the revelations did much to change the way people voted. Clinton supporters just dismissed the revelations as political lies, and her opponents weren't going to vote for her anyway.

Most of what the rest of the report discuses is just propaganda, mainly delivered through the RT (formerly Russia Today) network. I have frequently watched RT. Yes it is slanted pro-Russian, but one can compensate for that. Just as most of the media in the U.S. is slanted progressive or Democrat. (Now increasingly communistic and pro Islamic conquest.) Only Fox news and a few other independents seem not to be part of that spin machine. They are slanted, but it is easy to compensate for their slant. That same U.S. based media interferes in the elections of almost every nation on earth. in much the way RT does. Propagandists have a right of free speech. Spreading their slants on the news is hardly "interference". That is also what political campaigns do. All part of the game.

Now the spreading of "fake news" can be a problem, especially if done too close to an election, before the corrections can propagate.

The DNI report is long on assertions, but short on evidence. Perhaps they are in the classified version, but the declassified version does not hint about what such evidence, if any, could be.

It seems likely that the excitement about "Russian hacking" is intended to deflect attention from the Trump complaints of Democrats bringing illegal aliens to the polls to vote. That is plausible. Although I have not seen it done, I have heard Democrat campaign workers discussing how they did it. It was just a matter of rounding up illegals, driving them to the polls, and then having poll workers look the other way as the votes were cast. Most staff positions at the local government level are filled by Democrats, which puts them in position to do things like steal elections.

Links:

  1. U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Background and Report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution,” Jan. 6, 2017, available at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3254239-Russia-Hacking-report.html

2017/05/31

What is "societal discrimination"?


I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
Concurring, Potter Stewart, Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964).

American jurisprudence has strayed in response to demands from some social justice advocates who perceive an undesirable situation and attribute it to discrimination, racism, or other deplorable practice. However, what has too often occurred is the logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc. (The result was caused by a preceding event.)

The usual reasoning is that the result could not have occurred unless there was improper discrimination, and that therefore public policy must intervene against such discrimination. However, there can be many causes of undesirable outcomes, some of which may involve some kinds of discrimination, but not always improper discrimination.

We can propose an alternative definition: (Improper) discrimination is treating an individual as though his attributes were those common to his group. It is a failure to treat individuals as individuals, but rather to aggregate individuals into their group.

That brings us to having to confront something that most people don't want to accept or think about. More than a century of intelligence testing on people of many races, ethnicities, and nationalities yields some dismal results for those who want to believe than there are no differences in innate abilities. Tests have been criticized as biased or unsound, but tests have been modified to answer those criticisms. The results persist. American Whites get an average score of 103, Jews get 113, American Blacks get 85, and Hispanics get 89. This has been investigated by Black economist Thomas Sowell, who argues that while it is wrong to treat all members of those groups as though they had those average values. it does cast doubt on whether the low average performance of members of those in fields like education and employment is the result of societal discrimination. If they are in fact innately inferior, and genetic studies indicate that 50-80% of such differences are genetic, than that changes what we should be doing about such disparities.

I invite readers to put aside their reflex rejection of such results and seriously consider what we do if they turn out to be valid. Note that the above paragraph is presented as conjectural, not as an assertion, and it should not be taken as my position on the issues.

The key point here is to propose a better definition of "societal discrimination" than that which has become established in American jurisprudence today, where judges sometimes find that disparate outcomes are the result of societal discrimination, without evidence. That is not a proper basis for judicial intervention. The proposed definition is intended to work regardless of what might be the causes of any traits that might become stably manifest in a group, whether genetic, "environmental" which may include "discrimination", or whatever. It also doesn't matter what the "group" might be, or how it is determined. It works for any group, however defined.

Those who argue against genetic influence on intelligence as its manifestation stabilizes make a key mistake: they presume that there are only two general causative factors, genetic and environmental. In fact there is a third: emergence, referring to the fact that complex living systems are self-organizing, or chaotic, systems, in which small perturbations can have large consequences, and continue to have large consequences as the system develops.

But part of the mistake is to lump emergent development into environment, or "nurture", as though it were something that could be managed purposely. It is inherently unmanageable.

A second mistake is to treat genomes (genotypes) as more deterministic than they are. Genes influence the probabilities of phenotypes, but do not determine them. A typical human genome is thought to contain about 30,000 genes. The information contained in those genes is about eleven orders of magnitude less than enough to determine all the phenotypes in detail. But all the information that can be passed through the senses to influence development is also many orders of magnitude less than what it would take to determine human behavior in detail. Since information cannot be created, that means something else is shaping the details. That something is self-organization, but unmanageable self-organization. It is not susceptible to deliberate intervention.

A third mistake is to imagine that societal interventions, individual or collective, are or can be more effective than they usually are, especially after some period of development when the things we want to change have become stably manifest. At some point the undesirable traits become difficult or impossible to reverse. Once they stabilize they become a reality that has to be confronted, regardless of the causes of the differences. This especially valid for cognitive development, for malleable youthful brains do not remain as malleable beyond a certain age.

Especially illuminating to the question of the extent to which genes are determinative of cognitive capacity are the way genes largely determine species, each of which has a characteristic range of cognitive capacities. Some species even have their own versions of "societal discrimination", but in most it is difficult to identify any systematic effect of the distribution of cognitive capacities. For that purpose it is useful too compare humans with their two closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Bonobos differ greatly from chimpanzees in their behavior. Unlike Chimps, they do not become aggressive and ill-behaved after the age of puberty. Therefore they have become a favorite subject for learning studies. They are able to learn to understand spoken English, and to communicate using symbolic keyboards that produce spoken words when pressed, but so far only up about the level of a 2.5-year-old human. They share about 3% of the human genome, or 0.5 megabases, which is more than they share with chimps. Humans have about 14.6 megabases they share with neither of their cousin species. Within that subgenome we can expect to find the genes that most influence human cognitive development. It is a large number, but finite. We can speculate that the number is a few thousand. The genes don't have to determine the wiring of the brain. All they have to do is set up the emergent process which then determines its own structure and behavior. But that process is, in general, unmanageable, and once it stabilizes, either to work well or not, it is likely to be irreversible.

Consider fingerprints. Identical twins both have them, but they are not identical. The details of the fingerprint are the result of emergence. Similarly hearts. Identical twins both have them, but the details of vascularization are not the same. Tissue that is to become a heart becomes one by responding to pressures from adjacent tissue that shape its development. The result is a chaotic system, that beats but not governed by a pacing signal. Similarly brains. Both twins get one, but the details of neuronal net structuring differs, although there can be similarities in the ways each twin leads its life.

Much is made of the capacity of humans, unlike most other species, to choose to overcome their seemingly innate limitations through determination and effort, perhaps with a little encouragement. That works with some, although not with all. There may be genes for that as well. Of course, no one really overcomes innate limitations, only realizes the potential that was there, but the ability of the brain to learn can continue into later years, especially with enough fortitude. It can sometimes even compensate for damage, as from injury or stroke. But only sometimes. Such things cannot be counted on to solve widespread or entrenched disparities of outcomes.

And no amount of determination is going to enable someone of average ability to become a cosmologist. Perhaps a successful lawyer in a small market.

Something also needs to be said about "white privilege". Nothing is said about how it is supposed to work. When I was young almost anyone could get a job within a day or two if he pitched himself properly. There was plenty of work to be done, and if someone had work to be done it didn't matter much who did it. But things have changed.

I am a highly skilled, highly experienced computer professional, yet I have difficulty getting work. The hiring process has become so difficult that about the only way I have gotten work has been by random contact with a hiring manager outside the workplace. That leads to the old saying, "It's not what you know but who you know that counts." Jobs today are surrounded by hordes of gatekeepers, each determined not to hire anyone they find unsuited, or even if they do find someone suited. But of course, if most of the gatekeepers are white, or whatever is the dominant shade in the community in which the job is, then you have to get to know at least one of the gatekeepers, and if that person happens to be white, then one can come away with the impression that "white privilege" has been the deciding factor. Getting past the gatekeepers can be largely a matter of luck. Many a successful businessman, if pressed for the secret of his success, will confess it was mainly a matter of luck. Of course, persistence can overcome bad luck, but it can only overcome so much bad luck.

Most disadvantaged people just don't know how to enter the circles where hiring managers dwell. Part of that is in their appearance and manner of speaking. They don't have a Henry Higgins to coach them. To get a professional position one has to fit the image of a top professional.

Another problem is technological unemployment. Machines are taking or eliminating jobs. Rapidly. That means many middle class persons are going to descend in their economic status. It's going to get rough for everyone, even for the top 1%. Eventually even they will be replaced.

Is "societal discrimination" as important as some think?

There is a widespread belief that disparities of socio-economic condition are entirely the result of discrimination, in the absence of which everyone would be educated, middle class persons. But is that more myth than real? Or could disparities in the treatment of people be more the result of differences in their attitudes or merits?

Obviously there is some discrimination, enough to seize on as a explanation for much of what we observe, but that doesn't make it the explanation for everything. Some disadvantages are a matter of choice, and will not be overcome by "ending discrimination".

It means he's up against middle-class morality for all the time. ...
I ain't pretending to be deserving... no... I'm undeserving, and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it, and that's the truth. -- Alfred P. Doolittle, My Fair Lady.

______


  1. IQ and Race, Thomas Sowell, 11/26/2012. http://mobile.wnd.com/2012/11/iq-and-race/
  2. Intelligence, New Findings and Theoretical Developments, Nisbett, Blair, Dickens, Flynn, Halpern, Turkheimer, February–March 2012, American Psychologist https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-67-2-130.pdf
  3. Commentary on the above, by Turkheimer, et. al., Vox Media, May 18, 2017.
  4. The bonobo genome compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes, Kay Prüfer, Kasper Munch, Ines Hellmann, et al., 486/7404, Nature Letters https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7404/full/nature11128.html





Translate

Follow by Email

Search this and affiliated sites

Blog Archive