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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

THIS AND THAT

Danny responded to my disparaging remarks about Herman Kahn in a way that, I feel, requires some comment although I really do not want to go down that rabbit hole yet again. Sixty years ago I spent a good deal of time dealing with Kahn’s big book, On Thermonuclear War. The book is a fraud, a farrago of pseudo-arguments essentially designed to justify the first strike nuclear policy advocated in those days by some branches of the military. I debated Kahn before a thousand people at Jordan Hall in Boston and I spent a great deal more time back in the day than I like to recall with the details of his book.

 

As for game theory, I have said what I have to say about it in my other blog. That blog was actually a connected series of posts over two months in 2010 that constituted a short book on the use and abuse of formal methods in political philosophy. The book is archived at box.net if anybody is interested.

 

Meanwhile, we are only 48 days from the election, early voting has started here in North Carolina and will start elsewhere as soon as Friday, and as each week goes by the polls virtually do not move. We have had July surprises, August surprises, September surprises, and very possibly we will have October surprises but I am more and more confident that none of them will do anything to change the basic shape of the election.

 

I trust most of you saw the clips of Trump’s latest interaction with reporters in which he trotted out his new shiny object, “herd mentality.” Lord, that man is an idiot. I did a little rough calculation this morning as I walked and if I understand the data that the experts have been putting out, in order to achieve herd immunity America would have to suffer somewhere more than another 1 million deaths from the virus. Trump couldn’t care less, but it is nice having him on tape pushing the idea so that the rest of us can hold his feet to the fire about it.

24 comments:

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Go away; you rotten old man. President Trump just facilitated an historic treaty between Israel and her neighbors, taking a giant step towards Mideast Peace, Palestinian riots notwithstanding. He has made us energy independent, pushed hard for a CV vaccine, produced the best economy since 1960, reformed the VA and the penal system, defeated ISIS, negotiated fair trade deals- putting American economic interests 1st, and appointed over 200 constitutionalist judges, who will soon put an end soon to the abortion madness your ilk has inflicted on our country. (Hoping RBG also departs this earth soon.) We get it- you hate America. But the fact is decent, hard-working, family oriented people love POTUS DJT because he has kept his promise to improve THEIR lives, not those of parasitical careerist like you. You talk a good game of economic justice, he's actually produced it. I saw it all over Detroit before the unnecessary lockdown, which YOU dementedly called for in the wake of the impeachment failure. But, guess what, that move also proved to be of no avail. Cause a pseudo-crisis, blame it on DJT- no deal, Americans too smart to fall for that one. In your own battleground state, a red tidal wave is forming as we speak. And 11.04 your rioting allies will be put in their place: ton of bricks, AH, ton of bricks. MAGA!

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

careerists*

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Where have you been? I've missed you.

Michael said...

Good thing he caught and corrected the typo in "careerist." To think how silly he would've looked otherwise!

Ásgeir said...

RFGA, Ph.D's comments, especially the remark about hating America, remind me of Richard Hofstader's essay on pseudo-conservatism from the mid-50s. It's quite relevant today, I think. It can be found online here: https://theamericanscholar.org/the-pseudo-conservative-revolt/

David Palmeter said...

RHGA, PhD,

Masterful!

jeffrey g kessen said...

Man, RFGA, if you're going to troll a blog effectively, try a little nuance. Now everyone knows your're just an illiterate tool.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Asgheir,

Thanks, I had forgotten about that article. Ain’t it something when a guy like Caputo laid out his fears, paranoia and delusions in so bare a fashion. In any event he will have made his contribution to destroying what he thinks he is saving.

Anonymous said...

Interesting:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientific-american-endorses-joe-biden/

Anonymous said...

RFGA Ph.D. must surely be an artificial stupidity algorithm modelled on our great and glorious leader.

marcel proust said...

You know, if we are going to talk about Kahns, could we please focus on Madeleine rather than Herman? Geez! I've always preferred comedies to horror flicks. And don't get me started on cons...

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Waiting until Rassmussen's poll numbers indicated that your attempt to drive DJT from office by creating a pseudo-crisis out of CV 19 had failed. I can't taunt you when you are successful in your evil doing. As Dylan accused his ex-lover (Baez?) I like to be on the side that's winning.

PhilosophicalWaiter said...

RE: RFGA Well, you have at least succeeded being on the side that's whining.

Ridiculousicculus said...

Let's all take a moment to laugh at RFGA, PHD's 1.8/5 RMP rating here:
https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=949682

Starting from the top:

"Talks to people like they are stupid and childish. Yells all of the time. Very rude. Will not answer questions that you have about problems regarding assignments. He yells and says "no I will not look at your paper", so you are left to figure your mistake on your own. He has called the whole class ignorant and not able to comprehend and read."

Appears consistent with the guy's posts.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Yeah, I didn't take shit from hateful, clueless punks. Retired now. Got pension from scumbag institution. I won. Never compromised my principles. Fired from almost every college in SE MI. That is main reason, after abortion advocacy, that I hate folks here and leftists in general. GFY.

Ridiculousicculus said...

So you hate leftists and the folks who visit this blog because you were a garbage instructor that got yourself fired repeatedly. And also because abortion advocacy is a thing. Cool story bro. Now tell us all about how accepting your government pension after getting fired repeatedly aligns with your conservative principles.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

It's not govt. AH; it was EARNED, set aside, like autoworkers or other public employees. No shit instructor either- not 1 administrator who actually visited gave me anything but high marks. And students who were respectful and wanted to learn did fine- have test scores and term papers to prove it. I stood up to so-called students who refused to meet same standards I was held to: U Mich; Wayne State. Leftists administrators want you to lower them: it's called grade inflation. Abortion is pure evil. If you can't see that you are sick. GFY.

jeffrey g kessen said...

"Got pension from scum-bag institution...". "...that is main reason...". Curious thing, this neglect of indefinite and definite articles in English grammar. Just say'n.

Danny said...

Wait -- I'm Danny!

Professor, I'm still laughing at how you mocked Trump's incorrect use of the term 'strenuous', as in 'strenuous flu', as if it would be rather pathetic to misuse such a word. It's not that it's *that* funny, it's that you couldn't admit your error. I think maybe I could join you, in meditating on the power and glory of admitting you're wrong. Some people can never admit they're wrong. I flatter myself, that whatever my flaws, and though it might grieve me that I am no smarter than I look, I know how to gracefully admit I'm wrong. This is not what I mean:

It’s not wrong.
But if it IS wrong, I didn’t do it.
And if I DID do it, it’s not my fault.
And if it IS my fault, someone else caused me to do it.
And besides, other people have made worse mistakes.
So let’s move on to focus on other things. ;)

Danny said...

'Sixty years ago I spent a good deal of time dealing with Kahn’s big book, On Thermonuclear War. The book is a fraud, a farrago of pseudo-arguments essentially designed to justify the first strike nuclear policy advocated in those days by some branches of the military. I debated Kahn before a thousand people at Jordan Hall in Boston and I spent a great deal more time back in the day than I like to recall with the details of his book.'

Do you have to say 'a fraud', -- 'a farrago of pseudo-arguments' etc.? This book was calculated to be read
by the military planners. It was not directed to amusement or entertainment. Controversial? Yes, also ambitious and significant. Were there others equally qualified? Sure, and probably also equally depressed at the prospect before them, although, on the other hand, I can picture Kahn as having been a profoundly informed thoughtful man. He had been intimately connected with the three War Colleges for the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy (indeed, the author of the highly regarded Guide to Naval Strategy). The heart of the Kahn book was an analysis of what was to be learned from military history reaching into the past to World War I. The idea here, I gather, was to deal with all of the scientific realism of which anyone is capable with
the practical consequences of various types of war.

You say it's 'designed to justify the first strike nuclear policy advocated in those days by some branches of the military', which might be taken with a grain of salt, when it comes to the book's recommendations and conclusions. I think, that the primary teaching that I got out of it, was that a civilian defense program is sound. For example, as I recall, the book recommends a supplemental budget of at least five hundred million dollars a year for the
development of minimum fallout protection (this, in a detailed plan that also gets into strategic evacuation).

A larger point, though, is that for a moment at least, I suspect, this was the most read and most considered book in Washington. I construe these recommendations as having contributed substantially, to maybe what we might call a new serious attention which the government was giving to civilian defense problems. So yeah, whatever, Kahn
included large scale community shelters and particularly the conversion of buildings which might be used for shelter and for other purposes, and also believed
that the government should put small family-type shelters in every town in the United States so that the population might see and examine them to the end of building their own.

I say 'whatever', because okay, what does this have to do with 'designed to justify the first strike nuclear policy'?

I do recall, if it seems relevant, that Kahn believed that if we were to undertake a really mammoth civil defense program-say something of the twenty to thirty billion dollar variety-we might cause the Soviet Union to believe that we were preparing for a war of first strike rather than for a war of deterrence. But I think one might feel misled about how you have construed this -- I thought it was clearly all offered in a spirit of 'if we are to cling to our policy of deterrence'.

We can pause to consider this vital subject technically if it's up to me. It wouldn't actually take more than a pause, to consider what an incredibly large portion of our national budget is now, or, I guess, was, being dedicated to.

If somebody has an opinion about what is clearly the best solution to these grim problems of war, then fine. I'm just saying that if you are looking for the least optimistic of all of the serious writers on the future war, then it's certainly not this guy. And I'll add, thatt thank goodness the great need of the time is not firmness and sobriety. I mean, cripes, what if it was?

Anonymous said...


RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Yeah, I didn't take shit from hateful, clueless punks. Retired now. Got pension from scumbag institution. I won. Never compromised my principles. Fired from almost every college in SE MI. That is main reason, after abortion advocacy, that I hate folks here and leftists in general. GFY.

----------------

paranoia

noun: paranoia

a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically worked into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Right, you demons are out to destroy the Roman Catholic Church and kill babies and institution of nuclear family- all the while shifting our country's manufacturing base to Red China- but I'm 'paranoid' in doing what I can to meet your existential threat. Spare me the gaslight. And see, I CAN use articles, although their ommision is common online speak.

Danny said...

I have two more cents --

Somebody could say that the Cold War is a complex history to analyze, and I would say that this point is well taken. Even if you want to suggest that we could gain insight by focusing on a part of the problem only, it's an idea. But there is a flood of literature here, and maybe much of it is excellent by any standards, but the Cold War remains the most enigmatic and elusive international conflict of modern times.

What I think can be said for sure, is that you yourself have not been inclined to alter your assumptions and conclusions. Also, I think it it can be said that twenty years of scholarship have produced no consensus. So, fine, hold fast to established intellectual preferences. It is not strange, though, that scholars choose to disagree, just like politicians and statesmen so forth.

The resolution of the quarrel is nowhere in sight.

jeffrey g kessen said...

Damn it, RFGA, get your damn articles right. "...and institution of nuclear family". What's missing there? Russians, generally, are intelligent as hell, but I still can't figure out their neglect of English articles. Just a head's up.