Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Akins Gene

      The Akins Gene

          A Modest Proposal


          Awhiles back, Rep. Akins got into political trouble by saying that raped women usually spontaneously abort. That is untrue; and for him an ideologically convenient untruth. But I got to wondering; what if raped women did usually abort? How might this come to be?

          I figure that it would have to be a new gene, created by genetic engineering. The artificial gene would give women the ability to abort an unwanted embryo, by a conscious act. It's an inborn Power of Choice, for the obstetric self-defense of the genetically-modified women of the future. I propose that this Pro-Choice Gene have Roe v Wade timing; that is, easy and effective in the first trimester, increasingly difficult in the second, and impossible without outside aid in the third. This echoes Roe v Wade's necessary political compromise.

          So my proposal is that future genetic engineers write Roe v Wade into the human genome. I also propose that we call this Pro-Choice Gene the Akins Gene, in his honor for suggesting it. He thought that gene existed already, so let us create that gene, and name it after him. He has been living in a science fiction world all along; I propose that we make his fantasy a reality.

          I write this essay partly as satire, but also as distant early warning. We are living in science-fictional times; and this is precisely the kind of science-fictional crisis our grandkids might face. You read it here first.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Paradox of the Top Teacher

           Paradox of the Top Teacher


 Evolution is to intelligent design as learning by trial and error is to learning from a teacher, and as self-taught is to taught down to.

But if the Top Teacher teaches all those, and only those, who do not teach themselves, then who teaches the Top Teacher? Answer: the Top Teacher teaches the Top Teacher just as much as the Top Teacher does not teach the Top Teacher. Therefore the Top Teacher is half-taught! As are all the Top Teacher’s disciples.

Therefore the semi-knowledge of disciples. The difference between them and auto-didacts is that auto-didacts know that their teacher’s a fool.

Theocratic preachers call evolution ‘evilution’ because self-teaching is evil to those who fear independent thought. And rightly so! For if a designed world competed with an evolved world, then the latter would win, for the same reason that mutts beat thoroughbreds.

The Many are wiser than the One.


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Non-Orwellian Conservative Faction

 The Non-Orwellian Conservative Faction


My theory about Republican anti-vax, which equals pro-covid, is that the R Inner Party genuinely wants as many as possible to get sick. Not themselves; they themselves are all vaxxed; just those in the disposable Outer Party. The reasoning is that a 2% fatality rate is acceptable losses for a loyalty test; also that it desensitizes the disposable Outer Party to mass death. After all, it’s ‘only’ 2%! Next their fearless Leaders will ask for ‘merely’ 3%. Then ‘merely’ 4%. And so on.

What, I begrudge a mere 2% merely dead? Ain’t I tuff enuff? Ain’t I so stoic that I can be as cruel to others as I’m cruel to myself? (Which is the classic flaw of stoicism.)

Why am I so upset about only 675,000 dead? Am I some kind of conservative? In the non-Orwellian sense of the word?

Well, yes. I find that the D faction is now the (non-Orwellian) conservative faction, in the sense of conserving life, liberty, property, norms, decency, rights, rational discourse, and rule of law. Which in practice also conserves the system as it is. Meanwhile the R faction is for Revolution Now! To Hell with nit-picking process details! To Hell with namby-pamby girly values like compassion and restraint! Let the freak flag fly! Let the Confederate flag fly! Let the world burn!

When I was a teenage lad, I was arguing with my Dad, for we liked to argue. He scoffed, “Ahhh, you’ll become a conservative in your old age!” Stung to the quick, I retorted, “If so, then it’ll be on my own terms!” Looking back, I see that we were both prophetic. He knew me, and I knew me.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Comrades, a Satire

             Comrades, a Satire

Introduction, written in 2021:

The debt ceiling crisis, now looming again, reminds me of the following emails, which I wrote during the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. In them, I satirically took on the persona of a Chinese Communist Party apparatchik, sending a message to various acquaintances and friends; each satirically given the persona of a higher-up official. I took on that point of view to see if things made more sense that way. Some of my correspondents wrote back, one in character.

 These emails propose an offer that the Chinese would be foolish not to make, and the Americans would be hard-pressed not to accept. And it has precedent in our own history.



The Satirical Emails:

From: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry
To: Comrade Pournelle, Defense Ministry

Dear Comrade Pournelle:

I write you to propose a way for us, the People’s Republic of China, to reclaim Taiwan without firing a shot. Our army is strong and could easily over-run the rebel province, were it not for the Americans. Also it would be a shame to damage the property while repossessing it; and the use of force could have a negative propaganda effect.

The key is to convince the Americans to go. Fortunately they are trillions of dollars in debt to us, due to their foolish greed and our foresight. The solution, then, is simple; we need merely buy Taiwan. This has historical precedent; consider the Louisiana Purchase.

The procedure would be simplicity itself. We would merely agree to cancel part of the debt we hold over them; and in exchange the Americans withdraw all of their armed forces from the area; and then, to save face, hold a referendum on the island, agreeing to the transfer of power. The election will, of course, be fixed to ensure the correct outcome; the Americans are skilled at such things.

Some of your comrades in the Party will object that the barbarous Americans are too proud to betray an ally. They are indeed proud and bellicose, but they are also corrupt, and they are economically vulnerable. So much so that our trillions of dollars of holdings might depreciate badly, soon; so I suggest that we bargain that debt away while it’s still worth something.


Comrade Hellerstein




Are you sure this isn’t happening?

I like it

Jerry Pournelle
Chaos Manor



From: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry
To: Comrade Pournelle, Defense Ministry

Dear Comrade Pournelle:

Our plan is working perfectly. The Americans are aware of what’s happening, but they can’t prove it, and they lack the political will to resist. Right now they are too busy destroying their own credit rating. I would like to brag that our agents were responsible for that triumph, but it seems that the Americans are doing it to themselves. Amazing!

Comrade Anderson inform me that there is another historical precedent for our plan to purchase Taiwan; namely, the absorption of the Republic of Texas into the United States, in exchange for assuming the Republic’s debt.

Buying instead of invading Taiwan will of course be an ideological victory for capitalism. Perhaps the Americans will console themselves with that.


Comrade Hellerstein



From: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry
To: Comrade Johnson, Covert Operations

Dear Comrade Johnson:

I write you to inquire about your office’s role in the upcoming self-ruination of our American rival. As you may recall from a recent email, I was planning, with Comrade Pournelle’s office, to arrange for the purchase of Taiwan. We Chinese need merely cancel several trillion dollars of American debt, in exchange for abandoning their military bases on Taiwan, plus a fixed election for political cover. However, if the Americans default on their debts, then those trillions of dollars that they have borrowed from us might lose value.

Therefore I write to ask if your office has a different plan for the recovery of the breakaway island province. Perhaps your comrades figure that if the Americans bankrupt themselves, then they will abandon Taiwan for lack of funding. We Chinese will lose too in the capitalist crisis, but less so than the deindustrialized Americans. Our dollar holdings will become worthless; but balanced with the takeover of Taiwan, this is in a sense a Communistic version of my office’s Taiwan-purchase plan; for we will lose a terabuck, and they will lose Taiwan, so it will be as if we had traded.

However I must warn you not to underestimate the willful aggression and stupidity of the American ruling class. They might go bankrupt, but defund their empire last of all. We Chinese might find our rival weakened but desperate, hanging on to Taiwan out of pride, inertia and corruption. It would be a shame to get Taiwan back in a damaged condition.

Speaking of corruption: congratulations to your office in arranging for a favorable ruling in the “Citizens United” case. Now my office can spend unlimited untraceable funds on American elections. And let me tell you, Comrade, that as investment opportunities go, it’s hard to beat a Congress. They go for cheap, and they pay back big.

But that is precisely why I feel that your office must have had a hand in the American’s self-inflicted default crisis. For how else are we to explain such rank folly? Since when does a plutocracy disguised as a republic use the political process - which it owns! - to degrade its own credit rating? Baffled by this contradiction of both Marxist orthodoxy and capitalist-road revisionism, I consulted with Comrade Hari Sheldon. He, after long hours with the quantum supercomputer, extracted three possible causes: interference from a rival power (that’s your office); royal ambitions from elements of the ruling plutocrats (for instance, the Koch brothers); and misdirected revolutionary energies from the suppressed masses (the “tea-partiers”).

In Comrade Sheldon’s model these forces synergize; to wit, elements within the American plutocracy seek supreme power, and the ruination of most fellow plutocrats: this “1% of the 1%”, knowing itself treasonous, conspires with foreign rivals (that’s us) to manipulate the electoral process to provoke a political crisis over imperial credit; a crisis supported by masses of disaffected former petty bourgeois.

These “tea-partiers” are of course duped by us Chinese, and by America’s economic royalists. Comrade Sheldon told me, with grave amusement, that leftists will vote against their own economic interests, if they are rich, whereas rightists will vote against their own economic interests, if they are poor. Nonetheless the tea-partier’s actions have an internal revolutionary logic; for how better to destroy a hated plutocracy than by debasing the currency? In a default, Main Street will lose big, but Wall Street might lose worse.

How could we Chinese Communists, of all people, question such reasoning? Except to ask them: if you don’t like the 1%, then what will you think of the 1% of the 1%? We Chinese know the answer to that question all too well; but this time it’s the outer barbarian’s problem, and not ours.

Our problem is; how do we repossess the island province in an undamaged condition? I submit that your office’s plans might compromise this mission. At the very least we need to coordinate our efforts. Please respond soonest.


Comrade Hellerstein


Dear Leslie Fish:

Attached find two satires; emails in which I take the role of a Chinese Communist Party apparatchik, (Finance Ministry) addressing you in the role of a comrade in the Propaganda Ministry. I wrote the first on Sunday, in the expectation of a federal default; I write the second on Monday, with an austerity budget deal emergent. But who knows, it may fall through; so I send you and the others both now, in the hope that one of them might be true.

Satirically yet sincerely,

Nathaniel Hellerstein


(Written Sunday:)

From: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry
To: Comrade Fish, Propaganda Ministry

Dear Comrade Fish:

I take my Mao hat off to you, Comrade. You and your cadre have well and truly done it this time. Your office has managed to persuade the biggest plutocracy the world has ever known to voluntarily bankrupt itself. This is an event fit for the history books. Interesting times, indeed. What a mess!

On August 2nd, 2011, a day that shall live in capitalist infamy, the American President was instructed by the Congress to 1) spend, 2) not tax, and 3) not borrow. This is of course mathematically impossible. What we see here is a revolt against arithmetic itself.

I say this with some personal passion attached because to me, as a worker in the Finance Ministry, 2+2=4 is not just a fact, it is a moral imperative. I realize that in the Propaganda Ministry a different standard applies; nonetheless two syllables plus two syllables make four; ignore that fact and the scansion shall limp. I evoke the authority of reality here, Comrade Fish.

I call this a revolt against arithmetic (and hence also against logic, reason, civilization, etc.) because of the stalwart intransigence of the “Tea Party” insurgents. Their dauntless obstructionism went beyond the Republican party’s personal vendetta against President Obama (or any Democratic president); it transcended DC’s normal plutocratic greed; it achieved the glamour of madness. The Tea Partiers want chaos. They wanted it all along!

Obama, the centrist, will try to make the center hold, but can he? Which of three laws is he to break?  - for he must break one.

Shall he usurp Congress’s power to levy taxes? Unthinkable! (Yet I have just thought it, and so will others).

Shall he usurp Congress’s power to allocate funds? Also unthinkable; yet that describes the plan to give Treasurer Geithner the power to choose which bills not to pay.

Or shall he defy the debt ceiling law? This is called the ‘constitutional option’ because it merely defies the law, and not the Constitution. It will also provoke a Constitutional crisis, with the President first challenged in the courts (who will probably pass the hot potato right along) and then yet another impeachment of a Democratic president - just in time for the election.

All of these will result in political chaos; which is, again, the stated desire of the Tea Party, which in turn, Comrade Fish, points to your cadre. To repeat; your Propaganda Ministry has done a masterful job (in tandem with the Koch brothers and other local collaborators) in convincing masses of disaffected former petty-bourgeois to an ideology programmed to bankrupt them and their country. We Chinese Communists are moderately well-positioned to take advantage of our rival’s economic self-destruction. On the downside the USA owes us trillions of dollars, and it is a large market for our goods. On the upside, we have other markets, and we are ready to step into the power vacuum when their empire-of-bases collapses.

This includes the repossession of the breakaway Taiwan province. As you may recall from previous emails, my office was coordinating with Comrade Pournelle, of the Defense Ministry, to arrange the purchase of Taiwan. We Chinese cancel trillions of dollars of American debt, and the Americans withdraw their forces from the area. That was the plan; but default may decrease the value of that debt. But not to worry; Comrade Hari Seldon assures me that the American’s desperation to sell out their allies will increase in inverse proportion to the value of their money; therefore the price will remain constant. The nominal terabucks we own will suffice, whatever they truly denominate, to cover a face-saving withdrawal by the Americans. Comrade Johnson, of Covert Ops, poetically warns me that Taiwan may prove to be “as elusive a lover to China as Canada is to the Americans”. Ah, but this time we have cash in hand.

I have reviewed the propaganda that your cadres plan to catapult. Abolition of the Federal Reserve? A fine plan for chaos! Close their empire of bases; another win for the Middle Kingdom. I was at first skeptical about the marijuana-legalization proposal; it’s good for them, but what’s in it for us Chinese? Why give a rival a good market? But then I thought; perhaps to ease America’s post-imperial transition to second-class status. From world’s nuclear superpower to world’s marijuana farm; there are worse fates.

I am particularly impressed by your proposal to eliminate bureaucratic waste. Excellent plan! It comes complete with new forms, directives, organization charts, and outside consultants! That’s bound to increase efficiency! I jest, Comrade; for surely you know as well as I do that bureaucratic reform measures rarely reform bureaucracy. The would-be reformer must contend with Murphy’s Law, the Peter Principle, and ultimately the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Alas, Comrade; all of existence is wasteful! That, indeed, is the Dao; the Cosmic Process; the Watercourse Way: go with the flow, down the drain. Haven’t you noticed that by now? But I entirely approve of your plan to tell the American plutocrats to eliminate all waste. They will fail, and they will eliminate themselves in the process, for excellent reason.

So I congratulate you, Comrade, for doing with a pen what the Great Helmsman himself could not do with a sword; namely, make the American plutocrats go screw themselves. Even if they avoid ruinous default, their only politically viable alternative at present is a return to Hooverism - in the midst of a capitalist crisis! Your office has made a return to Depression-era economics the official consensus!

My only concern, Comrade Fish, is; what if the resulting revolution goes the wrong way?


Comrade Hellerstein


(Written Monday:)

From: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry
To: Comrade Fish, Propaganda Ministry


Dear Comrade Fish:

My condolences on the failure of your cadre’s plan to wreak instant chaos. You’ll just have to wait a few years to create chaos. The Americans in DC have gone through their ‘kabuki dance’, and a deal is in. Predictably, the poor, needy and vulnerable take a hit; also predictably, the richest do not pay a dime; but surprisingly the cutbacks include the military.

(‘Kabuki dance’? Curious, isn’t it, how they choose a Japanese term? It’s high time for us to penetrate their mindshare with Chinese terms.)

With both military and domestic spending facing austerity, we see the decline of the American warfare-welfare state. Predictably, it was welfare that led the decline; only now is the Pentagon itself target of cuts. Will the over-extended Americans phase out their empire of bases? Perhaps my office’s Taiwan purchase plan will come to fruition without our spending a dollar!

With characteristic hypocrisy, cowardice and opportunism, the two American parties have created a ‘trigger mechanism’ by which unpopular cuts to the poor and to the military will take place in a year if nothing gets done; and nothing is what this Congress is most able to do. It is wu-wei in action; doing by non-doing. How gratifying that the Americans, those most Western of Westerners, have unconsciously adopted this Daoist concept. They have yet to explicitly understand that Daoism is for when you are losing. Winners are Confucians.

It is now Monday afternoon; the House must vote on the plan by evening; so maybe the default will happen anyhow. But even if Tea Partiers and Progressives in the House fail to rebel against this deal distasteful to all, even so it sets up America for renewed decline. To repeat; Hooverist austerity is now the law of the land; and this in the midst of a capitalist crisis. This policy is designed to create a decade of decline, stagnation and slow recovery.

And so, again, I hail you, Comrade Fish, and your cadre, for being the architects of the Second Great Depression. As you may recall, Comrade, the great Lenin once remarked that ‘worse is better’. The more obvious the dysfunction of the system, the greater the options are for the committed revolutionary.

The question is, which revolution? And it is notorious that revolutions eat their children. The Tea Partiers in particular should note that, by merely threatening federal default, they have made a large number of rich and powerful enemies, both foreign and domestic. Revolutionary theatrics, that’s one thing. Endangering the national credit line, that’s something else entirely.

For you can preach love, peace and liberty in the wilderness, and the authorities will ignore you; you can tell an army of followers to prepare for the end of the world, and you’ll still barely be noticed; but if you throw the moneylenders out of the temple, then rest assured, Comrade, that the Man will nail you to a cross!


Comrade Hellerstein


From: Comrade Anderson, Foreign Affairs Ministry
To: Comrade Hellerstein, Finance Ministry

Comrade Hellerstein:

Comrade Johnson is unfair in referring to the “stupidity” of the neo-cons, or as my cell refers to them, Project Tar Baby. One of the threats to the peaceable expansion of the People’s Republic is the threat of sudden military action by the President of the United States. We have developed the now obvious countermeasure: if an American army occupies a country, it cannot be removed in less than eighteen months, unless it leaves its equipment behind; in neither case is it a credible threat.

Unfortunately, the neocons are not under strict party discipline: only some are agents, others are Trotskyites, pursuing a World Empire which will produce World Socialism after its collapse; yet others have a false consciousness: they have become interested only in the Empire for their lifetime (now short), no matter what happens to it. Fortunately, there is a dialectical harmony among them.

We therefore encourage the use of American force in as many countries as possible, as long as they’re not us. The use of Afghanistan for the first example was controversial. since those forces could have been effective against us; so some Project members sought to divert as many forces as possible to Iraq; but the Americans would have invaded Afghanistan sooner or later, and getting it over with also served to deter reactionary Uighur elements in our Northwest.

Nevertheless, I must commend Comrade McCain for his effort to emmesh US forces in Georgia, which would also have occupied the Russians. Our long term interest, of course, is an American army in Israel: that’s the other end of Asia, and they’ll never get out.

Our backup plan is the Balanced Budget Amendment, which our agents should be able to phrase so that no military action is possible unless it is budgeted for six to eighteen months in advance; that’s as good as Kandahar, and takes care of the Navy as well. (It is true that a nuclear war will be fought off the shelf, and so be possible under the BBA, but that doesn’t matter to us - we have a deterrent.)

Comrade Anderson


Postscript, written in 2021:

How little difference a decade makes! Comrade Pournelle has joined the Ancestors; but the plan outlined here is still on course. I must respect the CCP for steadiness of execution, their American plutocratic collaborators for constancy of perfidity, and the former Tea Partiers (now the Republican party base) for fervency of nihilism.


Friday, September 24, 2021

Political Perversities and Misnomers

 Political Perversities and Misnomers


          How to predict ‘conservatism’: it always chooses the more destructive option. Whatever injures, ruins or kills more; that will be called conservative. This is, of course, straight-up doublethink. War is peace, slavery is freedom, destruction conserves.

          Why this perversity? Why don’t conservatives conserve? Is the very name a Big Lie?

          And in other perversities: why don’t liberals liberate? Why don’t libertarians liberate? And why don’t progressives progress?

          I suppose it has to do with the corruption of power, the limits of language, and the inherent dynamism of the world. I propose these corrections to the misnomers conservative, liberal, libertarian and progressive: respectively destructivist, regulist, propertarian, and retreatist.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

3 Marxian Oddities

 3 Marxian Oddities


I recently found a copy of Marx and Engel’s “Communist Manifesto”. It was at the recycling center, of course; so I literally took the text out of the dustbin of history. I read it because, truth to tell, I had never read it before. My Russian blog readers may now scoff at my Marx-virginity.

Reading it, I find it mostly stale; some obvious truths, some obvious falsehoods. But included also were oddities; head-scratchers perhaps explainable as relics of history.

One is “the community of women”, which Marx advocated, and said already exists amongst the bourgeoisie. By this I suppose he meant the collective ownership… of women? By the men, I suppose? But I think the women themselves might have a different idea; namely, that they own themselves. Marx did not foresee feminism.

He also called for “the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country”. I see the point of this not at all. Pol Pot tried this, minus the gradual part; Mao Tse Tung tried the Great Leap Foreward; both disasters. You might say that Detroit, now reverting from city to ruins to farmland, in Marxian slow-motion, is embodying this program; for it is indeed happening due to the dialectic of capitalist creative destruction; Detroit now on the destruction end of it.

The strangest thing to me now, here in the 21st century, is Marx’s 19th century faith in inevitability as scientific. But 20th century science revealed quantum uncertainty, deterministic chaos, and Goedelian undecideability; three mighty blows against inevitability of any sort. Quantum uncertainty ensures that every dynamic physical variable is known to only limited precision; deterministic chaos ensures that small causes have big effects in unpredictable ways; and Goedelian undecidability ensures that no system of thought can prove every truth, or even correctly determine its own consistency.

It seems to me that the first two abolish Laplace’s nightmare vision of a single intelligence holding the entire path of a deterministic universe in a single equation; and the third seems to me to be Goedel’s mathematical rebuke to the ideologies raging around him, including Marx’s.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Square Missing From a 2 by 2 Grid

       A Square Missing From a 2 by 2 Grid


          I may be way out of line here... BUT...

( - he said, stepping straight into something!)

          So what is it this time? I’m wondering about a strange intersection between feminism and pornography. Of four possibilities, one is missing.

          A polity can liberate women, or else oppress women. It can also permit pornography, or it can suppress pornography. Of course this is relative; oppressing women is quite real, but few if any places have fully realized the feminist ideal. And suppressing pornography is generally at best nominal; prohibition doesn’t work.

          Two times two makes four possibilities:

          A polity can be (genuinely) anti-feminist and (nominally) anti-porn. Many examples come to mind; most Middle Eastern nations, Red states and cities in the USA.

          A polity can be (nominally) feminist and (genuinely) pro-porn. Many examples come to mind; the Scandinavian nations, Blue states and cities in the USA.

          A polity can be (genuinely) anti-feminist and (genuinely) pro-porn. Japan comes to mind.

          But try as I might, I cannot think of a single nation or city that is both pro-feminist and anti-porn, even nominally! Andrea Dworkin’s ideal polity would be an example; but her anti-porn feminist utopia has never been realized in the space-time continuum.

          Feminism and porn make a 2 by 2 grid, but one square is missing! Am I correct in this? Or am I missing an example?

          If I am correct, then these two deductive rules apply:

          IF a polity liberates women, even nominally, THEN it is genuinely permits pornography.

          IF a polity suppresses pornography, even nominally, THEN it is genuinely oppresses women.

Are these deductive rules valid? Dworkin’s utopia would be a counterexample, if it existed. The converse rules are invalid; Japan is a counterexample.

Why is Dworkin’s utopia imaginary, but Sweden, Japan and Saudi Arabia are real? To blame ‘patriarchy’ is to name rather than explain. Presumably it has something to do with male psychology. (My theory; most men, when they like women, they like them that way as well!)

          And by the way, I doubt that even Dworkin’s utopia would be genuinely anti-porn. Market forces trump state power; the invisible hand is quicker that the all-seeing eye. What’s more, I bet a whole zero dollar bill that in Dworkin’s utopia, the lesbian porn will be called erotica, and therefore OK, in obedience to the Law of Self-Service.





In the above argument, you can replace women’s rights with the rights of any gender minority. (LGBT etc.) Again, of the four possible combinations of pro/anti porn, pro/anti gender-minority rights, only three are realized. Why?