Monday, September 05, 2005

Bill Whittle and the Gotha Program

Bill Whittle has a new essay up called Tribes, where he defines tribedom as a state of mind, and how those states of mind -- the tribes -- manifested themselves in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. But his concept of tribes goes beyond a single place and time. My favorite lines in Whittle's essay refer to the tribes of sheep and sheepdogs:

  • One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident."
  • The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. ... Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land.
  • Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. ... The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.

One interesting question, which Bill Whittle never answers, is  how tribes are formed. Whatever the process, it must feature some retention of memory. To see why this is so, consider its opposite: memorylessness. A Brown University computer science paper defines memoryless behavior as a class of policies where "action decisions are made solely on this basis of the agent's current sensation."  On the face of it, "it would seem that memoryless behavior makes little sense. What organism would possibly ignore recent events in deciding how to act?" Yet the Brown paper found that in circumstances where sensation encapsulate all the relevant past information "it is always possible to find a deterministic memoryless policy that is optimal; no other behavioral strategy is superior."

In Bill Whittles' scenario, a number of people find themselves trapped in Hurricane stricken Lousiana, such as in the "Superdome Concentration Camp" and find themselves dividing into tribes. Some loot and rampage, often destroying objects which if they had a memory of recent events they would realize would be useful for their future survival. Others husband their resources and forge alliances to maximize their chances of survival. Clearly the spontaneous division into Whittle's tribes occurs on the basis of some cognition of 'sameness', which can only be the outcome of memory. The sheepdogs recognize each other, and so do the sheep.

Then, one of Whittle's tribes having formed, it begins to behave as if it lived in a memoryless universe. 'Memorylessness' in this context means something slightly different. It is the property of arriving at the same state however you started out, so that the current condition gives no clue as to how things were in the beginning. Under those circumstances it is possible to ignore the history of your life-state because it is irrelevant. It is all collapsed into the present. And, as the Brown University paper concluded, when you have no past it is optimal to act soley on the basis of present sensation. I mention this because one of the historical goals of socialism was to precisely to create this memoryless state. "From each according to his abilities. To each according to his need." Which is another way of saying that you get to the same place no matter how you start out. One of the unintended consequences of encouraging dependency is that it annihilates the life history of the dependent. For him there is no memory and no exit.

The ancient prefiguration of the welfare plantation were the lotus-eaters. The Lotophagi were:

a fabulous people who occupied the north coast of Africa and lived on the lotus, which brought forgetfulness and happy indolence. They appear in the Odyssey. When Odysseus landed among them, some of his men ate the food. They forgot their friends and home and had to be dragged back to the ships.


Blogger Kalroy said...

You say Gotha and I immediately think of the 229.

Though I appreciate the sheepdog analogy.


9/05/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

The family, to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was merely a manifestation of the natural, historic struggle between the "bourgeois," represented by the patriarchal father of the household, and his wife and children, who were considered part of the proletarian class.

"Law, morality, religion, are just so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests," Marx wrote in "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848.

9/05/2005 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

Yet Marx and Engels clearly believed that one the crust and detritis of bourgeois society were scraped away something pure and good would be revealed. It is the same conceit that Rousseau labored under. It is the denial of our being embedded and a product of biology; the lizard part of our brains.

In this respect they were all part of the pre scientific, small L, liberal tradition. We're still fighting this battles today.

9/05/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

One of characteristics of looting is how wasteful it is. People take what they don't need and often what they don't want. I have often wondered what it might be like inside the mind of a looter, and searched my memory. In the Third World, you will sometimes see people running pell-mell through the streets, in the grip of some strong emotion, as if they were possessed.

Imagine what it is like to live outside the chain of causality -- not really outside it, because you can't escape -- but to be subjectively free from it, such that you think it doesn't matter. You would essentially be in a memoryless state. Some would call this liberty. But it's a prison all its own.

9/05/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

In those vast portions of our world where the great majority of humankind live, facile assertions that "God is dead" passed largely unnoticed.

Religion continued and continues to exert its moral influence on humankind, despite organized ecclesiastical systems which have erected, in the heart of each one of the great faiths, an authority parallel with -and even inimical to- the revealed teachings on which the tradition is based!

Bill Whittle notes one of the symptoms of this slow divorcing of reason from the Revealed Will of God: love-centered Pinks and knowledge-centered, loving Greys.

An excellent analogy, as far as it goes.

9/05/2005 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

Have you never thought of who would do what, or what you would do if you knew you would not get caught?
I think Clinton, along with a whole slew of other powerful people have succombed to this drunkeness.
I think most of us, deep down inside, even if we believe in God now, have thought of things, often in our past, that we got away with and wonder just how evil our inner self could or would be if there was no chance of getting caught.
I believe that the conflicted Jihadi is no less conflicted and thus hates the source of the preponderance of his temptations - the west.
As we think of those looters, we need to envision two factions, those that are actually desparate to find something, and those that are looking to gain.
The later live, and have lived under the rule of the jungle, not just now, but previously, so this should be no surprise.
The general decline of the family and the passed along values that spring from an intact family can not be replaced by any village and each individual learns early to look out for the big #1.
Kinda rambling, but my point is that you are right on in that much of this behavior came about as a result of the dependency of these people and the welfare state of many; however, to take it to the next step, we must admit that this dependence has stunted the spiritual growth of these people and denied what everyone of us learned as we spread our wings at the end of our adolescence...that you must learn to stand on your own two feet in order to set the foundation of a lifetime of learning, growth and development that leads to a multitude of positive effects that take years to come to fruition...contentment, wealth, happiness, etc. etc.
I think Geo. Bush has the right idea with pushing freedom...
...where's Tony Blair when you need him to articulate the policy that Bush instinctively has right!!

9/05/2005 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Common Cents said...


Two of Marx'x children died because of malnurishment and poor living conditions because Marx believed his research was vastly more important than having a real job and providing food and shelter for his wife and children.

Marx had no soul. How could any man choose not provide for his children?

9/05/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Common cents,

"Marx had no soul. How could any man choose not provide for his children?"

One of the most 'liberating' aspects of activism is that it frees you from such petty concerns as the fate of your children. Really good activism produces a rush; a continuous buzz of activity in the vague service of some higher good that helps you forget what you have done; what you are doing. Within the theme of this post, the purpose of activistic exaltation is to obliterate the past. I've often wondered why the phrase 'obliterate the past' occurs so frequently in revolutionary literature until I realized it was the historical equivalent of smashing mirrors and burning diaries. To be truly 'revolutionary' you must cut loose from the past. In other words have no memory.

I used to think this was great. But of late, having had to program stateless web pages, I realized it had certain disadvantages. But it was Orwell who really made the connection in 1984 when he described the Memory Hole and realized its true purpose was to swallow its user.

9/05/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

When you first mentioned memorylessness, I thought you were talking about Democrats! I have to look at a calendar to remember it was only a year ago when they were constantly droning about "the worst economy since Herbert Hoover." Poof!

Six months from now, a year at most, when NO is risen from the muck, this latest series of kneejerk, vicious attacks on our government (what else can the hateful comments be called?) will be forgotten. Like the economy is today, New Orleans will disappear as a subject of NYT editorials because it will be a success. Can't have that!

Back to the point - the fact that rescue workers have to go in with M-16's and shotguns is irreconciably shocking. When the liberals complain about the vast cost of the war, in the hundreds of billions, and bemoan its deniable success, they are memoryless of the trillions invested in the war on poverty and social programs that have led to this - rescuers need to be ready to face "insurgents" amongst those they are going to rescue.

9/05/2005 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Here's a flash on New Orleans if you haven't seen it yet:

cents, didn't know that about Marx's kids. Thanks. Truly souless.

9/05/2005 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger greer rants said...

Actually posted by

Check out yesterday's 2nd page of the ABC Poll, regarding feelings about Katrina. (Link at RealClearPolitics)

The benefits of being a Grey with a memory are many. As the poll shows we Greys are a Hopefull tribe
- our memory of those past challenges overcome, allow us the imagination to
envision the wrath of Katrina also overcome.
We are the Tribe of the
Westward Ho Americans.
Think John Wayne would be proud of cowboy leading us.

A related point - we saw the
Pinks' policy of "It Takes a Village" in action in New Orleans. We see the Greys'
"It Takes a Family" in action in Mississippi.

We see result of Pinks' gun control policy in N.O. - only police and criminals have guns.(Sadly in this corrupt PC Pink city these two groups overlap and intermix. We see untouched
Casinos and stores and homes
in Mississippi where citizen
Greys are armed.

And most telling we see the
Marxists rewriting history
before our eyes by the Pinks
Facts are everywhere and ingnored or spun.
Know that eventually I will
hear one of the Pinko apologist tell us that all those school buses could not
be used. They don't have

Finally, does anyone else think that the names of the
Mayor Nagin and Gov Blanca
are so easily played upon for a parody of their captured behavior, that it would be too cheap to comment. You know ala the
NYT's "now isn't the time but Blah Blah Blah"

I will stop with a great big
Kudo to Wretchard for advancing the discussion.

A Grey and proud of it!
Check the ABC Poll - you'll
be proud to not only belong
to the Tribe of ideas, but to the Tribe that is the most fun.

9/05/2005 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

John 10:26-28 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)
Public Domain

26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

9/05/2005 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

A forever fascinating conundrum. What sort of circumstances would foster a condition of memorylessness? Perhaps tabula rosa and disdain of rote learning as opposed to the classical ars memorativa of Aquinas and Simonides in our education system, an institutional habit of thought. Perhaps extremis of emotion as a quiet and shy girls will pull up their shirts at a concert or young inebriated men will put bricks through the skulls of their fellows in a mob. Perhaps it is just an inferential frame of mind that implicitly knows what cannot be known, the very enemy of the scientific reasoning.

It all comes down to belief and reason, the rigor of logic which actually underlies a Christian religion but is anathema to the atheist, for the trial of a Christian’s faith is an honored part of his creed, but an atheist’s disdain is unshakeable despite contradiction, despite evidence, and all on faith as fervently held as any devotee but many times more ethereal.

“The brightest light blinds as thoroughly as the deepest darkness” and so the ignorant masses teem without faith as much as without reason.

9/05/2005 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger neuroconservative said...

The burden of memory, of the past, is the original wound that time cannot heal -- time is the wound itself (h/t: JS Foer; M. Heidegger). But any escape from the past also requires escape from the future -- the dionysian quest for ecstatic release from uniquely human burden of time.

Escape from the future (or the past) might seem a boon to those who experience it as a crushing weight of fear or servile obligation or misery, rather than opportunity.

There are many means to attempt such an escape: sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, submersion in a mob, and other "revolutionary" activities. But, alas, these are always temporary. The cold light of dawn pierces the veil of inebriation, and time is declared the winner yet again.

The only permament defeat of time comes with death. Is it coincidental that our enemies openly boast of their lust for death? Or that two of Marx's children (of the four who survived childhood) committed suicide?

9/05/2005 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger WichitaBoy said...


Some time back The Economist published a review of this fascinating book.

I have been fascinated ever since by the concept that the true secret weapon of the United States has been the ability to forget the past and simply focus on the future, always making it better. Revolutions like the Chinese Revolution can help to accomplish the same thing in traditional societies overly burdened by a crushing past. Nietzsche pointed out the necessity of forgetting in order to function.

9/05/2005 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger deflion said...

Interesting argument for homelessness.

I propose a very simplified model - that tribes stratify into like-memory capacities.

People balance planning against adaptation, both strategies having pros and cons within different environments (such as urban vs. rural life).

Perhaps the classical 30-year social cycle (ten years each of conservatism, liberalism, then failed liberalism) is due to the average memory capacity of our nation. This must include everyone from long-term planners to the drunks who don't think beyond their next drink that will leave them homeless.

9/05/2005 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger PresbyPoet said...

Perhaps Christians don't have to forget, because they forgive. When I forgive, I can remember the horror, yet because I have forgiven, it no longer has any power over me.

Look at the Serbs. It was memory of the defeat by the Turks, that motivated much of their actions in Kosovo and Bosnia.

9/06/2005 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Not one of Whittle's better essays, IMO.

He begins by dismissing any implicating role of race. Instead he goes with the old liberal drivel of how people are malleable. Any group of Jewish children could be broght up to be Nazis. Any group of Haitian kids could be taken by expert pedagogues and reared to become world-class composers and physicists.

He properly notes that people like him, 20,000 worth, would never behave like the 20,000 that went into the Superdome. Bill's people would organize, work for the common good...recognize there was a future and behave according to their culture, nature, and past...and draw on successful techniques and values they know, work hard, improvise where necessary.

His pinks and greys, I think it is safe to say, will not become a meme.

And the division of mankind into sheeps, wolves, and the (warrior-hero) sheepdogs reads like a puerile fantasy of some cop wannabe.

Mankind is not a pack of sheep beholden to a few noble warriors to protect them from the other group that also demands the sheep kiss their asses...the wolves.

Mankind is a large blend of skills and talents. From that, we promote people into things they are good at. Only one of which is "warrior-heroes". The man with the sword is made by the teacher that taught him, armed with the sword of a skilled metalworker, goes to war on skilled works of engineers, and in clothes made by a plump lady who paints and does poetry on the side. And most of mankind can become warriors ranging from the very good to the inept, if need be.

It is when the wolves outnumber the positive forces of mankind, or mankind is conditioned not to defend itself by culture makers, that the wolves can strike.

In the Superdome, there were plenty of people like Whittle. Many were conditioned not to resist - that being told to them again and again was the job of "hero" sheepdogs, noble warriors, many saw the futility in fighting outnumbered against the black thugs, and all were discouraged from organizing.

If the good part of mankind organizes and does the cold hard things that must be done against the terrorists or the thugs, including killing the subverters that allow the wolves to rise...mankind will never be defeated by them.

But for now, the wolves are feeding. Terrorists with Lefties defending their "sacred due process" rights. Wolves in the Superdome gragging off 2 Canadian women for multiple rapes and murder while the Whittles in the crown huddled unable to fight back because 40 years of the ACLU and the welfare state set them up as wolf-bait.

9/06/2005 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Squishy said...

"Imagine what it is like to live outside the chain of causality -- not really outside it, because you can't escape -- but to be subjectively free from it, such that you think it doesn't matter. You would essentially be in a memoryless state. Some would call this liberty. But it's a prison all its own."

Adult actors and actresses can certainly relate to such a "prison" - namely the resultant coping mechanisms that end up being selected for in an industry that must function in a sort of ivory tower exclusion (based on social/cultural tabboos). They are usually changed quite profoundly by simply the processes preferred in doing adult business - some of course keep level heads but most of these folks opt out after the short term. Its the long term folks, the ones who make careers and try to ascend a broad but not so "upward" industry that really seem, IMHO, to have allowed some part of their personalities to be sucked down the socially-preferred (in this context) memory hole. They come to echo only the vapid commodity scripts handed to them and sense meaning only in continued frivolity.

9/06/2005 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"Keep your hands off our poor people!" screamed the Democrats, all those years before the waters finally came.

9/06/2005 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Squishy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/06/2005 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Squishy said...

I think one example of the Memory Hole idea is how narrow the public's conception of obesity is. For instance, in previous disasters of this scale, were given breakdowns in terms of race, gender etc - but never any corpulency coefficients - save for the obscure AAR that dont get any publicity cuz its out of the MSM profit-feed by then. The skinny lords of society (Foucault addressed this a bit in "Weight and the Watchful") who by birthright are more pretty and healthy can keep obese issues from even running the risky memory hole gauntlet by simply carefully avoiding any and all debate on why, for instance, in katrina there are thousands that are hungry, but some of these hungry people are of stockier and ruddier constituency and thus their hunger is probably more painful insofar as their stomachs require, nay demand, more sustenance than the craven waifs that wispily dance their spry and thin-ister jaunts, replacing noble gait and panting with effete briskness and obviously contrived ease of motion. If you doubt what im saying, next time youre at McDonalds, notice that there is only a Double cheeseburger available on the coveted dollar menu and not a triple or even a flagship such as the big mac, for instance. The thin rule because the fat forget.

9/06/2005 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Witchita Boy,

My impression is that the US retains the memory of past states, but only the most recent past states. One rule of thumb is that it goes back to the "last war" or 100 years, whichever is more recent. I was reading one of Father Coughlin's Depression Era speeches and if you follow the link, you will see what I mean. Twenty years later Coughlin's entire context had been erased by World War 2. That reference lingered a long time. It was finally buried on September 11.

You could say that America caches its memory up to a limit, then flushes the cache. At least that's my impression.

9/06/2005 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

The analogy rushes to destruction simply because most of the "sheep" I know are more like a mixture of goats, monkeys, jackasses and llamas, than mere sheep.

9/06/2005 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Buddy Larsen said...
""Keep your hands off our poor people!" screamed the Democrats, all those years before the waters finally came."
Gov. Blank0 continued to do it long AFTER the waters came.

When she refused to call up the guard, and repeatedly refused to relinquish control, she might just as well have said
"let them eat cake!"

I just heard a sound clip of her in a helo with Steponallofus complaining about criticism, and threatening she was going to have "punch the president!"
She is truly a piece of work.

9/06/2005 02:28:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Wretchard, You say, "One interesting question, which Bill Whittle never answers, is how tribes are formed."

About the middle of page three, Whittle says, you pick your tribe: "That’s the other thing, too – the most important thing. My Tribe thinks that while you are born into a Tribe, you do not have to stay there. Good people can join bad Tribes, and bad people can choose good ones. My Tribe thinks you choose your Tribe. That, more than anything, is what makes my Tribe unique."

I think what he's saying implicitly is that we in the U.S. can pick our tribe. That's what makes us so unique. In most of the world, you're stuck in tribe of your ancestors. Our treasure is our people. People who left their old tribes and came to the land of freedom and opportunity to form a new tribe called Americans and build the greatest nation the world has ever seen.

9/06/2005 02:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Starting Fresh means confidently setting off on a better course:
Taught what failures parents are in government schools, their offspring don't think about positive things to emulate, and instead simply vow never to repeat the sins of their parents.
Same for authority figures and institutions in general.
In the 70's I worked for a short time in the Hippy Staffed Kitchen of a an Avant eatery.
The head cook, an intelligent Jewish lad, educated at UCSB, proclaimed more than once that he could not wait until everyone from the generation that experienced the depression had died, so he would not be bothered anymore by their relating their perspective on life.
Made GREAT soup!

9/06/2005 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

CNN, Nagging Nagin, the Guv, and the rest of the MSM have seemingly forgotten any lapses, nay, even any responsibility, of local governments to DO THEIR JOBS.
How Convenient.
And the Drumbeat of the inadequate Federal Response goes on.
New Orleans paper rips federal response

"The editorial joined other voices criticizing the governmental response to the disaster, including New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Criticism has come from people affected on the ground as well as from politicians of both parties. ( Watch Nagin declare his disgust with 'promises'"
Pot calling Kettle, anyone?

9/06/2005 03:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law.

Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.

A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

9/06/2005 03:07:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...


Blanco delcared a state of emergency for Louisiana on Aug. 26. She requested that President Bush do likewise, which he did on Aug. 28.

While NG troops can be federalized, local and state police cannot. As of last Friday, the Bush admin was undecided on the matter of whether the federalization of troops is appropriate and desirable in Louisiana. It is a national executive decision rather than a state executive one.

9/06/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Kayle said...

[this comment is on the cited control systems paper] I'm going to have to actually read that paper in detail, because on the surface, it seems to contradict the theoretical and practical result that vector quantizers are superior to scalar quantizers even on memoryless sources.

9/06/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard and Witchiaboy: I have mentioned before how the theme of America being without a "Sense of History" comes up again and again in anti-American and chiefly European propaganda, from the 1700's to today.
One thing I have puzzled over is the names the US Army choses. Virtually all of the Army forts in the Southeast are named after Confederate heroes. The Army's helicopters are named after Indian tribes, and primarily the ones that were fierce warriors who fought the US. The Cherokees were really nice folks - and the Army has yet to name a chopper after them.
I wonder if this is a conscious effort to heal old wounds. Certainly we do not name our tanks, bases, and choppers after Rommel or Guderion.
But what is really odd is that many years after the conflicts are over, people - uninvolved people - would raise objections to such names, from the objections over schools named after slaveowners, to hysteria over display of the Confederate battle flag.
It would seem that the people who actually fought those long-ago battles, and their immediate children and grandchildren, were far more willing to forgive and "forget" - while still remembering - than many are today.

9/06/2005 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Like Baghdad on the Bayou.
...she had run into looters while trying to drive through the waters out of the city. They had very charitably given her raw chicken taken from a freezer of a Church's chicken restaurant. But then they stripped her red Jeep Cherokee of its battery. The car eventually went underwater. Rescued by chopper, she and Shadow, were trying to make sure Van didn't wander off. "He don't know what happened five minutes ago," she said sadly. "He doesn't have any idea there was a hurricane." Dorothy tells me how Van does remember the distant past, however, and likes to brag about his prowess with women when he was young and strong. He knew the ladies before Katrina, she adds. "He remembers Betsy and Camille."

9/06/2005 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I wrote this some time ago, but I think it is relevant here:

In the book "Wider than the Sky", which is about consciousness, the author talks about levels of conscious development. The first level is simply receiving and acting on data without storing it, the next is storing and comparing in real time (reactionary), the third is storing and comparing reflectively (the genesis of the self).

If a small animal is walking through the jungle and hears a growl, and right after that growl a tiger appears, the next time the animal hears a growl it will not have to wait for the appearance of the tiger to react as if the tiger had already appeared. This is the reactionary level, where the memory cannot be accessed until the same circumstances that created the memory occur once more to unleash it. It is the most primitive level of learning, but you can see how it adds to survivability.

The ability to actively access memory in reflection, which is the higher consciousness of human beings, is the next level. After a certain period of development and use of this higher consciousness, a being's aggregate of memories creates the impression for him of being a 'sensation receiving unit' that extends linearly backwards, and this impression becomes the idea of the self. This is why it takes a child until 5 or 6 to realize that he is an interacting unit in a system of other interacting units.

This also allows for extrapolation, which is the basis of imagination and invention. When new information comes in, not only does it filter through old experiences, reflection can create new correlations that may or may not really exist. Likewise, the juxtaposition of a pattern from one experienced system to another, like in Hume's example of the gradation of color. If you experience one color's gradation, e.g. light to dark blue, you do not have to experience light to dark red to get an idea of it.

So, if you are watching someone getting slaughtered and no other emotions are predominant (like hate, which acts to dull your reflective capacity), your brain can analyze the situation and extrapolate that action onto yourself, which creates the emotional phenomenon of empathy. You cringe in these situations because you are mentally recreating that episode with yourself as the victim.

Enough of these emotional bonds and actions amongst like-minded individuals soon will be coordinated, and it is here we enter the Hobbesian realm of "flight from fear" leading to society. The visual experience of such episodes supplies you with something to be fearful of, and creates acceptance of novel arrangements. These arrangement are taught to the next generation by example, and society builds as life goes on. Society is built by education, and memory. Memory and the empathy it engenders is the genesis of the Golden Rule.

As an aside, this is as good an explanation as any why Autistic kids never discover C.S. Lewis's natural morality. Autism is a sensory integration disorder. Memory and memetic correlations are severely atrophied, which leaves more power for primitive activities like counting, but does not leave room for higher consciousness and reflection. Autistics do not have the brain efficiency of a normal person, where "mundane" information is not processed. Because of this, the Autistic person feels himself continuously in a new situation, room, environment, etc. If the shadow on the floor changes, he can feel like he's in a new room entirely because the information has changed, if but a little. In many ways he is purely reactionary. One of the things he loses by this is empathy, and morality.

One thing dependents do not develop--since they do not have to plan in the present for their well-being in the future--is reflection. Hence the reactionary and primitive behavior on display in the Superdome.

9/06/2005 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

You could say that America caches its memory up to a limit, then flushes the cache. At least that's my impression.

I think this is correct. America is able to forget events because it is able to distill the lessons into paradigms of action and thought. "Trust but verify, and peace through strength", but the context is lost.

Unfortunately, it goes in cycles, and memory loss can corrode our confidence in the paradigms purchased by a previous generation. Then we must learn the painful lessons all over again. For instance, one of the most interesting events going on this decade is the moral and spiritual revival of America's people. We are relearning what was taken for granted for thousands of years, because we forgot why.

Our system of constant revolution allows us to regenerate and reimplement beneficial ideas better than our adversaries, so we succeed. Our love of history and freedom of speech ensure they are never truly lost.

9/06/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Perhaps Christians don't have to forget, because they forgive. When I forgive, I can remember the horror, yet because I have forgiven, it no longer has any power over me.

For me, forgiveness is overrated, I'd rather see murderers locked up, then they dont have the power to shoot at me anymore... and that folks is power...

9/06/2005 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

_____HERE_____ is the WaPo article with correction for that ONE mistake.
It's still damning to Blank0.
Please post a link that gives another view.
So far, my opinion is Blank0 and Nagin are two of the most worthless politicians I've ever seen.

9/06/2005 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

It was Celine Dion on Larry King that said: "This is the first chance they've had to have a plasma screen TV." (!)

Dion also slammed authorities for arresting looters in the city that became a hellish haven of crime and violence after the storm laid waste to its infrastructure and services, saying rescue should be the only priority.

"How come it's so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives?" Dion said in an angry reference to the US-led war in Iraq.

9/06/2005 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Speaking of memory:
When Dems are blasting Dept of Homeland Security, lets not forget that they previously blasted Bush for NOT WANTING TO HAVE A DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY!

9/06/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

I don't really think we erase our memories--we cache them in libraries, books and other media for access when necessary. That is why historians play such an important role in human life. What I like about the entire computer/internet revolution is the fact that nothing is ever forgotten--it is always accessible if you are willing to look. Physically, there is a limit to how much each individual brain can remember anyway. That is why our auxilliary "brains" --like books, records etc. are so important. Once such auxilliary brains used to be available only to certain individuals, now they are pretty much available to anyone.

9/06/2005 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Less than an hour into the first trading day after the somber 3-day wkend, the markets are trading WAY up (and busy, to boot).

This was a "show" day, many traders thought: Confidence, or not? Can-do, or not?

Well, so far, so good.

Either the N.O. "story" was going to be all doom & gloom all the time, or it was going to be: "There, now, the city--and her people (and the onlooking nation?) have if nothing else, turned some sort of cognitive corner, and now can, and thus will, come back stronger than before."

That--the latter--I think the mkts are saying, with some conviction.

9/06/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

Oh my! I just remembered one of the central tenents of Taoist thought that was incorporated into the Zen warrior ethic. It is "wu wei". "Not doing", "no mindedness" or letting the will go and becoming pure action.

Could this be an aspect of the memoryless state?

Wretchard: The buzz of activism is very similar to the buzz of combat.

9/06/2005 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Effective memory erasure:

Between 1934 and 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's blessings, many geneticists were executed (including Agol, Levit, and Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The most well-known Soviet geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943. Genetics was stigmatized as a "bourgeois science" or "fascist science" (due to the fact that fascists - particularly the Nazis in Germany - embraced genetics and attempted to use it to justify their theories on eugenics and the master race). Some Soviet geneticists, however, survived and continued to work in genetics, dangerous as it was.
In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued.

9/06/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"That is why our auxilliary "brains" --like books, records etc. are so important. Once such auxilliary brains used to be available only to certain individuals, now they are pretty much available to anyone."

The 'WORLD' where auxiliary brains were available only to the elite lasted for 7,000 years (7 'days' of a thousand years each), our recorded history.

Then, 161 years ago, We, the People, got access to those once-elite brain-tools, and the 'WORLD' of antiquity ended! Today, our world is immensely egalitarian, and NOT controlled by an elite, no matter what the MSM think!

"From two ranks amongst mankind have I seized power... kings and ecclesiastics."

"I have given power to the people."

9/06/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

At Cycles of Cathay red river wrote:
Compared to the West, they have an anencephalic scholarly tradition.

Its not that abstract thought is not possible, but that abstract thought has been pruned and pruned.

During the reign of the Emperors, and during the periodic encyclicalization, the curators of the Great Chinese Encyclopedia would use force of arms to confiscate scholarly works. Every hundred years the equivalent of the Library at Alexandria would be burned.

9/06/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...


Yes, that is what I was really trying to say. Knowledge is power, and much of knowledge depends on memory. The human brain is only so big (though we use only a small part of it) but the knowledge of humanity (i.e., history) is immense. As long as we have access to that past memory, we can continue to move forward.

9/06/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Rem870 said...

I Only Hang With Sheepdogs

9/06/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

rem 870,
Thanks for that, much clearer than later version imo.
"during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

9/06/2005 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Do we think the Muslim Tribe fits into the grey/pink dynamic, or has created its own Sandy Brown one? I've seen several references to the looting in New Orleans being similar to that after the fall of Baghdad.

From an admitted stance of ignorance, it seems to me that Baghdad's looting was more across-all-classes, while the looting in New Orleans may have been a smaller percentage of the criminal underclass.

However, over and above the looting, I'm just not sure there would be the financial and emotional support or rebuilding efforts among the Muslim Ummah for each other after a disaster such as this -- and I wonder if that says something about a different world-view or different priorities, or what.

9/06/2005 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Bridget said...

“Some loot and rampage, often destroying objects which if they had a memory of recent events they would realize would be useful for their future survival.”

Some steal dozens of Nike shoes and big screen televisions, objects which, if they could see past their noses they would realize they could neither eat nor drink.

9/06/2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Rick Moran has started putting together a timeline for the New Orleans mess. This is a preliminary thing - better honed timelines will be out later, but the stuff he has helps people tracking this avoid mixing days up and has some nice snippets of info and links the MSM has ignored.

Some of the key emergency plan errors noted so far, are:

1. Blanco's refusal to get Federal lead due to her people's posse comitatus fears, and her refusal to issue orders authorizing shoot to kill looters, thinking restoring order can wait on rescue ops. Blind to the "rescue must always come first" credo means that you don't quit fighting a fire to do search and rescue, you don't ignore disorder that is costing lives to pluck someone off a rooftop.

2. Nagin and New Orleans Council failure to have a credible evacuation plan, then proceeding on the assumption that the levees would stand in any emergency. Which is why they refused to stock the Superdome or Convention Center shelters with supplies or law enforcement to keep the black underclass there under control.

3. Failure of Nagin & Co. to consider once the levees failed, all their communications would fail because they never placed an emergency comm system in that would survive flooding. That and the failure to allow cops to arrest or even kill the bad guys led to a collapse of the police force, opening the way to anarchy. Also failure to protect city assets that should have been safeguarded IF NOLA flooded - all city buses, garbage trucks, construction gear submerged, useless in Katrina's strike, reacue, or recovery work. Assets now submerged so long they are likely a total loss.

4. Having FEMA obsessed with "evildoers" as their 1st priority - not natural disasters - after 9/11. It's Head Michael Brown engaging in brainless happy talk and cheerleading about FEMA doing a great job as Katrina struck and passed when they hadn't a clue that people were in the Superbowl..Utter failure of FEMA to coordinate between the State and the Feds or the locals (though the locals can be blamed because they had an emergency comm sytem not designed to survive flooding - wonder who had the graft on that contract!)

9/06/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Did the floodwalls of the drainage canals have to fail, or was it human error? My latest update and last word on the subject: On the Levees of New Orleans (Update 3).

(Thank you for permitting this intrusion, Wretchard.)

9/06/2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dave H said...

C4 are you reforming or what? Two rational posts! much as it pains me to admit it I will have to read them, till you backslide and post about the Mid East anyway. Keep up the good work.

9/06/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

dave h,
He's trying to win my approval:
He has.
Til Later?
C4: Tell him to put Southern Decadence Parade in there!
Progress Marches On!
...along with time.

9/06/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

There are very few situations in public life in which I would arrogantly say,
"I could do better."
(Including the Mayor and the Guverness.)
Mike Brown is different:
All you would need is a good number 2, and the same access to info that all of us here have to do a better job.
...but that's still really not true, because what we would all need is that inside line to inside Washington.
Demos wanted Homeland Sec Dept.
Now they want a separate FEEMA.
Since their second desire makes sense, should it happen?

9/06/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

What happened was, he gave away too much info the other day--the interrupted hiway project, mileages to next town, etcetera--and the JDL has located him. He heard a knock on his front door the other day and looked out the peephole, and has ever since been churning out decent posts. Welcome to the world of the ungnarled, C4!

9/06/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buffy said...

George Bush personally set Katrina in motion and steered it toward New Orleans, just so he could watch the people suffer and die. That's why he caused global warming too. Leftists can see these things quite easily, see through the lies.

Leftists are truly the lotus eaters of Homer's day. Reality is much too hard for them to deal with. It's much easier to work with a changeable fabrication that shifts with your needs.

9/06/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

everywhere there are signs corroberating the thing of which Wretchard, Whittle, et al, speak. The 'recent election offered the best possible sign, that tribes speak different languages (despite using the same forms) for different purposes. The candidate himself, John forbes Kerry, was not only capable of opposing himself in the clearest terms on alternating days, depending always on the "needs" of the particular audience, and regardeless of his certain knowledge that he'd be quoted and that his opponents would want an explanation of the bad faith. Kerry could do this because he was speaking to his audience, and he knew that they would "believe" whatever he said.

"Belief" is one of the powerful enabling words, and while one person may mean a faith that he cannot disprove, another person will mean a faith that someone else can't disprove. In that language, then, a "talking point" is not a dodge of something higher, but is as high as an idea can go.

9/06/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I really ought not watch Kudlow and try to compose sentences at the same time. Sorry! But grim August and the forces of fear have taken a major shellacking in the global markets over the last 24 hours. Under the frantic doom-spell-casting of the left, something very fine and optimistic will not stop from spreading--if in fits and starts. If we have to be a little poorer in an ending low-cost-ebergy era, we're already turning our minds and hands to fashioning even that into a different--and likely more satisfying--form.

9/06/2005 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Larsen, 1:47 PM
You had me worried when I first saw that link:
Isn't Google's GPS Location Finder Deal named Peephole?
You won't go that far will you?
The Internet is open to all, you know, including the Mossad.
I would hate to have our next "Terrorist Attack" come to CO from Israel.

9/06/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Always be sure and mis-spell the key word in a post. A fine way to remain always a hamble servent.

9/06/2005 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, there's a big drain down at the south pole where all the oil get's flushed:
Guess who opened the cock?

9/06/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Connick criticised the fact that troops and the aid columns only made it into the city on Friday, four days after the storm, saying his friend, singer Charmaine Neville, had commandeered an abandoned city bus to help evacuate refugees, he told King.

"And I'm thinking, if Charmaine Neville can get on a bus and drive a bus out with sick people, you know, well, we can't get a barge to park back up on the Mississippi behind the convention centre and get these people out?"
Guess which song he'd be singing on THAT boat ride!

9/06/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

49erDweet said,
...ixture of goats, monkeys, ackasses and llamas,
Don't forget Gnats.

9/06/2005 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

look out for them ackasses when flying in to NO.

9/06/2005 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Nah, Iwasn't thinking of Goo Peephole--but Goo Images is where the pic came from. But I meant the fisheye lense in the door. I don't know how they put peepholes in those bambeoo curtains you use, tho. Maybe you just "look" through the door?

9/06/2005 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

There is a reason why FEMA suggests that everybody put together a 72 hour kit. Personally I put together 120 hour kits given what an earthquake can do here in Calif.

I used to give twice a year, one day classes on emergency preparedness until the local left started packing them and explaining that individual and family preparedness was elitist. They wanted to discuss "People's Preparedness" which began to sound a lot like prepping for the revolution.

9/06/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hugh's talking to Doc in Field Hospital in Mississippi:
Asked if he's ever seen anything like it, says thinks NO ONE has seen anything like it here:
He was there for Charlotte and says it does not compare.

Where he is stationed there are bodies on the roof of the K-Mart, and gators in the aisles!

It's GOTTA Be W's Fault.

9/06/2005 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Seems like things like Water, Rice, and Beans could go a long way food wise:
Is that standard fare?

9/06/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This story is beyond belief, but unfortunately true. (hewitt)

Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.

"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.

"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."

9/06/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Talk about "tribes". In the late 40's through most of the 60's the frequencies used by law enforcement for their radios, 30 -50 MHZ, were also covered by the radios of military ground units, including amoured units and helicopters. The police migrated to 150-170 MHZ in the 70's and then to a large extent up to 450MHZ in the 80's.
Bet they sure wish they could have talked back and forth, the military with the police. No one ever thought about interoperability in that regard - different "tribes" you see.
In the Battle of Britain, Luftwaffe fighter units could not talk to Luftwaffe bomber units. Caused big time coordination problems. Fighters got separted from bombers all the time. On one occasion this caused a whole German attack force to jettison its bombs and run for home when attacked by a lone RAF WWI retred pilot in his early model Hurricane.
But strangely enough, the Luftwaffe fighters on occasion could talk to the very RAF fighters they were engaging.
Amazing how people make the same mistakes over and over....

9/06/2005 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I gave up going to the door to look out:
There's always a crowd at the door looking in, so I don't even have to get up.

9/06/2005 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not really the same:
You didn't cite any Germans with equipment stored under water.

9/06/2005 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Brendon Loy, who has done an amazing job posting this week, brought a 2L's passion to his denunciation of various federal officials, but if he was a student in my ConLaw class, I'd ask him, and allother commentators the following questions:
What is the "police power?"
Where does it reside?
Is there a federal "police power?"
Can the federal government order the evacuation of a city when state and local officials have not done so?
Who has first call on a state's national guard?
Who controls a city's police department?
Can a federal official order a police department to deploy in strength to specific points within a city such as the Supredome or the Convention Center?
Can a federal official commandeer a city's supply of school busses, city busses, and city personnel?
For starters, the police power resides in the states. There is no general federal police power. It is the power to take care of a citizenry's health, safety and morals. It was described by Chief Justice Taney in the Licensee Cases.
"To the extent of its dominion," is the key phrase. For the federal government to act in the face of a natural disaster, it's help must be requested and its guidance accepted by the state and local officials.

"“States are accorded wide latitude in the regulation of their local economies under their police powers," the Supreme Court wrote in the 1976 case of New Orleans v. Dukes, and that wide latitude extends to every aspect of disaster planning (or non-planning.)

Every effort to blame Bush (or laughably Secretary Rice) is simply demagoguery, and whether born of ignorance or malice, injures the very people it purports to be offered on behalf of.

9/06/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Lt. Gen. Honore is "African American."
(No doubt prefers something like:
"American Warrior")

9/06/2005 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger nellodee said...

I'm a Clear.

9/06/2005 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

General Black Jack Pershing:

Was born September 13th, 1860 near Laclede, MS, he died July 15th, 1948 in Washington D.C.. Highlights of his life include:

1891 - Prof. of Military Science and Tactics Univer. of Nebraska.

1898 - Serves in the Spanish-American War.

1901 - Awarded rank of Captain

1906 - Promoted to rank of Brigadier General.

1909 - Military Governor of Moro Province, Philippines.

1916 - Made Major General.

1919 - Promoted to General of the Armies.

1921 - Appointed Chief of Staff.

1924 - Retires from active duty Education West Point.

Just before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the United States forces in the Philippines by Muslim extremists. So General Pershing captured 50 terrorists and had them tied to posts for execution. He then had his men bring in two pigs and slaughter them in front of the now horrified terrorists. Muslims detest pork because they believe pigs are filthy animals. Some of them simply refuse to eat it, while others won't even touch pigs at all, nor any of their by-products. To them, eating or touching a pig, its meat, its blood, etc., is to be instantly barred from paradise (and those virgins) and doomed to hell. The soldiers then soaked their bullets in the pigs blood, and proceeded to execute 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. The soldiers then dug a big hole, dumped in the terrorist's bodies and covered them in pig blood, entrails, etc.. They let the 50th man go. And for the next forty-two years, there was not a single Muslim extremist attack anywhere in the world. Maybe it is time for this segment of history to repeat itself, maybe in Iraq? The question is, where do we find another Black Jack Pershing?

9/06/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

How about Chaffee, Collins, and Cryonovich
Genius Attack Dog Leahy
to "Investigate" Katrina.
Why not just take them and some lions to the LA Coliseum?
Is it ILLEGAL to appoint gop folks that will stand up for us?

9/06/2005 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Schuler said...

I've actually herded sheep. Sheepdogs (the literal, four-legged kind) do not herd sheep because they choose to or because they love the sheep. They do so because it is their job. They do so because they can. They do so because it is what they were born to do.

Perhaps the two-legged sort are much the same.

9/06/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Coasties to the Rescue! (since August 25th)
The Soldiers' Angels - Germany blog has a lot of information and pictures about the Coast Guard rescue operations that have been going on since August 25th. -Blackfive

. Kim Gandy Makes Celin Dion sound sane and Intelligent!
John Roberts' Critics Outraged All Over Again( - Groups that opposed the nomination of Judge John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court are even more furious now that President Bush has nominated Roberts to serve as chief justice. Full Story

9/06/2005 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

This piece does a pretty good job of showing how important New Orleans was to the democrats in Louisiana.

(basically New Orleans delivered their positions for Landrieu, Blanco --not to mention the mayor.)

With the population of new orleans sent out of state--these democrats are for now--without a future.

9/06/2005 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

The thought of memorylessness is intriguing when considering the heartless mobs in N.O..I don't know if you've talked to any of these youngbloods lately,but going to the library to glean from the collective wisdom of the ages is not on their agenda.
When you consider the profound failings of the public schools at conveying any sense of what it means to be a good citizen,the dysfunctional homes that spit these kids out and the toxic cesspool of hiphop culture;its little wonder they're a tribe straight out of "Lord of the Flies"
I remember reading an account of Jean Harris who bumped off the diet doctor in Scarsdale ,New York.In prison she tried to bring some culture to her fellow inmates only to find they couldn't even conceive of what beauty is.

9/06/2005 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger nonomous said...

Memory is a vague term. Everyone uses it, but there is no common definition. It is rare that two people share the same definition (or even acknowledge the lack of common definition) when it is used in an intellectual context.

When mom yells, 'Don't forget your lunch!', the command triggers a fairly specific knee-jerk reaction where-in we have all learned some internal method of obeying the command. There may be 3 or 4 classic techniques in use, but be assured we are interpreting the admonision to check our memory in different ways.

Add to this the notion of computer memory, which has a very specific technical meaning. Many people debate the relationship of 'computer' and 'human' memory. In brief, the metaphor 'computer memory' is an interesting one when used to suggest something about 'human memory', but the link is more like a Greek myth (convenient, maybe useful, but entirely fictive).

Your description of a 'stateless mode' where memory becomes unimportant reminds me of Zen. Suggesting the left is Zen like, or practices mindfulness is a little funny.

There is probably something interesting on your mind, but the metaphors in use make it hard for me to grasp it.

9/06/2005 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Memory: The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience.

9/06/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger RDS said...

The situation at the Superdome reminds me of how the Civl War's Andersonville prison became a microcosm of the struggle of civilization to arise from barbarism.

Roughly from memory, it went something like this.

Andersonville was just a big open-air field. The prisoners, marched in en masse, were not very well processed and often still had side arms, knives, and other personal belongings. They had to camp out as best they could. Some provided services they knew from civilian life, such as barbering.

Others organized themselves into criminal gangs, mostly from urban New York regiments. These gangs would pillage and murder the weak and the newcomers, for whatever food they had with them, and to harvest their boots, clothes, and brass buttons, which they'd trade to the Confederate guards for more perks -- the confederacy being very short on textiles.

The strong man and his large gang of thugs had a good thing going. It was much like one might imagine the early state of human nature to be.

Eventually, a core group of about 6 "sheepdogs", among them one known as "Limber Jim", decided they had had enough. Amongst them they had something like a pistol and a few knives to keep themselves safe as they planned to lead an uprising.

They alerted the commandant of the prison, so that in the ensuing brawl, the cannon mounted on the ramparts to rake the camp in the event of a riot would not be fired on them. Permission was also granted to use the camp woodshop to construct lots of simple truncheons with wrist loops.

In the movie of the event, it was portrayed as more spontaneous than it actually was. The strong attack, joined by many, was successful. The ringleaders were given a formal trial and hanged. The other surviving minions were forced to run a brutal gauntlet.

Order had -- eventually -- arisen from chaos, by the courageous, determined actions of a few.

9/06/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

I read that some of the worst atrocity stories by looters may be apocryphal.Where did Cedarford get the story of the two Canadian s?

9/06/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Social approval, Wretchard, that is what is missing, that is the cause of memorylessness. Doing the right thing, regardless of who is looking or none at all, in spite of opprobrium, that is the keystone of integrity. Principles are like logical proofs, a moral raison d’etre, and give one a memory. Oaths, laws, principles and honor, these things carry through time. The random fluctuations of a fickle crowd, dependent on emotional crescendos and artifacts of random noise, fashions do not hold out through duress.

9/06/2005 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The victors write the histories. So you can infer who the winners are at any given time by what is being taught in the schools.

It was the case from the 20's through the 40's (give or take 30 years) that the conservatives couldn't catch a muse. so the schools today reflect a lot of liberal writing.

But these days its mostly conservatives who write books that are read. But its been only a recent trend. So it'll be decades before the school books are changed as radically as they were in from the 60's.

And the deeper part of the liberal enterprise that runs from Arianism and Ismael to Atheism and pantheism--is nearly as old as this republic.

Its (the liberal enterprise)exterpation will coincide with the next great era of exploration. Because the Great Beyond is just so much greater than most people imagine.

9/06/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Moussa Arafat murdered by dozens of armed Palestinians in his home in Gaza City. Abu Mazen calls his government into emergency session
September 7, 2005, 6:33 AM (GMT+02:00)
Before dawn, Wednesday, Sept 7, dozens of armed Palestinians burst into the home of the former chief of Palestinian military intelligence, nephew of the late Yasser Arafat and one of Abu Mazen’s main opponents. They killed him after a gun battle with his bodyguards. According to some reports the gang abducted his son

wow... such a gift for me tonight... may his soul rot in hell... murdered by his "brother" palestinians....

lol... let's all raise a glass to salute his timely passing!!!

9/06/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

more details:

Dozens of Palestinian gunmen stormed the home of deposed Gaza security chief Moussa Arafat before dawn Wednesday and shot him dead, witnesses and police said.

The gunmen fired at his house in Gaza City and fired rocket-propelled grenades, then stormed the house, killing Arafat. His oldest son, Nimhel, who is a senior security official, was either kidnapped or escaped, police at the scene said.

Arafat was a founder of the ruling Fatah movement and was a senior official in the Fatah Revolutionary Council, a top policy-making body.

Palestinian democracy at glad our President want to give them a State! (talk about tribes)

9/06/2005 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Three Continents Tense for al Qaeda Action to Mark 4th Anniversary of 9/11:

Osama bin Laden, referred to in some sites as Sheikh Abu Abdullah, was reported injured in his left leg while taking part in an attack on a Spanish military base in Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden never fought Spanish forces in Afghanistan and therefore suffered no leg injury. Why then did al Qaeda publish this tall story, when the organization normally takes care to guard its credibility?

There are two optional explanations.

One, the great Osama bin Laden cannot show himself as less of a hero than his Iraq commander Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Two, it may be Bin Laden’s way of informing his adherents that he has recovered from an injury sufficiently to launch a fresh round of jihad operations.

9/06/2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

i lifted this from LGF:

#44 SoCalJustice 9/6/2005 08:59PM PDT

Cries of "extrajudicial killing" and "targetted assassination" will ring out from:

A) The U.N.
B) Juan Cole
C) Ken Livingstone
D) Amnesty International
E) Human Rights Watch
F) Jack Straw
G) Dominic de Villipen (who is a manTM)
H) Hanan Ashrawi (who is a manTM)
I) Cynthia McKinney
J) Jim Moran
K) Pat Buchanan
L) Justin Raimondo
M) Amr Moussa
N) The American Presbyterian and Lutheran Church leadership
O) King Abduallah (pick one, although the Hashemite is a much better Abdullah)
P) Jenny Tongue
Q) Helena Cobban
R) Jacques Chirac
S) Michael Moore
T) Greta Duisenberg
U) Sue Blackwell
V) Hatem Bazian
W) Ibrahim Hooper
X) Salam al-Marayati
Y) The Tooth Fairy
Z) None of the Above

9/06/2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


9/06/2005 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Al-Qaeda logic 'explained':

A new book just published in France seeks to cast light on the terrorist logic of al-Qaeda by turning to the original texts that have inspired many of the Islamist attacks of recent years.

"The public feels helpless faced with these repeated terrorist acts, whose logic seems beyond understanding.

In "Message to the American people" in 2000, the al-Qaeda chief said that it was "while looking at towers destroyed in Lebanon (the Murr and Holiday Inn towers in Beirut) that the idea came to me to return the favour to the executioner and destroy the towers of America.",,2-10-1462_1766203,00.html

9/06/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sam and Pork,
(Sam on Rye?)
There's a new post by W the cat.
You might want to check it out.

9/07/2005 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger bioqubit said...

It is interesting to note that conservatives tend not to have this "memoryless" state. Typically, it is some of a conservative mindset who long for a return to a golden age in the distant past. One perversion of that though was Pol Pot who believed that by scraping away the educated he would also be scraping away the bourgeoise. The Islamic Revolution and the urge for the Caliphate is also the antithesis of a "memoryless" state. Their sense of history is very strong.

9/07/2005 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger PresbyPoet said...

I tried to post this on Whittle's web-site, but his blacklist got me.

There is another important group.
Bill, as an evangelical Christian, there are some things I might see more clearly than you. In many ways this battle is simply the war in the Protestant church, fought in the larger American community. Most mainline churches were sneakily taken over by liberals since the 50's. That is where much of the pink comes from. Pacifism is an article of faith to many.

I just finished reading the autobiography of one liberal leader. His name is Robert McAfee Brown. Reading his book ,"Reflections over the Long Haul", just before reading Tribes, it was still fresh. I realized there is another important category. There are wolves, sheep, sheepdogs, but also a pink version of the sheepdog. Not a protector of the sheep, but rather one who should be a sheepdog, but instead opens the gates for the wolves. He actively subverts society.

Reading Brown's book, you are struck by his sheepdog like attitudes. He was willing to go to jail for his principles. He stood up to those he thought evil. Yet for him, America was evil. He still thought Castro was building a just society.

In the book he is still quite sure he did the right thing opposing Americas wars, and encouraging deserters. For him, sheepdogs are the evil ones. Pacifism is his god. For him "...Jesus of Nazareth would never have been found holding an AK-47 rifle." (p140) He died in late summer 2001, but if he had lived, he would have spoken against any attempt to attack Afghanistan, or any other place. Reading his book helps gain insight into the mindset of such like him, and the battle we face today.

My take is 80% of the world are sheep. There are wolves, both foreign and domestic, then grays and pinks are sheepdogs and anti-sheepdogs.

Thank you for this thoughtful offering. Your passion shows.

9/07/2005 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

Sam said:
"Memory: The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience."

That's a good start. Here are some alternatives:
2. a recollection or remembrance,
3. All that a person can remember,
4. Some 'thing' remembered,
5. The period of time covered by the remembrance or recollection of a person or group of people.

So when someone alludes to a form of 'memorylessness' are they referencing the
1) braincell or brain wave which reproduces an experience of the past
2) the time which reproduces an experience of the past
3) the thing which reproduces an experience of the past
4) the act of producing the sensation which reproduces an experience of the past

Let's take the New Orleans situation. Everyone will claim to remember the disaster, but what are they alluding to? The act of watching TV? The TV illusion of being there? The facts they got off a blog? Actually being there? A message from God?

9/07/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

And how's this for preparation?
Cops were told not to work on the day Katrina hit, one officer told The New York Times, but "to come in the next day, to save money on their budget."

9/07/2005 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick Walsh said...


Interesting comment about the lack of memory (and causality). In the book The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch there are three characters. One is a soldier, bound by tradition, another is an accountant who conducts his life on the basis of double entry accounting...each act only has meaning in relation to its opposite on the other side of the ledger. The final guy is (if I remember correctly) simply a criminal. Each act of his is situational...independant of any other act or belief system...what ever happens to satisfy the particular need or appetite he is feeling at the moment. Through these characters Broch depicts the decline of a Europe at the end of the Middle Ages, guided by a unified philosopy that is all encompassing to the partial disintegration of the Reformation to the absurdity and nihlism of the modern era, personified by Nazism.

Broch's soldier was a sort of tribesman...he never really understood or supported the greater philosophical tradition his tribe descended from. He lived by ritual, form and the external uniform without understanding their deeper meaning, connections and heritage. Thus he was supplanted by the accountant and the criminal ...he had no moral or philosophical resources to fight back with.

I like Bill's essay and have forwarded it to my friends and if tribes are all that is left...well count me as one of the gray wolfhounds (I like wolfhounds better than sheepdogs and that is the original way I heard the same story Bill got from his Vietnam Vet friend.)but there has got to be more than tribes. If there isn't, then tribes are mere preferance with no moral or philosophical significance.

I couldn't read every post in detail so I apologize in advance if someone has already made these points.

Pat Walsh

9/07/2005 11:12:00 PM  

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