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These are the days of miracles and wonders - Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Scott

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These are the days of miracles and wonders [May. 4th, 2011|12:28 am]
Scott
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It's like waking up one morning, discovering all of a sudden that there are no more drugs, that no one even remembers how to make drugs - and the Drug Czar or whoever's in charge of the War on Drugs these days just grunts "You're welcome".

It's like invading a foreign country and being genuinely greeted as liberators, and then the populace establishes a peaceful democratic government and thanks us for our help and says they owe us a favor sometime.

It's like a production of Waiting For Godot where, halfway through the second act, Godot comes in and says "Hey guys, what's up?"

It's like Don Quixote attacking windmills, and one of the windmills turns out to be a facade hiding a nest of foreign spies, and he gets the Medal of Honor for his quick thinking.

It's like SETI receiving a message in perfect English reading "HOWDY. LET'S SHARE ALL OUR TECHNOLOGICAL SECRETS."

It's like buying penis enlargement pills from one of those sleazy ad companies, and then you take them the next morning and suddenly your penis is huge.

It's like scientists unveiling a commercially viable fusion power plant tomorrow, and telling us we shouldn't be surprised because back in 1991 they said there would be commercially viable fusion power in twenty years.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: hentaikid
2011-05-04 12:17 am (UTC)
Not that it wasn't good news, but I thought it was more along the lines of that trivial yet annoying task you somehow managed to put off for years and finally get around to doing, and immediately wonder why ever it took you so long to get it done.

I mean seriously, cappin' a dude shouldn't have been so hard for the biggest military power ever.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-05-04 12:18 am (UTC)

Let's not get ahead of ourselves..

Yes, bin Laden was a murderous scumbag who's continued existence was a plague on the Earth.

Having said that, I would absolutely prefer to have any of the things on your list (save the Godot thing-- that would be awesome, but inconsequential (unless Gotot was being played by an actual deity)) than the death of bin Laden.

I mean: gods be good! Getting the world off of oil, and all we have to do is let a murderer continue living? I'll take that deal.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 01:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Let's not get ahead of ourselves..

I would prefer Bin Laden's death to the Godot play, Don Quixote winning the medal of honor, or the penis enlargement pills.
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[User Picture]From: cactus_rs
2011-05-04 12:19 am (UTC)
Ethical take on rejoicing over death is...?
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 01:10 pm (UTC)
Unethical if there's a living person around who'll get upset by it, otherwise I don't care about hurting dead people's feelings. I might care about acausally hurting soon-to-be-dead people's feelings if they figured out people would rejoice over their deaths, but I don't understand acausation enough to have a strong opinion on this.

My guess is that both Osama's relatives and Osama himself are already aware he is disliked, and unlikely to read this blog.
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[User Picture]From: cactus_rs
2011-05-04 08:06 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. Does this answer change for the public demonstrations of joy and exultation that could inadvertently widen the gulf between us and "the bad guys" and lead to violent and potentially fatal fallout?

And what would you say about the argument that glorifying violence and brutality (even in situations where it was necessary) does nothing but encourage it even more (in situations where it is NOT necessary and even undesirable)? (Or is this just a fallacious slippery slope argument in disguise?)

In any case, I'm surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the "intelligent, reasoned and thoughtful" group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.

Relevant NPR article is relevant.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: public celebration that could widen gulf. I'm not too worried about this because I think most of the people on the other side are already very aware that we don't like Osama and that getting revenge on the guy who killed 3,000 of our people is bound to make us happy. If you provided good evidence that there were Muslims out there who were previously on the side of the US, but hearing that we rejoiced when Osama died changed their mind, I guess I'd be willing to condemn public rejoicing. Although I still don't think any of those people would read my blog.

The argument against ever glorifying violence or brutality sounds good. I can generate two equally good-sounding arguments for the other side: first, that if we nice pacifist liberals auto-condemn every violent act up to and including killing Osama frickin' bin Laden, then everyone else will tune us out since they know we condemn reasonable things as well as unreasonable ones (eg I'd suddenly take much more notice if John McCain said a certain war was immoral than if Denis Kucinich did, because Kucinich condemns every war, but since McCain's native disposition is to support wars if he's condemning one it must be really bad). And second, that undervaluing violence is as big a risk as overvaluing it (eg in 1998 Clinton sent some cruise missiles to try to kill bin Laden which missed him by an hour, people condemned it because Afghan civilians got hurt, Clinton didn't try again. If we make a big deal when violence does poorly, but deliberately fail to acknowledge when violence does well, then we'll start underusing violence.)

I don't endorse either your anti-glorifying-violence argument or those two pro-glorifying-violence arguments; I honestly don't know which is the more important point in this case.
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[User Picture]From: cactus_rs
2011-05-04 11:07 pm (UTC)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but my issue with this isn't the actual violence or lives lost that would be inherent with the capture and killing of bin Laden. I take it on lazy blind faith & hope that neutralizing bin Laden will have some positive effect in reducing (religious) extremist violence; I can even read it as being indicative of a larger success in dismantling the Taliban/al-Qaeda and be happy with that (since other, really good things will come from it). I'm definitely not, at any point, actually condemning the act itself; it's not the ethics of the incident that bother me.

I mean, specifically, the ethics of the American reaction to bin Laden's death (which seems to be: going absolutely bugfuck nuts, gathering spontaneously in the street, waving flags and shouting "USA! USA!" ad nauseum). I should also say: I don't mean specifically you, or this post, but rather the (very public) merry-making I just cited.

Re: public celebration that could widen gulf. I'm not too worried about this because I think most of the people on the other side are already very aware that we don't like Osama and that getting revenge on the guy who killed 3,000 of our people is bound to make us happy. If you provided good evidence that there were Muslims out there who were previously on the side of the US, but hearing that we rejoiced when Osama died changed their mind, I guess I'd be willing to condemn public rejoicing. Although I still don't think any of those people would read my blog.

Any Muslim who was fervently pro-US prior to this is still going to pro-US, of course. I wouldn't argue that. But the voting bloc in the middle between pro-US and anti-US, the part that hasn't yet decided, arguably it might certainly give them a push in the wrong direction. I know news outlets in the US broadcast similar scenes of jubilation in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) in the days of the post-World Trade Center frenzy and it didn't really make any people here more amenable towards Muslims/"those brown people who aren't like us." I think that is the concern of at least some international political eggheads.
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[User Picture]From: dudley_doright
2011-05-04 01:05 am (UTC)
I get the thread, but I'm distracted by the fact that I'd consider all but the first to be massively good developments, and the first to be an utter catastrophe for the intellectual future of the species.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 01:01 pm (UTC)
Really?

I'm assuming you figured out that I meant "illegal/recreational drugs", and I can't see why you'd think that.

Yes, the war on drugs is stupid, but magically eliminating all drugs from the planet would be one way to end the war on drugs.

Yes, there's a lot of hope that some illegal drugs also have useful medical properties, and some of them could have really useful psychiatric properties, but although they may be as good as the best existing drugs in their classes and in some cases better, I don't see any evidence that they're miraculous to the point where keeping them would be worth the whole drug war thing.

And yes, there's the idea that some of the psychedelics can go beyond helping the sick and enhance the so-called "healthy" to make them better-adjusted and happier, but I revised my probability of that down after reading this comment linked to on LW (if you have counterargument, I'm interested).

But overall, I don't think any of the possible advantages outweigh the contribution drugs make to poverty, to putting people in prison and draining national resources by keeping them there, to health (especially if you count tobacco and alcohol), and to violence in drug-producing/exporting countries like Mexico.

(I agree that just stopping the war on drugs would prevent some of these problems, but I'm thinking of magically eliminating drugs as an alternative to the current policy, not as an alternative to this superior policy).

So I don't know what you're thinking of except maybe about nootropics, which don't fall into the illegal drug category AFAIK.
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[User Picture]From: mantic_angel
2011-05-04 07:13 pm (UTC)
I would suggest part of the difficulty with a counter-argument there is simply that it requires admitting to having done an illegal substance. The internet tends to be fairly public, and IP Addresses are fairly easy to trace, too.

That said, most of what I've seen and heard suggests it's about on-par with plenty of existing techniques: It's fun and relaxing, like television or games. It helps you focus and feel good, like exercise. It gives you a sense of the divine, like church.

Being inclined to naturally-occurring and oddly-triggered highs, I mostly use it because it's a very nice way to control my mood: most prescription drugs (a) require a lot of money since I live in the US and we don't really believe in healthcare, but more importantly (b) act over the long-term, rather than the short-term.

I basically use aspartame the way I'd use a painkiller: It relieves symptoms now, but does nothing for the larger problem. (yes, aspartame, the stuff in diet sodas; I said I get high off odd stuff :))

All that said, most everyone I've known who has discussed positive hallucinogenic trips with me, has had some fairly intense personal revelations, and been able to semi-coherently describe these during the trip, and vividly describe them afterwards. So it does anecdotally seem to really help a lot with luminosity.
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[User Picture]From: dudley_doright
2011-05-21 07:47 pm (UTC)
I was talking primarily about pychedelics and secondarily about nootropics

So, clearly a couple things were going wrong on my end as I dashed off that comment. First of all I was massively over-privileging the effects on people like me -- wealthy intelligent first-worlders with the inclination and ability to experiment responsibly with psychedelics. Secondly, my brain does not seem eager to "count" the benefits of ending the war if the "wrong side" wins it. This is probably a very old, very frequent, very disastrous mental error, and I'm a little creeped out to realize it was running on my hardware =/.

Piracetam, which many people consider a pretty promising nootropic is beginning to be regulated in the US. Haven't read the linked comment yet, will report back =)
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[User Picture]From: gryphonavocatio
2011-05-04 02:10 am (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. The world isn't going to change because of this.
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[User Picture]From: ikadell
2011-05-04 04:33 am (UTC)
I second that. The world would change for other reasons.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 12:48 pm (UTC)
Disagree with what? The world also wouldn't change because Don Quixote got the medal of honor, or because a production of "Waiting for Godot" went differently, or because someone's penis got bigger.
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[User Picture]From: mercureal
2011-05-04 02:27 am (UTC)
I'm seriously surprised to find you think so.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 01:07 pm (UTC)
Which provides at least some evidence that I don't think what you think I think.
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[User Picture]From: ciphergoth
2011-05-04 07:20 am (UTC)
The comments read as if the sense people are getting from this is "this is really, really good". The sense I get from it is "this is really, really unexpected"
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[User Picture]From: mercureal
2011-05-04 08:57 am (UTC)
Even in this sense - really?

I'll be the first to concede a chemical imbalance which causes me to kind of be unable to appreciate some amazing stuff, but in my rightest mind I think this whole deal is ... newsworthy. Not shocking or game-changing or great.
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[User Picture]From: cactus_rs
2011-05-04 12:14 pm (UTC)
The sense I get from this is both, really.
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[User Picture]From: squid314
2011-05-04 12:51 pm (UTC)
As usual, you get it right.

The class I was pointing to was "Things that sounded like they should be simple, then we learned they were so difficult that they became practically a watchword for fruitless wastes of time, then they worked out okay after all."
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[User Picture]From: minion_for_hire
2011-05-04 02:35 pm (UTC)
"It's like invading a foreign country and being genuinely greeted as liberators, and then the populace establishes a peaceful democratic government and thanks us for our help and says they owe us a favor sometime."

It did happen, once. Back in 1944 or so.
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[User Picture]From: cynicalcleric
2011-05-05 01:46 am (UTC)
When Hitler's death was announced 66 years ago (to the day?), I would assume people celebrated. Did anybody actually shake their head back then at all those terrible people rejoicing in another man's death?
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From: joshuazelinsky
2011-05-08 02:48 am (UTC)
These don't seem to be nearly the same probability even within orders of magnitude.

It's like invading a foreign country and being genuinely greeted as liberators, and then the populace establishes a peaceful democratic government and thanks us for our help and says they owe us a favor sometime. has happened historically (Japan and Germany at the end of the wars).

Moreover, there are a handful of countries where this reaction probably would occur if the US invaded. Myanmar is an obvious example where this is pretty likely.

The least likely pair are the one's that involve violations of the known laws of physics and biology. So I'd label the Godot one the least likely. (Assuming it is actually Godot and not someone who happens to look like him).

But in general, everything on this list with the exception of the invasion example and the Don Quixote example (which I can't assign any estimated likelyhood because it involves fictional characters) strikes me as much less likely an event than what happened last week. However, I don't know how much of that is hindsight bias. Certainly, this was an unlikely seeming event.
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