[FRIAM] Posts from the Scotts

Steven A Smith sasmyth at swcp.com
Sat Jul 27 15:13:00 EDT 2019

Marcus -
> The refusal to optimize on one dimension is in general a good policy.
I assume you mean this in the sense of "single issue voters" and in the
more general sense of multivariate optimization being more "effective"
than univariate in general problem solving?
>    And illustrating the interchangeability of symbols in a structural argument is also a good thing. 
I'm guessing this references the Sticks and Stones issue?  Or perhaps
more?  What Glen was seeming to try to do when you called "bait and
switch" on him?
>   A better way to argue though, which is not to boil the ocean but simply to say, "Instances are of no interest to me, let's talk about the class."
> Relates to this:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/27/what-conservatives-gets-wrong-about-cosmopolitans

I'm liking this article (after fighting my way through the WP's
ad-blocking-blocker in conflict with my recently upgraded Firefox's
automatic ad-blocking, etc.  

I went looking for the "complement" of "Cosmopolitan" and have yet to
find anything satisfying, the *antonyms* being all somewhat less helpful
than I hoped.   My pursuit is in service of trying to understand what
the paths might be from the extreme parochialism that comes with being
born into *one body* and raised (usually) by *one family* in *one
community/region/province/nation* to what the article articulates so
well about what "true Cosmopolitanism" can be.  

As a "recovering" conservative (never registered Republican, but voted
Reagan (once)) I am not sure if I grew out of a parochialism inherited
from being born/raised rurally, among people whose bread was buttered
entirely by extractive "industry" (mostly ranching, some timber, some
mining) or if it was (as it felt at the time) escaping the naivete of
youth, wanting my answers to all be simple (if you ain't with me, you
must be against me!).  And a victim of those who would exploit that
naivete with their rhetoric.   As I look at our country (the entire
first world?) under an extreme tectonic tension between what seems like
cosmipolitanism and parochialism I find myself looking to "routes out"
of that tension. 

A colleague once offered me the meta-pattern (intending it to apply to
software engineering, but being more generally useful in all
design/engineering) of  "If you find a problem too hard to solve, add an
extra level of indirection".  "Extra degree of freedom" or "extra
dimension" might also be substituted.    What IS the "extra level of
indirection" that is useful in resolving some of this tension without
requiring the equivalent of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions?   It
seems the feature of Obama voters becoming Trump voters reflects some of
this tension.  Two *very* different targets of "populism" and
"hopey-changeyism"...   One (to me) much more virulent than the other.

> The nationalists and demagogues refuse to argue their general point, and instead rely on preemptively registered ontologies to persuade.

This tweaks my general intuition about the question of how we obtain and
form our ontologies and how we possibly might resolve them against one
another.  My primary *technical* work with ontologies began with the
Gene Ontology which was an attempt to resolve *many* disparate bodies of
knowledge/understanding about genes into a single global ontology.  I
was (and continue to be) only a layman in biology at best (or using
Glen's term, dilletante) so a lot of what was implicit in the Gene
Ontology (ca 2004) was arcane to me, but I had hints that a *lot* of
compromises were made to fit them all together.  It seems that politics
and maybe even more to the point "statesmanship" has the same problem.  

We have two general ontologies encoded in our major political
parties/movements where anti-Abortion, Gun Rights, Death Penalty, and
Hawkishness reside comfortably together while  roughly the complement
(appositionally opposite?) values, mores of the "other party" also seem
to fit together even though both sides would seem to have huge internal
tension within their value system/ontology (e.g the left splitting hairs
about when is a foetus a human and when is it OK to use deadly
force?).   Perhaps when held in dynamic tension, the two in opposition
help to hide/hold the paradoxes at bay in the other?   Are we on the
verge of some kind of potential "overdue refactoring" as opposed to
"total collapse"?

The article on Cosmopolitanism seems to reference this somewhat...  
That "giving a damn about the world at large" does not have to be in
opposition to "giving a damn about one's
family/community/region/nation", yet it is caricatured/characterized
that way so often.  How might one (one self or all-one) resolve this
kind of (artificial/rhetorical?) difference without geologic upheaval?

- Steve

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