Sunday, November 20, 2016

Watts Up With That? - Ten Years of the World's Most Viewed Climate Site


Congratulations to Anthony Watts for creating and running the World's Most Viewed Climate website! At this TEN YEAR point, WUWT has achieved over 291 Million page views, and nearly 2 Million comments.

I've been a Guest Contributor to WUWT for six years and my 36 postings have garnered over 360 Thousand page views, and over 8 Thousand comments. I'm very proud to be included in the following list of distinguished people Anthony has thanked personally:


You may view my WUWT postings here.

Please have a look at my VISUAL IRA Blog for "Visualizing Science and Technology with Ira" in the following areas:
Ira Glickstein

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wondering WHY Trump WON?

Several good friends and close relatives are amazed and deeply troubled by Donald Trump's decisive Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton. As I've noted before on this blog, I opposed Trump in the Republican primaries and did not support either candidate in the general election. Here are two explanations for his win that seem to me to be both rational and convincing. One is from QUORA and the other from the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.

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Direct quotes from: QUORA posted by Victor Liu, Film and Game Composer/Landscape Photographer/Political Incorrect [Ira's comments in brackets]

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If you don’t understand how Trump could win before Nov. 8th, I totally understand you.

If you still don’t understand how Trump won now, you have a serious arrogance and ignorance problem.

I would assume you, the reader to this answer, live in a urban area in either Northeast or the West Coast, college educated, a typical left-wing supporter and advocator for your entire life.

That’s nice. You work in the office with HVAC on 24/7/365. You go to gym after work, watching news from CNN or NBC on the treadmill. Then you eat your dinner out somewhere with a friend, probably not cooking at home. Sometimes you fly between NYC/Boston and LA/SFO for business. When you look down from the plane window and see those endless farmlands and mountains in the midwest, you are thinking “I can’t imagine living a life down there.”

When you saw Trump won, you were shocked. ... There’s not a single person around me who supports Trump, how could he win?

That’s where the problem is. You are living in a completely different world than those Trump supporters.

When you refuel your car, have you ever wondered where the gas comes from, if not imported? Who drilled the oil for you?

When you charge your phone, have you ever wondered where the electricity comes from? Who dug the coal to power the plant?

When you shop in the supermarket, have you ever wondered where the fresh vegetables and fruits come from? Who drove the truck all the way from California to New York to deliver those goods?

Those are the people who support Donald Trump. [Of course, the writer is talking about the mainly white working class people who put Trump over the top. Trump also got most traditional Republican voters, who live all over the country and are not all working class nor white.] Have you ever talked to anyone of them?
Without you, they can still feed themselves, but without them, you will be starved to death.
So now how could you despise them as “uneducated redneck racists”?
When they watch the news, even when watching Fox News, the camera is always on the big cities far away from them. They are ignored, as if they don’t exist in this country. No one pays attention to them, and no one speaks for them, until Donald Trump.
They could drive a truck for $8k a month 20 years ago working 60 hours a week, but now the illegal immigrants are willing to do it at $3k. They lost their jobs.
They could work in a factory for $4k a month 20 years ago, but now the job goes to China and Mexico. They lost their jobs.
You can’t urge a 40-year-old man having a family to raise to go to college again and learn programming. They can’t and they can’t afford.
You also can’t say in 10 years robots are doing the job for them and they should just vanish because they can’t follow the era.
They are human beings. They are lovely nice people. They don’t hate you. They work hard so you can live a comfortable life. Why do you hate them? Why do you label them as racists, xenophobia, bigots without even knowing how hard their lives are? [Yes, some small percentage of Trump supporters are deplorable racist xenophobe bigots and worse, but the great majority are as the writer describes]
When they are losing jobs and falling into poverty, they stay at home and turn on the TV, see Obama and Hillary speaking on ABC News: “The biggest problem we are now facing is climate change.”
And they sigh, they switch to Fox News and see Donald Trump speaking on his rally in Detroit MI: “We need to rebuild our inner cities, we need to bring jobs back.”
When they saw Obama visiting NYC after hurricane Sandy in 2012, but was playing golf when the devastating flood in Louisiana destroyed thousands of homes this summer, they knew they were forgotten.
When they saw Trump visiting Louisiana after the flood, a state that he didn’t need to campaign at all, they knew someone actually cared for them.
If you are them, who will you vote for?
They are the silent majorities. They live in your flyover states. They don’t care about LGBT or BLM. They are not racists or homophobia. They just want jobs to feed their families.
Please throw away your arrogance and start to care about those people. They are Americans too. ...
They have no methods to let you hear them. They only have their ballots. They vote to knock you out of your utopia. That’s the power of democracy. That’s why democracy is great. It never ignores anyone.
If you believe your value is progressive and right, you need to help them getting out of their trouble first. You can’t blame and mock them. It will only push them away from you even more.
Trump has been a democrat longer than republican in his life, but he could still defeat 16 republican candidates and won more votes in the primaries than anyone else in the history. This has already proven that the silent majorities are much more tolerant now on social issues. They just want someone to fix the economy for them.
Now it’s your chance to work with them, help them under the 4 years of Trump’s presidency. Stop protesting and introspect yourself. Isn’t your arrogance and ignorance that brought Trump to the White House? [If you are unfamiliar with QUORA, it is mostly populated by sophisticated, well-educated, moderate, left-leaning people. Anyone can ask or answer a question, and answers are upvoted by members. This answer has been viewed by 120,000 and rose up as the best answer to this question.]
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Direct quotes from: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW posted by Eben Harrell November 09, 2016 [Ira's comments in brackets]

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Blindsided by Trump’s Victory? Behavioral Science Explains 

When Leslie John, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, arrived at work on the morning of the U.S. presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, she was worried. John is an expert in behavioral decision research and studies the various innate flaws and biases that impede human reasoning. As a supporter of Clinton, she wondered whether the same cognitive traps that she studies in a laboratory could be leading to overconfidence about the likelihood of a Clinton victory.

“Everyone I spoke with pointed me to Democratic and Republican pollsters, financial and prediction markets, essentially every forecaster in the public record was predicting a Clinton win,” John says.
“Yet here we are.” [Although I am a Republican who did not support either Trump or Clinton in this election, I fully expected a Clinton win, possibly by a landslide in the Electoral College.]

The morning after the election, I spoke with John to understand how insights from behavioral sciences can help explain one of the greatest upsets in the history of democratic elections — and the appeal of a candidate that few expert commentators believed could win.

HBR: Leslie, the pre-election polls and expert predictions weren’t just wrong. Most of them were wildly inaccurate. Yet we are told that we live in an age where data analytics is providing unprecedented insight into the future. What led to that disconnect?

John: It’s quite humbling, isn’t? We tend to think that because we now routinely use algorithms and computer-generated predictions, the results will be unbiased. But there are two problems with that thinking. The first is that, at the end of the day, humans build the algorithms. And all sorts of biases can be introduced at the point of construction. It’s also possible that the inputs — in this case, the polling — was flawed. I could see Trump supporters who were also antiestablishment may have viewed polling officials as part of the establishment and refused to engage with them. Another factor that might lead to a response bias in the polling might be what behaviorists call “socially desirable responding” — you can imagine women being reluctant to admit that they were going to vote for Trump after the footage surfaced of his bragging about sexual assault, for example.

So the expert commentators — on both sides of the aisle — were working with bad polling information. What else might have clouded their vision?

Overconfidence comes to mind. There’s tons of research showing that people are overconfident in their beliefs. We think our prediction abilities are better than they are. And if you add to overconfidence a desire for certain outcomes — for instance, I think most elite commentators were anti-Trump — it magnifies the problem.

There’s a classical social psychology paper, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization,” that found that when you want to believe something and you are presented with evidence, you interpret that evidence as supporting your pre-established belief. In the study, researchers had participants sort into groups based on whether they supported the death penalty. They then showed both groups two pieces of evidence — one in support of capital punishment and one against it. People found the evidence that confirmed their belief to be far more convincing. In the end, the experiment just ended up polarizing both groups more, exactly the opposite of what you might expect when presenting “both sides” of the argument.

It’s interesting that during the campaign many commentators scorned Trump supporters for having blind spots, yet it turns out that those commentators were prone to the same cognitive biases. [The hardest to see BLIND SPOTS are in our own eyes! In this case, the really sightless calling Trump supporters they regard as deplorable BLIND]

Totally. And I also found it interesting that the more the media pointed out inconsistencies and lies in Trump’s statements, the more it seemed to spur the engagement of his followers. Academics have identified a phenomenon called “psychological reactance.” When we feel someone is trying to tell us what to think or do, we react in exactly the opposite of what we feel we are being told to do.

There’s a whole other strand of research that’s relevant here. Cameron Anderson and Don Moore at UC Berkeley have demonstrated that overconfidence leads people to look more competent to others and to be afforded higher status and influence and that even when overconfidence is exposed to others, people still are not socially punished. When you combine Trump’s confidence with his displays of dominance — for instance, his incessant interrupting of Clinton during the debates — you can understand why people would believe him.

Trustworthiness was a big issue for Clinton but not as much for Trump. Do you have any idea why?

I’ve done research that shows that people who reveal information are always seen as more trustworthy than people who decline to disclose information — even if they admit to wrongdoing. We have a paper where we show that job candidates who disclose the fact that they committed a crime when they are asked on a form are viewed as more trustworthy than people who opt not to answer the question on the form. With Clinton there were so many examples where she wasn’t forthcoming, so she came across as a hider, which I think explains in part why she was viewed as untrustworthy by so many Americans.

Meanwhile Trump was also extremely private about some things, such as his tax returns. But in his case he had a few key acts of proactive disclosure that perhaps made people forget about the situations where he declined to disclose. What’s more, the fact that people felt that he “told it like it is” — essentially, that he was forthcoming about beliefs that might garner him social stigma — enhanced his reputation for trustworthiness. Saying risqué things can actually give you great bang for your buck when it comes to trust — though of course, it also has its risks.

The example that put these two differing approaches together in my mind was when Clinton had pneumonia. She clearly was sick but just didn’t address the issue and denied being unwell until video emerged of her fainting. Trump, on the other hand, proactively released portions of his medical records.

Right, but those medical records were highly curated and incomplete.

Ah, but there’s another interesting cognitive flaw in play there. We don’t question the source of information when it is put in front of us, and we aren’t very sophisticated at understanding that we should consider the source of information. For example, the information from a biased source usually isn’t given the extra scrutiny it deserves. Instead, we’re prone to taking evidence at face value. This is part of a broader tendency to think narrowly when evaluating information and making decisions.
For instance, if Trump wanted to present an accurate presentation of his health, he would randomly sample bits of information from his entire health record and release those, or release his entire medical history. But that’s not what he did — he cherry-picked. He released what he called his health record, but it obviously wasn’t a complete record. But that’s not what people perceived. They figured he had been forthcoming and Clinton was a hider and thus not trustworthy.

So, what’s the message here for those humbled by this result? Can they avoid being blindsided in the future?

There is some good research about what makes for good forecasters and how to improve forecasting. But my general sense is that biases are very robust. It’s really hard to get rid of overconfidence. In one study, the researchers asked participants to answer trivia questions that required a specific answer — for example, “How many Americans have a passport?” The task was to specify confidence intervals — again and again, people’s confidence intervals are way too narrow. This is classic overconfidence bias. But in this experiment, they tried a heavy-handed intervention: They told people that their confidence intervals would probably be too narrow and they should make them way wider. Yet people still overestimated the accuracy of their answers. One extreme solution is to delegate decisions to people without a vested interest in the result.

What can Clinton and Trump supporters expect in the coming weeks as the results begin to sink in?

Research shows that bad things influence us more than good things — we feel greater despair at bad news than joy at good news. By that logic, this result will be more hurtful to Clinton supporters than joyful for Trump supporters. But there might be countervailing factors, such as the fact that people experience greater joy when they share happy experiences with others as opposed to alone. And Trump supporters obviously have a joyful experience to share. I think all we can say for sure is that many people, even many Trump supporters, will remain surprised by this result for some time. I feel like I saw it coming, but at the end of the day, I need to take my own postmortem on this with a grain of salt. I’m not immune to the very human tendency to believe you “knew it all along” — what behavioral scientists call hindsight bias.

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Let us ALL be thankful this awful election is finally over and the result is decisive in the Electoral College. I find it gratifying that both sides have been saying cordial things to each other, in our tradition of peaceful transition of power. Clinton made her gracious concession call to Trump in a most timely manner, and Trump and Pence thanked her in a non-gloating mood.

The day after the election, Democrat VP-candidate Tim Kaine and Clinton addressed their followers in emotionally heartfelt, yet positive, speeches. President Obama followed a bit after noon, with cordial congratulations and an invitation for Trump to visit the White House.

Trump and his team visited Washington, DC the following day, and everyone was cordial.

I watched President-Elect Donald Trump on CBS 60 Minutes, and he seemed nearly completely transformed from the boisterous pre-election candidate to a serious "Presidential" person.  Let all Americans hope for a successful Presidency for the sake of our Country and the World.

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Incredible, Resourceful, Affluent President-Elect Donald Trump






Are you as unhappy with the results of yesterday's Presidential election as I am? Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have favorability ratings below 50%, so, no matter who won, most Americans would have been unhappy. I opposed Trump in the Republican primaries and did not support either candidate in the general election.

Thank goodness this awful election is finally over and the result is decisive in the Electoral College. I find it gratifying that, starting today in the wee hours of the day after the election, both sides have been saying cordial things to each other, in our tradition of peaceful transition of power. I remained awake till 1 AM, when it appeared all but certain Trump would prevail (but not by how much), then awoke at 3 AM in time to watch the victory speeches of VP-elect Mike Pence and Trump.

I was relieved to hear Trump thank Clinton for her gracious phone call conceding the election, and for the fact his victory celebration was definitely in the no-gloat zone. Prior to noon, Democrat VP-candidate Tim Kaine and Clinton addressed their followers in emotionally heartfelt, yet positive, speeches. President Obama followed a bit after noon, with cordial congratulations and an invitation for Trump to visit the White House the following day, which he has accepted.

SO, WHO TO BLAME ?

Though protests were to be expected, I was sorry to see this evening's street demonstrations against the election results in several cities. On the positive side, the marchers have not been excessively violent, at least so far. Let us hope reason continues to prevail.

Political partisans on both sides will soon begin the blame game. Why did Clinton lose and who is the designated bogeyman?

1. Blame FBI Director James Comey? Was he wrong to put his fat FBI thumb on the scales during the early voting period less than two weeks before election day? Well, due to an unrelated FBI investigation, he was informed that hundreds of thousands of emails, some related to Clinton's stint as Secretary of State, had been found. Soon after he informed Congressional leaders of the find, a flood of leaks revealed the emails were on a computer shared by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her now-estranged husband Anthony Wiener (what an appropriate name :^). IMHO, had Comey not provided official notice to Congress when he did, others at the FBI would have leaked the information, having at least as much negative effect on Clinton's campaign.

2. Blame Huma Abedin? As a State Department employee, Abedin had a legal duty to turn over all computers and phones with work-related data on them. She failed to turn in the computer shared with Wiener. Had she done so in a timely manner, the FBI would have included those emails in their initial analysis completed in July. The FBI would have found (as they did shortly before election day) that these emails did not change Comey's July recommendation that Clinton and her staff had been "extremely careless" in their handling of information that was classified at the time, but that their actions did not rise to a criminal level.  IMHO, had Abedin turned that computer over earlier in the year, it would not have come up so close to the election, and Clinton might have won.

3. Blame Anthony Wiener? Had Wiener not repeatedly posted sexually-loaded photos of himself on social media, culminating in a lewd message to a teenager, the FBI would not have been investigating him, and his shared computer would never have come to light. IMHO, has Wiener kept his sexual absurdities in his pants, Clinton might have won.

4. Blame Bill Clinton and Attorney-General Loretta Lynch? Normally, prosecutors in the Justice Department would have decided whether or not the data from the FBI investigation of Clinton's email server justified criminal charges. However, shortly before that decision was to be made, former-President Bill Clinton had what was apparently supposed to be a secret meeting with the Attorney-General on the Phoenix airport tarmac. When an enterprising reporter revealed that Bill had spoken to the head of the Justice Department, who had the final authority to charge his wife Hillary with a crime, they claimed all they talked about was their grandchildren, golf, and travel. Of course, no one believed that, so Lynch was forced to turn the final decision over to Comey, and he was required to announce it to the public and testify to Congress. IMHO, had Bill Clinton not met with Lynch, Comey's role would have been behind the scenes and Lynch would have made the decision not to prosecute, and Clinton might have won.

5. Blame Hillary Clinton? Of course not! It would be blatantly sexist to blame the first woman who had a chance to be elected President of the US. She admits it was a mistake to use a private email server for State Department business, why not leave it at that? [Sarcasm off] IMHO, Clinton endangered National Security by using a system that the FBI concluded was "less secure than Gmail" to transmit and receive over 100 emails with information that was classified at the time, some at the highest Top Secret level. It would have been better for Lynch to have a US Attorney convene a Grand Jury instead of short-circuiting the process and having Comey make the decision himself.

BLAME DONALD TRUMP

Yes, of course! He is an "evil genius" who has played the American public and the mostly leftist media by pretending to be an uncouth, lewd, bumbling, blowhard, political novice, while taking over the Republican Party apparatus and getting elected to the most powerful office on Earth. He also fooled me.

Here are some of the bad things I've written about him on this Blog:

from http://tvpclub.blogspot.com/2016/10/why-i-can-no-longer-mark-my-ballot-for.html

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[Compared to Hillary Clinton] less is known about Donald's views prior to becoming a politician, it appears he has been far more centrist on social policy and less hawkish than the Tea Party, Religious Right, and Conservative Establishment far-right wings of  the Republican Party. He registered for the Reform Party from 1999-2001, Democrat from 2001-2009, and Independent from 2011-2012. (He registered as a Republican from 1987-1999, 2009-2011, and 2012-present.)  Last year I wrote the following, quoting from my Blog (2015/04/10):
Donald Trump, [is] a Crony Capitalist Democrat pretending to be a Republican. As recently as 2004, he told CNN's Wolf Blitizer "In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat" and in 2007, also with Blitzer, he praised Hillary Clinton's ability to negotiate with Iran. Trump gave more to Democrats than Republicans between 1989 and 2009 according to NPR. ... Until recently, his views on military action in the mid-east, abortion, drug legalization, and health care have been more in line with leftist Democrats than with independents and Republicans.
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Donald has said some stupid things that got him into unnecessary battles. He refused to back off, which only increased the damage to his campaign
  • Early in his Presidential Primary campaign, Donald said that Senator John McCain is "not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured." That dumb remark did not hurt McCain, because everyone knows he was a hero the moment he put on a US Naval Aviator uniform and flew dangerous missions over enemy territory. The fact he was shot down and served honorably as a POW is only icing on the cake of his heroic status.

  • Trump also went way overboard criticizing undocumented Mexican immigrants. He even questioned the fairness of a judge of Mexican ancestry who was born in the US.

  • Donald made an idiotic pledge to ban all Muslim immigration. Then he criticized Muslim Gold Star parents, a lawyer and his wife, who appeared at the Democratic convention to point out that a flat religious ban would be unconstitutional. Trump suggested the wife remained silent because Muslims do not value women.

  • Trump, not a professional politician, has been making extreme, sexist, and otherwise intolerable "politically incorrect" comments all his life. Instead of admitting that fact, he continues to fight decades-old battles, such as the one about a Miss Universe who gained some weight after she won the competition.

  • The most recent Access Hollywood video and tape is a particularly lewd example of Donald's taste for beautiful women. His comments are absolutely unforgivable.

  • Summary: Donald Trump is an amazingly athletic speaker. He can verbally kick himself in the head and step on his own dong without missing a beat. 
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[On October 12, 2016 I wrote] Up till about 24 hours ago, I thought I would "hold my nose" and vote against Hillary Clinton by darkening the oval next to Donald Trump's name.

What changed my intention?
  • Well, it was Trump's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor,on October 11th. I record and watch Bill O'Reilly almost every evening. Trump trashed Senator John McCain and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan and said he would go it alone! That was what put me over the top!

  • I've seen both McCain and Ryan in person when they came to The Villages (in Central Florida) for their 2008 and 2012 campaigns. In 2008, I stood for almost an hour, twenty feet from McCain as he (and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman) spoke and answered questions. In 2012 I watched Ryan's VP campaign appearance at an outdoor rally, where he introduced his mother, who happened to be a Florida resident. They are politicians, but also honorable men (as is Mitt Romney, whose hand I shook when he came here during the Republican primary).

  • So, for the first time in my life, in 2016 at the age of 77, I will not vote for the Republican nominee for President of the US. Of course, I will vote for down-ballot Republicans and hope we can retain control of the Congress. Perhaps I will write-in the name of Paul Ryan or some other Republican I admire. It is a long-shot, but, perhaps Donald Trump will withdraw his name and allow the Republican National Committee to substitute someone else, Who knows?
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from http://tvpclub.blogspot.com/2015/10/do-republicans-hate-immigrants-women.html

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In case you are wondering who I am and where I'm coming from:

I'm an old Goldwater Republican and a techie engineer. In 1964 when my wife and I were married, there was a sign with the chemical formula for "Gold Water" (AuH2O) in the rear window of my car! Despite political differences, I'm still married to my super-smart and highly accomplished first wife. We have three highly-intelligent daughters (also still married to their very smart first husbands) and five wonderful grandchildren. We were both born in Brooklyn, lived most our working lives in Tioga County in upstate New York, and now reside in The Villages, FL, "America's Happiest and Healthiest Home Town".

I earned a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, and a Masters and PhD in System Science and am proud of my long, successful career as a System Engineer at IBM and Lockheed-Martin, with my name on five US Patents. As an adjunct professor, I taught undergrad and graduate courses in System Engineering at Binghamton University and the University of Maryland University College.

As a Guest Contributor to the world's most popular Climate website, my postings on the reality of the "Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect" and how human activities that have boosted CO2 levels and reduced the Earth's albedo are therefore responsible for some fraction of recent warming, have attracted hundreds of thousands of page views and thousands of comments. Although I favor moderate worldwide action to save energy, encourage alternatives to the unprecedented burning of fossil-fuels (including a flat carbon-tax -- but not cap and trade), I am convinced that politically-motivated hysteria over possible human-caused catastrophic climate change is overblown. My wife and I have tried to do our part by recycling, super-insulating our house, and, for the past 11 years, we have shared an energy-efficient Prius hybrid.

MY BLOGS AND OTHER RESOURCES

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Ira Glickstein



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why I Can No Longer Mark my Ballot for Trump

"Love trumps hate" and "Love Trump's hats" differ in only a few letters. Analogously, it might be said that there are only relatively minor differences between the two leading candidates. Not enough to allow their more extreme proponents to tear the US Apart.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have favorability ratings below 50%. Therefore, most Americans will be voting against, rather than for our next President.

When I created the above animated image, I thought I was going to vote against Clinton by "holding my nose" and darkening the oval next to Trump's name on my Presidential ballot.

I can no longer mark my ballot for Trump or anyone else currently running for President.

MY THOUGHT PROCESS

Both Clinton and Trump are intelligent, well-educated, live in New York, and are patriots who truly believe their election would be best for our country:
  • Donald was born in New York. Bachelor of Science from Wharton School of Finance and Commerce (University of Pennsylvania).
  • Hillary was born in Illinois. Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College and J.D. from Yale Law School. She lived in Arkansas from 1974-1992, in Washington, DC from 1993-2000, moved to New York in 1999, and was elected Senator from New York in 2000.
Both are rich, having benefited from the give and take of US politics
  • Donald, mostly on the give, contributed to politicians of both parties in return for government permits, zoning, tax policies, and other assistance to the real estate projects, products, and services his corporations provide to consumers.
  • Hillary, mostly on the take, accepted support for her Senatorial and Presidential campaigns, as well as high-priced speeches by her and husband Bill at private corporate meetings, and contributions to the Clinton Foundation. 
  • Both Hillary and Donald "prove" the cynical point that, here in the USA, 
  • We enjoy the very best government money can buy. ©
Both have misrepresented themselves to the extreme wings of their parties to win their Presidential primaries, and to activate their "base" to come out and vote in the general election:
  • By most accounts, Hillary is far more centrist on social policy and more hawkish on military and foreign policies than President Obama or the Bernie Sanders Socialist, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter far-left wings of the Democratic Party. Quoting from How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk - The New York Times (2016/04/24/):
[Secretary Clinton] had backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, before endorsing a fallback proposal of 30,000. She supported the Pentagon’s plan to leave behind a residual force of 10,000 to 20,000 American troops in Iraq (Obama balked at this, largely because of his inability to win legal protections from the Iraqis, a failure that was to haunt him when the Islamic State overran much of the country). And she pressed for the United States to funnel arms to the rebels in Syria’s civil war (an idea Obama initially rebuffed before later, halfheartedly, coming around to it).
  • Although less is known about Donald's views prior to becoming a politician, it appears he has been far more centrist on social policy and less hawkish than the Tea Party, Religious Right, and Conservative Establishment far-right wings of  the Republican Party. He registered for the Reform Party from 1999-2001, Democrat from 2001-2009, and Independent from 2011-2012. (He registered as a Republican from 1987-1999, 2009-2011, and 2012-present.)  Last year I wrote the following, quoting from my Blog (2015/04/10):
Donald Trump, [is] a Crony Capitalist Democrat pretending to be a Republican. As recently as 2004, he told CNN's Wolf Blitizer "In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat" and in 2007, also with Blitzer, he praised Hillary Clinton's ability to negotiate with Iran. Trump gave more to Democrats than Republicans between 1989 and 2009 according to NPR. ... Until recently, his views on military action in the mid-east, abortion, drug legalization, and health care have been more in line with leftist Democrats than with independents and Republicans.
IS "HE SAID, BUT SHE DID" A VALID EXCUSE?

Donald has said some stupid things that got him into unnecessary battles. He refused to back off, which only increased the damage to his campaign
  • Early in his Presidential Primary campaign, Donald said that Senator John McCain is "not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured." That dumb remark did not hurt McCain, because everyone knows he was a hero the moment he put on a US Naval Aviator uniform and flew dangerous missions over enemy territory. The fact he was shot down and served honorably as a POW is only icing on the cake of his heroic status.
  • Trump also went way overboard criticizing undocumented Mexican immigrants. He even questioned the fairness of a judge of Mexican ancestry who was born in the US.
  • Donald made an idiotic pledge to ban all Muslim immigration. Then he criticized Muslim Gold Star parents, a lawyer and his wife, who appeared at the Democratic convention to point out that a flat religious ban would be unconstitutional. Trump suggested the wife remained silent because Muslims do not value women.
  • Trump, not a professional politician, has been making extreme, sexist, and otherwise intolerable "politically incorrect" comments all his life. Instead of admitting that fact, he continues to fight decades-old battles, such as the one about a Miss Universe who gained some weight after she won the competition.
  • The most recent Access Hollywood video and tape is a particularly lewd example of Donald's taste for beautiful women. His comments are absolutely unforgivable.
  • Summary: Donald Trump is an amazingly athletic speaker. He can verbally kick himself in the head and step on his own dong without missing a beat.

Hillary has done some stupid things, such as being "extremely careless" in handling US National Security Secrets, and lying to the public about it. She lied even when unnecessary (as when she had pneumonia), and thus damaged her campaign.
  • The use of a private email server for both private and State Department emails while Hillary was Secretary of State, is not, per se, a legal violation. The problem that earned her a "PANTS ON FIRE" rating from Politifact was lying about the matter.
  • She and her close staff placed highly classified information on that private server and on insecure cell phones and iPads, and transmitted US National Security Secret and Top Secret information over unsecured networks that were (all but) certainly hacked by hostile governments and terrorist organizations.
  • FBI Director James Comey concluded that her private server and email system was less secure than Gmail:
  • And I’m not looking to pick on Gmail. Their security is actually pretty good, the weakness is individual users. But, yes, Gmail has full-time security staff and thinks about patching, and logging, and protecting their systems in a way that was not the case [with Clinton's private server]. 

  • From the group of 30,000 emails returned to the State Department in 2014, 110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent; 36 of those chains contained secret information at the time; and eight contained confidential information at the time.

  • Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
  • There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.
  • Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal email account.
  • During my employment as a System Engineer working on Department of Defense projects, I had access to classified information, mostly at the Confidential and Secret level, but including a bit of Top Secret material. Each project has Security Guidelines, so we all knew what types of material was classified and at what level. Each paragraph, table, figure and drawing was marked with a (U) for Unclassified, (C) for Confidential, (S) for Secret and (TS) for Top Secret, often with additional markings for NO FORN (no foreign access) and so on. If I had seen information that was not properly marked, I would have considered that a critical failure of security and would have reported it to be sure it was corrected. That she and her personal staff failed to so so rules her out as a person I would vote into the highest office in the land.
  • As a government employee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a legal duty to turn over all work-related email to the State Department. As we all know, her staff destroyed around 33,000 emails on the basis that they were not work-related. (She claimed they were about such things as her daughter's wedding, family vacations, etc. That seems like quite a lot!). Well, using forensic technology and emails provided by government recipients, the FBI found that thousands of her work-related emails had been deleted. Of course, we don't know how many work-related emails were not recovered by these forensic techniques, and what juicy materials they might have contained. We do know they were deleted after a subpoena had been issued for them.
  • Did even the most rabid Nixon supporter really believe that his secretary had "accidentally" erased 18 minutes of taped Oval Office conversations, or that those 18 minutes contained only innocent Nixon family matters or sports discussions? Of course not! Yet, some of you, reading this blog item, believe that Hillary's staff was justified in deleting work-related emails, or that former President Bill Clinton had an unplanned meeting on an airport tarmac with the Attorney General, shortly before she was to rule on whether Hillary's "extremely careless" handling of classified information should be prosecuted? Or that all they discussed was their grandchildren? 
  • By the way, I support Comey's recommendation NOT to prosecute Hillary Clinton, on the basis that her "extremely careless" handling of classified information did not rise to the "gross negligence" level required by the applicable law. Apparently there is no clear precedent for prosecuting anyone on that part of the law.

SO, WHY CAN I NO LONGER  MARK MY BALLOT FOR TRUMP?

Up till about 24 hours ago, I thought I would "hold my nose" and vote against Hillary Clinton by darkening the oval next to Donald Trump's name.

What changed my intention?
  • Well, it was Trump's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor,on October 11th. I record and watch Bill O'Reilly almost every evening. Trump trashed Senator John McCain and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan and said he would go it alone! That was what put me over the top!
  • I've seen both McCain and Ryan in person when they came to The Villages (in Central Florida) for their 2008 and 2012 campaigns. In 2008, I stood for almost an hour, twenty feet from McCain as he (and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman) spoke and answered questions. In 2012 I watched Ryan's VP campaign appearance at an outdoor rally, where he introduced his mother, who happened to be a Florida resident. They are politicians, but also honorable men (as is Mitt Romney, whose hand I shook when he came here during the Republican primary).
  • So, for the first time in my life, in 2016 at the age of 77, I will not vote for the Republican nominee for President of the US. Of course, I will vote for down-ballot Republicans and hope we can retain control of the Congress. Perhaps I will write-in the name of Paul Ryan or some other Republican I admire. It is a long-shot, but, perhaps Donald Trump will withdraw his name and allow the Republican National Committee to substitute someone else, Who knows?

Ira Glickstein

PS: Earlier this year, during the Republican primary, I wrote some perhaps prophetic words on my Blog:
I am an old Goldwater/Reagan Republican, and a Proud Conservative in the modern sense (i.e., Classical Liberal). ...  
... Trump is a Crony Capitalist DEMOCRAT who is wrecking the Republican Party I know and love, with the inadvertent assistance of the ratings-hungry media, including Fox News, and the feckless response of the dozen other candidates competing in the Republican Presidential Primary, several of whom are excellent in my opinion. 


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Moral, Legal, and Political Philosophy of W.S.Gilbert



An example of what I take Gilbert's attitude towards harsh punishment of offenders.
In this case, a "Billiard Sharp"
I presented "The Moral, Legal, and Political Philosophy of W.S. Gilbert" at the Philosophy Club of The Villages, FL, on 23 September, to an enthusiastic audience (Including a bit of singing, thanks Moe).

MAY WE DISCERN THE PHILOSOPHY OF AUTHORS FROM THEIR WORKS?

William Schwenck Gilbert wrote the words and oversaw the production of 14 "Gilbert and Sullivan" comic operas from 1871 through 1896. (Sullivan composed the music). They have become staples of English-language "light" entertainment over the past century. In addition to being Plain Fun, I believe the lyrics embody the actual philosophical attitude of Gilbert, who, IMHO, in the era of Queen Victoria, would have been a Tory (aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli) rather than a Liberal (aligned with Prime Minister William Gladstone).


"THEIR CUSTOMARY ATTITUDE"

At the end of my talk, I asked the audience to rise and act out what the First Lord of the Admiralty (in HMS Pinafore) called "The Customary Attitude" of a "British Tar" (a lowly seaman).

I retitled that epic piece "An American" and, most recently, have made it gender-neutral. (See adjacent image.)

As our children and grandchildren were growing up, we'd act it out together. When I'd ask "what is your Customary Attitude?" they'd assume the fighting stance suggested  by Gilbert. (Now that the youngest are in college, I don't know if that request works anymore. However, if any of them are reading this right now, I'd like to know!)

In any case, by placing this at the end of my talk, with the audience on their feet, I was guaranteed a "standing ovation".


SUMMARY OF MY TALK

I drew Philosophical Issues from five operettas:
  • Trial by Jury (1875 - the second Gilbert and Sullival collaboration, and their first real success)
    Philosophical Issues: Nepotism, Martial Fidelity, Sexism, Enforcing Contracts, Need for Bias-Free Court, Judicial Restraint
  • HMS Pinafore  (1878 - the fourth collaboration, and a wild success, with about 150 unauthorized rip-offs by American theater companies)
    Philosophical Issues: Social Class, Private vs Public Jobs, True Love, People Believe What They Want to Believe, Altruism
  • Pirates of Penzance  (1879 - the fifth collaboration, and a similarly wild success. Penzance was first performed on Broadway, in New York City, in an attempt to thwart the US "copyright pirates")
    Philosophical Issues: Is there an Absolute Duty to Comply with Contracts? Should Military Leaders Have Military Knowledge?
  • The Mikado (1885 - the ninth collaboration, continuing their successful run)
    Philosophical Issue: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
  • Utopia, Limited (1893 - the thirteenth. It was only a modest success, and with the failure of their next play, their last success together.)
    Philosophical Issue:  The Ideal Utopian Form of Government, Imperialism, Jingoism (extreme nationalism), “Progress” Based on British Model (only Better :^), The Folly of Nation Building

Trial by Jury (1875) - For breach of promise of marriage 

Gilbert illustrates how nepotism may be the key to getting ahead in life. And how marital fidelity may be violated. Also how really good lawyers are the ones who trick the legal system into declaring "innocent" those who are actually guilty.

The JUDGE explains how he obtained his position:

… I was, as many young barristers are, An impecunious party. … [with never] a chance Of addressing a British Jury.… So I fell in love with a rich attorney's Elderly, ugly daughter.


The rich attorney, he jumped with joy / And replied to my fond professions: / "You shall reap the reward of your pluck, my boy, / At the Bailey and Middlesex sessions. / You'll soon get used to her looks," said he, / "And a very nice girl you will find her! / She may very well pass for forty-three / In the dusk, with a light behind her."
The rich attorney was good as his word;  / The briefs came trooping gaily, / And every day my voice was heard / At the Sessions or Ancient Bailey.


All thieves who could my fees afford / Relied on my orations.  / And many a burglar I've restored / To his friends and his relations.

At length I became rich. / An incubus then I thought her. / So I threw over that rich attorney's / Elderly, ugly daughter. / The rich attorney my character high / Tried vainly to disparage. / And now, if you please, / I'm ready to try / This Breach of Promise of Marriage!
Gilbert satirizes the idea of a bias-free trial. He has an observer express favoritism to the pretty "broken-hearted bride" plaintiff, clearly sexism, -- then he has a court officer meaninglessly repeat the (already violated) rule against bias:
Oh, listen to the plaintiff's case: / Observe the features of her face--/ The broken-hearted bride. / Condole with her distress of mind. 
From bias free of every kind, / This trial must be tried! 
Then the disfavor towards the "ruffianly" defendant, sexism again, and again the rule against bias:
And when, amid the plaintiff's shrieks, / The ruffianly defendant speaks-- / Upon the other side; / What he may say you needn't mind:
From bias free of every kind, /This trial must be tried!
The trial drags on for quite a while, with the pretty Plaintiff flirting with the Jury, the Court Officers, and, especially, the Judge. Then, the JUDGE (tossing his books and papers about):
All the legal furies seize you! / No proposal seems to please you. / I can't sit up here all day, / I must shortly get away.
Put your briefs upon the shelf, ' I will marry her myself!

PROBLEM SOLVED! Many (perhaps all) the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas end abruptly, with a broad-stroke surprise ending that (if you are willing to believe it) solves a very complex problem.

The key here, is that ALL the participants are happy with the ending. The plaintiff gets to marry the Judge, a man with higher standing  than the defendant. The defendant gets out from under his breach of promise of marriage. And, of course, the Judge gets a pretty, young wife!

HMS Pinafore (1878) - The (un)importance of social class 

Does true love triumph over social class? Does the private sector reward hard work and excellence, while the public sector rewards party loyalty? This operetta starts with a problem of true love. A lowly sailor loves his Captain's daughter, and the feeling is mutual. However, the Captain has promised his daughter's hand to the his ultimate boss, the First Lord of the Admiralty.

RALPH RACKSTRAW (lowly seaman): I love the captains’ daughter - alas above my station. Captains’ daughters don’t marry foremast jacks. 
CAPTAIN: My daughter Josephine, the fairest flower, is sought in marriage by Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B, first Lord of the Admiralty.  (Knight Commander of the Bath) 
JOSEPHINE: I cannot love him. The object of my love is but a humble sailor aboard your own ship.
SIR JOSEPH – Explains how he obtained his position.

When I was a lad I served a term / As office boy to an Attorney's firm. / I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor, / And I polished up the handle of the big front door. / I polished up that handle so carefullee, / That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee! 
... They gave me the post of a junior clerk. / I served the writs with a smile so bland, / And I copied all the letters in a big round hand. / I copied all the letters in a hand so free, / That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee! 
… I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit / For the pass examination at the Institute. / That pass examination did so well for me, / That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!  
... Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip, that they took me into the partnership. (The only ship that I ever had seen.) / … I grew so rich that I was sent / By a pocket borough into Parliament./ I always voted at my party's call, / And I never thought of thinking for myself at all./ I thought so little, they rewarded me / By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!  
Now landsmen all, whoever you may be, / If you want to rise to the top of the tree, / If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool, / Be careful to be guided by this golden rule. / Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, / And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee! 
 Back to the true love problem. It falls to Buttercup, a "Bumboat woman" who sells tobacco and other supplies to sailors, to help resolve everything. She begins with a seemingly random bunch of unrelated truths, then gets to the main point:
Things are seldom what they seem, / Skim milk masquerades as cream; / … Black sheep dwell in every fold;  All that glitters is not gold; / … Gild the farthing if you will, / Yet it is a farthing still.  / … Wink is often good as nod; / Spoils the child who spares the rod.… 
A many years ago, When I was young and charming, / As some of you may know, I practiced baby-farming. / Two tender babes I nursed: One was of low condition, / The other, upper crust, A regular patrician.  
Oh, bitter is my cup! However could I do it? / I mixed those children up, And not a creature knew it! In time each little waif Forsook his foster-mother, / The well born babe was Ralph. / Your Captain was the other! A many years ago. 
 Sir Joseph sums it all up, and quickly resolves the issue:
JOSEPH: Then I am to understand that Captain Corcoran and Ralph were exchanged in childhood's happy hour? Ralph is really the Captain, / and the Captain is Ralph?
Ralph and the Captain switch positions. Josephine (now a seaman’s daughter) is in a social class too low to marry Sir Joseph. Therefore, Josephine and (newly promoted) Captain Ralph are free to marry!

PROBLEM SOLVED! But only if we (the audience) are willing to accept the word of an old woman about something that happened many years ago. The characters in the story accept because it is to their advantage to do so. Sir Joseph avoids the dishonor of being turned down by Josephine, who stands much lower than he on the social scale. Josephine gets to marry her true love, who is now a Captain, and he gets to marry Josephine. The former Captain, now a lowly seaman seems to get the short end of the stick. Had his daughter married Sir Joseph, nepotism might have raised him still higher in rank. on the other hand, his kin-altruism for his daughter, motivates his acquiescence, 


Pirates of Penzance  (1879) - A slave of duty


Gilbert satirizes two key issues in this comic opera.
  • Is there an Absolute Duty to Comply with Contracts? What if, as in the case of the main character of Penzance, Frederic, you were mistakenly apprenticed to a band of PIRATES? Frederic is a self-described "slave of duty", so his answer is "yes" (despite a paradoxical further complication). 
  • Should Military Leaders Have Military Knowledge? One would think so. Yet, perhaps academic knowledge is more important than actual military experience? 
Frederic's nursery maid, Ruth, who is now a member of the pirate band tells what happened:
When Frederic was a little lad he proved so brave and daring, / His father thought he’d ’prentice him to some career seafaring. / I was, alas! his nurserymaid, and so it fell to my lot / To take and bind the promising boy apprentice to a PILOT – …/ I was a stupid nurserymaid, on breakers always steering, And I did not catch the word aright, through being hard of hearing; …/ I took and bound this promising boy apprentice to a PIRATE. / A sad mistake it was to make and doom him to a vile lot. … 
A nurserymaid is not afraid of what you people call work, So I made up my mind to go as a kind of piratical maid-of-all-work. 
 We jump ahead to the day Frederic is 21 years old, and out of his pirate apprenticeship (or so we think): 
PIRATE KING. Yes, Frederic, from to-day you rank as a full-blown member of our band.  
FREDERIC: My friends, I thank you all … Today I am out of my indentures, and today I leave you forever … I have done my best for you. … It was my duty under my indentures, and I am the slave of duty. As a child I was regularly apprenticed to your band. It was through an error -- no matter, the mistake was ours, not yours, and I was in honor bound by it. … 
Oh! pity me, my beloved friends, for such is my sense of duty that, once out of my indentures, I shall feel myself bound to devote myself heart and soul to your extermination! … 
PIRATE: We don’t seem to make piracy pay. … 
FREDERIC: I know why, but, alas! I mustn’t tell you … 
PIRATE: Why not, my boy? It’s only half-past eleven, and you are one of us until the clock strikes twelve. 
FREDERIC: Well, then, it is my duty, as a pirate, to tell you that you are too tenderhearted. For instance, you make a point of never attacking a weaker party than yourselves, and when you attack a stronger party you invariably get thrashed. … 
Then, again, you make a point of never molesting an orphan [because you are orphans yourselves] and it has got about, and what is the consequence? Every one we capture says he’s an orphan. The last three ships we took proved to be manned entirely by orphans, and so we had to let them go. …
 Gilbert needs to satirize a military man, as he did with (Sir Joseph in Pinafore), so in comes the Major-General, candidly introducing himself:
I am the very model of a modern Major-General, / I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral, … / I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical, ... 
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical, / About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news – / With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse. / I’m very good at integral and differential calculus; / I know the scientific names of beings animalculous: / In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General. … 
[He goes on recounting his academic knowledge in history, ancient languages, and other areas. However, let us skip to his Military knowledge.]
… In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”, / When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin, / When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at, / And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”, / When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery, When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery;… 
For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury, / Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century; / But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, / I am the very model of a modern Major-General. …
Frederic leaves the pirate band and tries to organize a Police raid on the Pirates. However, the Pirates sneak into town to inform him of a humorous paradox.
PIRATE: A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox, / We’ve quips and quibbles heard in flocks, but none to beat this paradox…You’ve lived twenty-one years, but, having been born in leap-year, on the twenty-ninth of February, if we go by birthdays, you’re only five and a little bit over!
FREDERIC: How quaint the ways of Paradox! / At common sense she gaily mocks! / Though counting in the usual way, / Years twenty-one I’ve been alive, / Yet, reckoning by my natal day, I am a little boy of five!  
PIRATE: The contract says you are indentured until your twenty-first BIRTHDAY (not YEAR). So you’ll be a Pirate until you live 84 years! …
 OOPS! So Frederic, forever the "slave of duty" is a Pirate again. How to resolve this issue?
… A struggle ensues between Pirates and Police, the Police are overcome and fall prostrate, … 
POLICE SARGENT: Your proud triumph will not be long-lived. 
PIRATE KING. Don’t say you are orphans, for we know that game. 
SARGENT: On your allegiance we’ve a stronger claim – We charge you yield, we charge you yield, In Queen Victoria’s name! 
KING. (baffled) You do? 
POLICE. We do! We charge you yield, In Queen Victoria’s name! 
KING. We yield at once, with humbled mien, Because, with all our faults, we love our Queen. [Sometimes read "with all HER faults ..." :^) 
RUTH: One moment! let me tell you who they are. They are no members of the common throng; They are all noblemen who have gone wrong.                    
PROBLEM SOLVED! Again, if we believe an old woman. But we DO, as do the characters in the comic opera, because we all love a happy ending.


The Mikado (1885) - The (Japanese) Town of Titipu


I only had a half-hour for my talk at The Villages Philosophy Club, so I had to leave out so many other examples, and cut short my treatment of The Mikado. The only issue I cover here is: Should the punishment fit the crime? Gilbert seems to favor harsh, yet humorous, punishment. Though the comic opera is set in Japan, Gilbert is clearly making fun of English society. Here, the Emperor of Japan states his philosophy:
My object all sublime I shall achieve in time / To let the punishment fit the crime – / The punishment fit the, crime; / And make each prisoner pent / Unwillingly represent / A source of innocent merriment! /Of innocent merriment!

… All prosy dull society sinners, /Who chatter and bleat and bore, / Are sent to hear sermons / From mystical Germans / Who preach from ten till four.

… The advertising quack who wearies / With tales of countless cures, / His teeth, I’ve enacted, / Shall all be extracted / By terrified amateurs.

… The billiard sharp whom any one catches, / His doom’s extremely hard – / He’s made to dwell – / In a dungeon cell / On a spot that’s always barred. / And there he plays extravagant matches – / In fitless finger-stalls / On a cloth UNTRUE / with a TWISTED cue / And ELIPTICAL billiard BALLS!


Utopia, Limited (1893) - The Flowers of Progress 


In theory, King Paramount is the Absolute Monarch of Utopia, an idyllic, though primitive, South Sea Island. The King rules with the assistance of two "Wise Men", and "The Public Exploder.".

The Public Exploder is a crazy guy who follows the King around carrying a Stick of Dynamite and Matches. He continually expresses his desire to do his job and blow the King to smithereens. However, he is sworn to do so only when the two Wise Men agree that the time has come.

Since the Wise Men are overly intellectual and wooly-brained, they never agree, so the King is safe, more or less, but he never can tell what may happen. This arrangement has resulted in a happy and healthy society, albeit primitive by British standards.


King Paramount is a great admirer of English Culture. He hires an English Governess for his youngest daughters and sends his eldest daughter to college in England.  She returns with "The Flowers of Progress", six highly esteemed English gentlemen who are tasked with making Utopia as advanced as England, and, they think, perhaps much better. The Flowers of Progress are:  Lord Dramaleigh (a British Lord Chamberlain),       Captain Fitzbattleaxe (First Life Guards),  Captain Sir Edward Corcoran, K.C.B. (of the Royal Navy),  Mr. Goldbury (a company promoter; afterwards Comptroller of the Utopian Household), and  Sir Bailey Barre, Q.C., M.P. Mr. Blushington (of the County Council).  


Of course, they make a total hash out of it! I don't have the time or energy to go into all the details, but the worst item of "progress" is the way they establish Limited Liability Corporations.

The advent of Limited Liability Corporations in England and elsewhere is clearly a key element in the rapid development and economic success of Western European countries in the 1800s. Unlike partnerships, where each partner is separately responsible for any losses of the enterprise, a Corporation imposes limited liability on individual Stockholders.

Mr. Goldbury, the company promoter put in charge of Utopian finances, comes to the "obvious" conclusion that, if limited liability is  Good Thing, the lower the liability limit the Better! So, they set the limit very, very low, at 18 pence.

Of course, a great many Corporations are immediately founded in what is, in effect "Utopia, Limited". However, shortly after they borrow money for their operations, and accept money from customers for promised products and services, they go BANKRUPT. All they have to lose is 18 pence!


This throws Utopia, Limited into revolt. What "essential element" of English governmental excellence is missing? Well, Princess Zara, the King's British-educated daughter comes up with the "obvious answer": "Government by political party"! OY. OY, OY!



Ira Glickstein