Is there no other?


O Achilles of Arkansas, O bane of Foxes and Roves, O solitary warrior among Democrats: dasher of hopes, prince of platitudes, felatee of Jewesses, belated friend of Tutsis, toothless tiger of climate change, greatest of all living Americans: how shall we summon thee back?

41 Responses to “Is there no other?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    God, I hate those sleazy Fox News slimebags.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    He is a pretty smooth talker. Did you watch when the prosecutor was drilling him with questions? He easily sidestepped them. Amazing. I was amazed at how easily he came up with “it depends upon the meaning of the word is is”. Also another good one was when the prosecutor asked him why he didn’t report that something happened and Clinton’s response was “it’s not my place to do your job”. Hilarious.

    I am surprised that he’s 60 yrs old. He doesn’t seem that old.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Simply amazing.

  4. Joseph Says:

    The proper way to describe Bill Clinton is that he’s one of the “apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind.”

  5. aram harrow Says:

    We could still make him first husband.

  6. Scott Says:

    I hope so!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    -We could still make him first husband.

    -I hope so!

    I don’t!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    We could still make him first husband.

    Heh, funny. I would love to see that just to see the conservatives have a fit. Still he was the “Great Compromiser”. The Dems weren’t entirely too happy with him and neither were the Republicans.

  9. Braithwaite Prendergast Says:

    Mr. Scott Aaronson, I attribute your political preferences to your youth and your academic environment. If you live to be middle aged and if you have a wife, children, and home, I wonder if you will have the same leanings.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Mr. Scott Aaronson, I attribute your political preferences to your youth and your academic environment. If you live to be middle aged and if you have a wife, children, and home, I wonder if you will have the same leanings.

    Yeah Scott, when you have a wife (but not a husband), and raise all of your kids to have a profound love for jesus christ (but not funny colored people), you might rethink your liberal nature.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    George W. Bush is the cure for the malady of growing more conservative in your old age.

  12. Scott Says:

    Anonymous 4:12: Amen to that! (As far as I’m concerned, I already am in my old age.)

  13. Braithwaite Prendergast Says:

    Is it in your interest to support the Left? Their behavior gives strong encouragement and support to Islamic extremists. If Islamic extremists gain power, I wonder how long a Scott Aaronson and his family would last.

  14. Dave Bacon Says:

    attribute your political preferences to your youth and your academic environment. If you live to be middle aged and if you have a wife, children, and home, I wonder if you will have the same leanings.

    Reminds me of a Simpsons episode in which Homer gets some money and all of a sudden has to fight the urge to have an opinion on the capital gains tax. Yep Scott, that’s what you have to look forward to, an ever narrowing view of the world to yourself and a your offspring and screw the rest of the world.

  15. Scott Says:

    Mr. Braithwaite Prendergast: It always amuses me when people describe me as a liberal, since all through grad school I was one of the most conservative people around! (Admittedly this was in Berkeley.)

    My fundamental political leaning is “antiloon.”

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Braithwaite Prendergast said…

    Is it in your interest to support the Left? Their behavior gives strong encouragement and support to Islamic extremists. If Islamic extremists gain power, I wonder how long a Scott Aaronson and his family would last.

    I shouldn’t even have to explain this to you, but you’re getting under my skin, so I will anyway. It is possible for a person to support aspects of one political leaning without committing to the whole package. For example, one might support gay rights — commonly attributed to the left — without supporting Islamic extremism. Similarly, one might favour free markets — commonly attributed to the right — over a centrally planned economy, which is typically attributed to the left.

    I’m not sure how you made the leap from supporting Clinton to supporting Islamic extremism, but you should be careful: when you do things like associate Clinton supporters with supporters of Islamic extremism, you make it impossible for yourself to empathize with anyone who does not agree with you exactly on every little issue.

    Gus

  17. Scott Says:

    Thanks, Gus! However, I should point out to Mr. Prendergast that, while I’m generally not too keen on Islamic fundamentalists, I do have a soft spot for my buddy Mahmoud.

  18. Braithwaite Prendergast Says:

    The connection between Liberal, Leftist behavior and the encouragement of Islamic extremism may be dismissed or taken lightly. However, after Muslim radicals have taken power, through the hope provided by such men as Noam Chomsky and Sy Hersh, we would see what happens. I know what they did to a Perl and a Berg, and I can only guess what devout, pious Muslims would do to a Bacon.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Mr./Ms. Prendergast makes an excellent point. Though I go to great pains to point out that it is theoretically possible for a person to simultaneously support Clinton while opposing Islamic extremism, I must confess that I cannot think of a single example of such a person. I myself yearn for a day of burqas and beheadings. I’m sick of all this freedom.

    Gus

  20. scott Says:

    Braithwaite: I’m not a fan of Chomsky (neither his hierarchy nor his politics). Nor is Chomsky a fan of Clinton.

    Or do I have to agree with Chomsky, because all liberals do?

  21. Joseph Says:

    Aren’t we discussing the most conservative Democratic President since Grover Cleveland?

  22. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    I have a wife and two children, and I agree with Scott. I may agree with him a lot more than I would have before I was married.

    Clinton is correct in his main point: he at least tried to do the right thing in response to Islamic terrorism. I can’t say the same of Bush. His only remaining option is to cover dangerous failures with dishonesty.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    It always amuses me when people describe me as a liberal, since all through grad school I was one of the most conservative people around! (Admittedly this was in Berkeley.)

    We must have been talking to completely different sets of people in Berkeley! You are one of the most liberal people I knew there.

    Andris

  24. Scott Says:

    Andris: That’s funny, since many of the people I’m thinking about (IHouse residents, fellow CS grads…) are people you could’ve known too! Maybe you just have less of a weakness for getting into arguments.

    (Well, I also had some involvement with one of the hotbeds of leftist anti-Israel sentiment — the Hillel.)

  25. Anonymous Says:

    I was thinking of responding to Mr Doofus aka Braithwaite Prendergast but I thought better of it since it seems like he’s a troll. Maybe not but I’m trying to believe he is a troll.

    It’d be stupid to believe that Conservatives are any better at dealing with Islamic Extemists. I mean Dick and Bush didn’t do ANYTHING about bin laden and co. during Bush’s first year in office. They did NOTHING! I suppose Mr Doofus would like us to put ourselves in the capable hands of MORONS who are incompetent at their job. If that wasn’t clear enough I meant that Bush, Dick and company are incompetent. Sure this doesn’t mean that Democrats haven’t done poorly too but to say that the Republicans are any better at it is pure idiocy since they clearly are not.

  26. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    It pains me to see a political post that I would like to agree with, but can’t, just because it has too many clumsy insults. If you want to insult Bush et al, fine, but try to make an art out of it. :-)

    A related remark which also a kind-of response to “Braithwaite Prendergast”: There was a Pew poll of Bush’s approval rating among various groups of “opinion leaders”. Bush’s approval rating among members of the National Academy of Sciences dropped from its initial value of 25%, to 6% in 2004. I suspect that some of those NAS members are married with children, even grandchildren.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    If you want to insult Bush et al, fine, but try to make an art out of it. :-)

    The coolest insult for Bush that I’ve heard is Chimperor (Chimp + Emperor).

  28. Dave Bacon Says:

    what devout, pious Muslims would do to a Bacon

    Well I can be assured that they will not eat me. My last name is full of lots of magic bad voodoo.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I shouldn’t even have to explain this to you, but you’re getting under my skin, so I will anyway. It is possible for a person to support aspects of one political leaning without committing to the whole package. For example, one might support gay rights — commonly attributed to the left — without supporting Islamic extremism.

    Whoa, whoa, there. Let’s do a quick test here: I name a position, you tell me whether it’s left or right.

    1) Hating Jews.
    2) Anti-women’s rights.
    3) Hating gay people
    4) Against separation of Church and State.

    Now what’s this about Islamic extremism being part of the Left’s “whole package”?

  30. aram harrow Says:

    I’m not sure “Braithwaite Prendergast” is a real name here, folks…

  31. Anonymous Says:

    anon: “The coolest insult for Bush that I’ve heard is Chimperor (Chimp + Emperor).”

    Thanks for the explanation.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    “felatee of Jewesses”? I thought there was only one.

  33. Luca Says:

    and it’s fellatee with two ‘l’

  34. Scott Says:

    Luca: Thanks! I thought of that, but somehow it didn’t look right with two l’s.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    The president who pardoned 200 convicted felons including drug traffickers, tax evaders, terrorists and his own half brother on his last day in office is the greatest living American?

  36. Anonymous Says:

    “Yep Scott, that’s what you have to look forward to, an ever narrowing view of the world to yourself and a your offspring and screw the rest of the world.”

    Actually I think it is enlightened, rational and socially beneficial to be concerned mainly about yourself, offspring and the people around you instead of the rest of the world. The reasons for this are simple: 1) you have very little information about the rest of the world 2) you have plenty of information about yourself and the people around you 3) you have a limited amount of time and energy. To be socially beneficial, you should expend your time and energy where it results in the greatest benefit to humanity. Since you have the most information about your local surroundings it is only rational to expend your time and energy locally since you are in the best position to solve these problems. In other words you are the world’s leading expert in yourself and perhaps a pretty good expert on your children, wife and close relations. You should focus on your area of expertise. Thus large scale altruism is socially destructive and narrow selfishness is socially beneficial. This is why capitalism and individualism work so well and large scale collectivities have failed.

    This is also why the altruistic effort of President Bush to democratize Iraq has failed. We don’t have any information about the Middle East and therefore are very badly equipped to solve the problems there.

  37. Dave Bacon Says:

    “Thus large scale altruism is socially destructive and narrow selfishness is socially beneficial.”

    Ah, a chance for me to use the Confederate argument! I’m pretty certain slaveholders in the US before the civil war were maximizing their local well-being, no?

    And aren’t all dictators being narrow and selfish? Ditto many murders and theives. What is to hold civilization together when everyone is out trying to maximize their local well-being? If you say “screw civilization”, then that is fine, but otherwise I’m curious to find answers to these questions.

    In other words I strongly suspect that locally maximizing will miss global optimums. I mean it’s true for CS problems, so why shouldn’t it also be true in life?

  38. Anonymous Says:

    “Ah, a chance for me to use the Confederate argument! I’m pretty certain slaveholders in the US before the civil war were maximizing their local well-being, no?”

    Not really since “the people around you” would include the slaves on your estate with whom the slave owners had a very close and intimate connection. Many of the slaves were practically part of the family. So improving the well being of the family would include improving the well being of the slaves. Furthermore I think your whole argument is an irrelevant red herring since slavery is no longer important. In modern America there is no slavery and people are free to do whatever they want. I am advocating a libertarian state in which the laws and policies are designed to allow and encourage everybody to pursue their narrow self interest without being subject to violence or theft from anybody else. This is essentially the classical liberal idea of the modern state.

    You are right about computer science that local optimums are not global optimums. However your analogy is not really correct. What we are doing here is taking a big problem, dividing into smaller sub problems, optimally solving pieces of the smaller problems seperately and then somehow connecting the pieces together to solve the global problem. This is actually done quite often in computer science e.g. quicksort. In the case of capitalism the pieces are connected together via the price system. There is no a priori reason why a strategy like this cannot be used to solve global problems as is done in quicksort. This strategy in computer science is known as “divide and conquer”. Also the concepts of “separation of concerns”, object-oriented programming, multi-agent AI are all about trying to break up large problems into smaller problems. In fact mult-agent AI is basically about solving complicated problem using selfish computer agents. This is really funny when you think about it because it seems like computer scientist are applying the ideas of selfishness and individualism to computer programs despite the fact that if they wanted to they can make the computers programs altruistic.

  39. Dave Bacon Says:

    “Furthermore I think your whole argument is an irrelevant red herring since slavery is no longer important.”

    Well, it may not be a problem for you, but it still is for others!

    I think I agree, to an extent, with your ideal of a libertarian state, but disagree with how we should go about reaching it! Sure you can say, if everyone would just start behaving according to the ideal we will quickly solve our problems. And I do agree with you that selfish agents CAN be the proper path to go. But perhaps you just have more faith in humanity, for to me there seems to be so many examples of bad people causing us to get stuck in all sorts of local optimums. How do you deal with these cases? It would be easy to ignore them, but they often come with a missionary zeal which means that eventually that local optimum will spread to you!

    To take an analogy from physics (if I may :) ), some quantum field theories have vacuums which are unstable. It is possible to be in a vacuum state which you think is perfectly stable and then, via a tunneling process, the universe can tunnel into a new lower energy vacuum state. This small seed where this new tunneling occurs can then spread out and destroy the perfectly nice universe you were living in. To use another analogy, markets certainly achieve some level of efficiency, but there are also times when they behave irrationally and a bubble forms and causes all sorts of problems. How to avoid these?

    Maybe what I’m looking for is “multi-scale” selfishness. Locally we maximize to the best of our ability, given the constraint that a slightly larger group to which you belong is also maximized, given the constraint that an even larger group to which you belong is also maximized. In other words, I want us to be working at the critical point of the statistical mechanical model of our society :)

    (Hopefully we’ve entertained Scott enough with this dialogue that he won’t slap me upside the face for our off topic dialogue!)

  40. fc Says:

    May I suggest that is better to minimize local compulsion instead?
    At least this would exclude slavery and dictatorships…

  41. scott Says:

    (Hopefully we’ve entertained Scott enough with this dialogue that he won’t slap me upside the face for our off topic dialogue!)

    No, Dave — it wouldn’t be fair. Supposing I did have a policy of slapping off-topic commenters upside the face, you’re one of the few commenters for whom I could realistically enforce it.

    See you in Innsbruck next week!