There are hundreds of thousands of government engineers and analysts who have time to surf the internet at work. It is where most of the tech activity went after manufacturing went to China. Most of them have views consistent with how they live. The vast majority of them are not being explicitly paid to astroturf.
The distinction doesn't matter as much now in the age of internet and routine background investigations. I got arrested on a class one misdemeanor charge years ago. Since its not a felony, even had I been convicted I wouldn't have had to put it on job applications. I was completely innocent, and the charges were dropped. But it still turns up and I still have to explain it to employers when I try to change jobs. As far as I know it hasn't hurt me, but I still find it a bit worrisome that the whole "expunged from record" thing appears to have become a fiction.
I think this is another reason the pre-screening thing that the TSA has been pushing is a terrible idea. The mechanisms are already in place that with tiny changes create a huge subclass of undesirables that has trouble traveling.
People were more aggressive and less risk adverse in the past, and not as self-absorbed, but for the most part were never willing to stand up for what was right. For example, when Thomas Paine was in prison in France, the founding fathers left him hung out to dry. Nobody stood up to stop the genocide against Native Americans. There was a regional power struggle between the north and south US, which had different cultures, but poor southern white men did essentially nothing to help black men. America fought Germany because Germany declared war on the US, not because they were willing to fight Fascism, and the US did very little to help Jews escape. America fought Japan because they were pissed about Peal Harbor, not because of what Japan was doing in China. Very much of the domestic opposition to the war in Vietnam came from people who wanted to stay home, enjoy benefits of birth control pills, penicillin, and smoke weed, not because they had a more principled objection. I could go on.
I think its possible to understand a lot about "why this is", but we've got to be willing to give up our own vanity, and face the possibility that our ideals not only will not but can not be realized in anything like the form and time-frame that we may have hoped for. Our problems go very, very deep, its not like humanity just went off the tracks a few decades ago or even a few thousand years ago. Study animal behavior closely and you'll see that its all fucked up to, in pretty much the same ways. Maintaining idealism in the face of this takes an incredible patience, and a kind of courage. If we value courage, here's something to prove ourselves on maybe.
I think your advice was reasonable, based on your experience, and it was reasonable for you to offer it.
I do have a partial disagreement with it though. Medications have side effects, often significantly undesirable, and there isn't a clear, universally applicable line which distinguishes all schizophrenics from all non-schizophrenics. I have had symptoms which meet the definition of schizophrenia, and I had them a lot more for a couple of years before they went away again. Suppose I had decided it was a problem worth getting medication for. Then I could never stop the medications again? That would seem like a good reason to be very cautious about ever starting treatment.
My sister is a doctor in a big city ER, so I can imagine what your experience is like. But that's a skewed sample. It doesn't include the much larger number of mild schizophrenics who never wind up in the ER. Also, many doctors are not very interested in understanding the more subtle tradeoffs with medications and their significance, and they prescribe drugs casually if the patient seems to be asking for it, or for the sake of doing some kind of treatment to cover their own liability or to justify the visit. How large a portion of doctors have that kind of arrogance I don't know, because I've encountered both. But the percentage who went into medicine because of some combination of attraction to money, having power over people, and vicarious sadism is not small. Particularly in the more difficult areas like mental health and ER work.
That's true, sort of like how Republican's pretend to care about limiting spending, but it keeps going up whenever they control both houses and the Presidency. I think having a Republican president and a Democratic congress would help some with the surveillance stuff for that reason: the Democrats pretending to care about executive over-reach would slow it a little. But despite the talk people like Feinstein and Pelosi would still be behind it when it mattered. They're cowards and they're too deeply connected to the money through stock and other interests. Plus a lot of the programs they support are secret, so nobody can call them on it.
I don't think that blackmailing of any sort is the reason they're not going to be stopped.
It won't stop because most people don't care very much, or it represents a kind of abuse of power which they favor. Same reason the drone war won't stop any time soon either.
Seems to me you give up too much by tossing out vegans and religious nuts. As a right-leaning, freedom loving vegan, I don't see why I bring less to the table than pot smoking libertarians. Also, a significant portion of the religious right aren't a problem either, they've been caricatured by leftist agnostics who don't understand their way of thinking and lump them in with the bigoted, anti-science variety.
Or maybe the galaxy is teeming with life, but broadcast radio is a very brief, primitive technology, and ringworlds and Dyson spheres are a real bitch to build?
I don't think that most people really grasp how far apart things are, and how inappropriate it is to think of space is if its a gigantic ocean.
I think there are still frontiers, but 'crossing space' is not a right way to think about them.
I worked in the aerial surveillance industry for several years. In the niche I was in, everyone pretended it was about patriotism and national service. But if you looked at what actually drove the decisions, it was mostly about money, spiced up a little bit with vicarious violence. Aside from some minimal ass covering, there wasn't anybody in the whole chain of command that considered morality or what was actually helping, this was always regarded as someone else's responsibility. And for what they put into it, the money was actually quite good. I have almost no sympathy. Many of them are too far into it to get out now, but they got themselves there by lying to themselves. If they were actually sincere, when they came across evidence of corruption, they'd want to do something about it. But when I started discovering more of what was going on, nobody wanted to hear a thing about it. How they represent their actions to themselves, in their own imagination, doesn't change the nature of what they are doing.
At least half of the people I know are Chinese, most of them in their early 40's or so who came over in the 90's. You're the first one I've knowingly encountered who seems to have any clue about this sort of thing. Though its a gross oversimplification, I tend to view Chinese and eastern European immigrants as the inheritors of western civilization in the US, since the rest of us seem to have given up on it. Their kids are going to be powerful in another 40 or 50 years. Yet my Chinese friends generally don't seem to have a clue about political and cultural history, they're all about money and taking care of their families. In some ways they know a lot less than I do even about Chinese cultural history. I've toyed with the idea of trying to teach a class on it at the local weekend Chinese school, aimed at parents. Not that they would necessarily be interested or that my preaching would accomplish anything.
Hi. A few comments....
Few people can read Latin. To a significant extent, words really do mean what you want them to.
There are many Christian gods. Though the Christ gods are all interrelated, being united under the same name and a common scripture, some of them are a lot better than others. And in different ways, many Christians are smart enough to recognize that their god is not The One True God. I think that when you communicate your view and experience to those Christians, their god changes a little bit, because it thinks through them, sort of. I think that this is necessary, that their gods can not be defeated by force.
Also it appears to me that every major philosophy or religion, however screwed up, has a half-truth or two that it does better than other religions. For those of us who must fight Christianity because it persecutes our spirits and offends our moral sensibilities, I think it's still worth keeping this in perspective, to avoid cutting ourselves off from something we need. Unfortunately, I think it's a little bit like living in a country with a corrupt culture and government. No path forward is quite satisfactory.
I'm not really expressing a view on C.E. vs A.D., just throwing some related thoughts out there.
Cocaine isn't chemically addictive. Like cocaine, marijuana is psychologically addictive. I'm not for or against legalizing marijuana, just pointing out that it is not nonaddictive. I know a couple of people that are addicted enough that they can't get through a day without it. Arguably its still not as bad for them as alcohol though.
I went to crappy universities, not because my grades and test scores wouldn't get me in to the top tier schools, but because I didn't have financial help from my parents and preferred not to go deeply into debt. I foolishly figured that if I was intelligent, worked hard and respected other people I could get a decent job. My classmates got jobs from relatives at Intel and HP as soon as they graduated, while I never even got a phone screen.
So if the heuristic works 90% of the time the other 10% of guys don't deserve to work? I haven't found work within 500 miles of my wife and kids for 4 of the past 5 years, and its still rare that I can even get as far as a phone screen, notwithstanding that I've been effective in every job I've had. I think the heuristic stinks.
From my own studies of free enterprise as a CAS, it appears to me that if any company controls more than perhaps 20% of a market, or if fewer than 10 or so companies constitute a large percentage of a market, they have effectively too much monopoly power.
And yet, in almost every market, we see one or two companies dominating more than half the market. By your analysis that's way, way too much monopolistic power, and it's the norm. Not very much negative feedback. It seems to me this dynamic has very much in common with communism, even though communism is a purer form so everything goes to hell in a faster and more thorough fashion.
In nature, two species can never survive in exactly the same niche, there has to be something that differentiates them. Oscillations in climate will do it, one species gets the upper hand for a while, then the other, and its stable. (This is like how its easier to balance a pole on your finger if you move you finger randomly back and forth - same principle.) Geographic diversity can help too, and animals can survive in the same fixed locality in slightly different niches that overlap. But within a particular locality, one species always dominates a particular niche. The same dynamics apply to companies. Very quickly things move towards something close to monopoly. Just a moderate amount of regulation isn't enough to fix that. And a large amount of regulation obviously isn't going to fix it either when the political system is corrupted by the same dynamics.
I'll get modded to oblivion if anyone sees this, but I get objectively verifiable premonitions in dreams that can't plausibly be extrapolated from past experience. This happens occasionally to a lot of people, though most scientific types who have experienced it are shy about talking about it. Like most other personal characteristics there's a distribution of tendencies, with a few people being way out on the tail. How it works I have no idea, but it works somehow.