Monday, December 26, 2016

A Good Rule of Thumb for Old Graybeards and Young Shavers

Always keep this in the back of your mind: "everything you know is wrong".  Once you say that, know that it's an overstatement that's just easier to say than "in all probability, some of the things you know that you hold most dear are wrong".  Always keep an open mind.  Realize you've probably been misled or lied to about some things, and never stop questioning.  Always ask yourself, "how do I know what I think I know?"

Where does tonight's emphasis come from?  It was Dilbert that introduced me to the idea that web surfing was equivalent to bouncing around like a ping pong ball in a clothes drier.  Today, the ping pong ball of my mind ended up at a blog I've never visited before called Stonekettle Station.  Obviously rather liberal viewpoints.  I ended up there by way of a blog I've visited a few times and that seemed moderately (occasionally) coherent called Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I,  which I bounced to from The Vulgar Curmudgeon.  (Whew!  Got that?)

In a post called "Blind Spot", Stonekettle Station starts with the provocative question, "Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?".  In general, most of us go through that by about 18 or 20, usually aided by some substances that alter mental states - except for those of us who go on and read quantum physics, and then reality gets even stranger.  Despite the juvenile opening, he drifts to this being a central theme of the new Westworld series, then goes into some better writing about how on rare occasions things that are well known by masses of people turn out to be completely untrue.  For an example, he writes about the McMartin Preschool Trial in the 1980s.  For those who don't remember, this was a sensational trial essentially conducted in the press in which a lone suspicious mother; a mentally-ill, alcoholic mother (diagnosed as such, this isn't slander on my part) started what turned into almost a Salem Witchcraft trial of our age. 
By the time it was over, more than 321 individual criminal complaints had been brought against seven people detailing an unbelievable tale of horrific crimes

But in the end all of those charges, all of them, were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Every single one.
For sure, the McMartin Trial was a terrible thing, and an example of some sort of mass, media driven, temporary insanity.  From there, he goes into pizzagate and immediately takes the side that not only is there nothing to it, but that everyone associated with pizzagate is innocent and everything being linked to the story in any way is false.  From my standpoint, I don't have enough evidence in front of me to know in either way.  Frankly, I don't think it's true or real, but as I said the one time I even got close to the subject, these are serious allegations, and "If a quarter of what's alleged in this thread on Reddit is true, the entire Clinton Foundation and everyone in that circle needs to be burned to the ground".  I'll note that Stonekettle doesn't present any evidence that he's right, nor did he provide a link to any point-by-point refutation, nor anything else solid, just that he baited some people online and received hostile response that he took to show those people are idiots. 

Gosh, there are idiots online!  Stop the presses!  Shut down the Internet!  There are idiots out there!  Who would have ever thought there are idiots in the general population?  I mean, besides everyone. 

From there, it gets worse.  He goes down the road that the only people stupid enough to believe conspiracy theories like these are a ... certain subset of the population
You see, that segment of the population is, after 30 years of being habituated to fear by talk radio and TV pundits, fake news, false narratives, an endless diet of conspiracy theories from bottomless cesspools such as Infowars, conditioned by their religion of suspicion and intolerance and a political party of paranoia, that population, is now uniquely vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.
The astute will realize that "habituated to fear by talk radio" means Rush Limbaugh, so I'll cut to the chase: it's the conservatives that are the only ones stupid enough to fall for a conspiracy theory.  There are no liberal conspiracy theories after all.  I mean besides the ones that two seconds with a search engine turn up.  Frankly, there's nothing worthwhile in the column after this.  The rest of it is just attacks on the Trump administration for not following his model of thinking, which the previous paragraphs show that he isn't following himself.  Another smug self-impressed liberal; nothing new here.

I doubt you'll ever end up here, Mr Stonekettle, but repeat after me: "everything you know is wrong".  Once you say that, know that it's an overstatement that's just easier to say than "in all probability, some of the things you know that you hold most dear are wrong".  Always keep an open mind.  Realize you've probably been misled or lied to about some things, and never stop questioning.  Always ask yourself, "how do I know what I think I know?"


  1. "Pizzagate"? Seriously?

    Dude, step out of the bubble every now and again. Just to maintain some balance.

    1. step out of your own, gunselle. here's just one of the relevant Podesta e-mails:

      "at our next meeting, only one slice of pizza will be available. So we'll be dividing it 5 ways"

      anyone with an IQ above room temperature and who dwells outside the Beltway/Hollywood sewer is capable of understanding what is being discussed here: the kidnap, rape-torture, and murder of children.

    2. That's one hell of a leap you're making there. From it being obvious they're not talking about pizza means they must be talking about child rape/torture/murder ... that's one hell of a leap, dude.


    3. "here's just one of the relevant Podesta e-mails:"

      That's what someone *told* you was one of the Podesta emails.

  2. In WA state in the 80's, There was a hysterical frenzy about witchcraft-child abuse among some church members. It turns out the lead investigators emotionally disturbed daughter was the one making all the accusations and the prosecutor swallowed the story whole. Every time someone said "it ain't so" the stories got wilder. The Seattle times was pushing this hard, not a quiff of questioning,like the had never heard of the Salem trials.
    IIRC, eventually the story caught the attention of a WSJ reporter, who actually did some investigative reporting and blew the story wide open nationally. (I think it was Dorothy Rabinowitz).
    The episode was a stain on the county, the state and the country, and although the story was a complete and total fabrication, some of the poor went to prison anyway because they had no money for a decent lawyer.


      I call these sorts of things "human flights of fancy". We do seem to be prone to such things. Confirmation bias and rational ignorance drive them, and they are what form worldviews, which are our "conceptual defaults". I wrote about that a while back:

      As to pizzagate, I lean toward believing it. Just look at the psychology of the kind of people who reach for ultimate power; they clearly do not care even about the murder of millions. Why be deterred by bourgeois sentiments such as protection of children? There are historical examples, e.g. Tiberius Caesar...

      Thanks for that Feynman quote; I am a huge fan.

    2. Thanks, Paul. Went to STR and read that piece. Readers: I recommend you do the same.

    3. Proof of truth :

      where is that written?
      Testimony of experts throughout the past.
      Who's examined this and verified
      Who else says that?
      What are the experience of large groups of people over time and in this present day?
      Compare this to other things.
      In legal matters there is evidence, eye witnesses, testimony of experts and arguments of the Prosecution then the Defense and then they are judged.
      Always ask " who says that?" " Who else agrees?" Where does it say that in writing?
      What do experts now and past say? What books say that?
      How is this compared to something similar? As compared to what.
      What is the cost and who will pay? Who will benefit and who will lose?
      What is the hard evidence? What proofs are lacking?

  3. I don't believe Oswald killed JFK or at the very least killed him by himself. Most likely it was a larger conspiracy with about 5-6 people actually on the scene either shooting, covering up and distracting.

    I don't believe flight 800 blew itself up. I acknowledge that many people saw a missile and all of them were ignored or quieted by the investigators. Interestingly the only person to go to jail in this conspiracy was a pilot who snuck out some seat material to have it tested for explosive residue, it tested positive.

    I don't believe that Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah bldg all by himself. I don't believe AMFO can sever a 5' dia reinforced concrete column from a distance of from 30-50 feet.

  4. Fifty pounds of AMFO, in a shaped charge, simply sitting cone down on the ground, will blow a hole one meter wide, and three meters straight down into Georgia clay. McVeighs charges were arranged by direction on one side of the truck they were placed in, to blow 75% in that direction, and weighed between one and a half to two tons, combination tnt, gasoline, diesel, and ammonia nitrate.The distance to the building was more like 60ft. Remember, the truck made the charge elevated to four feet above ground, which allowed for more of the force from the blast to go straight at the building, and not be absorbed by the ground. Even so, cars in the parking lot, behind the truck, were destroyed and set on fire for a distance of over 100 meters. 5" diameter concrete columns MIGHT withstand the blast, but since they were stressed by the weight of the building on them, and their proximity to each other, uh, no. Take away their stress factors, and yup. Notice looking at the building, that the right side was not quite as damaged as the left side. Blast went somewhat left. If it had been lined up straight, the building would have come down on it's own. As it was, it didn't need a lot of encouragement during finishing demolition later, almost coming down on people and equipment trying to do just that. If an object is under stress, demolition is all the more easier, because it provides resistance. Willow trees bend with the wind. Oak trees don't, and are knocked down.

    1. You bought the government version. AMFO is not a high speed explosive and simply isn't suitable to destroy modern reinforced concrete. It would have to be buried within the concrete column i.e. drill holes and pack them with AMFO. Even then the results would be spotty. Dynamite of C4 would do it but would have to also be adjacent to the column and not some 50 feet away. Here is what really happened to the column; someone, clearly not McVeigh, placed a powerful explosive on the column and detonated it at the same time as the AMFO charge. That IMHO is the only thing about this that we can be sure of.
      Also mixing AMFO to the consistency necessary to make it fully effective is about as difficult as mixing concrete. You cannot simply pour fuel oil into a barrel of fertilizer and make a powerful explosive. This was physically impossible for McVeigh or any one human. That is why the FBI looked for some kind of machine to mix it. Didn't find one. The FBI story is McVeigh went to a rest stop and mixed it up by hand. The comical thing about that story is since the stated amount of AMFO would not have caused the damage we saw BUT a massive amount of AMFO would stretch credulity that any one human could mix it the FBI finally settled on 1 ton or maybe more or maybe a lot more depending on WHICH question they were being asked. Because Either it was NOT AMFO or the AMFO was not the only explosive used. Think about that for a minute. Someone else (multiple people) was involved in this. The FBI had to know that. And the American people were denied justice. Who were they covering for???

    2. And you believe that it's completely impossible that the Murrah building construction was a little "light in the mix"? That there wasn't any corners cut during construction? Nobody greased some palms to make sure the inspections came out OK?

  5. This is why I hate getting close to the topic of conspiracy theories. No matter what you say, "true believers" are gonna believe.

    I'm by no means familiar enough with any of these things to debunk anything. JFK's assassination is one of my earliest clear memories, and in the intervening 53 years I've heard everything from a Secret Service guy confessing in a book (late '80s) that he killed Kennedy by accident to it being a mafia hit, to it being bankers mad about him trying to limit Federal Reserve powers (which is probably a long winded way of blaming it on "the Jooos") to just about anything else one can think of. Occam's razor?

    Likewise, I know nothing about the practical side of detonations (I thought it was ANFO, not AMFO - for ammonium nitrate fuel oil) either one of you guys could be right or you could both be completely wrong. I do know from working on high speed data collection systems that were designed to study the ignition in an engine cylinder that things go on during even a very well-contained and well-controlled explosion like that one which don't make sense to the investigators. Spread that out over acres instead of cubic inches and I have no doubt unexpected details will show up.

    From what I read about the investigation of flight 800, I thought they did a good job. They even recreated shooting an airplane at that altitude down with a missile to compare what it looked like to eyewitness accounts. Statements like, " Interestingly the only person to go to jail in this conspiracy was a pilot who snuck out some seat material to have it tested for explosive residue, it tested positive." need references.

    On the topic of pizzagate, to tie back to the comment reply to the first comment in this thread, let's say that we all agree that they're not talking about pizza. How do you get from "it's not pizza" to it being "the kidnap, rape-torture, and murder of children. "?? How do you know they didn't mean "there's only enough cocaine for one of us"? Or there's only enough heroin? Or there's only the money we pay one informant? Or any of another billion other things it could mean?

    It seems to be a rather large leap to go from "they're doing something illegal" to "they're kidnapping, rape-torturing, and murdering children."


      Meanwhile, TWA chief 747 pilot Robert Terrell Stacey, who was participating in the official investigation as a TWA representative, became convinced that a reddish-brown substance observed on the backs of recovered passenger seats was suspicious, and possibly indicative of explosive residue or rocket fuel. Working with journalist James Sanders, and Sanders' wife Elizabeth, a TWA flight attendant, he removed items from the wreckage reconstruction site, specifically the samples of seat fabric as well as documents related to the investigation.[18] In 1997 Sanders' published the book The Downing of TWA Flight 800, in which he proposed that TWA 800 had been downed by a missile, and that a government cover-up had taken place so as to not panic the public. Later, with the information provided by Sanders, the Riverside Press-Enterprise published a series of articles alleging that the substance was consistent with unexpended rocket fuel from a missile that struck TWA 800.[19]

      The NTSB determined the locations and appearance of the substance found on the seatbacks was consistent with adhesive used in the construction of the seats, and additional laboratory testing by NASA identified the substance as being consistent with those adhesives (results which Sanders disputed).[13]

      On December 5, 1997, federal prosecutors charged Sanders, his wife Elizabeth, and Stacey with theft of government property.[20] The Sanders' defense attorney Bruce Maffeo described the prosecution as "extremely vindictive" and insisted that the couple had a First Amendment right to take the sample and crash-related documents to expose a cover-up.[21] In April 1999, both were convicted of stealing evidence from civil aircraft wreckage, and were sentenced to probation (Stacey had previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the case).[21] In 1999, James Sanders authored a second book, Altered Evidence.

  6. Let me say that I'm an agnostic on much of the material discussed above EXCEPT the Kennedy assassination. Look, guys, you ALL have bolt action rifles. Watch the Kennedy assassination on youtube a few times and try to manipulate the bolt of your slickest and best rifle that quickly. Add in that three aimed shots that hit the target were supposed to be delivered from 400 yards and it's an "unlikely it was a lone rifleman" verdict. (Note - I have tried this using my favourite .22LR rifle and I could only JUST manage it after much practice. I could not have done it if I had to recover from the recoil from a Carcano Model 91/38 and deliver aimed shots.

    However, on a lighter note, there IS confirmation that the Russians manipulated the election. Don't believe me, read it for yourself ... >};o)

    Phil B

  7. Maybe peeps are so prone to think of what they don't know cuz they're so afraid of choosing based on what they do know. Hey, it's a theory.

  8. I've watched a quote attributed to Valerie Jarrett make the rounds since its inception. It's now like a tracer dye-pack in a bag of conspiracy-theory click bait. I remember where I first read it, at Washington Whispers years ago. I'd never been to that site before so I dug around and realized that a healthy dose of skepticism was in order and that nowhere on the Internet was that quote by Jarrett noted except at WW. From there I watched it become a poster child for fake, but quite believable, quotes. I believe she is entirely capable of saying such things, but I have no proof of her saying it. But it will not go away. People excoriate me for denying its attribution because they can find it everywhere on the Internet now. Like a twitter-storm, the actual thread of the ignition is lost. In the new days of the Internet, the truth has an event-horizon all its own.

    1. You've raised my interest on this. If you don't care to quote it, could you leave a link or another hint?

  9. I haven't made up my mind about pizzagate. I do find it interesting that the folks investigating this have mentioned the day care story multiple times and have been slow to draw conclusions. The thing I find most troubling is that sculpture that Tony Podestra has. No normal person has a sculpture of one of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, in a rather odd pose. It's not his only creepy artwork, but it sets off warning bells to me.

    1. Well, to reword what some of us said the other day, it's a long leap from "weird dude has a disgusting sculpture" to "weird dude is raping, torturing and murdering children". All weird dudes don't molest children, but I suspect all child molesters are weird dudes. I think that whole "spirit cooking" thing that John Podesta is involved in is incomprehensibly weird, yet that's nothing compared to the allegations.

      I'd like to see some real investigators on this. Like you say, I haven't made up my mind, but I'm not a real investigator, nor do I even play one here.