2014.12.07 flocking

Many different things are extremely frustrating these days. Wait! Stop! Don’t run away, I’m not going to go on complaining about how the universe is failing to please me!

What might be the most general overall theme that ends up emerging over the course of things here is how much runs into a massive… something… trying to choose the right word here… of what could probably be just called groupthink. And of course, the problem with groupthink is, it isn’t really thinking. Given this, the list of things to address gets pretty long.

The frustration can be pretty severe if you try to hit the lights and try to get attention focused on an item when it’s outside of the prevaling groupthink, and especially if it contradicts and conflicts with the groupthink. That’s a big problem.

In this subject it’s natural, totally appropriate, to refer to the old children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes, which I’ve referred to as a metaphor in this space, god, what, maybe dozens of times by now, over the last few years. In the story, the problem is not that nobody in the crowd is able to see the Emperor proudly strutting down the street in his underwear. It’s right there. They can all see it if they look, and decide to actually see what’s there. The whole problem, the basic moral of the story that even children can understand, is about people pretending, avoiding reality, and joining in a group consensus of pretense.

A huge part of the overall problems I’m talking about turns up demonstrated in the kind of thing I just mentioned a couple paragraphs up, wherein people will start acting out and finding various ways to dismiss somebody, and what they’re trying to get across, without even considering what they’re being told, because, somehow, it’s not fitting what they would like to think, or what they’ve been thoroughly trained to think. This general kind of problem is the most fundamental explanation for a large portion of what ends up being subjects of my writing here, from me, a guy who is repulsed by politics, and has zero interest in writing “a political blog”. A great deal of what ends up in focus here ends up being about political stuff, just because all kinds of political dysfunction and full on lunacy fouls up the works in getting a clear view of damned near anything these days.

If you’re a reader of past notes here, you might have already read me talking about this problem, what I’ve come to call bipolar political disorder, where people react to anything presented to them by first asking “is this Left or Right?… is this R or D?… is this Liberal or Conservative?…”, and from then on everything just reverts to whatever dogma, cliches, and even plain falsehoods and delusions programmed into their heads in terms of their team versus the Other Side. Some game of idiot dodgeball begins, sometimes even when really intelligent people are involved, which is the ultimate tragedy in this stuff.

It should be said, if it isn’t obvious, that a great deal of this kind of thing appears as some serious disruption of obstacle in something that isn’t really about politics, at all, but, as I said, ends up somehow becoming a “political issue”, even in cases where, for example, we’re talking about trying to understand and deal rationally with physical reality.

Sometimes, it just becomes astonishing beyond belief. I mean, to get down to simplest terms, sometimes the groupthink is so severe, so completely entrenched and embedded in people’s pysches that anything coming in that suggests that something, anything, is different in reality, that they regard the messenger involved as clearly being some kind of oddball, a crackpot, some sort of idiot and/or lunatic.

Sometimes, the reactions are maybe not quite that, but that somebody bringing some disruptive facts or idea must clearly be regarded as some threatening intruder from the political Other Side.

All kinds of stories continue to pop up, reflecting all this kind of thing.

In a variety of subjects, among other things, it’s sometimes damned near impossible to get some people to focus their attention fully on some actual facts, as they’re too busy chattering at you about your supposed “political opinions”, completely missing the fact that at the moment you migth not have said a word about expressing any opinions, political or otherwise, and are actually addressing a straightforward matter of fact. Too often, it’s essentially a case where a fact that’s a bit inconvenient is dismissed as “an opposing political opinion”, about “differing views”, and so on.

At this point, looking at the software I’m using to write this, I see the word count hitting the 900 word mark (ironically, just then as I hit the word “mark”!), and so far, I haven’t actually gotten into any concrete matters of fact, just dealing with discussing this whole problem. The irony does not escape me. But that’s the problem in a nutshell; the diversions of the kinds of problems I’m talking about.

 

One item that popped up is actually a repeating item I’ve seen occasionally, recently, but haven’t mentioned before. It’s a show car prototype called the QUANT e-Sportlimousine. It’s an amazing and impressive looking automobile, certainly something that fits into the exotic supercar category. Aside from the general layout and look, the chassis stance, according to the PR stuff the electric motors crank out 920HP, a very significant figure (which also comes with the amazing instant massive torque inherent to electric motors), to say the least. It looks extremely impressive. It’s very interesting.

Here’s the problem. The times I’ve seen this pop up, which, unsurprisingly, has been in “Share” posts on Facebook, it has been in a link to some online article, paired with comments from the person “sharing”, talking about this amazing new innovative development of a high performance electric car “that runs on saltwater” or even taking it further and maybe saying “runs on seawater!”. The problem is, this is bullshit.

The problem isn’t actually that the people responsible for the car are lying, although there’s a certain vagueness, let’s say, that encourages confusion. Looking into it, the car uses electric motors, with the energy driving them coming from a “flow cell” battery system. I’ll say right now that I know little about the idea, but, basically, instead of a chemical battery that holds an electrolyte solution of some kind that’s charged, you have a storage tank and feed the chemical through the cell where the electrochemical magic makes electrons flow. After flowing through the cell, the discharged fluid is collected in a collector tank, and to “refuel” or “recharge”, however you wish to describe this, you go someplace, drain the depleted fluid, and fill the storage tank (a 200 Liter tank) with fresh fluid.

In the case of this car, looking at the manufacturer’s website, and even looking around searching the web elsewhere trying to get some sort of detailed specific information, never answers the simple question- what, exactly, do you put in the tank of this thing? It’s not “salt water”, although it appears from what vague descriptions I can find that the chemistry involves some sort of “salts”, it certainly doesn’t fucking run on seawater!

Trying to get this through to people runs into online comments about “being negative” (because somebody is actually examining this to sort out what it actually is, and addressing it as it is, i.e., not what it’s thought to be by some people), or one response to some skeptical questioning of this that asked somebody “do you own oil company stock or something?”, implying that anybody saying, hang on, this is not what you seem to think it is, is a “fossil fuel propagandist”, or something like that.

It comes back to complex subjects getting shoved into opposing boxes of largely political dogma, mixed with a brew of wishful thinking or full delusions. In this general area, this kind of story turns up people wishing to believe in some energy miracle that really isn’t, seeing themselves as the opposition to a different kind of wishful thinking and fiction and confusion among a crowd convinced that we have all the hydrocarbon deposits we ever need, if only mean old Big Gummint got out of the way with their nasty regulations and taxes, and presto!

Enter the realm of energy, and, as I’ve been trying to point out for a few years now, it falls right into the often politically oriented lunacy of people chanting “drill, baby, drill!” and all the wishful thinking, ignorance, and delusions that go with that, in squabbling contests lined up versus people wishing to believe in different kinds of wishful thinking, ignorance, or fantasies and delusions, about some imagined (or seriously misunderstood) ideas of some energy miracle, with both “sides” ignorant of the reality involved. Unfortunately, arguably tragically, trying to talk to either camp of these sorts about the problems with their particular belief systems replacing reality and rational thinking will probably attract some sniping about you being accused of being a part of the political partisan “other side”. It’s useless.

It’s amazingly difficult to get across the idea that we are well into diminishing returns in pertroleum and underground hydrocarbons in general, and are decades behind in figuring out other ways to power things, and we also are not going to just simply switch over to something else, and carry along the same. We need to be working on big changes about what we do and how we do it. People expecting one “energy miracle” or another don’t want to think about things like reversing the course of things that leaves everything 10, 15, 20 miles or more apart, with miles of driving to go and do anything, or reviving our train system, and working on proper public transportation.

There’s no magic wand. We have a lot of thinking and work to do.

Moving on… I find myself encountering, constantly these days, people who adamantly hold on to their ideas that President Obama is their guy, a wonderful president, doer of the good and the great, who could do so much more good if not for those awful Republicans messing up the works. It’s as bad as the Fox News victims and Republicanistas who still hammer on the idiotic fiction about Obama as secret Leftist radical Marxist Kenyan Muslim whatever, with “both sides” lining up for skirmishes of the confused and deluded versus the confused and deluded. Itemizing any of the lengthy list of serious, even severe, criticisms due to Obama can draw responses from people in ways that could almost be funny, if it all were not so serious. You can encounter people responding by assuming that the person delivering the news and observations is either:

  1. “Right-wing radical Repugnican wingnut”
  2. “Far Left radical whining that nothing Obama does is good enough”

 

I commented on something online about Obama supposedly “fixing the economy”, basically saying, if Obama fixes the economy, let’s see what happens then. Somebody responded to that by telling me I’m partisan and ignorant, when I was certainly being neither. I thought it was especially noteable to see the “partisan” accusation. It’s probably a good example of the idea of psychological projection; exactly the peoblem I’m writing about. There are people who can’t even conceive of the possibility of anything (or anybody) not being “partisan”. Here we are again. Is this a Liberal thing or a Conservative thing? Is this person Left or Right? R or D? Which of two bins holds you?

It’s virtually impenetrable, and even trying to get people suffering from this to see that they’re inside a neat little pen unable to see anything simply as it is, and think for themselves, just generally doesn’t go well. People snap into programmed reflex mode. Facts and reason don’t matter.

Just in the last day or so, I encountered comments via “sharing” on Facebook, links to online articles posted, with following comments, that basically reflected the tendency of people to hang on to notions about Barack Obama as president that are just as disconnected from reality as the Fox News victims hanging on to their images of Obama the evil villain that have little to no connection to reality. Guess what? Trying to shed a little light on things has little to no effect, other than snark and people digging in a little deeper.

 

 

 

Terrorism and the Evolution of Deception

EROEI – Wikipedia

The Supercar That Runs Using ‘Saltwater’ Is Likely Bullshit

 

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