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Missive #164

In London in 1019, a few months have passed since Thorgils escaped the clutches of the Irish Church, only to find himself at the center of a capricious love affair with Aelfgifu—wife of Knut the Great ruler of England,This is the second book in the Viking trilogy which I have enjoyed. I think Severin writes better historical fiction than the nonfiction travel books that he wrote early in his career. He has a couple more fiction series that I will read when I finish this one. and one of the most powerful men of the Viking empire. As this passionate relationship between the two begins to unfold, it forebodes inevitable consequences. When Thorgils is finally on the run again, he meets Grettir, an outlaw feared for his volatility, and the two become travel companions and sworn brothers. At the gates of Byzantium, Thorgils’ loyalty is put to the ultimate test.

Follow the science? Maybe not.

Today? If you submit a paper to a scientific journal, it goes out for peer review, meaning that the journal sends it around to three or four acknowledged experts in the field and won’t publish it unless they give it a thumbs up. The politics around who gets to be peer reviewers in each subset of each field of science are intense and often bitter, and quite often a paper that offers evidence disproving the conventional wisdom in some field of science will be denied publication no matter how good the research is, because the peer reviewers are committed to the defense of the status quo. They may have good financial reasons for that: in an era when most funding for scientific research comes from corporate sources or from government bureaucracies “influenced” (we can use the polite word) by corporate money, who gets funding and who doesn’t has much more to do with quarterly profits than it does with good science.…
This same insight can be summed up neatly in another way. The claim that the coming of science meant end of enchantment is completely mistaken, because science is itself an enchantment. The world inhabited by true believers in science is an enchanted world, a world where certain people in white lab coats have a unique ability to know the truth about nature, and the rest of us are supposed to accept whatever they say on blind faith, no matter how often the approved dogma changes and no matter how much harm it causes. There was no disenchantment of the world; instead, we exchanged an old enchantment for a newer one. Granted, the new enchantment had its advantages, but it also has had tremendous costs, and the bills are still coming due. — Science as Enchantment by John Michael Greer

I have no quotes from The Populist Moment Never Happened by Bronze Age Pervert but I recommend it to be read. It is about Argentina’s recent presidential election but may well be a predictor of what is coming in the United States.

The political scientist Martin Gilens, aided by a small army of research assistants, gathered a large data set—nearly two thousand policy issues between 1981 and 2002. Each case matched a proposed policy change to a national opinion survey asking a favor/oppose question about the initiative. The raw survey data provided information that enabled Gilens to separate the preferences of the poor (in the lowest decile of the income distribution) and the typical (the median of the distribution) from the affluent (the top 10 percent).
Statistical analysis of this remarkable data set showed that the preferences of the poor had no effect on policy changes. This is not entirely unexpected. What is surprising is that there was no—zilch, nada—effect of the average voter. The main effect on the direction of change was due to the policy preferences of the affluent. There was also an additional effect of interest groups, the most influential ones being business-oriented lobbies. Once you include in the statistical model the preferences of the top 10 percent and the interest groups, the effect of the commoners is statistically indistinguishable from zero. — End Times by Peter Turchin

2 thoughts on “Missive #164”

  1. This is not a response to your post. ..I hope you and Erik enjoy a special in whatever way pleases you
    Thanksgiving Day tomorrow,-Mary

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