Open Forum

Where you can't be off-topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Guarneri says:

    News Item: Mueller refuses to testify before House Judiciary Committee. Democrats threaten to subpoena.

    What a said day. There can be only one logical conclusion: Robert Mueller III is a Russian spy. Can anyone doubt Putin ordered him to find “no collusion?” I think not.

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  2. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: From what cesspit of the far right did you grab that from?! Infowars?

    Links to a reputable news source, or it didn’t happen.

  3. Matt says:

    Mayor Pete’s townhall on Fox News went very well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p97xg-keEKg

  4. DrDaveT says:

    Teve,

    In Open Forum 14 you recommended Rachel Watches Star Trek. Thanks for the tip — I’m loving it.

  5. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: she is fantastic!

  6. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: You nailed it! The top two links on google were zero hedge and infowars! Good call!

  7. LB says:

    I’ve struggled with whether to post this, but I like the OTB crowd and actually don’t seem to have anybody else I can turn to at the moment. I do comment on the site occasionally, but due to the nature of this, I’m using a different alias and trust the mods won’t publicly link it.

    I’ve been married for quite a spell, and we’ve got a beautiful family. One issue, though, is a pretty common one: the dwindling sex life. I’ve done everything you can think of (yes I pay attention to her emotional needs, yes I do lots of chores and child-rearing, yes I’m in good shape, etc.), but for the most part she’d be fine to never go beyond cuddling. And it’s been made clear that I’d be kicked to the curb if I got a little outside help.

    And that’s how we’ve arrived here in the past week, when my wife let me know she’s started a relationship. While she’s never really shown the inclination before, it’s with a woman, another mother of a young family. My wife told me as soon as reasonably possible, and sought my approval. It was immediately agreed that this remains discreet, but much more importantly that this is not to disrupt our kids’ lives in any way. I trust her to achieve these goals, and granted her both my permission and support.

    Intellectually I’m fine with this. There are naturally some pangs here, I’m not a robot. I don’t know what else to do but to be productive with the nervous energy I’ve got right now. But FFS, she’s happy. And I’m happy to see that new-love look in her eyes. She’s told me of the unspoken feelings that developed over weeks, but given our backgrounds it seemed the uncertain resolution was taboo, a forbidden fruit. I won’t describe the whole story but it’s actually beautiful and funny.

    But what to do here? Any specific concerns to watch out for? Specific rules to lay down? We’re adamant that our families stay intact. Should I offer to talk to the other husband, who is currently not supportive? And finally, um, what about my needs? I’m not interested in an analogous (i.e. homosexual) relationship, and it just feels too fraught if I found a female companion. The good news is that we’ve been communicating like mad, so I can bring any helpful thoughts and opinions to her.

  8. Kathy says:

    Myths should not be taken literally, even when they discuss allegedly factual items. So, for example, we don’t even know whether there was a Trojan War, much less whether it involved a ten-year siege.

    The number of years in the siege is telling. according to Jeff Wright in his Trojan War podcast, the ancient Greeks used the number ten to indicate a large amount of something, the same way we use million figuratively (I haven’t seen one of these in a million years!). So saying “ten years” might mean merely “a long time.”

    Siege warfare takes a long time and requires patience. To withstand a siege requires lots of supplies. But even as large a city as Rome was brought to near-ruin in a siege lasting one year. Ten years of siege is simply impossible.

    Consider the simple matter of water. how do you bring water into a walled city surrounded by enemy soldiers? Rome had aqueducts, yes, which the Goths besieging easily cut. Rome also had cisterns and other water storage systems, which would last for months. One can assume they would collect rainwater as well. But for ten years?

    And what about food? Ancient cities were densely packed, with narrow streets and not much open space. You couldn’t grow food inside, even if you had ample water supplies.

    But the story’s too good. A siege for half a generation? Children growing into adults within the walls of Troy, for one thing. Adults growing older, some of them dying of old age. It’s a good story.

    Now, I doubt Homer or any other ancient poets concerned themselves with logistics. But we can do so.

    Suppose A river runs through Troy. That takes care of the water problem. You have a river, lots of water, and no problem (except if it floods). Suppose, too, there was some open space, or some could be made. Despite what the movies would have you believe, ancient cities were not built up of stone. Most buildings, especially the more numerous ones in the lower classes, were wood, with some mud brick as well. these are easily torn down. with open space, you can plant crops, even raise some small animals like chickens and pigs.

    Now all you lack is fuel, building materials, wool, metals, and a lot of other things, but you can conceivably survive ten years of siege.

    Realistically though, if there ever was a war between a coalition of Greek cities against Troy and its allies, and if it involved a long siege (and this is reasonable), then it might have lasted as long as ten months.

    That’s about as long as it might take to convince the Trojans no allies would show up to break the siege, or to allow allies to show up and fail, and to get desperate enough from filth, hunger, and disease to open their gates and try to break the siege themselves. By that time, too, they might still have some livestock left for a sacrifice to seal a solemn oath 🙂

  9. drj says:

    @LB:

    If at all possible, get a therapist. Someone who is sex positive. Shop around if you have to.

    But I’ll say this:

    she’d be fine to never go beyond cuddling.

    There is a possibility your sex life (with her) is over.

    Which means you will need to make other arrangements.

    And it’s been made clear that I’d be kicked to the curb if I got a little outside help.

    Which means she has to compromise, otherwise the entire relationship can only die a horrible death. The more horrible, the longer you wait.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @LB:

    But what to do here? Any specific concerns to watch out for? Specific rules to lay down?

    First off, you can’t take care of anybody else if you don’t take care of yourself first. You have needs, both physical and emotional. It may sound selfish, hell’s bells, it is selfish, but if your needs aren’t taken care of you won’t be happy

    drj’s suggestion of a therapist is good. I found counseling to be helpful during the dissolution of my first marriage and again when I had to take custody of my sons years later and all the tumult of that time. Make sure you get a counselor that is good for you, which is definitely not the same as one who tells you what you want to hear. If you are censuring yourself, you need a different counselor.

    We’re adamant that our families stay intact.

    2nd of all, don’t get hung up on this. It sounds good, but if you are miserable, or your wife is miserable, or you both are miserable with the current arrangement, your children will be miserable too.

    Should I offer to talk to the other husband, who is currently not supportive?

    No, just no. You can’t help, you might very well harm (my old man always said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”) and if he is as loosely wound as my ex’s 2nd husband was, you just might get shot.

    It’s good that the 2 of you are able to talk but it is inevitable that there will be differences of opinion and anger will arise. Always remember to never, ever, under any circumstances, no matter what she does, do you badmouth the mother of your children in front of your children. They love her too.

    ETA: good luck to both of you.

  11. LB says:

    @drj:

    There is a possibility your sex life (with her) is over.

    Yeah, I’ve been staring down that barrel for a long time. Although perhaps I should mention that she basically jumped me a day after the announcement, first time in years. I hold out some hope, probably irrationally, that her newly stirred-up libido will benefit me in the future as well.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    drj’s suggestion of a therapist is good.

    Just to be clear, we’re talking about a therapist specifically for me, not like a marriage counselor? I’ve never been to any.

    No, just no.

    LOL, in hindsight that was a pretty dumb suggestion of mine. I’m not thinking straight. I am worried about safety, but for my wife rather than myself, and for some reason I thought I could be the one to gauge whether he is any danger. And if so, try to deal with it. I don’t currently know him at all, although we will undoubtedly meet at school functions.

    Thank you both for your suggestions and good wishes.

  12. Teve says:

    Looks like China’s response to Trump is, ‘You’re gonna break first MF’.

    Xi Jinping says China is embarking on a ‘new Long March,’ a signal the US trade war is far from over

    Rosie Perper 2h

    During a speech in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province, Xi told cheering crowds that the nation was embarking on a “new Long March” and encouraged the country to remain resilient in the face of hardship.

    “Now there is a new Long March, and we should make a new start,” Xi said Monday during his first national tour since the US-China trade war intensified this month with a series of tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of imports.

    Xi’s remarks had cultural significance for residents of Jiangxi, known as the starting point for the 6,000-mile trek referred to as the Long March of 1934, which preceded the ousting of Nationalist forces by the Communist Party and the emergence of Mao Zedong as China’s leader.

    The Chinese president’s recent actions have been interpreted as attacks on US President Donald Trump as the trade war between the two nations rages on. On Monday, Xi was photographed at a rare-earth magnet factory in eastern China, a highly publicized move suggesting China may be planning to leverage its rare-earth materials, which are used in a wide range of high-tech US products such as smartphones and electric cars.

  13. drj says:

    @LB:

    Just to be clear, we’re talking about a therapist specifically for me, not like a marriage counselor?

    If your relationship with your wife stays intact (which, admittedly, is a big if), you will have to negotiate new boundaries and roles. And instead of gradually growing into this new relationship, you have to work it out on the fly – with a lot of baggage (previous expectations, kids, household, etc.) complicating things even further.

    In other words, you need a marriage counselor to help you and your wife do this together.

    Even so, it simply might not work.

    Another thing to remember: you and your wife have kids together, which means you will have to have some sort of workable relationship with her for the next couple of decades at least (think of college graduation, marriage, grandkids, etc.).

    Which also means you should avoid situations/relationship boundaries that make you resent and eventually hate your wife. Sometimes separation is the better option.

    However, it might be possible to find a solution that works for the both of you. I would certainly give it a try. But your wife has to play ball, too.

    I wish you both the best of luck.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    Via LGM, Jamelle Bouie has a column at WAPO that ties anti-choice to MAGA together with a piece that explains Trumpism very succinctly and better than I’ve seen elsewhere.

    The animating impulse of Trump’s campaign — the beating heart of “Make America Great Again” — was a defense of traditional hierarchies. Trump promised, explicitly, to weaken America’s commitment to principles of fairness and equality to strengthen privileges of race, gender and wealth. His personal life was defined by its hedonism, excess and contempt for conservative morality. But he pitched himself as a bulwark against cultural and demographic change, a symbol of white patriarchal manhood aligned against immigrants, feminists and racial minorities. A bulwark against cultural and demographic change, despite his stated tolerance for same-sex marriage.

    George Lakoff says basically the same thing, that conservatives are big on a natural order, an order with white men at the top, with white women a step down, and minorities below that.

    Trump had staff spend thousands of hours listening to talk radio before he announced as a candidate. He’s no genius, is ignorant as a stone, and is the poster boy for Dunning Kruger, but he’s not stupid. He may not articulate it this way, but this is what he picked up. And it meshed with his basic racism and misogyny.

  15. Teve says:

    I didn’t see it but the social media is saying trump’s presser was “unhinged” “gibberish” and “a tantrum”.

    So Situation Normal.

  16. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: Jamelle Bouie is a rare public intellectual. The David Brookses and the Thoman Friedmans are not fit to share the same newsprint.

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  17. just nutha says:
  18. Guarneri says:

    Things CNN has reported:

    -Trump gets 2 scoops of ice cream, everyone else gets 1

    -The shape of Trump’s genitals

    -How many Diet Cokes Trump drinks daily

    Things CNN won’t report:

    -An alleged illegal alien serial killer who was charged with murdering 12 elderly women in Dallas

    Sounds like OTB.

    10
  19. An Interested Party says:

    -The shape of Trump’s genitals

    Considering how much you fluff him, you don’t need to watch CNN nor read anything here to know that information…

    5
    1
  20. Guarneri says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Manu Raju
    @mkraju
    NEWS: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has expressed reticence to him testifying publicly in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to sources familiar with the matter. His team has expressed that he does not want to appear political….
    One option is to have him testify behind closed doors, but sources caution numerous options are being considered in the negotiations between the committee and the special counsel’s team. Nadler has called for public testimony.

    You know, the CNN lacky. But I have to admit, you got the cesspit part right……….

  21. James Joyner says:

    @Guarneri:

    Things CNN won’t report:

    -An alleged illegal alien serial killer who was charged with murdering 12 elderly women in Dallas
    .

    CNN:

    (BEGIN VIDEO)

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

    CASAREZ: Ochoa-Lopez’s family says they want justice for their only daughter. All three defendants were denied bond. Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

    PAUL: Well a suspected serial killer is charged now in the deaths of 12 elderly women in two counties. This is happening in Texas.

    BLACKWELL: Investigators are saying Billy Chemirmir who worked as a health care or maintenance worker targeted women in their 80s and 90s across north Texas. According to investigators he is a Kenyan citizen living in the U.S. illegally.

    The mother of a missing 4-year-old girl, Maleah Davis, is talking about the search for answers in her daughter’s disappearance and she still hopes her daughter is alive.

    It’s odd that you can’t operate Google yet can cut-and-paste memes from half-assed right-wing sites so easily.

    20
  22. Teve says:

    @James Joyner: James wins Post of the Week!

  23. Teve says:

    It also appears Guarneri plagiarized Ryan Saavedra with no attribution.

  24. Jax says:

    @James Joyner: He’s probably using Duck Duck Go. Some of the Trumpies around here refuse to use Google because they’re (gasp) too liberal. Duck Duck Go apparently lets them stay in their “How come Mainstream Media isn’t reporting on ____” bubble.

  25. Teve says:

    Ryan Saavedra
    @RealSaavedra
    Things CNN has reported:

    -Trump gets 2 scoops of ice cream, everyone else gets 1

    -The shape of Trump’s genitals

    -How many Diet Cokes Trump drinks daily

    Things CNN won’t report:

    -An alleged illegal alien serial killer who was charged with murdering 12 elderly women in Dallas
    Image
    3:22 PM · May 21, 2019

    link

    Guarneri says:
    Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 14:11
    Things CNN has reported:

    -Trump gets 2 scoops of ice cream, everyone else gets 1

    -The shape of Trump’s genitals

    -How many Diet Cokes Trump drinks daily

    Things CNN won’t report:

    -An alleged illegal alien serial killer who was charged with murdering 12 elderly women in Dallas

    Sounds like OTB.

    ReplyReply

  26. gVOR08 says:

    WAPO ran a story on Mnuchin lying to a congressional committee about the recently leaked IRS memo saying they have to turn over Trump’s tax returns. I commented on the story that both Mnuchin and Ben Carson seem incapable of embarrassment. I suspect our friend Guarneri shares the trait.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve:

    Jamelle Bouie is a rare public intellectual. The David Brookses and the Thoman Friedmans are not fit to share the same newsprint.

    Indeed.

  28. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: the Ben Carson story reminded me of the shocking fact that Hydrox is the original, and Oreo is the knock off.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: YouTube is defective! I went looking for a clip of Dick Martin saying “I didn’t know that!” from the old Laugh-in show, and they don’t have one. So you’ll just have to pretend that you know what I’m talking about (re: Hydrox cookies–which I always liked better, but probably because they were lower priced and my mom wouldn’t balk at buying them as much). Sorry 🙁

  30. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hydrox has better texture.

  31. Jax says:

    I’m going to be super pissed if “da gubmint” bricks my very expensive drone.

    https://gizmodo.com/dji-drones-could-be-the-latest-target-of-trump-administ-1834898234

  32. Mister Bluster says:
  33. Matt says:

    @Teve: I don’t remember those at all. The name is definitely not what I would expect for that product.

  34. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: China’s actually strategy is a lot harder to discern than you may think. Xi has a lot of control over how events are perceived. He doesn’t have as much control over whether the economy prospers or not. And I don’t think even he can survive a serious economic downturn. The past few premieres had unwritten but generally accepted term limits of ten years (2 five year terms). Xi appears to be doing everything in his power to stay in office after his second term ends in 2023, and that’s a few years away so he has some room. But he absolutely cannot have 3 years of a down economy. The Chinese establishment values harmony above all else and harmony today means ever increasing standards of living.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @LB:

    Just to be clear, we’re talking about a therapist specifically for me, not like a marriage counselor?

    Yes, just for you. It helped me to get a grip on my emotions without killing any one. My situations were way different than yours (my ex ended up in prison)(eventually), but it’s a safe bet that emotionally you are pretty confused right now. I found group sessions more helpful than one on one but everybody is different.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    Did someone here suggest a podcast about things the scientific community used to believe that we now know is incorrect?

  37. Teve says:

    china’s experimenting with selling US Treasuries for kicks.

    China has already run a small-scale test of the “nuclear option” in its trade war with the US. The Asian nation sold $20 billion worth of US Treasurys in March, possibly foreshadowing a total offloading of American government bonds that would plunge global markets into chaos.
    China is the biggest foreign holder of US government debt, with more than $1.2 trillion in Treasurys, or about 7% of the entire market. The latest sale represents its largest disposal in over two years, according to the Financial Times. While the world’s second-largest economy occasionally sells US Treasurys to replenish its reserves or support its currency, the yuan, those don’t appear to be the reasons for the latest dumping.
    The idea of a fire sale has been gaining traction. “Many Chinese scholars are discussing the possibility of dumping US Treasuries and how to do it specifically,” Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-aligned Chinese tabloid Global Times, tweeted this month.

  38. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History is a kinda similar theme, but not exactly that.

  39. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Not me, but that would be interesting.

    Now, would you mean things like alchemy, which had no firm basis in either theory or observation, or more logically based things like phlogiston or eugenics?

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Did someone here suggest a podcast about things the scientific community used to believe that we now know is incorrect?

    Someone recommended Our Fake History… is that what you were thinking of? I don’t think that’s so much about science.

    I’m a big fan of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which thoroughly debunks the myth that science proceeds through incremental revision and improvement of mostly-correct theories. In fact, typically new theories arise that see the previous theory as having been fundamentally wrong in important ways. These theories slowly gain traction, especially among younger scientists, as empirical evidence accumulates showing that they have better explanatory power than the old theories. The transition is mostly a replacement, not an adjustment — as Max Planck said, “Science progresses one funeral at a time.”

    So Kuhn would probably argue that every past theory was incorrect, and every current theory is probably fundamentally incorrect too.

  41. Kit says:

    Trump is going to wake up tomorrow pissing blood after these vicious body blows from Buttigieg in today’s Guardian.

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Kit: Awesome. Every time this guy speaks, I’m impressed.

    My favorite bit of snark:

    I am […] old enough to remember when conservatives talked about character as something that mattered in the presidency

    That is so much more rhetorically effective than “Conservatives used to talk about character…” would have been.

  43. Kit says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Awesome. Every time this guy speaks, I’m impressed.

    I have to admit, for a split second I thought you were complimenting me. Never mind: it still made my day!

    My favorite part was:

    I felt that I was watching Americans [who took a knee during football] exercise a right that I had put my life on the line to defend

    We’re a long way from determining the Democratic nominee, and I’m in no particular rush to choose, but Buttigieg is certainly the one I’d most like to see debating Trump.

  44. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Someone recommended Our Fake History… is that what you were thinking of? I don’t think that’s so much about science.

    I think that was me. It doesn’t deal with science at all, unless archaeology counts, and then it’s only offered as evidence.

    As to revolutions, they come in all kinds. take a “wrong” belief: the existence of a planet between Mercury and the Sun, it was even named Vulcan (after the Roman god of the forge, it was way to early for Trek).

    The reason for believing it existed was that Mercury’s observed orbit didn’t match with Newton’s Universal Theory of Gravitation. A small planet in there would explain this oddity.

    It bears mentioning the planet Neptune was inferred by the way it perturbed Uranus’ orbit, before it was observed.

    Anyway, astronomers looked for Vulcan and failed to find it. this would render Newton’s theory wrong. Then along comes Einstein with his Theory of General Relativity, which deals with gravity, and shows where Newton’s theory was incomplete. This solves the Mercury issue.

    But Newton’s theory is still sufficient for things like orbital mechanics.

    Was that incremental or radical or what? Does it matter?

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Then along comes Einstein with his Theory of General Relativity, which deals with gravity, and shows where Newton’s theory was incomplete.

    No — this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. Newton’s theory was not ‘incomplete’ — there wasn’t something missing from it that, when added, gives you Einstein’s theory. Newton’s theory was utterly wrong in almost every way, to the extent that Einstein had to replace Newton’s notions of what ‘time’, ‘location’, ‘velocity’, and ‘mass’ mean with totally different (incompatible) notions. The fact that we kept using the same words disguises this fact.

    But Newton’s theory is still sufficient for things like orbital mechanics.

    The predictions made by Newton’s theory are good enough for all everyday purposes and most other practical purposes. (But not, for example, for GPS.) But that’s not at all the same thing as saying his theory was mostly correct. After all, saying that pi = 22/7 is good enough for all everyday purposes, too, but it’s still completely wrong.

    Was that incremental or radical or what? Does it matter?

    It was the second most radical revolution since Kepler — the most radical was quantum mechanics. It doesn’t matter at all if you only care about practical applications. If you care about how the universe actually works, it’s as important as dumping ideas like phlogiston and luminiferous ether.

  46. Teve says:
  47. Teve says:

    @Kit:

    Buttigieg, who took a seven-month leave of absence from his job as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to serve in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the navy reserve, said: “I have a pretty dim view of his decision to use his privileged status to fake a disability in order to avoid serving in Vietnam.”

    Speaking at a Washington Post event on Thursday, the 37-year-old continued: “I mean, if he were a conscientious objector, I’d admire that, but this is somebody who, I think it is fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of a multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place.

    “I know that dredges up old wounds from a complicated time during a complicated war, but I am also old enough to remember when conservatives talked about character as something that mattered in the presidency, and so I think it deserves to be talked about.”

    Heavens to Betsy. Mayor Pete hosing down Trump’s whole retinue with anti-aircraft munitions.

  48. Kit says:

    @DrDaveT: I’m going to push back on this.

    The predictions made by Newton’s theory are good enough for all everyday purposes and most other practical purposes.

    Then:

    If you care about how the universe actually works

    Newton described the way the universe actually works to the extent that people of his time were able to verify it. The average educated layman sent back in time would not be able to change science at all, despite having the benefit of a decent grasp of scientific advances. Hardly any of us could set up the experiments and the measurements needed to put Newton on the back foot. Newton’s theory was utterly right in every way, at least every way that mattered. Until, gradually, it wasn’t. Einstein is utterly right today. And if tomorrow he’s not? You seem to be confusing the theory of how something works with how it actually works. Even with a perfect and complete theory, we can never know that it is perfect and complete. Science is provisional. Some snot-nosed kid from the future could tell you that your notions of time and location are risible, but be unable to do any more than provide you with an equation that, as far as you can measure, simplifies down to E=MC2. You probably remain undisturbed.

  49. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    But then wouldn’t Einstein’s General Relativity be wrong as well? It doesn’t explain all there is to know about gravity.

    Ok, so far it has tested 100% right. But I don’t know whether all its predictions have been tested, nor what confidence there is all its predictions have been found. and, yes, I know black holes were predicted by Einstein’s General Relativity (though not by the man himself).

    I find the current state of physics rather similar to that of the late XIX Century astronomers, looking for Vulcan and the luminiferous aether. Only now it’s dark matter and dark energy. Maybe they exist, maybe our physics is incomplete, or wrong.

  50. Teve says:

    I could sign off on both Kathy’s perspective and Dave’s perspective depending on what I was thinking about.

    If I were deeply engaged in pondering infinite series, it would be totally unacceptable to replace π with 22 / 7. That would be utterly wrong, even ridiculous.

    If I were working on almost any engineering problem in the world basically ever, I would use 22/7 for π without a second thought and if you objected I would assume you had a crack problem nobody knew about.

  51. Teve says:

    @Kit: and it wasn’t until the late 1800s and Maxwell’s equations before the problems with Newton really appeared.

  52. just nutha says:

    @Kit: You mean the hellacious Looking for Mr. Goodbar Campaign in mid-town doesn’t count? His own personal Vietnam? All for nothing? Shocking!

  53. Kit says:

    @Teve: It can be a mistake to confuse what constitutes knowledge in mathematics/logic, with that of the physical world.

    As an aside, in a similar way that we can look upon science as an adventure in how we understand time and space and matter, mathematics is a similar adventure in how we understand quantity. Once upon a time, our manner of defining the notion of number precluded zero. But certain problems became easier by admitting zero as a number. The same process drove us to imaginary and irrational numbers. They didn’t make sense, but they were needed. Same thing with the notion of infinity. And now I think I’m rambling…

  54. just nutha says:

    @Kathy:

    But then wouldn’t Einstein’s General Relativity be wrong as well? It doesn’t explain all there is to know about gravity. [emphasis added]

    Are we moving to a model where “incomplete” = “incorrect?” Personally, I’d advise against going in that direction as it will create a world where nearly everything is “wrong,” but go that way if you wish.

  55. Kathy says:

    BTW, I read an article in Scientific American some years ago, explaining that the cosmological evidence for all sorts of things, including the Big Bang, is perishable. I don’t recall the details, but the author speculated that a new intelligent civilization arising billions of years in the future, would not be able to deduce the Big bang, say, because the evidence for it would be gone in large part.

    Of curse there are a lot of assumptions in this scenario, not least that we can tell more or less how the universe will evolve. But it mad sense.

    The question, though, is this: what evidence of past cosmological phenomena has already perished?

    Well, there’s no way to know, right? It’s like figuring out whether a puddle of water in the spring was a snowman in the winter. Or worse, whether a dry depression in the terrain in the spring contained a snowman in the winter, when you can’t say whether it even snowed then.

    So the thing is some mysteries we struggle to make sense of might not be solvable because the evidence for them is no longer there. This is a very common problem in history.

  56. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    Are we moving to a model where “incomplete” = “incorrect?”

    I wouldn’t, especially given how many open questions remain.

    Einstein was bothered by aspects of quantum mechanics, like how an entangled particle pair seemed to violate the speed of light limit, as well as other aspects. He was convinced there existed hidden variables. This doesn’t seem to be the case, but no one can tell why an entangled pair of particles behave they way they do. To that extent, at least, quantum theory is incomplete.

  57. Teve says:

    @kylegriffin1

    Here is a 7+ minute video, from ABC, of Trump calling on multiple senior aides to defend him and vouch for his ‘calm’ demeanor in the infrastructure meeting with Democrats after Nancy Pelosi said that he’d had a temper tantrum.

    Ezra Klein
    @ezraklein

    Pelosi isn’t locked in here with Trump. Trump is locked in here with Pelosi.

  58. Teve says:

    Something I used to hear a lot when I was in physics:
    1 everything is a model
    2 all models are wrong
    3 some models are useful

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @Kit:

    I’m going to push back on this.

    Cool. Makes for a much more interesting conversation :-).

    I said:

    The predictions made by Newton’s theory are good enough for all everyday purposes and most other practical purposes.

    and

    If you care about how the universe actually works…

    You replied:

    Newton described the way the universe actually works to the extent that people of his time were able to verify it.

    When I said “how the universe actually works”, I meant objective reality. That isn’t contingent on how good our science currently is; it is what it is, even if we’re wrong. This is part of the problem with this conversation, historically — physicists tend to slip back and forth between claiming they are trying to develop useful models of reality versus trying to describe how reality actually works. Newton developed a stunningly useful model of how (most) reality works. He was trying to describe how it actually works.

    Newton’s theory was utterly right in every way, at least every way that mattered. Until, gradually, it wasn’t.

    No; that’s like saying that pi used to equal 22/7, until gradually it didn’t. 22/7 was always wrong (but useful). Newton’s theory was utterly wrong — it assumed/asserted that there are such things as absolute time and absolute location, that everything has mass, etc. Those things aren’t approximately true; they’re provably false. That didn’t prevent his model from making great predictions about many things, but it did not accurately (or even incompletely) describe what reality is like.

    Einstein is utterly right today.

    Probably not, actually. Even if you set aside that almost every theory ever has eventually been falsified, in Einstein’s case we know that General Relativity and the standard model of quantum mechanics are incompatible. At least one of them is wrong; probably both.

    You seem to be confusing the theory of how something works with how it actually works.

    No, I am distinguishing between a model that makes useful predictions and an attempted description of the mechanisms of why things behave the way they do. Most physicists who have been polled about it say that they would not be interested in physics if they thought the former was the best we could do. They want to know the actual mechanisms of reality.

    Even with a perfect and complete theory, we can never know that it is perfect and complete. Science is provisional.

    I agree completely — I’m a big fan of Karl Popper, who taught that theories can’t ever be confirmed, they can only be falsified. General Relativity hasn’t yet been falsified; Newtonian mechanics has.

  60. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Something I used to hear a lot when I was in physics:
    1 everything is a model
    2 all models are wrong
    3 some models are useful

    #2 and #3 together are generally attributed to George Box: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

    It’s #1 that causes many physicists emotional fits. They want to think that there is at least in principle a description of reality that is not an approximation and is more concise than the universe it describes. That’s what they are looking for.

  61. Teve says:

    Trump just retweeted a video of Pelosi that’s been doctored to make her sound drunk.

    also I’m seeing reports that he just gave William Barr authority to declassify anything he wanted relating to how the Russia investigation began, but don’t really know what that means and haven’t read anything in detail about it yet.

  62. Kit says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Cool. Makes for a much more interesting conversation :-).

    I was eagerly composing my rebuttal in my head as I read your post. I got to the end and… Disappointed! We agree on the essential issue. I strongly suspect that all the rest is simply a difference of phrasing and emphasis. Where’s the fun in that! 🙂

  63. wr says:

    @Kit: “We’re a long way from determining the Democratic nominee, and I’m in no particular rush to choose, but Buttigieg is certainly the one I’d most like to see debating Trump.”

    I’d be pretty happy to see him debating Pence…