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Sunday, June 9, 2024

More on growing threats to womens' reproductive autonomy

June 13th update: SCOTUS strikes down mifepristone challenge, 9-0.
 
(June 10th) I'm now about 3/4ths through this. Riveting. Totally 5 Stars. Stay tuned...
 
 
TUESDAY UPDATE
 
I finished The Fall of Roe. My Twitter/X reaction:
I just finished this brilliant, important book by & of the . It is analytic contemporary sociopolitical history journalism at its dispositive BEST. One of those relative rarities—a writing style SO good as to be “invisible."
 
“Invisible?” I didn’t begin college until 1980 at the age of 34. Tested off the charts verbal. Intended to major in corporate/industrial advertising. Still recall my copywriting prof’s wise admonition: “If your writing style calls attention to itself, you’re NOT doing your job.”

Do yourselves a favor. Buy and carefully study this book. Blog review coming.
Indeed. I'm more of a sucker than most folks when it comes to a Jones for eloquent prose, but the excellence of the writing here goes principally to its transparent cover-to-cover delivery of the history and the searingly fraught issues. The clarity, man...
 
Below, Excellent review by Susan Rinkunas:
‘The Fall of Roe’ Is More Than An Account Of History. It’s A Warning About The Future.
A new book recounts how a Christian group schemed to erase the right to abortion — and why its work is far from over.
 Also apropos, from a recent read and post:
…you were alive long before you possessed a developing nervous system, let alone the fancy three-pound brain housing your conscious mind as an adult. Leaving speculations about consciousness in engineered artifacts for later, a living organism is needed to support consciousness. But it is not sufficient. The central nervous system, assuming the organism has one, must be structured in a certain way; it must have a sufficient level of differentiation, complexity, or “something” to support the type of consciousness we are familiar with. What this “something” is will become clearer in a bit.

Fetal Consciousness

Uncovering the dawn of consciousness isn’t just a narcissistic endeavor or a Proustian search for lost memories; it has drastic consequences.

Consider the 2022 landmark decision by the US Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It overruled two long-standing legal precedents concerning abortion (Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey), invalidating the long-standing fetal-viability rule, which held that abortion should be legal until the fetus can survive, with proper medical assistance, outside the uterus at around twenty-three to twenty-four weeks’ gestational age.

The decision before the court involved lengthy, erudite, and passionately held legal, religious, historical, philosophical, and political considerations on both sides. One justification for overturning the viability rule was the argument that the fetus is conscious as early as fourteen weeks’ gestational age and would thereby suffer extreme pain during abortion. This is a scientific-clinical matter that I commented on by joining an amicus brief, filed in the Supreme Court, to support Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The evidence for this startling claim was ultrasound imaging of the fetus in utero, demonstrating that the fetus reacts to touches of the mother’s belly, to her voice, or even to painful surgical procedures, with facial grimacing and limb movement. These actions imply consciousness and therefore a capacity to suffer.

It is true that the second-trimester fetus has rudimentary behavioral capacities, such as withdrawal from painful stimuli. Yet these are limited and stereotyped reflexes, called nociceptive responses, that adults show without any conscious awareness. Both nociceptive reflexes and pain can be associated with action, including the release of stress hormones and an increase in blood pressure, but only the latter triggers a subjective, aversive conscious experience. Nociceptive responses occur during deep sleep, as when the sleeper withdraws a limb without waking up. Likewise, patients with severe brain injuries that leave them in a near coma can still withdraw their hand if a fingernail is pinched hard. Indeed, tiny fruit fly larvae react to a flame by bending away from the source of the heat. Yet few would advocate for larval sentience.

There is no question that the fetus, like other nascent organisms, is a living entity with regulatory feedback loops supporting stereotyped sensory-motor behaviors that protect it from harm. Yet, for a stimulus to be consciously felt as a painful experience—“ouch, that hurt”—a reflex is not enough. For a person to become conscious of a noxious stimulus, signals from pain receptors in the skin must be relayed, via the spinal cord and the thalamus, to the neocortex, where they set off an alarm perceived as painful. This requires a byzantine, sophisticated network of neocortical cells and their partners in satellite structures, such as the thalamus, closely associated with the neocortex.

The birth of neurons, called neurogenesis, starts around the fifth week and is largely completed by the end of the sixteenth week. For the most part, you were born with a full complement of nerve cells. Yet these are immature and will continue to grow, to differentiate, and to extend their processes and tendrils to contact other neurons until well into adulthood. For example, neocortical neurons of a fetus are not properly wired up to receive any peripheral signals until about the thirtieth week. Until this time, the fetus responds to a stimulus such as a heel lance (a quick puncture of the skin to draw blood from the foot) but is unlikely to experience it. Indeed, a preterm infant born at thirty weeks gestational age—not a fetus anymore—will not even wake up following a heel lance.

Based on the way these circuits develop, peripheral pain signals can trigger reflexes but fail to ring the consciousness alarm until well into the third trimester. This implies that a previable fetus does not experience pain—does not suffer. It still must cross the great Divide of Being separating something that does not experience from someone who does. The former is nothing to itself, while the latter is a subject, albeit still a rudimentary one.

In the final analysis, the supreme court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization not on scientific but on constitutional grounds, returning the authority to regulate abortion to individual states.


Koch, Christof. Then I Am Myself the World (pp. 26-29). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.
Lots to yet consider.

I've been thinking about this stuff for a long time (my older blog). See also here.
 
 
Taking out Roe was just a start, not the end. Read The Fall of Roe carefully and completely for a full understanding. See also
to wit,
In 2016 a federal district court struck down HB 1523 for the obvious reason that it favored one set of religious beliefs over others. In 2018, however, an appeals court set aside that decision on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case, so the law remains in force until some individuals suitably harmed by its manifestly discriminatory intent, and in possession of the bottomless resources that will be required for the inevitable battle with deep-pocketed Christian right legal groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, decide to come forward to oppose it.

The Blitzers understand at some level that their agenda will not command majorities of public opinion. Indeed, the premise of their work is that they can’t win in a fair and open debate. Increasingly, Christian nationalists have become comfortable embracing this kind of minority-led politics. As J. Randy Forbes, founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, put it, “Our studies and what we have seen is 10 percent of the people in any country in the world can change that country if they have the right strategies, if they persevere, and if they will just find a way to put their differences aside and come together. And that’s what we’re seeing happening across this country.” Referencing David Barton’s assertions about the American Revolution, Forbes claimed that “only 10 percent of the population ever did anything in the fight, just 10 percent, and that really hasn’t changed much today. Ten percent of the people in this country can change this country. We just have to find that 10 percent, get them together, get the right strategies, the right commitment, and watch how the Lord how he can change this country.”


Stewart, Katherine. The Power Worshippers (p. 166). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
 
WEDNESDAY UPDATE
  
More stuff to read and consider, Lordy Mercy:

Foreword

The problem of the twenty-first century,” Jamal Greene argues, echoing W. E. B. DuBois, “is the problem of the rights line.” Rights talk has become the driving force of American political discourse, a chief source of the contortion of American courts, and an engine of American political polarization. Rights wars are battles of all against all, absolute and unrelenting. It is the argument of this important book that until Americans can reimagine rights, there is no path forward, and there is, especially, no way to get race right. No peace, no justice.

Claiming that your rights have been violated has become the best and in many cases the only way to pursue your political interest. Instead of seeking political change in pursuit of my interest in the realm of political debate and the making of law—where my interest will compete with your interest, and we will likely arrive at a compromise—my remedy is to claim that my interest is not an interest but a right. You do that, too. And then we go to court. As a result, conflicts that don’t need to be settled in the courts are settled in the courts, where the winner takes all. In a contest between your rights and my rights, the courts decide whose rights win based on each judge’s preferences. This is neither fair nor democratic. And, as Greene writes searingly, “it divides us into those who have rights and those who don’t.”

Greene is not the first legal scholar to point out that rights claims have run amok. In 1991, in Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse, Mary Ann Glendon argued that “discourse about rights has become the principal language that we use in public to discuss weighty questions of right and wrong, but time and again it proves inadequate, or leads to a standoff of one right against another.” Under this regime, Glendon argued, “a tendency to frame nearly every social controversy in terms of a clash of rights (a woman’s right to her own body vs. a fetus’s right to life) impedes compromise, mutual understanding and the discovery of common ground.” Glendon saw the much-vaunted “rights revolution” as having begun in the 1960s. But, as Greene argues here, it has a much longer and more complicated history, calling for different solutions. It is one of the hallmarks of Greene’s work that he looks to other countries for those solutions, finding, in their different rights discourses, a world of possibilities. And he looks, as well, to the past.

Like Glendon, Greene finds the origins of the hardening of rights discourse in the 1960s. But he begins his inquiry in the eighteenth century, because he’s particularly keen to figure out exactly when and how and why things went awry. “American courts draw firm lines, often in morally arbitrary ways, between the interests they consider rights and those they don’t,” Greene writes. “The interests that courts count, they protect robustly from democratic politics, while those that they don’t count remain wholly at the government’s mercy. We sometimes describe this fetishism about rights—but just some rights—as foreordained by the Founding Fathers, but America wasn’t born this way.” It was only born this way in this sense: to be a human being held as property is to be a person without any rights. Dividing people into those with rights and those without began at the beginning.

Read this book to find out what Greene means about how rights went wrong and what he proposes, and then decide whether you agree. But I suggest keeping your eye on the ball, which is racial injustice. The oldest national organization in the United States founded to pursue constitutional rights is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which began in 1909. Six years later, the NAACP concluded that the Supreme Court “has virtually declared that the colored man has no rights.” The NAACP embarked on a strategy to seek fundamental rights, as guaranteed under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Led by this organization, the Progressive movement marked a turning point in the history of rights seeking by way of lawsuits, down through Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the criminal justice cases addressed by the Warren Court in the 1960s. Rights asserted by way of a remedy to rights for so long and so violently denied did not end the battle of rights but instead turned it into a war when, beginning in the 1970s, modern conservatives, adopting methods used by liberals, asserted not liberal claims to rights, but conservative claims to rights. Rights fights became politics by other means.

How Rights Went Wrong is an essential and fresh and vital history of constitutional law and American politics. It is also a cautionary tale, with a sober warning for judges and lawyers. “Courts should be reminding litigants of what they have in common, not encouraging them to view their opponents in the worst conceivable light,” Greene writes. How Rights Went Wrong is an argument against judicial supremacy, in the interest of justice.

The courts in plenty of other countries avoid this mess. One of the most valuable contributions of this book is its comparative approach, looking especially at the resolution of rights conflicts in Germany and the United Kingdom as models of rights mediation. Those courts aren’t perfect, and Greene doesn’t pretend that they are. But he wants to shake Americans loose from the fiction that the courts own the Constitution. It is, instead, ours.

   —Jill Lepore

Greene, Jamal (2021-03-15T23:58:59.000). How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession with Rights Is Tearing America Apart. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

    A Money shot for me, right outa the chute:
“Courts should be reminding litigants of what they have in common, not encouraging them to view their opponents in the worst conceivable light,” Greene writes.
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. Ill will and bad faith everywhere you look (to the extent you've paid attention). "Winner-take-all," "Zero-sum" ethos, Trump MAGA "Patriots" vs "Libtard Traitors," "competing against" vs "competing with..." etc.

UPDATE:
MORE PREVIOUSLY CITED TOPICAL BKG READING

And, an intriguing new find:
  
 
Razor-edged radically inclusive, unapologetic analytics. She ("they") takin' no prisoners.
 
 I whined on TwitterX about the price.
 
Her Doctoral Dissertation is available here (PDF).
 
Don't touch that dial...
_________
 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

D-Day

We went to Normandy in 2004. There are no words.
  

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Sunday, June 2, 2024

The coming week

 
He started in immediately in the wake of the 34-count NY guilty verdict. He admonishes us all to Be Very Afraid. Imagine our surprise.
  
   
I guess we'll eventually see what shakes out. 156 days to the November 5th elections. Below, never mind established and proper appellate due process. Mr. Trump, you are now a convicted felon. 12 ordinary law-abiding citizen jurors found that to be the case, beyond any reasonable doubt. You have no more presumption of innocence. And, the United States will get along just fine despite any incovenient hobbling of your election campaign. You have no unfettered right to run for the presidency or any public office.


I gotta move on to other stuff. to wit,

The Amazon blurb:
A dazzling and infuriating portrait of fifty years of corporate influence in Washington, The Wolves of K Street is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction—irresistibly dramatic, spectacularly timely, explosive in its revelations, and absolutely impossible to put down.

In the 1970s, Washington’s center of power began to shift away from elected officials in big marble buildings to a handful of savvy, handsomely paid operators who didn’t answer to any fixed constituency. The cigar-chomping son of an influential congressman, an illustrious political fixer with a weakness for modern art, a Watergate-era dirty trickster, the city’s favorite cocktail party host—these were the sort of men who now ran Washington.

Over four decades, they’d chart new ways to turn their clients’ cash into political leverage, abandoning favor-trading in smoke-filled rooms for increasingly sophisticated tactics, such as “shadow lobbying,” where underground campaigns sparked seemingly organic public outcries to pressure lawmakers into taking actions that would ultimately benefit corporate interests rather than ordinary citizens. With billions of dollars at play, these lobbying dynasties enshrined in Washington a pro-business consensus that would guide the country’s political leaders—Democrats and Republicans alike. A good lobbyist could ghostwrite a bill or even secretly kill a piece of legislation supported by the president, both houses of Congress, and a majority of Americans.

Yet nothing lasts forever. Amid a populist backlash to the soaring inequality these influence peddlers helped usher in, DC’s pro-business alliance suddenly began to fray. And while the lobbying establishment would continue to invent new ways to influence Washington, the men who’d built K Street would soon find themselves under legal scrutiny, on the verge of financial collapse, or worse. One would turn up dead behind the eighteenth green of an exclusive golf club, with a $1,500 bottle of wine at his feet and a bullet his head.
I'm now about a third of the way through this 16-hour read. Spot-on thus far. Got onto this one via an Atlantic Monthly piece by Franklin Foer, The Real 'Deep State.
 
UPDATE
 
The Wolves of K Street continues to be a great trip down sociopolitical memory lane for this 78 yr old. The "best" (or "worst," depending on your PoV) government that money can buy, adroitly recounted.
 
FRIDAY UPDATE
 
I finished the book. Highly recommended. Tangentially, I am reminded of my March 2023 post "The History of the Myth America Pageant."
_________
   

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Guilty

What a week.
 
The month of June will likely be even crazier.
 
Please.
   
_________
   

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Last week of May 2024,

Let there be a verdict.
  
A verdict, not a hung jury (my concern).
 
PM UPDATE:  I watched most of the live CNN closing arguments coverage today before having to go pick up Calvin. Not clear at this point how the jury will react and find. Judge will next charge the jury and send them off for deliberations. Trump only needs one juror for a hung jury mistrial—which he will loudly then spin as total exoneration, extending from this case to all of those still pending (J6, FL Classified documents, GA election fraud). I could be wrong, but I don't see an outright unanimous "not guilty" verdict. A one-juror "reasonable doubt" holdout mistrial is all Trump really needs at this point. We'll never hear the [bleeping] end of it.

May 28th follow-up. The Don is not happy.

   
The case is now in the hands of the jury.
 
THURSDAY UPDATE
 
No verdict yet. Unsurprisingly. Stay tuned...

THURSDAY 6 PM
  
   
Even I was not expecting a 34-0 Skunk. Only took the jury about 11 hours.
 
Yeah, sure.
_________
   

Monday, May 27, 2024

Memorial Day 2024

  

Visiting Omaha Beach in 2004
 
AND, OF COURSE, THEN WE HAVE THIS SHIT
 
_________
   

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hillsdale College whiffs, big-time

 
   
So, I just got this unsolicited fat snailmail pitch. An envelope containing a quarter-inch of fervent exhortatory materials (replete w/ ill-advised postage-paid return) urging that I contribute $$$ generously to help fight The Increasingly Menacing Evil Woke CRT DEI Marxists.

Wrong guy, peeps.  (Hmmm... what might I put in that envelope to send back?)

apropos,
"Required reading for anyone seeking to understand Christian nationalism." —Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne

A propulsive account of the network of charismatic Christians that consolidated support for Donald Trump and is reshaping religion and politics in the US.


Over the last decade, the Religious Right has evolved. Some of the more extreme beliefs of American evangelicalism have begun to take hold in the mainstream. Scholar Matthew D. Taylor pulls back the curtain on a little-known movement of evangelical Christians who see themselves waging spiritual battles on a massive scale. Known as the New Apostolic Reformation, this network of leaders and believers emerged only three decades ago but now yields colossal influence, galvanizing support for Trump and far-right leaders around the world. In this groundbreaking account, Taylor explores the New Apostolic Reformation from its inception in the work of a Fuller Seminary professor, to its immense networks of apostles and prophets, to its role in the January 6 riot. Charismatic faith provided righteous fuel to the fire that day, where symbols of spiritual warfare blazed: rioters blew shofars, worship music blared, and people knelt in prayer. This vision of charismatic Christianity now animates millions, lured by Spirit-filled revival and visions of Christian supremacy.

Taylor's unprecedented access to the movement's leaders, archives, internal conference calls, and correspondence gives us an insider account of the connection between charismatic evangelicalism and hard-right rhetoric. Taylor delves into prophetic memes like the Seven Mountains Mandate, the Appeal to Heaven flag, and the Cyrus Anointing; Trump's spiritual advisor Paula White's call for "angelic reinforcements"; and Sean Feucht and Bethel Music's titanic command of worship styles across America. Throughout, Taylor maps a movement of magnetic leaders and their uncompromising beliefs--and where it might be headed next. When people long to conquer a nation for God, democracy can be brought to the brink. [Amazon blurb]
PAGE 1 SNIP
   


 
Tangentially, heard this while in the car.
 
 UPDATE

From the latest issue of Science Magazine,

Anthropologist and primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s impressive new book, Father Time, is a natural history that examines the biggest picture of hominim evolution in search of a small but important development in modern society: an increase in the care and nurturing of babies by men. Hrdy’s earlier works on the evolution of mothering and maternal instincts, Mother Nature (1999) and Mothers and Others (2009), also considered much of the paternal side of hominim parenting, but in her telling, the origins of her interest in fathers began with The Langurs of Abu (1977)…

In Hrdy’s analysis, men’s ancient limbic systems have been restimulated to engage more actively in childcare by modern developments that include the increased costs of educating and caring for children, women working in larger numbers, more men engaged in co-parenting, gay marriage, and the many options available to prospective parents, including in vitro fertilization, for creating hybrid families. As she has experienced in her own family, the more time men spend with babies, the more nurturing they become.

       
Ahhh... don't let the Hillsdale peeps (or Mizzou Senator Manhood Hawley) know. Oh, the Horrors!
    
UPDATE
In November, Calvin Hayden spoke to a fringe gathering of “America First” conservatives at a church in Kansas City. He told the crowd at Hope Family Fellowship Church that they were in the middle of a war between good and evil, that the Apple logo reminded him of Eve eating forbidden fruit, and that “a lot of the LGBT stuff and questioning the gender” might really be a Communist Chinese plot to “demasculinize our men and our warriors.” [ HuffPo ]
Calvin Hayden is the Sheriff of Johnson County, Kansas. Good grief.
  
UPDATE:
THE STORM IS COMING.
JASON STORM, WITH, AMONG OTHER THINGS, HIS "MANHOOD RESTORED BOOT CAMPS"
 

Another self-appointed, incoherent Christian Nationalist "Personhood Savior."
 
___
   
A personal Father Time note:
I have a lot of shortcomings. Failing to be a consistently devoted father is not among them.
CODA
   
Tom Nichols has released a 2nd edition of his excellent book "The Death of Expertise.
  
   
Well worth your time. I've written him up previously.
 
A bit more Tom:
________
  


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

nullius in verba;

nonetheless, strive hard to maintain an attitude of curiosity and humility—what Zen Buddhism refers to as a “beginner’s mind.”
  
...We are not just helpless victims of fate but are the agents in charge of our own narrative, for better or worse, victorious or defeatist. This forceful shaping of our attitudes to events beyond our control has profound consequences for well-being and sickness…

How experience comes into the world has been an abiding mystery since the earliest days of recorded thought. Aristotle warned his readers more than two thousand years ago that “to attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world.” Mind is radically different from the stuff that makes up the brain and everything else. Quantum mechanics and general relativity, the periodic table of chemical elements, the endless strings of ATGC nucleotides that make up our genes—these appear to describe the physical, not the mental (I write “appear to” as quantum mechanics demonstrates that there are no observer-independent events, opening the door for consciousness to enter, at the ground level of reality). Yet we awaken every day to our subjective world of experiences.

The intellectual position that has garnered the most respect in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy departments is the ever more strident denigration or even outright denial of subjectivity. What is real is people talking obsessively about their experiences and acting on them; there is nothing above and beyond these speech acts and other intended or actual behaviors. The feeling part of consciousness, called phenomenal consciousness, is a big illusion. Philosophers in the know dispense with the “awful painfulness of my toothache” in the manner that Ebenezer Scrooge dealt with Christmas: “Bah! Humbug!” Furthermore, free will, our ability to deliberate about an upcoming fork in the road and to decide which path to take, is also thrown under this “illusion” bus. This rejection of the reality of lived experience constitutes a mind-boggling repudiation of what is immediately and indubitably given to us. It is also profoundly antihumanist, depriving us of those attributes that make us different from machines—indeed, equating us with machines.

It’s an absurd adjuration, akin to Cotard’s delusion, a rare psychiatric disorder in which able-bodied patients, often severely depressed, vehemently insist that some of their limbs are missing, that their bodies are rotting from the inside, or even that they are dead. When confronted with the fact that they are having a conversation, right now, with their doctor, they do admit that the situation is a bit baffling, but the fact is that they are dead, and that’s all there is to it. So it is with some contemporary thinkers who insist, against the evidence of their own senses, that experiences don’t exist. Truly astounding—gaslighting all of us into believing that our experiences are fake!

Fortunately, consciousness can’t be cancelled forever. The mental, having refused to yield, is returning with a vengeance. Indeed, the wheel is turning back to much more ancient understandings of experience, including idealism, the proposition that ultimately even matter and energy are mental manifestations, and panpsychism, the school of thought that all creatures, and perhaps even matter itself, are ensouled, that it feels-like-something to be anything, not just a human or even a bat. Modern science is supporting aspects of this remarkable turn of events…

What about nonhuman, artificial minds, rivaling or even exceeding ours? This topic is treated last. Sentient machines have been a recurring theme in science fiction. In 2022, this topic burst into public view with the startling claim by a Google software engineer that the company’s “large language model” was sentient and had to be considered a person with associated legal rights. The linguistic skills and knowledge of these models and their competitors, most famously ChatGPT and GPT-4 by OpenAI, trained on a vast trove of books and online documents far beyond what any human can read in a lifetime, are astonishing by the standards of even a few of years ago. They write summaries, emails, jokes, (bad) poetry, computer code, letters of recommendation, and dialogue indistinguishable from human-generated material, including plausible-sounding fabrications. They are evolving at an astounding pace and will transform society in fundamental ways.

These chatbots seemingly constitute living proof of the dominant narrative of liquid modernity: the mind is software that can be as readily embodied within silicon wafers as it is within flesh, echoing a pernicious Cartesian dualism. Smart money in Silicon Valley thinks so, most engineers and many philosophers think so, and popular movies and TV shows reinforce this belief.

Against the grain, integrated information theory radically disagrees with this functionalist view. It argues from first principles that digital computers can (in principle) do everything that humans can do, eventually even faster and better. But they can never be what humans are. Intelligence is computable, but consciousness is not. This is not because the brain possesses any supernatural properties. The critical difference between brains and digital computers is at the hardware level, where the rubber meets the road—that is, where action potentials are relayed to tens of thousands of recipient neurons versus packets of electrons shuttled back and forth among a handful of transistors. As we’ll see, the integrated information of digital computers is negligible. And that makes all the difference.

It means that these machines will never be sentient, no matter how intelligent they become. Furthermore, that they will never possess what we have: the ability to deliberate over an upcoming choice and freely decide.

The brain is the most complex piece of self-organized, active matter in the known universe. By no coincidence, it is also the organ of consciousness. Unlike scientific advances in genomics or astrophysics, progress in understanding the brain and the mind directly relates to who we are, our strengths and infirmities, how we can live a contented life, and whether we partake of some larger, ultimate reality. Humanity is not condemned to walk around forever in an epistemological fog—we can know, and we will know.

Koch, Christof. Then I Am Myself the World (pp. 14-21). Basic Books. Kindle Edition. 
BLURB
—Bernardo Kastrup, Executive Director, Essentia Foundation
 
 Click link, read on. Christof Koch is involved with this Foundation.
 
Interesting.
 
UPDATE
 
Christof's book is a gold mine of illuminating quotes.
 

 Coheres wonderfully in many ways with Brian Klaas's Flukes.

Also apropos, "Sentience," anyone?

I can see that Dr. Christof's book themes may require several posts to do all of the implications justice. Toward that end see also
  

"THE PERCEPTION BOX?"
 

It's a metaphor. Who is Elizabeth Koch?
 
You buyin' this?
  

OK. Unequivocal declarative sentence "truth claim" (assertion of fact). Perception is an Illusion.
Well, what of the sensory inputs and outputs converging and culminating in that claim? Bit of a quibble perhaps wafts up.

Whatever. Also relevant in line with factors adverse to clear, logical thinking: Claude Steiner's "Script Theory."
 
All of this stuff goes to my chronic Jones going to so-called "Deliberation Science."
 
Also, I am reminded of my episodic David J. Linden riffs. 

   
A DIGRESSION (SORT OF)
   
Didn't see this coming. But, oddly, it resonates broadly with the current topic.
 
 
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened.
—T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 
I ran across this disarming mind-bender "SciFi" miniseries on Apple TV+. Hmmm... Perception Box, Quantum Superposition Cube? Stay with me here...
 
Another book comes to mindm re: "Dark Matter."
   
Click
An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death in an eternal hereafter. Then, he dies. Soren wakes to find himself cast by a God he has never heard of into a Hell whose dimensions he can barely grasp: a vast library he can only escape from by finding the book that contains the story of his life...
A fun read.
 
UPDATE: TAKE IT BACK TO THE TOP
"...We are not just helpless victims of fate but are the agents in charge of our own narrative, for better or worse, victorious or defeatist. This forceful shaping of our attitudes to events beyond our control has profound consequences for well-being and sickness…"
Agents in charge? What would Sapolsky say? 
 
 
"Two Cheers for Uncertainty?"
 
More to come...
_________