Blog: TTTThis

William Walker

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May 8, 1824 in Nashville, Tennessee – September 12, 1860 in Trujillo, Honduras, by firing squad at age 36.

By age 25, he had studied, graduated and practices medicine, studied and practiced law, and worked as a co-owner and editor of a newspaper on the East Coast before moving to California. Walker is noted to have engaged in three duels with guns, one with a notorious Wild West gunman after he insulted him in the paper he was editor of in San Francisco.

In 1953, he set out to conquer lands in Latin America, first in Mexico (and took over some of sparsely-populated Baja) with 45 men, and then after retreating in fear of the Mexican government, he was tried in California for waging an illegal war but was acquitted by jury of his popular act in 8 minutes.

In 1854, Walker went with an army to Nicaragua to aid one of the contending (and warring) political parties ("The Democrats") as a hired army. Nicaragua had been in a civil war for decades at this time. Also notable was that Vanderbilt (the first "tycoon" of America) owned transport the San Juan river that was the main route for goods and travellers (an alternative to Panama) in the country, linking the Caribbean and the Pacific with the lake in the middle.

William Walker's book, "War in Nicaragua" written before 1860

Didn't take notes from the first 180 pages. ...

Before heading to Nicaragua, Walker was involved in a newspaper in California.

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Costa Rica declared war against the Americans in Nicaragua specifically. Costa Rica then caught the troops in Santa Rosa Guanacaste, unawares in an afternoon attack, and routed them. The army was depressed, many left or wanted to leave for America. Walker was preparing for a war with Costa Rica that the other three Central American states were likely to join Costa Rica against the Americans. The main strength of the army was moved to Rivas.

Hong Kong 2019

It's nice to follow one story of current history. In 2014 I followed the civil war in South Sudan starting on December 15, 2013 when it first broke out. Since the start, both sides blamed the other and told their own accounts of events.

South Sudan was at the time "the world's youngest nation," a nation created by the U.S. when it helped split the south of the former country of Sudan into its own state, and for a couple of years South Sudan was considered to be a nice American triumph. The country called (just) Sudan now is the northern part, Muslim. The southern part, South Sudan, is Christian (and anamist). South Sudan had two large ethnicities, the Dinka (presisdent Kiir) and the Nuer (vice president Machar). People in the West will have a hard time understanding why tribal lines are so important in other countries, but a shorthand answer is that the tribes, besides having limitless historical grievances against each other (actions often taking the form of cattle and child raids - hard for Westerners to understand but cattle are the main/sole non-human unit in the economy) and natural racism, compete for control of limited resources in their region. Democracy (South Sudan is a democracy) in these places isn't a vote based on policy, but a vote to decide which group will have power to control those resources and make decisions over both groups.

A scuffle erupted in the government building of the capital, and immediately the country split in civil war along the lines of Dinka versus Nuer. Fighting took place throughout the country: the government and its army versus the army of the rebel tribe. The whole country was ravaged and everyplace was the scene of ongoing murder, rape, and other aggression, besides the army skirmishes.

No place was safe. The UN moved in to set up fenced camps to protect people. They asked for money and resources to take care of these people, but the resources they got were often stolen, damaged, or ill-used. There was no safe transport means in the country, so resources could not be distributed to other regions, even if once they got there they would be properly meted out. No one could grow crops and other work was also disrupted, so food became extremely scarce and people died of starvation.

Since weeks after the outbreak, every once in a while there is a planned meeting to discuss terms for peace, or a proposed peace deal. These always fall through for one reason or another, often with the rebel leader citing security concerns. The deals are brokered by the main country of the region, Ethiopia and its capital in Addis Ababa, where the rebel leader often seeks refuge. Ethiopia is the head of the trading block of East Africa, EAC.

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CHINA

This year is 2019. The story I think might be the best is Hong Kong. Citizens in Hong Kong are still very active against the legal authoritarian oppressions their new (since 1997) Chinese rulers are implementing in the former British colony. Remember the Umbrella Revolution from 2014?

In April, the Chinese government tried to pass a bill through the head of Hong Kong. The bill would allow extradition of "criminals" in Hong Kong to "mainland China" (the rest of China not including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Yes, Hong Kong and Macau are physically part of the mainland. They sit near each other on the Pacific Coast). In Hong Kong, the courts are staffed by Hong Kongers, who may have respect for law and order stemming from their colonial history, as all Hong Kongers are considered to have a more "Western" concept of human and civil rights. In mainland China, however, courts are controlled by the government directly, like all things, including the press. It is common for "criminals" in China to be executed or disappeared, or sentenced to lengthy jail terms, for crimes such as speaking against the government, associating with people who speak against the government, etc.)

Hong Kongers realizing that this bill would allow citizens who opposed the government to be processed not through the more fair courts of Hong Kong, but sent to the mainland to be processed as China would prefer, were alarmed.

There was already heightened emotion three people had recently killed themselves leaving behind messages protesting the extradition law.

April 28, public protests began with a march including tens of thousands of people. It was one of the biggest public demonstrations since the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

June 9, over a million people were in the streets (possibly the biggest in Hong Kong history). Many symbolically wore black and carried white flowers of mourning for those who died. The mass of people halted traffic outside the government headquarters.

Many protesters cited hopelessness and desperation as motives. One young man said, "Everything that has happened is the result of the government ignoring us. They asked for it." Another: "If we don't come out, Hong Kong will collapse."

Among the ongoing demands of the protesters: withdrawal of the bill, free activists already arrested after previous demonstrations, investigate and hold police accountable for use of violence against crowds. Some also demanded the resignation of the Hong Kong leader.

Police made 19 arrests following the June 9 protest, and estimated the turnout at 240,000.

June 12 huge crowds rallied and blocked major roads and attempted to storm parliament, and the second reading of the extradition bill was delayed.

During the June 12 protest, police used teargas, rubber bullets and truncheons against largely peaceful crowds, injuring almost 80 people, which use was to become a serious grievance cited by protesters later.

June 15, after a week of protests and worldwide media coverage, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the bill would be suspended (put on hold) and apologized for the crisis. It was considered to be perhaps the most serious instance of the Hong Kong government backing down since 2003 when it dropped a security law in the face of public opposition.

Starting at noon Sunday, June 16, a large protest began that involved and mingled all types of people, from veteran protesters to the city's youth who never knew colonial Hong Kong. They sang protest songs and chanted in a public movement that lasted for hours, remaining peaceful throughout. Police estimated 340,000, while organizers said 2 million.

"Before this week I had never been on a protest," said one 28-year-old, "but I am a teacher, and I realized that if I didn't come I wouldn't be able to face my students. This is their future."

Older protesters said that although they feared Hong Kong faced the most serious crisis of their lifetime, they found hope in the number of young protesters.

"I'm very encouraged by the younger people. If it was just us [older people] the city would be finished," said a 75-year-old. "I was a refugee. I escaped China when there was a famine, and I saw people being shot there. The Communist party isn't to be trusted."

Older Hong Kongers, though, are generally thought to be more in favor of Beijing (the Chinese government) than the youth, and are thought to see protests more in terms of "disruptions."

"Suspending the law but not cancelling it is like holding a knife to someone's head and saying, 'I'm not going to kill you now,' but you could do it any time. We're fighting for our freedom," said an 18-year-old protester.

One protester died while trying to hang up a banner on a building in the town centre, and was later described at least by some as the movement's "first martyr."

Monday, July 1 (the day of the anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese possession), amid a protest of thousands of people, four protesters barged into the the legislative council (LegCo), and occupied it and vandalized it. They insisted on waiting to be arrested by police. These four were later termed "the death fighters."

According to one of them, a young father, "Our action might not be useful but it is symbolic. We know we might get eight or 10 years for doing this, but i grew up here, I love the freedoms and the dignified life and I don't want to lose them."

Hundreds of other protesters, barged in in the evening, too, and vandalized it. Some were concerned about the four inside, and shouted, "Let's leave together!" They grabbed the four and frogmarched them out of the building.

Some protesters graffitied the walls of the legislative building with political slogans and spraypainted over the faces of the LegCo presidents photos. One said, "People will rise up when the authorities push them to the brink." A British colonial-era flag was put up, as was a banner that read, "There are no rioters, only violent regimes." One young man explained that the spraypainting was meant as an insult to the government and the legislative system.

One young woman stated, "If they don't go, we don't go. We're all afraid, but we are more afraid that we won't see those four again."

Later in the evening, police fired tear gas in and baton-charged the protesters and retook control of the building.

After the protest, police immediately began to collect evidence against protesters. There were many vehicles stopped to check passengers identities.

Protesters, however, continue the demand that the government fully withdraw the bill, not just suspend it. They also want the government to release all those arrested in previous protests.

In response to the incident in the legislative building, pro-Beijing (pro-"China") spokespeople criticized the use of vandalism on the part of protesters: "What we saw last night was shocking violence, unprecedented violence and damage to the Legislative Council. No slogan, no demand can justify such violence," said one chair of the pro-Beijing New People's Party. "Totally unacceptable for a civilized society like Hong Kong."

One activist responded by saying, "The protesters who broke into the Legislative Council complex were not rioters. They were not violent. They wanted to make the regime hear Hong Kongers' voice, and they had no other option.

"Perhaps all of you will not agree with every single action they took yesterday. But what are a few pieces of glass worth in comparison to the deaths of three young men and women? What are a few portraits worth in comparison to the very survival of Hong Kong as a place?"

After months of protests following the extradition bill, some have said there is a wave of "rebellion" in the air as people who have seen the success and popularity of the million-plus protest and tons of other protests are becoming more vocal about a range of grievances. Lots of protests for various causes are being published as lists on social media. Not so much on Facebook, though, unlike the Facebook-based Umbrella Revolution in 2014. In 2019, they are using Snapchat and Instagram. Also Telegram, the most common messaging app, which is known to be encrypted.

"Facebook is not a useful tool for the movement except for those celebrities and parties, on which they make announcements and deliver statements," said a former general secretary of the Hong Kong student federation.

The LIHKG forum has also replaced the HKGolden one used in 2014, which was criticized after the site managers were forced to hand over the IP address of a 23-year-old to the authorities.

In the streets while protesting, Apple Airdrop is popular for sending digital pamphlets which can be shared even when offline. This and similar apps are being used because they don't allow authorities to curtail access.

"I think it is very important people can be anonymous on LIHKG and can really say what they really think, don't care about rivalries and leave the judgment to other people," said the former HK student federation general secretary.

One difference between these platforms and Facebook is that Facebook's algorhythm favors posts that have a lot of debate, which may not help when people want to share posts about planning and taking action. Some think Facebook's algo amplifies disagreement.

“The anti-extradition protests have heightened our awareness over community issues. Instead of waiting for the government to do something, we may as well take it into our own hands,” said a 20-year-old man.

One issue is "reclamation." In the past two decades, local Hong Konger-owned shops have become very few, while Chinese shops have become very common. Hong Kongers see this as an erosion of Hong Kong's way of life caused by mainland Chinese. Hong Kongers are also focused on a border-town called Sheung Shui which they say has become full of garbage and shops selling to Chinese tourists as well as "parallel-traders," people who buy Hong Kong goods and resell them in China.

Another issue is full suffrage. Hong Kong's government is half picked by Beijing. People feel the Chinese government can thereby do whatever it wants.

Christian groups are playing a big role in the protests. Part of this is they are advocating peace. Another is that some fear a crackdown on religion by China.

People are already talking about how the eventual success or failure of the popular movement in quashing the extradition bill and other demands will depend on whether the momentum will keep going among the population.

QUESTIONS RAISED:

  1. Why Hong Kong protesters protest, as opposed to other nations that are not motivated to protest, such as our own? Is it the level of offence by the Communist rule? Some source of will within their conception of their lives, place, or society? Are they less comfortable/lazy/unmotivated than we are?

  2. What causes the Hong Kong leader to submit?

  3. What is the levee point where sufficient action (and type of action) has taken place and the government will now yield?

  4. What will China's response be? and what tactics will it decide on to crush Hong Kong?

Rhetoric of History

Image "The Rhetoric of History" from Doing History, by J. H. Hexter

Mays employs the rhetoric of action, the most common and universal method of demonstrating that one knows... but by the unique and unreplicable perfection of his response. [could be added to ERASABILITY]

not a ture narrative explanation determined by the logic of casual ascription but the historical story truest to the past... providing increments of knowledge and truth about the past.

Figure: The positions of the New York Giants in relation to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1951 pennant race. (Above)

Figure 2: The positions of the New York Yankees and the second-place American League team in the 1939 baseball season.

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On the basis of true narrative explanation determined by the logic of causal connections, it proved impossible to determine where to begin the historical story of the 1951 pennant race or what dimensions to give to any of its parts. Indeed, since causal connection is subject both to infinite regress and to infinite ramification, and since that historical story and ay other must have a beginning and finite dimensions of its parts, it is in principle impossible on the basis of the logic of narrative explanation alone to tell a historical story at all. On the other hand, the rhetoric of historical storytelling provided us with the means of recognizing whether there was a historical story to tell where the story should start, and roughly what the relative dimensions of its parts should be.

The historical storyteller's time is not clock-and-calendar time; it is historical tempo.

Correct determination of historical tempo and the appropriate correlative expansions and contractions of scale in a historical story depend on the examination IN RETROSPECT of the historical record. That is to say, when the historian tells a historical story, he must not only know something of the outcomes of the events that concern him; he must use what he knows in telling the story.

they do not know the writer's construal of the outcome, since not knowing it whets their curiosity and intensifies their engagement and vicarious participation in the story, thus augmenting their knowledge of the past.

On August 11, at the point of maximum distance between Brooklyn and New York, no one forsaw or could have forseen that New York was on the point of beginning a sixteen-game winning streak that transformed the baseball season into a pennant race...

historical analysis

the sciences have no rhetoric

Bobby Thomson's home run, the defeat of the Armada, the battle of Stalingrad, the Normandy landings.

what they want is confrontation with the riches of the event itself, a sense of vicarious participation in a great happening, the satisfaction of understanding what those great moments were like... [The Western Tradition, both what everyone partakes in and to do with those who write it and impart it to others]

The normally cool Russ Hodges, who went berserk and screamed, "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!"

To tell the truth about the past, the historian must marshal resources of rhetoric utterly alien to the rhetoric of the sciences in order to render his account forceful, vivid, and lively; to impart to it the emotional and intellectual impact that will render it maximally accessible and maximally intelligible to those who read it.

Sacred Values, Decision Making, Changing Minds

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Neuroimaging 'will to fight' for sacred values: an empirical case study with supporters of an AQ associate (2018); Nafees Hamid et al. Research spokesperson: Scott Atran, an adjunct research professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School and Institute for Social Research

Sacred values are preferences, beliefs and practices that communities deem protected from material trade-offs

self-reporting of support for violence appears insensitive to material costs and benefits, and asking people to trade sacred values for material benefits provokes moral outrage.

This feature of intergroup conflict, where people fight on when odds of victory are low, suggests choices made independently of calculated risks and likely outcomes. If so, then a primary focus on undestanding, preventing or deterring such behaviors through utilitarian cost-imposition strategies may be insufficient.

Although behavioral work suggests willingness to fight and die for sacred values is relatively insensitive to cost-benefit reasoning, it may be possible to modulate it using methods that do not entail material incentives or threats.

Research on radicalization distinguishes between deradicalization and disengagement, suggesting that former violent extremists rarely change their beliefs (deradicalize) but more often lose their motivation to defent them (disengage). [32. Deradicalization or Disengagement? A process in need of clarity ...; J. Horgan (Perspect. Terror. 2. 3-8)] Accordingly, we conjectured that it might be possible to induce flexibility in the way people defend their sacred values.

different decision pathways

distinguish radicalized from non-radicalized individuals (an important, but different, research topic).

Willingness to fight and die ratings were substantially higher for sacred values (mean 6.61 out of 7 points) than for non-sacred values (mean 3.8). Willingness to fight and die ratings were also conveyed faster in trials comprising sacred values (4.72 vs 5.49)... Value sacredness was stable after six months.

the sacred value condition... involved less activation in neural areas previously associated with cognitive control and utilitarian reasoning.

For both sacred and non-sacred values there was a significant change in willingness to fight and die ratings in the direction established by peers after participants received conflicting (peers-lower) community feedback, with no statistical interaction with value sacredness. In addition, the sacred values condition evoked higher degrees of both moral outrage (built as an average of anger, contempt, an disgust scores) and joy at peers' willingness to fight and die ratings compared with the non-sacred value condition. Post manipulation moral outrage ratings were substantially higher... when values were sacred...

This observation is consistent with the role of the insula in social aversion, including reactions of disgust and indignation.

Nevertheless, the moderating effect of social influence on willingness to fight and die was independent of moral outrage, suggesting that social influence may affect committment to willingness to fight and die in an implicit way.

Overall, these observations are consistent with the idea that choices involving sacred values are less dependent on cost-benefit calculations than choices involving non-sacred values, and the view of sacred values as moral imperatives guiding goal-oriented actions.

deep-seated political conflicts, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conclict, the Iranian nuclear programme, the Muslim-Hindu conlict...

Figuring out the neural mechanisms that sustain sacred value processing will be key to: (i) validating behavioural modulation effects on value committment by factors that differentially affect sacred and non-sacred values, and (ii) comaring neural substrates of sacred value processing in different samples with diverse cultural backgrounds in order to define cross-cultural commonalities in sacred value processing.

The question remains why there were no brain regions associated with affective processing, such as the amygdala, which activated during the sacred compared with the non-sacred value condition. We believe that the most likely explanation for this owes to our experimental paradigm not being sensitive enough to detect the differential neural activity associated with affective regions.

decisions regarding sacred values may rely on deontic rights and wrongs, whereas decisions over non-sacred values may rely on cost-benefit ponderation.

a heuristic making decisions easy to solve, or cached-offline, whereas decisions regarding non-sacred values would involve some degree of calculation.

community feedback shifted willingness to fight and die ratings in the direction established by peers

Our findings suggest that even when social network interventions are unlikely to reduce commitment to a sacred value, they could reduce adherence to violent options.

FROM THE INTERVIEW

then material incentives (economic carrots) or disincentives (sanctions as sticks) only back re.

We found that the brain used di erent networks when considering di erent causes. There were areas we saw that were inhibited, silent, for sacred causes. These were the areas we call deliberative. These are involved in assessing the pros and cons. With sacred causes when people are deciding how much they should ght and die, they are deciding much faster. It’s not a rational decision, but a rapid duty-bound response regardless of real costs or likely consequences. They are doing what they believe.

Arguments and attempts at persuasion that rely on rational and seemingly reasonable attempts to pull people away also will have limited impact because the part of their brain associated with deliberative reasoning has deactivated. Moreover, such strategies do not reach out to the individual.

We also have to nd out when and why people lock in to sacred values, and how those values might be de-sacralized.

Another implication is that the people best poised to get others to abandon violence without abandoning values are those who hold the same values. This con rmed what I had previously observed in Sulawesi, when Sala preachers were able to dissuade a suicide attack group from killing others and dying themselves.

Attractiveness

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Sorting out attractiveness, veiled in culture and experience.

Do the Low WHRs and BMIs Judged Most Attractive Indicate Higher Fertility? (2018) Lassek, Gaulin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30296846

In this research, they considered the long-held belief that men's choices in females reflect the reproductive health of these females, and that's why men like hourglass figures best everywhere (called the "fertility hypothesis," and has been popular in the West for the past 30 years). They found they could not support this belief with research. Men largely do prefer a particular ratio of hourglass-ness (its not a matter of the most or least hourglass possible), but it doesn't point directly towards healthy offspring necessarily.

"Waist size is the strongest predictor of attractiveness and largely mediates the relationship of both BMI and WHR (fatness and hourglass-ness) to attractiveness."

They found that men everywhere prefer body types that indicate not the ability of a woman to successfully bear children, but that indicate how young a woman is. The preferred body shape is "likely to be young but postpubertal."

"In well nourished populations, the low BMI and WHRs considered attractive are most likely to occur in women younger that age 20."

"What they do indicate is that a woman is likely to be young (15-19), has never been pregnant, and has maximal stores of brain building fatty acids." (From the interview, not the paper)

This age is not the most likely to be fecund (get pregnant), bear a child successfully, or be able to raise a child. "Men seeking mates with maximum fecundity should prefer women in their late 20s who are likely to have higher BMIs than those in their teens.

Therefore men are aiming at women with "a decreased likelihood of conceiving"

Most cultures prefer the same low BMI, but not all. Cultures where the people experience a lot of "nutritional stress" (hunger) often prefer fatter women. In two big surveys, of 58 and 54 cultures, around 80% of men preferred women who were "plump or fat."

The preferred BMI/WHR in both types of culture indicates age. "Women's BMI and WHR are reliable predictors of age in well-nourished populations, WHR and BMI are lowest in adolescents and then increase monotonically. In subsistence populations in which men prefer higher than average BMIs, higher values also indicate a younger age, since BMI tends to decrease with age."

NOTES:

"The other half of the health-and-fertility hypothesis--that women with smaller waists and lower BMIs have better health--is also likely to be incorrect. However, better health was predicted by younger age."

Women aged postpubertal - 20 may "have high reproductive value. Even though these younger women have reduced current fecundability and a decreased likelihood of infant survival, they have maximal long-term reproductive potential.

In subsistence populations, "BMIs tend to remain low and often fall with age and parity"... "suggesting that reproductively relevant fat resources are depleted by reproduction."

Women with lower WTS (waist to stature) ratios also tended to have higher levels of omega-3 DHA in their stored fat, an important nutrient during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

"Highly attractive women tend to be 2-4 inches taller than average. We are working on trying to understand why" (from interview, not paper)