Screw everyone else. What’s in it for me?

Written by Scarabus



What’s usually called “The Prisoners’ Dilemma”* is known to almost anyone who studies game theory, economics, ethics, rationality, political science…

“Puzzles with the structure of the prisoner’s dilemma were devised and discussed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher in 1950, as part of the Rand Corporation’s investigations into game theory.” Here’s my brief version:

You and another man or woman have been arrested for a robbery you committed. You’re being held in separate isolation cells, no chance to communicate with each other.

The D.A. offers each of you the same deal:

(1) If you you confess and your colleague doesn’t, then you go free and your partner gets 5 years.

(2) If your partner confesses and you don’t, then your partner goes free and you get 5 years.

(3) If you both confess, you both get 3 years.

(4) If neither of you confesses, you both get 6 months.

In other words, if both you and your partner keep silent, you both will serve a light sentence. However, regardless of scenario, each of you will be better off if he/she betrays your partner.

So what would Jesus do? More to the point, what would you do?


∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞


For what it’s worth, extended, multi-round variations on the game have been developed. In those variations selfishness is common in early rounds. The more rounds played, however, the more likely that participants will recognize the advantage of what might be called “altruistic” behavior.


∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞


How would Clive Bundy play this game? Would he play differently, depending on who was his competitor/cooperator? How about (under-educated) Sean Hannity?


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Loon Toon

Written by Scarabus


While reading a story on ThinkProgress, I saw the ad below. It’s always fun to see the totally loopy wingnut ads that accompany stories on this very liberal blog. Being in the mood, I clicked on this particular ad to see what I’d find. As you can see from the excerpt of the story that follows, I wasn’t disappointed!


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Talk about slathering it on! “Money Morning” is the name of the organization paying for the ad (see below), but the phrase also reinforces the image: Here’s a seriously obese woman, “Bogarting” a drawn-down cigarette, holding a big glass of white wine—not “Joe Sixpack” style cheap beer, but the effete white wine of the “librul” elite—enjoying her “money morning.” [Homework question: Why use a white model rather than black? Why a woman rather than a man?]

Ironically, the following appeared at the same time, in the same block of ads at the bottom of the page:


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First ad: Accepting government benefits is naughty.

Second ad: Here are 14 more benefits you might be qualified to accept.



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New Study [The study is neither identified nor documented.] Shows Average American Pays $8,577 for Welfare

By MONEY MORNING STAFF REPORTS [Who’s responsible for this steaming heap of el toro ca-ca? We’ll never know, because no one was willing to put his or her name to it.]

It’s time for the government to admit facts: The war on poverty is a malicious, unsustainable conspiracy designed to destroy America’s middle-class.

Today there are 108.5 million Americans receiving some form of welfare, but only 101.7 full-time workers paying for these benefits, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.   [No explanation or documentation provided.]

While President Obama campaigned against the rich [Not sure when this happened. He certainly didn’t campaign against the rich in 2012. One can be for the middle class without also being against the rich.] and for a stronger middle class, the truth is his actions are part of a government conspiracy keeping poor Americans out of work and on welfare. [“Government”? That’s a hell of a conspiracy! According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2,800,000 persons work for the federal government.]

The end goal for Obama and the political elite orchestrating this scheme-career politicians with unlimited power and wealth- [Not a single person among the latest Forbes 400, all billionaires, is associated in any way with the federal government.] is a nation entirely dependent on Uncle Sam. 

And both Democrats and Republicans alike are involved. [And Independents? Libertarians?]

“What you are seeing in Washington is not a capitol that is hopelessly divided-it’s hopelessly interconnected,” New York Times Magazine Chief National Correspondent Mark Leibovich recently wrote. [Meaning what? Does “interconnection” = “conspiracy”?]

This conspiracy started 50 years ago when Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the “War on Poverty.”

“What I’m doing is taking from the haves and giving to have-nots,” Johnson said back in 1964. [No, LBJ did not say that. This is a bold-faced lie!]

The “giving” has been expanding ever since, today reaching its most critical level ever.

As Thomas Jefferson warned, “Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” [No, Jefferson never said that. This is another bold-faced lie. It first appeared in print in 1986!]


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Phyllis Schlafly asks women to relive the 1940s-1950s.

Written by Scarabus

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[A] prominent member of the Republican movement further undermined the party’s campaign to appeal to women voters by suggesting that the current pay gap isn’t wide enough. In an op-ed published by the Christian Post, Phyllis Schlafly — the founder of the Eagle Forum — maintained that increasing the pay gap will help women find suitable husbands:

Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don’t have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Obviously, I’m not saying women won’t date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all. [...]

The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.

Schlafly has long been crusader for “traditional values” within [the] conservative movement and the Republican party, serving as a member of the National GOP Platform Committee as recently as 2012 and as a delegate to the National Convention. Her Eagle Forum PAC has also donated thousands to prominent Republicans like Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Ted Cruz.

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LBJ on Civil Rights Law

Written by Scarabus

Can’t help wondering. Could these circumstances and this speech ever be repeated in our nation? Or have we sunk too far? My God! I wish I didn’t know what I do. I wish I could reclaim the honest, trusting faith in our nation’s goodness and honor I had as a kid.

Oh, yes! I had taken courses in American history. But those were whitewashed, watered down versions of our history. Would I have lived a more aware life if I had read books like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States? Would I want my 11 year old granddaughter to read such a book? Or would I prefer to allow her a blissful ignorance for as long as possible? (She’s too sharp not to catch on eventually.)

Next post will focus on blissful ignorance. Until then, listen to this at least once, and reflect on it.


Yoho? …or Bozo?

Written by Scarabus


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Congressman Tells Black Constituent He’s Not Sure The Civil Rights Act Is Constitutional

By Scott Keyesbird_blue_16.png on April 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

GAINESVILLE, Florida — Last week, former presidents and dignitaries celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which bans many forms of employment discrimination and whites-only lunch counters, among other things. This week, a Republican congressman declared that he’s not sure if the Civil Rights Act is even constitutional.Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a freshman congressman aligned with the Tea Party, held a town hall Monday evening in Gainesville where he fielded a wide range of questions from constituents. One such voter was Melvin Flournoy, a 57-year-old African American from Gainesville, who asked Yoho whether he believes the Civil Rights Act is constitutional.

FLOURNOY: Do you think that any part of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 [sic], do you think any part of that is constitutional? And then if you’d discuss why. [...]

YOHO: This country grew through a lot of growing pain. We’re going through it again. As we grow as a country and prosper, we’re going to go through it again in the future. That’s why I’m so thankful for the Constitution because it allows us to do that. Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act? I wish I could answer that 100 percent. I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.

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How to Troll for Wingnuts

Written by Scarabus


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How to Troll for a Big-Mouthed Conservative

By Hans Zoroastrian Anderson

Trolling is an effective way to cover slime and catch wingnuts. The method involves trailing a lure through a blog post or comment. It is sometimes productive for fishing morasses with which you are unfamiliar. Some chain-yankers do nothing but troll; others troll until they catch a big-mouth blowhard or two. At that point they stop trolling and make casts to the area, hoping to catch even more blatherers.

Things You’ll Need

  • Access to the internet
  • Links to blogs
  • A selection of radical right lures



  1. Choose the proper trolling equipment. The best trolling rods are 7-feet long and have a medium to heavy action. Attach to the rod a posting/commenting reel spooled with 8- to 10-pound monofilament line. The lighter the line, the deeper the lure will run.
  2. Decide on a lure for trolling. The most productive lures for bigmouth bigots are crankbaits. These baits are shaped like typically rational progressive observations, but include details rightwing nuts find irresistible. The more the details, the deeper the bait dives. A crankbait with lots of wiggle often is best in warm-weather months.
  3. Tie the crankbait to the line using what wingnuts call a “politically correct” knot. (Yes, they’ll recognize the knot, but they won’t be able to resist it any more than Roger Rabbit could resist completing the “Shave and a haircut” cadence).
  4. Find areas in which to troll. Focus especially on weedlines, slime pits, and fetid muck. A fear/hate finder is helpful in locating these areas
  5. Troll until you catch a big-mouth blatherer. Troll through the area a second time. If you catch another blatherer, mark the spot and kill the motor. Cast your crankbait through the area, and hook the cranks when they swallow it.


[Apologies to eHow. They have nothing to do with this. I merely adopted the format from a legitimate (and very good) entry on trolling for bass.]

Grayson disturbs the sleep of Spiro Agnew

Written by Scarabus


Some younger readers might not remember Spiro Agnew. It’s convenient for many politicians that neither they nor their constituents know much about American history of the past 50-60 years. And what politicians want is what students are taught. (Long story. For another post.)

Anyhow, Spiro Agnew was elected as Richard Nixon’s vice president. He was known for his quick wit and pithy quotes, often involving alliteration. Unfortunately, he was also known to criminal investigators for bribery, conspiracy, and tax fraud. He was indicted, but plea-bargained to resign the vice presidency in exchange for avoiding jail time.

Why did this matter? Because not long after that Nixon himself was impeached and indicted. He too cut a deal with Congress, resigning from office rather than enduring trial and certain conviction by the Senate. That meant the vice president would succeed him as president. If Agnew hadn’t committed felonies while governor of Maryland – and been caught and indicted! – he would have become President of the United States. Instead, it was the House Minority Leader, Gerald Ford, appointed by Nixon, who assumed the office.

Anyhow, enough divagating. Point is that when I got his regular email newsletter this week, I found Grayson – 180 degrees opposite Agnew in both politics and personal character – using language that reminded me of Agnew’s when he was at the top of his form:


Republican “ideas” – don’t they just stink? Don’t they just stink out loud? Like with a bullhorn – that loud?

And bear in mind that this is not some Monty Python proposal, put forth by the People’s Front of Judea, or even the Judean People’s Front. No, this is a resolution written by the gentleman who might be Vice President today, if Mitt Romney weren’t such a fop.

The weather was very nice in Central Florida this weekend. I could have spent the time at the beach. But duty called, so instead I read though [Paul Ryan’s proposed budget] that compendium of cruelty, that syllabus of stupidity, that oeuvre of offal, that digest of dreck.


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So… This afternoon I saw the following commercial for Western Digital.

Written by Scarabus



And then this evening I get the following letter from “President, WD Subsidiary”:


Dear Customer,

At WD, our commitment to you is reliable, secure and easily accessible storage for your most valuable content. This past week you may have experienced a service disruption for our personal cloud products. If you have been directly affected by this, I want to extend my personal, sincerest apology.

…While your data has remained safe and accessible in your home or office, the service disruption may have temporarily prevented some of you from remotely accessing that content. We’ve dedicated the past week to restoring your remote access as quickly as possible.

…Your feedback to us has been invaluable. All of us at WD are committed to minimizing downtime and ensuring the service information we provide is valuable and frequent. We already have implemented important changes to our infrastructure and network capability. While we have validated the vast majority of your remote connections, we continue our focus on providing uninterrupted access from your phone, tablet or computer. Your content deserves nothing less.


Jim Murphy
President, WD Subsidiary


Several thoughts.

I couldn’t help laughing. What a nice juxtaposition! (Mind you, I’m sorry for those who were affected.)

This was not an instance of “guvmint ineptitude.” Problems like this are endemic to projects of this size and complexity. Like, I dunno… The break-in period for on-line registration with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Lots of people are clueless about this “cloud computing” thing. For example, I heard a U.S. senator say to a TV interviewer, “You know, to store data in the cloud is not like storing it on a physical server. It’s a lot safer.”

WTF? Does she think the data’s stockpiled in some safe corner of Aristophanes’ Cloud Cuckoo Land? Guarded by birds, percept? Sorry, Senator. The “cloud” is leased space on a “server farm,” quite possibly in a foreign country. Yeah, physical servers.


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Plutocrats checking on the security of their cloud-stored essential data.

Close relatives

Written by Scarabus


Notice from the “keep track of your relatives” service Geni:


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Wayne Dickson takes a photo of his close relative Wayne Dickson …

while Wayne Dickson takes a photo of him.

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