rants quibbles


as people often preface some post or other, with,  on the dreaded Reddit. I did Reddit for a month as an experiment. I’m still shedding dread.  DREDDIT?  What a perfectly-engineered CONSENSUS/ PROPAGANDA MACHINE (one’s “karma” is the running total of one’s awarded likes from which are subtracted the running total of one’s awarded dislikes, behooving anyone amassing that meaningless LIKES PILE to learn very quickly what the BORGHIVE likes to “hear” and to stick with that shtick: excellent training for anyone planning on fitting into a crypto-Fascist clusterfuck):  Laugh.  But that’s for another post to deal with…

My point here is this pre-master from my New Musical Project, linked below.

The musical project keeping me too busy to post on THE IMPERIALIST as often as I’d like.

Yes, Comrades, I’m still pumping out music at the will-you-still-need-me, will-you-still-feed-me age of 64 and the music is, I daresay, drenched in the badassery of the unique. I have a team. I have young engineers and a stunning singer.  I may be Unknown but I am not a mere Dabbler. Or if this dabbling be, call it THE BIG DABBLE. Dabbling bigger than lots of official bullshit for which less than zero of my fucks are ever given.

Here are the lyrics of this song (about a forgotten actress from the early/middle 20th Century), the lyrics of the song that is now, officially, the  first finished mix of a project I started in the winter of last year:


And here is the Audio (FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY), which I find extraordinarily Delicious:

[defunct soundcloud url]





of all the non-Egyptian actresses who have played the role of CLEOPATRA, famously, without much more than a barely-audible peep of complaint, as far as we can recollect, from Egyptians or History-Purists alike:

Vivien Leigh

Claudette Colbert

Sophia Loren

Monica Bellucci

Elizabeth Taylor

Sarah Bernhardt

Theda Bara

BUT let some dumb, pseudo-historical  Netflix event star a partly-Black actress in the role, on the other hand, and many shit hits much fan for weeks. Yeah, sure, they’re “re-writing history” for anyone who expects Netflix to teach them “history” but wasn’t “history” already re-written when Lizzy Taylor played the role? Or when Vivien “Scarlet O’Hara” Leigh did?

What’s the diff?

Why the shitstürm now?  ( Well, you and I  and the Eternal Spirit of  Social Hierarchy know…* )


*Ironically, a grocery-store-order delivery man from Cyprus, who got chatty,  last week,  because I carried half the cargo into Castle Augustine for him, asked me, after the stuff was moved, if I’m Egyptian.  I am not. But I’m more Egyptian than Vivien Fucking “Scarlet O’Hara” Leigh.






and actually wondering if this band and its fans are Whiter than the KC and The Sunshine Band? You know what I mean by “whiter,” right?  Also: when I first heard a track from this band,  c. 2009,  I found it quirkily-amusing because of how blatantly it ripped off the people it was ripping off (e.g. the rip-off Artiste David Bowie; a bit of Talking Heads, too;  LCD mostly rips off and sanitizes the raw musical sub-vibe of a distinctively snarky era; I’d say late ’70s).  But the mist of samey-samey  rises quickly, to fog your lenses,  after the fourth or fifth tune. The chubby precious spoiled infant-shouter James Murphy seems like a guy who comes from upper-middleclass money (“At age 22, Murphy was offered a job writing for the sitcom Seinfeld which was then little-known”), has a bit of a college education, could afford equipment at a young age and understands to what extent his Largely White Sheltered Reluctantly-Aging-Skater Hipster Audience will approve of his fey/wry/ meandering collages of text as they spool out over robo-disco beats that are only ennobled by decent engineering.  There’s something sneakily let-them-eat-cake smug about the whole thing but far be it from me to shit on the curated dog-whistles of privilege of any particular doomed-to-extinction In-Group.













Looking for a disposable guitar on Craigslist, I found this “ad” from a disgruntled Hipster:

“Is it just me, or does it feel defeating having to even look at this page? Is it just me, or does this city have an inflated reputation? Any one else come from small towns around the world with much more interesting, original, and progressive music communities? Berlin’s great, and I’m happy to call it my home. But I remember days of being a much more active and challenged artist. Just trying to understand how this could be.”

I very helpfully responded:

***Hello Fellow Expat:

It’s not just you… and it’s not just Berlin. Thing is, for the cool shit to start happening to *you*, new people like you, with “foreign” ideas, have to be interacting profitably with natives in possession of deep local connections… the scintillating surface needs to be grounded to unseen infrastructure; in banal terms, that means that cool rehearsal spaces or juicy grants and location-scout-type jobs are usually several degrees of separation removed from the “newcomers”. That was as true in London, for me, as it is in Berlin. Part of it is protectionism or greed (the connected ones are keeping the good stuff for themselves and the friends they grew up with)… part is pilgrim-type snobbery (“We predate you riff-raff by decades!”).

Usually, it’s c. Year Two in which expats hit the fuck-this-bullshit Wall in Berlin. Those who make it beyond that watershed have usually either found a steady job and/or non-autistic German lover, and have given up on the notion of Artistic Glory in Europe (satisfied to go to cool events on the weekends)…or develop a deep hatred of all things German and fly away forever after c. Year Five.

Except: some of the ones who fly away from Berlin “forever” get bored back home in the US (or wherever) and soon try again with more realistic expectations, equipped with valuable knowledge of the German mindset (and there certainly is one). I belong to that category and returned for a second serious go at it in the year 2000 (making good on my threat to get the fuck out  of Murcca if Bush2 won) and… voila… it worked.

Of course, to generate more specific thoughts on the matter, I have to know what field you were/are trying to make it work in. Music is by far the hardest/ most commonly frustrating. I know professional expats working in the fields of Art, Music, Literature and Film, here, and each field poses its devastating traps and walls for “foreigners”…






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(from a REDDIT flamewar which ensued as I commented, politely, that I believed that Christopher Marlowe may well have written many or most of the works attributed to William Shakespeare; this comment I contributed to a post on the subject of the Shakespeare Authorship Debate.  The Authoritarian REDDIT BORGHIVE was angered. As ever, not one naysayer engaged substantively with the actual arguments supporting Marlowe’s candidacy for the credit but, instead, attacked whatever passing remarks they felt they could… in this case, the comment preceding the one reproduced, below, included a disparaging quip regarding the utter uselessness of using “Occam’s Razor” ro rule out Marlowe-As-Shakespeare or Shak-Spar or however the beard signed… and we were off to the races. Like trying to demolish a house by knocking off its porch lamps;  antagonists have  have been punching at my porch lamps since Blogging Began… )

(Anyway, I think this comment, below, is worth citing for the multitude or two it contains: how many inherited Beliefs do we accept as  stable or  foundational when they are no such thing?)

Citing William of Ockham is  the “serious,” slightly more sophisticated, version of citing Marcus Aurelius… though, in the end, just as silly. Medieval Theologian or Roman Statesman of Antiquity? Choose the spirit animal to decorate your lifestyle brand!  The Marcus Aurelius craze was re-ignited, in the 1990s, by middlebrow tear-jerking memoirist Mary Karr. I don’t know who’s to blame for the Ockham craze of the 21st century but I suspect that “The Internet” will suffice as a suspect.

“Even with your insurance fraud cases, it’s obviously not that they never happen, but how often do they happen in relation to legitimate claims? THAT’S what’s relevant to Occam’s Razor.”

This is spectacularly wrong and especially entertaining because you’re not motivated by intellectual curiosity or a powerful inner compass that points toward Truth, you merely want to appear to have proved me wrong. Occam’s Razor (pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate) says nothing about comparing the number of solved X-type cases to the number of solved Y-type cases. It argues that simplicity is to be favored over complexity in the realm of competing theories. It is a quaint suggestion full of antiquarian charm.

“as your hypothesis gets more complex the probability of it being true decreases, requiring more evidence in order to overcome that complexity penalty.”

This is superstition dressed up in the expensive cloak of borrowed Authority. It isn’t a scientific principle, it doesn’t follow logically. The “simplicity” metric is subjective and in most cases is really a euphemism for “convenience” and a function of available knowledge. Yes, in the absence of much available knowledge (general or specific to the case), we can see how the “simplest” explanation is the most convenient or appealing, but that has no bearing on how true it will turn out to be. That’s a coin toss, and adherents of Ockham merely cherry-pick the instances in which it seemed to work.

You’re indulging in the magical thinking of a faddy mini-religion popularized (but not created by) a medieval theologian. Science-y sounding Pseudoscience is very big in the 21st century (my favorite example being Evolutionary narratives that feature INTENT and STRATEGIC CALCULATION but that’s another can of worms. Poison plants are not “defending” against being eaten and did not “develop” this tendency strategically and so on).

Instances in which the so-called razor has been proven not only wrong but has actually held up Scientific Progress (for decades or centuries) would require a few hundred pages to list and describe. A few of the most notable instances:

“… long before Occam, Ptolemy himself stated that “we consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible” (Franklin, 2001). Considering the Sun the central celestial body was an unnecessary hypothesis and was, therefore, denied for another 14 centuries. This anecdote alone makes it clear that what is considered ‘simpler’ or ‘unnecessary’ depends on what we know and, especially, what we do not know, and is often colored by a subjective personal opinion. Let us list more modern cases that exemplify the limits of Occam’s razor.

In geology, continental drift was long considered an unnecessary and too contrived conjecture to explain the dispersal of species (for an in-depth analysis of Occam’s razor misapplications in biogeography, see (Baker, 2007)). It was thought for a long time that atoms do not exist because they were considered a superfluous metaphysical assumption.”

For years, Max Planck refrained from taking seriously his own idea about the discreteness of the energy quanta (which led to the inception of quantum theory) because he considered it a weird and unnecessary assumption that should be regarded only as a provisional working hypothesis (an assumption that the great Ludwig Boltzmann did not dare to embrace). If you did not know anything about quantum physics and relativity, these would appear to be superfluous and much too complicated theories, and Occam’s razor would opt for classical physics as the preferred theory. In fact, classical physics once seemed able to describe the entire universe by positing only particles and the classical laws of mechanics and electromagnetism. Nowadays, we know how the theory of relativity — and, especially, quantum mechanics — turned this worldview upside down. The existence of nuclear forces is an entirely unnecessary hypothesis from the perspective of classical physics as well.”

—Examples of this razor’s inadequacy in Law abound, as well, despite its popularity (we have been going through an Ockham Boom, which is why I take the trouble of refuting the antiquated heuristic whenever I can). People like citing Ockham because it seems like Smarty Stuff… seeing a Judge do so is like something out of Swift (or Bosch, with the “learned judge” wearing a funnel on his head, astride a goat). An example from a law journal:

“During the course of repairs, the tank exploded, killing three of the plaintiff’s employees. The question was whether the defendant was at fault for the accident. It was hard to say. No one knew for certain what had caused the explosion. The trial judge noted that the possible explanations “range[d] from the very simple to indeed the hyper-complex.” He chose the explanation that seemed the simplest to him-that the workers themselves had caused the explosion. In reaching this conclusion he stated, “I have used Occam’s razor which is as valid juridically as it is scientifically.” On appeal, this was attacked as “an erroneous and incorrect view of the law and an abuse of discretion” on the part of the judge. There was much to be said in favor of the appellant’s argument. Our law of evidence depends on allocation of the burden of proof. The party who bears the burden must produce evidence to satisfy it, or his case is lost. To allow Ockham’s razor to stand as a substitute for proof subverts that principle.”

Anyone who can’t see the tragically absurd stupidity of the judge’s decision, cloaked as it was in the “august” robes of Ockham, is not nearly as bright as they need to be (much like the judge in that case).

To quote a casual, common sense opinion on the matter:

“There is actually no empirical evidence that the world is simple and that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct. “

It’s a coin toss. The instances in which “the razor” has appeared to be useful are counterbalanced by the instances in which it has failed miserably. Which leaves it where, exactly, on the usefulness-spectrum of analytical tools? Answer: where all the quaint things are.

Also, regarding the accuracy of statistical models regarding the fates of individuals vs models applied to populations: any statistical prediction of the likelihood of an individual to die in a plane crash is revealed to have been a binary at the moment of death in a plane crash: it was always either 0% OR 100%. The cited probability of “one in 11,000,000” (for Americans) becomes meaningless in every instance in which an individual American actually died in a plane crash. Yes, the unlucky ones who “defy the odds” are a minority, but they form the important minority when the discussion is focused on the likelihood, of dying, for a given individual, in a plane crash; logically speaking, the case for being able to predict individual mortalities in random (not-health-related or violence-related) accidents is very weak. Or, to see the argument from another angle: statistical modelling becomes more accurate with sample size, no? If I have a sample size of, say, 100 million humans tracked for 20 years, statistics indicating that x-number of the sample will die, in a plane crash, in a given year (allowing for changing factors like safety innovation), per y-miles of distance travelled, will be pretty accurate FOR A VERY LARGE GROUP. At the other end of the sample-size-lens: one person. If the difference between the former case and the latter isn’t obvious… and so forth. To understand this is to have a more complete (post-Uni) understanding of the World. Especially in an Algorithm-dominated culture.

****What is needed, I think, is the ability to think on things with a supple/ curious and rigorously alert (not cant-encrusted) mind. This involves growing into something more than a naive vessel to be filled with the pronouncements of one’s teachers and the fads of consensus. ****

This SHOULD be a place to *DISCUSS* Ideas (with good will)… not relentlessly “confirm” the same Ideas, and Prejudices, all day fucking long, while sneering at Outliers and attacking heterodoxy. The instant any poster deviates from the Norm, it’s not just disagreement they face but, inexplicably, fury. It’s almost like “debating” a 16-year-old religious fanatic… in Borg form.

I just wasted 45 minutes, on this, essentially choosing between a wealth of examples, to post, in which “Ockham’s Razor” fails resoundingly. The razor is patently obsolete. It’s a function of fad and fashion. It’s a pseudo-intellectual party trick, like dropping “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle” into the conversation, at a cocktail party, in the 1980s. Ironically, I used the razor to choose the shortest, simplest examples of how the razor fails! laugh

I know that you, of the Borg, probably prize efficiency, and I like being helpful, so here’s a helpful suggestion: instead of writing the same “zingers” over and over again (the uniformity of language is numbing), why not come up with an official chart and  number the arguments you all (always) resort to? So the next time you go on a spittle-flecking assault on Heterodoxy, you can write “ARGUMENT 26” or “ARGUMENT 7” or “ARGUMENT 11 + ARGUMENT 5”. Then I wouldn’t have to read the same “zingers” (nearly word-for-word) over and over and over again. They all read as though they come from the same Grey Presence anyway.

I am absolutely done. I came to this post to DISCUSS The Shakespeare Authorship Controversy and ended up having to parry entry-level ad hominems and Uni-fresh sophistries. What started out as a “possibly interesting diversion while nursing a cold” ended up as a mildly-amusing clusterfuck.

Still, no hard feelings! Conflict keeps the faculties sharp.




*TL;DR:  No, the Normative Explanation is NOT inevitably the BEST explanation












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