"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Willard and I Reflect on the Latest

me: hi
ca va?

willard: oui, assez
a bit preoccupied, but alright, you?

me: I am fine.
Lucia's attack seems to be doing me no damage

willard: oh
it's good publicity
it's a comedy
at least Lucia recognized that it can't be serious

me: well, it is not unserious; we cannot forgive Mosher
he can't just say we are best friends now

willard: i'm trying to understand what weapon you have in this war
what's your offensive skill?
how do you score goals?

me: are you saying I am failing? Or are you saying I am succeeding but you don't understand how?

willard: no, i'm wondering about your style
i can't say if you are failing or not

me: heh
I don't know
saying fuck eleven times doubles your traffic. I learned that

willard: lol

me: Perhaps I should say it twentytwo times and see if it quadruples

willard: no, it won't

me: it was a joke

willard: i know

me: this is not a performance I intend to repeat
call it performance art, though
not comedy

willard: well, it's opposed to a tragedy

me: My chief weapon, my chief strength, is also my chief weakness
I am a cultural chameleon
Canadian when it suits me, Texan when it doesn't
I am never an authentic anything
but I am an almost-authentic many things

willard: Colbert is not authentic
that's not the point

me: So the whole point is that you never know what angle I will take on a piece

willard: oh, sure i do

me: What I do is to shift point of view

willard: predictably

me: I think that is my strength and my weakness
perhaps predictably; but still fairly effectively
What I do well is to do lots of things almost well, I think.
It's the totality that is interesting

willard: you're too open to be mean
but you seem to aspire at politeness

me: Yes, there is a tension
I want to respect people and include as many as possible in the conversation

willard: yes, well

me: but then I hit a limit and the response is excessive
You know, drawing the line is the whole problem

willard: there is no such thing as a line

me: No, it's about arrogant ignorance
I can take arrogance
I can take ignorance
but there is a sharp cutoff somewhere in the multiplicative product of the two

willard: that's not something you can know beforehand

me: Indeed that is the problem
it is very difficult to draw the line in advance

willard: the problem lies in thinking there is a problem there

me: No, here I totally disagree

willard: everyone keeps telling you that you're wrong about that

me: Who besides you?

willard: IF you want to talk to people
Tom Y
John F

me: Well, Lucia is not interesting

willard: everyone except the Rat pack
that's the point, Dr. Doom

me: So you are claiming the Kloorists' complaint about me is what, now?

willard: whatever you may think of those who say that you are divisive, they still might have a point
you are divisive
Lucia and Steve, no good
Mosher, no good
you might have a point

me: well, they are forces of evil

willard: yes, i know
but here's the thing
you are lazy
you should concentrate in identifying what's evil-doing
show us the evil in evil-doers
tell us their tricks
saying that Moshpit is evil is a dud
it nullifies everything you might claim about his behavior
what you think of Moshpit is of no public relevance
you are in a public debate
and you are castigating your opponents
this is stupid, to say it bluntly
you are dividing those who agree from those who don't

me: It is a problem

willard: if what you want to do is to talk to the friends of Moshpit, that's not the way to do it

me: Some division is necessary
Else you end up with Watts

willard: it's a good example
i never talk about Watts
nor Romm
they're uninteresting

me: yes
I aspire to be interesting

willard: it's not a good way to talk to nerds
you know that
you do not like how i'm talking to you
right now
you are gentle
you should aspire to be like Bart V
perhaps with more shoulders
so that you can hit square and fair
but stop the high-sticking

me: Interesting
I can simulate many types
But Bart cannot be simulated

willard: no

me: You are right
he is an ideal of a sort
but I don't know that I should aspire to it

willard: you're funnier than Bart
liberals have no choice but to be funnier than conservatives
charitable irony
you are charitable
i think that's you're weapon
so being uncharitable undoes you
we all know that Moshpit is insincere
there is nothing one can do against him speaking
it's the internet
he plays home
he's the freedom guy
there's no use to whine about that fact
what we can do is to underline the stupid tricks he keeps repeating

me: I am not charitable; I am empathetic

willard: well, empathy is no use without charity

me: by not having a home culture, I am forced to be able to identify with many cultures

willard: if you're to keep fighting
you need to find love here

me: love is not just coddling
we are moving from an easy time to a hard time
discipline is needed
I can say, I see why you are acting that way, AND you must look at it this other way, and you must stop.

willard: yes, but you immediatly sound fatherly
and i think Moshpit won't get anything out of it

me: He seemed dazed for a day or so and then came back without any noticeable reaction

willard: you're out of his loop
he's a man on a mission
he will dodge, act saintly and that's that

me: and his mission is wtf again?

willard: lower taxes

me: !

willard: he owes it to future generations

me: you know once almost everybody is dead and the rest of us are brawling over rat flesh with rusty steel rods, taxes will be much lower

willard: yes, i heard they're cheap in sierra leone


Tom said...

Is this a soliloquy or a duet? In any event, it serves quite nicely to push that rather embarrassing piece of shit post down the page. I would get Willard back on the line for more Shakespearian comedy.


Paul said...

A man is known not only by those who admire him but also those who dislike him. On that basis, Michael, I think you are on the positive side of the ledger.

Paul Middents

Michael Tobis said...

It tickles me that people sometimes think I am Willard. In fact Paulina Essunger is probably Willard.

willard said...


I note that taxes might not be that interesting in Sierra Leone, at least if we're to believe this source:


The top five seems to be:

- Maldives
- Qatar
- Hong Kong
- Singapore
- United Arab Emirates

For more info:


To business that we love we rise betime, and go to it with delight.

Unknown said...

Mosher and Lucia "are forces of evil"?

That's pretty strong. Dont'ya think?

Steve Bloom said...

It's the effect they have, not how they rationalize their behavior inside their own heads. You too, for that matter, albeit that you're lower on the scale.

steven said...

I support lower taxes?

I supported Ross's tax idea back in 2007


MT, you're still my friend. That is, I have no issue with you calling me evil. I just think you are mistaken about that. You find my support for openness comes at the expense of the planet. Even if that were true, it would not make me dr evil. You think somebody who has different morals than you do is evil. That's odd. I think someone with no morals is evil.

Imagine that I held the following position. Our concern for opennness trumps everything. That's not evil. That is saying you have a principal worth everything, worth dying for. Now, I dont hold that position, but its interesting to look at philosophically.

what kind of trick does Moshpit use. well most are demonstrated in the mails

Let just take a simple example. Passing around confidential documents. Yup, they did that. What's that mean? what's that allow people to DO with a conversation?

You criticize me for having something to do with passing around these private documents. Bad Moshpit. I can now flip the script.
flip the script,here means

"Commonly used in rap battles, it means to take what somebody said against you and to use it against them."

The mails were this perfect boomerang. Essentially any behavior you want to accuse me of, I can find in the mails.

Like Jones hoping that no one will do anything about climate change in order to prove the science right.
here jones values proving the science right above saving the planet.

Yup. That's in a mail to John Christy.

Anonymous said...

Steven Mosher, "principles" my foot. If anything, it's now plain as day that you, dear Sir, are not anything like Julian Assange.

Shortly after preaching "openness" and "transparency", already shown that you're willing to throw PFC Manning under the bus precisely for "passing around confidential documents", and you'll 'justify' that by throwing out some hyper-specific pseudo-legalistic garbage.

And why not try to answer the questions I asked regarding your understanding of UK law?

-- frank

Anonymous said...

MT, the problem I see is that you can't quite decide what exactly your precise goal is. There are many possible goals, e.g.

(a) get climate legislation enacted yesterday

(b) stop the Koch nonsense mill

(c) convince the US or world population to embrace science and logic.

What you've repeatedly done is to mash them together into some sort of utterly confusing 'goal' like

(ǻ) use the Koch nonsense mill to convince the US or world population to get climate legislation enacted and embrace science and logic.

Such a 'goal' is practically impossible, and what's more, thinking too much about this confusing pseudo-'problem' makes you susceptible to confusion by, well, the confusionists, and provides them with another opening for reasonable-sounding -- but ultimately bogus -- attacks.

-- frank

Anonymous said...

Re "I want to respect people and include as many as possible in the conversation":

I'll put it this way. I think knowing when to burn bridges is just as important as knowing when to build bridges. You can't just keep building bridges when you know that some people will be using the bridges as a means to trash your work.

This means, the choice between bridge-building and bridge-burning should be made out of careful consideration, not out of some reflexive fear of the consequences of the opposite course of action.

-- frank

Tom said...

Writing about Tobis and bridges is dangerous.

The most appropriate comparison is with Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness) and the Bridge Over the River Kwai.

Madness... Madness.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom Fuller,

You're already allowed to spew vitriol here with virtual impunity. What more do you want, Mr. I-Am-Oppressed Tom?

-- frank

Tom said...

Because Tobis knows I'm right in what I write. This his expiation. I am serving as an electronic hair shirt.

I'm not oppressed and I don't feel oppressed. I think it goes the other way round.

Anonymous said...


That's an interesting view. So in your mind, because you're absolutely right and MT is absolutely wrong, therefore as a sort of virtual reward you've been offered the right to spew whatever vitriol and insults and fact-free garbage you wish?

Or maybe I should ask a different question:

Why don't you pick someone your size, you obnoxious bully?

-- frank

Tom said...

Hmm. I'm trying intentionally to be obnoxious, and succeeding pretty well, I think.

But picking on someone my own size? Are you smoking crack? Tobis has the pieces of paper, the letters behind his name, the blog, the support of many in the climate establishment. I'm just a commenter on his weblog.

Unless being right increases my size.

As for being a bully, it's Tobis who bullies unmercifully. Usually his targets are magnanimous enough to let him get away with it--Mosher, Curry, Liljegren.

I'm more cantankerous. If Tobis acts like a dimwitted little shit, I will call him a dimwitted little shit. He lied about me. When he tried to spew the same lies about Curry, I got in his face. Now he's pulling the same crap with Mosher.

So he's still acting like a dimwitted little shit.

Michael Tobis said...

This is getting boring.

Frank, thanks for your defenses, but let's leave it here, please. Tom, thanks for the hair shirt. I am thinking about it, per Willard's suggestion as much as yours.

Enough, please.

dhogaza said...

"Imagine that I held the following position. Our concern for opennness trumps everything."

Great. Then who stole the friggin' e-mails?

Oh, you don't know? If openness trumps everything, why didn't you and Tom expend your energy on uncovering who stole them?

Oh, I forgot, "openness" is meant to be taken within a certain context ...

Anonymous said...

"let's leave it here, please."

MT, ultimately whether we leave "it" here or there isn't up to me; it's up to you. I'm curious to know how your search for an alternative blog host is going.

Anyway, I reiterate my point which was obscured by Tom's obscuring. Namely, it's just as important to burn bridges as it is to build bridges. If you don't, you you'll just keep compromising on your core values -- of truth, science, and justice -- until your entire life consists of trying to please everyone.

With all due respect, Willard is wrong if he thinks that there's no need to burn any bridges.

* * *


Speaking of that, actually I'd also like to know more about the second "FOIA" comment which ended up on Watts's blog, and which moderator CTM replied with "A lot is happening behind the scenes". Which IP address did the comment come from? What was the original message from "FOIA"?

-- frank

Anonymous said...

I enjoy these converstaions between you and Willard. I guess peeking in on other people's conversation has some kind of instinctive appeal (as wikileaks and "climategate" attest to), and it this case it seems entirely legal and ethical since you decide to open up the conversation yourself.

I see Willard pointing out how to communicate strategically towards you goal (and how not to), and I think he makes good points on that front (eg charitability is your weapon; being uncharitabel undoes you. He must be a poet.) Such strategic thinking is important in this fight about credibility. Perhaps we should take some lessons from Mosher on that.


Anonymous said...

"I supported Ross's tax idea back in 2007


I'm curious as to why you are attracted to that idea.

Steve Bloom said...

Bart, the difficulty with being charitable in these circumstances is that leads to the sort of assumptions that you or Michael would never make in your day jobs. It also leads to intellectual wheel-spinning, which can be entertaining for a time but utlimately is just boring. It's a particularly bad sign when obvious propagandists for the bad guys become topics to which you return again and again.

I think both of you should do a post describing what you think you've learned from your blogs so far, where you think you're headed, and what value you think you have and will add to society's response to the climate crisis.

willard said...

> I support lower taxes? I supported Ross's tax idea back in 2007[.] http://climateaudit.org/2007/06/12/the-t3-tax/

The link seems to be offered as evidence that Moshpit supported the tax. In the thread of comments from the post linked, there is no evidence that he supported the tax back then. So providing this link looks like a trick.

Believing that a libertarian would welcome lower taxes seems warranted. We also have reasons to believe that Moshpit is a libertarian. Claiming that one supported a tax does not disprove that one would not welcome lower taxes. So this claim looks like a trick.

These are two tricks. These might not be evil tricks, and even if they were, I would not condone such language. That said, these tricks are certainly wrong. The first one is innocuous; the second one is fallacious.

This should not be too difficult to see. We can all see that the tricks used in the quote above are wrong. If Mosphit can't see that these kinds of tricks are wrong, well, no big deal.


Nevertheless, in the comment thread referred above, there is an interesting discussion by TokyoTom, whom I believe is a friend of MT:


The reply by McKitrick is also interesting:


David B. Benson said...

I seem to have wandered onto the practice stage for Waiting for Godot.

EliRabett said...

It's not rehearsal

Anna Haynes said...

MT, a 2-cent recommendation: don't permit bilious comments from first-name-only posters.

Anna Haynes said...

(not referring to recent comments, i hasten to clarify)

David B. Benson said...

EliRabett --- Its difficult to tell...

"Saved from what?"
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Paul Daniel Ash said...

Well, I'm hopeful that the promised post addresses how education can proceed in a world where a (perhaps overdramatic) quote can get halfway around the world while mental models of reasonable fidelity are putting their boots on.

Dan Olner's point from the previous thread is apposite in this regard. All the other side has to do is catch you "losing [y]our rag" in Dan's felicitous phrase. "real-realists" have to create those mental models you spoke of.

The playing field's not just uneven. It's practically vertical.

Steve L said...

It seems to me that your 'strategy' is working out perfectly. Say fuck a bunch of times and hundreds of people find you interesting. No such thing as bad advertising, especially on assholes' blogs.

Then you get a couple of idiots who think they're right (about who knows what) showing up on your blog to add spice for your regulars. That probably attracts even more eyes. If that's your objective.

susan said...

It's hard to know how to get through the fog of ignorance and ignorance promotion, and all of its supposedly innocent fellow travelers. I like the MT approach as a trial balloon and in many ways think it's high time somebody went this way. The openness and honesty of the scientific process (full of glitches and infighting as it is, with big minds and egos on full display), still remarkable for promoting truth at all costs as the end product, is all too easy to exploit.

Susan Anderson