Niall Ferguson, “The Square and the Tower”

20:32
it reveals apart from anything else one
of the fundamental problems with network
structures they are bad at self defense
one reason we inclined towards
hierarchical structure through most of
history is that they are quite good at
defense it’s not the first time the
Russians hacked a network I tell the
story of how the most exclusive
intellectual network of all time the
Cambridge apostles the most lofty
high-minded intellectually extraordinary
network got hacked by the KGB this is a
wonderful example of how networks can
attack other networks three of the
Cambridge spies three of the famous five
were members of that society to which
John Maynard Keynes had belonged in the
1920s and Lytton Strachey but the 1930s
the KGB had penetrated it one of the
most successful intelligence operations
of all time much more successful than
what they did in twenty sixteen which by
the way backfired in their faces
completely and it takes a network in
this kind of a world to defeat a network
I’m quoting Stan McChrystal who learnt
that lesson the hard way in his battle
against al-qaeda in Iraq that it’s a
wonderful story that he tells in his own
autobiography it took that very
hierarchical institution the US Army a
long time to realize that it could not
beat its adversary in Iraq other than by
in some ways imitating its network
structure

25:45
but if you are interested in him there’s
a whole section on why it was that
network’s decided 2016 election and one
of my concluding thoughts is the real
lesson of 2016 is no Facebook no
he-who-must-not-be-named
without the network platforms not just
Twitter but especially Facebook the
outcome of that election which has
changed all our lives would have been
different you’re gonna have amassed the
great German philosopher said that
changes in the structure of the public
sphere were often the most decisive
things in history
and I agree with you
organ harbor Mass and this book is
really about changes in the structure of
the public sphere ladies and gentlemen
we are living through one of the
greatest changes in the public sphere
ever to happen
it is as profound in its
way as the change wrought by the
printing press
the printing press was supposed to
create a priesthood of all believers the
internet a global community if history
has anything to teach us
it is the sobering thought that we may
be just at the beginning of a period of
network disruption polarization crazy
stuff going viral and widening
inequality and if that makes you feel
nervous

30:18
story he said the real problem is that
because of the way that Facebook works
and also Google because of the way that
the algorithm is sending you stuff that
is designed to get you engaged on an
individualized basis according to your
data
we each inhabit our own private sphere
and the disaggregation that you describe
is further advanced than we know what
made the advertising so potent in 2016
not only by the way in the United States
it happened in the UK too in the Briggs
that referendum was the ability that the
brexit campaign had and the Trump
campaign had to target advertising very
very specifically
and then tweak the advertising and on
the basis of its effectiveness this is a
completely changed public sphere
political advertisements are no longer
things we all see and can discuss at the
watercooler

each of us begins to inhabit his or her
own reality with our own customized
newsfeed this is a deeply dangerous
development because it means the public
sphere as such ceases to exist or
retreats into the domain of traditional
media traditional media of course slowly
being destroyed because they lose with
every passing month their share of
advertising revenue to the network
platforms so I sense a more profound
crisis of democracy than we get
appreciate because we are focused on
what I think are relatively small issues
the Russian intervention the Russian
intervention wasn’t decisive the number
of advertisements and the number of
people who saw them were release really
small percentages of all the content
that was being produced indigenously by
Americans on Facebook not least the
people that you alluded to so I think
this is a deeply troubling development
and it’s where the book ends book ends
by saying if we allow this networked
world to advance it will transpire that
the real enemy of democracy is the
Russians the real enemy is actually the
way the network our platform algorithms
sub dividers dice and slice us and give
each of us our own version of reality
so
thanks for the great question yes sir
I’m going to ask quick question since
the you had me the power of networks
it’s one step to presume that there is
possibility of large-scale conspiracies
do you believe that large-scale
conspiracies capable to change the
history can happen or happened before oh
I’m so glad you asked I’m so glad you
asked that question because part of the
reason for
writing this book is precisely that
conspiracy theorists have dominated the
literature on social networks for such a
long time I was really struck when I was
researching this bias statistic that I’m
going to get right in 2011 just over
half of Americans agreed with the
statement that quote much of what
happens in the world today is decided by
a small and secretive group of
individuals and I belong to it I do I
must do because I go not this year
because I’m busy selling books to the
World Economic Forum in Davos it’s worse
than that I go to the Bilderberg meeting
it’s quite likely that having written a
book about the Rothschilds and Henry
Kissinger and knowing George Soros that
I am a member of the Illuminati who are
of course controlled by space aliens
wait stop you lost me at space aliens so
here’s the extraordinary thing most of
the work that you can find out there on
the internet on any of the things I just
talked about from the Rothschilds to the
Illuminati is by crazy people and the
conspiracy theory landscape is kind of
fun to wander through but it is entirely
divorced from scholarship in conspiracy
theory land you just make stuff up
which is I mean I guess it’s
entertaining but it isn’t history part
of the problem there is that real
historians who are more nervous and and
risk-averse temperamentally than this
historian shy away therefore from
writing about any of these things so you
don’t actually get many books about the
role of the Freemasons in the American
Revolution that are non crazy there are
relatively few rigorous studies of the
Illuminati and so forth so one reason I
wanted to write this book was that so
much that there is about social networks
s the conspiracy theory industry when
you actually do serious historical
research which you can do on say the
Illuminati you discover that they were
a small South German secret society set
up in the 1770s with the goal of
secretly infiltrating the Masonic lodges
of Europe and spreading thereby the most
radical doctrines of the Enlightenment
including atheism so the Illuminati did
exist but they’re only ever about 2,000
members they spent a lot of time doing
really strange rituals inspired by
Freemasonry and giving one another
strange code names and they were
completely shut down by the Bavarian
authorities in the 1780s making it
highly unlikely that they caused the
French Revolution as was subsequently
alleged so part of the point of this
book is to show that we can write the
history of those secret societies but we
must not exaggerate their power but that
isn’t really a conspiracy to rule the
world run out of Davos I know I’ve been
I mean and frankly if that’s what they
call ruling the world I mean they should

Saving a Tree in Postgres Using LTREE

In my last post, I showed you how to install and enable a Postgres extension called LTREE. LTREE allows me to save, query on and manipulate trees or hierarchical data structures using a relational database table. As we’ll see, using LTREE I can count leaves, cut off branches, and climb up and down trees easily – all using SQL right inside my application’s existing Postgres database!

But trees are natural, haphazard, branching structures with countless leaves, while database tables are man-made rectangles full of numbers and text. How can I possibly save a beautiful tree structure into an ugly, boring database table?

Path Enumeration

Let’s return to the example tree from the first post in this series:

The LTREE extension uses the path enumeration algorithm, which calls for each node in the tree to record the path from the root you would have to follow to reach that node.

What are the options for storing hierarchical data in a relational database?

Generally speaking, you’re making a decision between fast read times (for example, nested set) or fast write times (adjacency list). Usually, you end up with a combination of the options below that best fit your needs. The following provides some in-depth reading:

Why Trump Supporters Believe He Is Not Corrupt

What the president’s supporters fear most isn’t the corruption of American law, but the corruption of America’s traditional identity.

On Wednesday morning, the lead story on FoxNews.com was not Michael Cohen’s admission that Donald Trump had instructed him to violate campaign-finance laws by paying hush money to two of Trump’s mistresses. It was the alleged murder of a white Iowa woman, Mollie Tibbetts, by an undocumented Latino immigrant, Cristhian Rivera.

On their face, the two stories have little in common. Fox is simply covering the Iowa murder because it distracts attention from a revelation that makes Trump look bad. But dig deeper and the two stories are connected: They represent competing notions of what corruption is.

.. The Iowa murder, by contrast, signifies the inversion—the corruption—of that “traditional order.” Throughout American history, few notions have been as sacrosanct as the belief that white women must be protected from nonwhite men. By allegedly murdering Tibbetts, Rivera did not merely violate the law. He did something more subversive: He violated America’s traditional racial and sexual norms.
Once you grasp that for Trump and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies, their behavior makes more sense. Since 2014, Trump has employed the phrase rule of law nine times in tweets. Seven of them refer to illegal immigration.
.. Why were Trump’s supporters so convinced that Clinton was the more corrupt candidate even as reporters uncovered far more damning evidence about Trump’s foundation than they did about Clinton’s? Likely because Clinton’s candidacy threatened traditional gender roles. For many Americans, female ambition—especially in service of a feminist agenda—in and of itself represents a form of corruption. 
“When female politicians were described as power-seeking,” noted the Yale researchers Victoria Brescoll and Tyler Okimoto in a 2010 study, “participants experienced feelings of moral outrage (i.e., contempt, anger, and/or disgust).”
Cohen’s admission makes it harder for Republicans to claim that Trump didn’t violate the law. But it doesn’t really matter. For many Republicans, Trump remains uncorrupt—indeed, anticorrupt—because what they fear most isn’t the corruption of American law; it’s the corruption of America’s traditional identity. 

Go Ahead, Millennials, Destroy Us

they forgot what adults always forget: that our children grow up, and remember everything, and forgive nothing.

.. Those kids have suddenly understood how little their lives were ever worth to the people in power. And they’ll soon begin to realize how efficient and endless are the mechanisms of governance intended to deflect their appeals, exhaust their energy, deplete their passion and defeat them. But anyone who has ever tried to argue with adolescents knows that in the end they will have a thousand times more energy for that fight than you and a bottomless reservoir of moral rage that you burned out long ago.

.. whenever you disapprove of young people, you’re in the wrong, because you’re going to die and they’ll get to write history, but I just can’t help noticing that the liberal side isn’t much fun to be on anymore.

.. Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. Revolutions have always been driven by the young.

.. the N.R.A.’s unassailable coalition of greed and fear

.. I’d come to the conclusion that America has always been a violent nation, from our founding genocide to the slave labor that built the country to the arsenal, unprecedented in human history, that maintains our empire.

.. We spend $60 billion a year on pets

.. cynicism is also a kind of faith: the faith that nothing can change, that those institutions are corrupt beyond all accountability, immune to intimidation or appeal

.. Harvey Weinstein ultimately wasn’t the one enforcing the code of silence around his predations: It was all the agents and managers and friends and colleagues who warned actresses that he was too powerful to accuse.

.. Once people stopped believing in his invulnerability, his destruction was as instantaneous

..  It has been inspiring and thrilling to watch furious, cleareyed teenagers shame and vilify gutless politicians and soul-dead lobbyists for their complicity in the murders

.. Wayne LaPierre was reduced to gibbering like Gen. Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove” about a “socialist” takeover and “hardening” our schools. You could see the whites all around his irises. That look is fear.

..  why adults should listen to anything young people had to say about the world. My answer:

  • because they’re afraid of you.
  • They don’t understand you. And
  • they know you’re going to replace them.

.. Go get us. Take us down — all those cringing provincials who still think climate change is a hoax, that being transgender is a fad or that “socialism” means purges and re-education camps. Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions. Gender roles as disfiguring as foot-binding, the moribund and vampiric two-party system, the savage theology of capitalism — rip it all to the ground. I for one can’t wait till we’re gone.

The Anti-Christian Alt-Right

The Perverse Thought of Right-Wing Identity Politics

.. “The Church has become the number one enemy of Western Civilization. Soon the only people left in Christianity will be third-world immigrants and a handful of self-hating whites.”

..Hillary Clinton devoted a speech in Nevada to deploring its influence on the election. “These are race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman—all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘alt-right,’” she charged.

.. Clinton could not name a single member of a movement that, she warned, imperiled American democracy

.. The movement exists almost entirely among anonymous users of the Internet. It has no institutions, no money, no political representation, and no traditional media.

.. It enjoys the close attention of the liberal establishment it seeks to discredit and the conservative movement it intends to displace.

.. “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”

.. The alt-right purports to defend the identity and interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality. Its goals are not conventionally conservative.

It does not so much question as mock standard conservative positions on free trade, abortion, and foreign policy, regarding them as principles that currently abet white dispossession.

.. Its creed, in the words of Richard Spencer, is “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.”

.. the alt-right represents something more nefarious, and frankly more interesting, than white identity politics.

.. The alt-right is anti-Christian.

.. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it.

.. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.”

.. it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West.

.. Its intellectual birth is marked by the 1918 publication of the first volume of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West.

.. While the movement is often accused of advocating racial supremacy, its appeal is more often to cultural difference. A generation tired of multicultural pieties

.. A cultural relativist, Spengler rejects as a “ridiculous distortion” any view that privileges European thought or history.

.. “Each culture possesses its own standards, the validity of which begins and ends with it.

.. Spengler therefore sees the world as divided into fundamentally different cultures, whose identities he interprets in morphological terms. Cultures are like plants

.. They live through a determined cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death. During its lifespan, a culture gives expression to the animating “form”

.. Spengler had no scholarly expertise in non-Western cultures (his advanced studies were in mathematics), and Decline of the West is frequently nonsense as both history and sociology. But its interpretations of cultural artifacts and their hidden symbolic meanings are often brilliant and have enchanted readers for a century.

.. All cultures are unique, but some are more unique than others. “We men of the Western culture are an exception,” Spengler claims. At the heart of his book is an interpretation of the culture he namedFaustian,” a term widely used in the intellectual circles of the alt-right.

.. a single idea permeates the arts and sciences of the West. Its distinctive mark is an intense striving for “infinity.”

.. our culture has uniquely sought to see all things in relation to the highest or most distant horizons, which, in turn, it seeks to surpass and extend.

  • The vaults of medieval cathedrals, the
  • discovery of perspective in painting, the
  • exploration of the New World, the
  • development of orchestral music, the
  • invention of the telescope and
  • calculus

—in Spengler’s story, all express the Faustian drive toward transcendence.

.. He argues that there is no Christianity without Western civilization. He arrives at this conclusion by claiming the West begins not with ancient Greece or Rome, but with the high Middle Ages and the birth of scholasticism, Gothic architecture, and polyphony.

.. Its cultural achievements are not testimonies to faith in God. They are the monuments of Faustian man’s attempt—in speculation, stone, glass, and sound—to propel himself into infinity. Of this aspiration, Spengler maintains, “the Gospels know nothing.”

..  In the minds and hands of Europeans, Christianity became a religion that affirmed the unceasing expansion of human freedom, power, and knowledge.

.. There is no biblical god for Faustian man, but there is high Christian culture, which is a tribute to his identity.

.. To a young man lacking a strong identity he says, “This heroic culture is your inheritance, and yours alone. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges.

.. Albert the Great, Cortés, Newton, Goethe, the Wright brothers all carry this daring spirit, and so do you.”

.. in his 1933 book Hour of Decision, he foresaw the rise of democratic “Caesars” and growing racial animosity. Who will give birth to the next great culture? Not Europeans

.. Spengler predicted the future would belong to the race that had preserved its “strength” in face of the rising “colored menace.”

  • If Spengler is the alt-right’s cultural critic,
  • Julius Evola is its political mystic.
    • Umberto Eco mockingly called him “the magician,” and the
    • future Pope Paul VI condemned his writings in a Vatican newspaper
    • Evola is the most right-wing thinker possible in the modern world. There is nobody to his right, nor can there be. His influence on the alt-right is detectable in one of its most controversial features: its rejection of human equality.
    • “We don’t belong to the liberal family,” writes popular blogger Hunter Wallace. “Nothing is less self-evident to us than the notion that all men are created equal.” Here is the movement’s clearest dispute with conventional conservatism
    • The alt-right denies that constitutional democracy is worthy of principled veneration. For Evola, its popular acceptance is a sign we are living in a spiritual dark age.

The basic problem with modernity is “desacralization,” the collapse of spiritual meaning in daily life. Work, family, and citizenship are no longer saturated with spiritual importance, but are understood in functionally secular terms.

.. materialism “kills every possibility

.. Spengler’s fundamental flaw was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence,” which led him to conclude that human cultures are irreducibly different.

.. Evola believed more or less the exact opposite, arguing that there are timeless and universal principles that have provided the foundation for every true civilization. He referred to these perennial truths as “Tradition,” and he traced the disorders of modernity to our loss of contact with it.

.. No, the world had been slouching into spiritual poverty ever since the eighth century b.c., when the world of Tradition began to disappear.

.. Revolt Against the Modern Worldclaimed that these primordial societies—whose existence can be accessed only by way of myth and legend, not critical scholarship—all operated on the same principles.

.. In a traditional culture, every aspect of human life, every social activity, role, and caste, was dedicated to the service of an otherworldly order; indeed, they were ritual pathways into it. “According to Tradition,” Evola imagines, “every authority is fraudulent, every law unjust and barbarous, every institution is vain and ephemeral unless . . . they are derived from above.”

.. His key claim is that traditional societies were hierarchically ordered under an absolute ruler, who embodied the sacral order itself.

..  Men Among the Ruins, he argued that political conservatism is intrinsically impossible in a democratic age. True political order can never come from below; it must always be imposed from above.

.. only a transformative leader could elevate humanity out of its degraded state. Such a leader could not appeal to the masses—this was the mistake of the vulgar fascisms of Mussolini and Hitler—but must inspire submission through lofty contempt for democratic norms and popular tastes.

“The presence of superior individuals bestows on a multitude . . . a meaning and a justification they previously lacked,” Evola wrote. “It is the inferior who needs the superior, and not the other way around.”

Evola was less clear about what this sacred authority looked like than what stood in the way of its realization.

.. The problem is that Catholicism forbids the sacred state. And a state without absolute spiritual unity is no state at all.

.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s

.. however, no return is necessary if we simply move beyond Christianity altogether. Evola did not believe in a personal deity, but his criticisms of Christianity were political rather than theological. With Benoist, the alt-right becomes explicitly and confessionally anti-Christian.

.. took its inspiration from the failed “conservative revolution” of Weimar Germany.

Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Spengler were its chief figures

.. Most of its members, including Spengler, took sides against the Nazi regime, but they also sought a path for the West beyond the twin evils of American democracy and Soviet communism. Benoist comes from this anti-liberal tradition

.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s

.. attempt to envision a post-Christian future for people of European descent.

.. his 1981 work On Being a Pagan

.. Paganism’s central claim is simple: that the world is holy and eternal. “Far from desacralizing the world,” Benoist tells us, paganism “sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word, since it regards the world as sacred.”

Paganism is also a humanism. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine.

.. God does not therefore create men; men make gods, which “exist” as ideal models that their creators strive to equal.

.. Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality.

.. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient.

.. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead.

.. Benoist’s theology is in the service of a political warning, and it is this, more than his Nietzschean posturing, that attracts the alt-right.

.. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures.

.. Christianity is not our religion.

..  Benoist means that Christianity renders Western culture morally lethargic and culturally defenseless.

.. its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties.

.. “If all men are brothers,” Benoist claims, “then no one can truly be a brother.”

.. Politics depends on the recognition of both outsiders and enemies, yet the Christian Church sees all people as potential members, indeed potential saints.

.. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.”

.. Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.

.. Christianity today is the enemy of the West and the race that created it

.. we ought to see ourselves through the eyes of our pagan critics

.. They distort many truths, through both malice and ignorance, and lead young men into espousing views and defending authors they scarcely understand.

.. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains.

.. invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds.

.. identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging.

.. we lack a compelling civic theology for the twenty-first century—a theology of the nation

.. In its absence the alt-right will continue to grow.

.. A nation will become an idol, however, if its cultural inheritance is not oriented toward, and inwardly transformed by, a divine inheritance.

.. “The inheritance we receive from Christ,” the late pope argued, “orients the patrimony of human native lands and cultures toward an eternal home land.”

.. It speaks of tradition, while transmitting no traditions. It guards a false patrimony, while destroying real ones

..  Race offers no inheritance, and its mere preservation reflects no human achievement.

.. Our stories, art, music, institutions, and religious traditions—unlike race—are transmitted only through special efforts of human intelligence and love. They are a bequest of the spirit, not blood.

.. The alt-right speaks a seductive language. Where liberalism offers security and comfort, the alt-right promises sacrifice and conflict.

.. . For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals.

We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified.

Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.