A Myth is as Good as a Mile

Virginia Postrel has a bone to pick with Marc Andreessen: The Myth of Prometheus Is Not a Cautionary Tale.

Listening to Marc Andreessen discuss his Techno-Optimist Manifesto on the Foundation for American Innovation’s Dynamist podcast, I was struck by his repetition of something that is in the manifesto and is completely wrong. “The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares,” he writes. On the podcast, he elaborated by saying that, although fire has many benefits, the Prometheus myth focuses on its use as a weapon. He said something similar in a June post called “Why AI Will Save the World”:

The fear that technology of our own creation will rise up and destroy us is deeply coded into our culture. The Greeks expressed this fear in the Prometheus Myth – Prometheus brought the destructive power of fire, and more generally technology (“techne”), to man, for which Prometheus was condemned to perpetual torture by the gods.

No. No. No. No.

VP ably corrects the record. Also, in a footnote, points out the actual moral of Frankenstein ("Or, The Modern Prometheus"), Improve your cultural literacy by checking her out.

Our Eye Candy du Jour: Hercules taking out that bird who's been eating Prometheus's liver every day.

Also of note:

  • For some strange reason, the SPLC doesn't list them. But nevertheless, Noah Rothman says The Democratic Socialists of America Is a Hate Group.

    Despite the organization’s efforts to bury the evidence, CNN’s Jake Tapper helpfully reminded his followers on Thursday that the first reaction to the October 7 massacre of the New York chapter of the far-left group Democratic Socialists of America was to affirm the legitimacy of that unspeakable slaughter.

    “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid,” the group implored its allies to flood Times Square and register their satisfaction with Hamas’s barbarism. That is what is meant by the word “solidarity,” after all — a fellowship formed around shared goals and objectives. It describes a state of commonality and kinship. To judge by DSA’s actions, its organizers chose the right word to describe their outlook.

    Well-meaning liberals and progressives who take exception to some Israeli policies are often quick to assure their skeptics that Hamas’s actions are unrepresentative of the Palestinian people writ large or even the Gazans over whom the terrorist organization illegitimately rules. The DSA disagrees. To judge from its reaction to the multiaxial attack on Israeli civilians, culminating in acts of murder, rape, dismemberment, and torture so obscene it would have made the Roman Colosseum blush, the DSA’s members seem incapable of denouncing Hamas’s tactics. Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen so many DSA followers deliberately menace American Jews and supporters of Israel’s right to defend itself against an avowedly genocidal terrorist group.

    For more on the "unrepresentative" front. see our discussion a couple days ago of Robert Azzi's handwaving on the folks chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

    … unfortunately some Palestinian antisemitic extremists and their supporters – a minority of protestors – have appropriated it as a banner for their hateful agenda …

    What can you say, except "Yeah, right".

    Not that it matters, but Amazon has not banned that particular phrase as hate speech.

    And not that this matters either, but I noticed that a third-party seller is offering a paperback copy When Harry Became Sally on Amazon for (gasp) $118.78. Apparently getting by the Amazon censors by obfuscating the title (When Sally becomes Harry) and the author ("r Andersen")

  • But back to Israel and its enemies. Paywalled Jonah Goldberg poses a question for all the folks pontificating from thousands of miles away on what Israel should not be doing: What, Exactly, Should Israel Do?.

    This raises the fundamental question: Do you think it should be against the law to use hospitals and schools as weapons depots and terrorist bases? Or forget law. Do you think the norm of not using children as human shields is one we should encourage? If your answer is no, okay, cool. We can have a really interesting talk about your nihilism and barbarity. If your answer is yes, then you need to answer the question: What, exactly, should Israel do?

    And don’t change the subject to stuff about a two-state solution or some time-machine-requiring nonsense about going back to 1948 and doing something different. Right now: What should Israel do, on the ground? I know the answer from the people who support or dismiss what Hamas did on October 7. But if you’re someone who grants that Israel has a right and obligation to ensure that Hamas doesn’t get its way and commit more such atrocities, what do you think Israel should do?

    This is a practical, real-world military question. Under the laws of war, Israel would arguably be within its rights to simply carpet bomb Gaza, or at least Al Shifa hospital if it is the command center for Hamas (as it almost surely is). If Hitler’s bunker was in a hospital in 1945, you can be sure we would have flattened it from the air (no doubt after dropping leaflets—just as Israel has). But Israel has not done that. Nor should it do anything of the sort. They sent troops in—carrying incubators by the way—to minimize collateral damage.

    If you have some military insight, some greater grasp of tactics than the IDF or the Pentagon, I am honestly interested in what this better way is.

    Jonah at least pretends that the Israel "critics" are arguing in good faith. (They are not, unless they're making comparable demands of Hamas.)

  • Should have abolished the FCC years ago. Peter Gietl reports: The FCC is voting to seize American internet infrastructure in the name of ‘equity’.

    When regimes capture power, it’s often not in the dramatic fashion of the storming of the Bastille. Instead, it’s a bureaucratic takeover, hidden in jargon and filled with clichés, for the greater good. The Federal Communications Commission is poised to vote today on a sweeping set of new rules called the “Preventing Digital Discrimination Order.”

    The 200-page report recommends implementing an exhaustive array of new restrictions that will alter the internet forever. It springs from section 60506 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021. This legislation was meant to infuse some federal dollars into America’s sagging internet infrastructure. Unfortunately, this vote will grant the FCC the power to control nearly every aspect of internet infrastructure in the name of our secular gods of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    The TL;DR of the obtuse rules is the ability to censor, control, and regulate internet service providers based on vague laws around equity. Most disturbing is that it doesn’t have to be "discrimination" as it’s generally understood but rather "disparate outcomes," meaning all internet infrastructure must produce perfect equity or face the wrath of the United States government.

    That's from a couple days ago, and the FCC did, indeed, vote to adopt the order.

    As Pun Salad pointed out back in 2014, the FCC was created in the fascist-admiring 1930s. A bad idea then, only gotten worse since.

  • Am I being unfair with my continual references to "Uncle Stupid"? Well, see what you think after reading Eric Boehm's summary of a recent report from the GAO: Full Extent of COVID Fraud Will 'Never Be Known With Certainty'.

    A couple claiming to run a farm that employed dozens of people used fake employee records to get more than $1 million in COVID-19 relief payments when they actually employed no one on a farm that did not exist.

    A social media influencer created fake documents to score more than $400,000 in COVID-19 funds meant to help small businesses, then used the money to buy cryptocurrency and gifts for his girlfriend.

    A state employee whose job was to stop unemployment benefits fraud helped other fraudsters navigate around fraud prevention systems so they could steal more than $1 million, including federal tax dollars made available to states during the pandemic.

    Only now, nearly four years after the federal government approved an unprecedented amount of emergency spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are investigators getting a full picture of all the ways that schemers and thieves raided programs. Congress approved about $4.6 trillion in COVID-19 emergency spending, and so much of it was stolen that auditors now say we'll likely never have a full accounting of it all.

    And that's just some of the illegal stuff. The stuff that was (at least technically) legal …

    As we observed back last year: When Uncle Stupid starts dropping cash from helicopters, there will be plenty of people out with buckets. Probably not you.