About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Friday, December 30, 2005

PRJ Perspective

Friedrich Nietzsche said Perspective is Everything.* This PROJECT is an attempt to keep things in perspective.

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* The post-Modern attempt to put Nietzsche into perspective comes with that irony which hag-rides all our hopes. We credit FN with a critique (NOT comprehensive) of Civilization (NOT "Western") showing that the highest values in religion and morals have begun to lose their power to the all-embracing principle of self-aggrandizement. In fact, today we appreciate the realization that religion, morals, and even "philosophy" (even in its "prophetic" sense sought by FN) are simply expressions of a Will to power. Even the imaginary world expresses this Will, an attempt to develop the strength (we now think of it as "fitness") to survive unavoidable sufferings and misfortunes of existence. If we look "beyond Zarathustra", we see that all hierarchies are imaginary, masters are slaves, slaves master, and predators are prey. The Will is not in a vaccuum, and is actually interconnected to its surround, including other Wills. Can we have realistic ideals?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

South America - Amazon Delta

GLOBAL WARMING. The delta of the Amazon River is low and flat. Because it lies near the equator it is also warm and humid. It is teaming with life, most of it semi-aquatic. As the polar ice melts, and as the oceans themselves expand, sea levels will rise, backing up the Delta and flooding Amazonia.

WORLD'S LARGEST LAKE. The Delta is already the world's largest freshwater lake during the rainy season. Although covered by a canopy of jungle or filled in with pampa grassland vegetation, Amazonia is actually under standing water during the rains. As the seas move up the Delta, the water will not drain, it will merely convert to a shallow tidal basin over 2000 kilometers deep. The entire rain forest, as we know it, will not survive the briny intrusion.

THE PETRI DISH. Today, the Amazon is navigable by deepwater vessels as far as Manaus. However, the additional elevation of the highwater mark will not necessarily increase navigability because so much of the bed of the basin is flat and friable. Little or no "rock" compositions, or weak sandstones, characterize much of the basin. It is unlikely that this enormous estuary will be useful to humans or the jungle life forms presently inhabiting it. We note, of course, that the upper Amazon - near the confluences of the Beni, the Madre de Dios, and the Mamore -- has been identified as the most fecund and prolific spot on the Planet in terms of numbers of species. More kinds of life have been "found" here than anywhere else. Those freshwater "jungle" forms of life will not survive the brine, however, the warm wet incubating basin may see the emergence of new forms of life eventually launching into the Atlantic Ocean itself.

THE NEWFOUNDLAND FISHERY. As ocean rises, the "slope" of the Delta will reduce and the current will not "push" downstream with as much force. The alternating dyadic force of tide will engage and neutralize the current which now pushes the brown water thousands of miles into the Atlantic flowing North, and eventually feeding nutrients past the Carribean Sea up to the coast of Newfoundland. Since the discovery by the Bristol fisherman as a trade secret before Columbus, the Newfoundland fishery off the coast of America has been the richest saltwater fishery in the world. It is not a historical coincidence that the Whaling Industry was born in New England. However, the nutrient mass pushed into the sea from Amazonia will not only reduce, it will be "pushed" less deeply. The jungle will disappear, the brown waters clarify, and the run-off current will bow to tidal reverses. Very little nutrient will reach the fisheries of the North Atlantic.

PRJ Museum of Ironies

This PROJECT is for collecting Ironies particularly acute or chronic drawn from Nature.

Most of "you" is a composition

If you count all the living cells in your body, most of them are not human. The vast majority, by a factor of ten, are microbes. Granted, most of these are in the gut, but we are inhabited all over-- even covering our eyeballs. Curiously, each ecosystem is different: Our microbiology is personal and unique.

We know that we share many of the same genes as other animals. And we are also hosting many of the same microbes. Our symbiotic biosphere is as unique as our fingerprint.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

It turns out that the expressed rationale for the invasion of Iraq was a lie. Sadam Hussein did not have WMD, and our leaders pretty much knew it. They whole world was listening to Hans Blix, and he pretty clearly said what the Iraqis had, and that he was sure. And he was right. Our leaders knew what Sadam Hussein had because they had sold it to him. The West was the source of the weapons which Hussein used -- virtually all of them. (The major exception being the WWII anti-aircraft equipment sold to Sadam by USSR.)

And A.Q. Khan showed that the spread of atomic weapons cannot be stopped. In case anyone is a little slow to learn, then we had it "s p e l l e d o u t" for us all by a North Korean gangster.

Now I wonder that this rationale was even used. And that it worked. We are a lot farther "gone" down the road of gullibility and wild groundless hope than we will ever admit.

News is Extinct; the beast of marketing has simply run over it

I rarely listen to what is passed off on the air waves as "news" nowadays. The screening of information off a "wire service" by editors who have trained their sights on What is Newsworthy is Not-Happening now, if it ever did.

What is happening now is that editors are hired for their marketing genius. It's all about personality, and product placement. The sly and breathless "reportage" from major public relations firms hired to flog their clients and flay their distractive dragons just cannot be "news".

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How can Palestine be destroyed?

From studying photographs, accounts, and even paintings and renderings of pre-Zionist Levantine and "Palestine" communities compared to current photographs of homes and buildings in the same areas, certain conclusions can forcefully be drawn on the question of whether immigration has been "good or bad" for the area. The influx of Jews (from Europe) and Arabs (mostly from Iraq) was clearly good.

What used to be a salt marsh is now a garden. What used to be a straw and mud (daub and wattle) village is now a remarkable panorama of settlements and industrious people.

It is true that there are displaced people. Almost everyone in Israel is literally "displaced". However, in a place thick with religion and its insane sister, fanaticism, it is important to gaze beyond the rhetoric of the rich and look at what people are doing "on the ground".

Remarkably, there are some beautiful buildings in Israel. Almost all of them have been built by Arabs and Jews working together. There are farms. Almost all of them planted, cultivated and harvested by Arabs and Jews working together. The hatred, it is real, but it is also propaganda.
Yasir Arafat is now dead. November 11, 2004, he died in Paris, in a "battle" entirely his own, by himself. There appears to be no evidence that he is much missed even in the neighborhoods which appeared--it is not clear that that were actually doing so--to be lionizing him while he was alive. The scholar-journalist David Samuels reported in an article first published in the Atlantic Monthly (September 2005) Swiss banks admitted they were holding over $4 billion dollars in accounts controlled entirely by Arafat.

Whatever else history may say about Rais Arafat, it appears to be a fact that no other man has collected more money in the name of any cause and has less to show for it.

The immigrants to Israel and Palestine -- arriving poor, certainly displaced, and desparate for hope -- will take decades to recover from Arafat's legacy. There is no question that as many as 100,000 Arabs were displaced in War and have not been able to "return" to their homes most of which are gone. There is no question that as many as four times that number of Arabs fled the communities they were in, believing that the Jews would be exterminated by the surrounding Arab armies. There is no question that several million Mizrahi Jews were forced out of Arab lands at about the same time.

But the real story is still that $4 billion. And the fact that so very little was allowed to trickle in to help the Palestinian people. When were US and European officials aware of the extent of sheer embezzlement? Why does the UN take no interest in the content of Fatah-written textbooks still read by Palestinian children?

We note that pictures have been taken of the house recently built by Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas. The four visible stories -- the above-ground level -- are four. It is huge. There is no indication that a break from what is now "tradition" is being made. He offers no encouragement.

Still, there are the gardens. The beautiful buildings. Some day, young men and women will thirst for gardens and their desire to build things will be unstoppable.

Homeland Security

I do not have a homeland, and I am at home almost everywhere. As for "Homeland Security", Americans have a lot less now than when I was young and traveling around the world, and I saw for myself that almost everyone loved America.

What about Bin Laden, you say? He clearly hates, and while his hatred apparently wanders, it is clear that he hates America. Let's look at him: He is a billionaire. How? Because oil was discovered in Arabia, it is pumped out of that land by oil companies who give money personally to the ruler of that land, and that ruler has given some of the money to the father of Osama. The Bin Ladens now enjoy billion-dollar largess. Early in his life, a teacher of young boys fell in love with Osama, and in bonding with Osama, taught him a path of hatred. The Bin Laden family, and their Saudi benefactors, have long known that Osama had extreme religious views, and they have subsidized his activities with this knowledge.

The House of Saud rules "Saudi Arabia" -- the descendants of the great Ibn Saud who was the only Arab in the Riyadh area of the peninsula who chose to fight with the British against the Turks. And the British, unlike the Turks, generally indulged in Trade, rather than Theft, in their relations with Arabia. Only natural to reward King Saud for his very able help in freeing the world from the oppression of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, King Saud is now long dead...and why are his descendants the richest people on the planet? What have they achieved with their great wealth? And why do they subsidize the Bin Ladens?

Rich people are never satisfied. The Saudis are a wonderful example. Now that their honorable and brave ancestors are DEAD, the present rulers have "inherited" the riches accruing from the purchase of oil by people who continue to be willing to trade for it rather than steal it. This "trade" for a useful natural substance is now global -- the Germans and Japanese, fresh from generations of Imperial thievery, are now deeply committed to trade and they are prime customers of Middle Eastern Oil--everyone is. But the Saudis really do not have a committment to trade. They are not building up a "market" economy, they are not diversifying, they are not educating people. They are trying to be successors to the Ottomans.

Take for example, the attitude toward women -- disenfranchise the "wife", indulge multiple "wives", then concubines, then entire villages of imprisoned women. This is not a great way to raise men. It is a terrible way to raise leaders. The Ottomans enjoyed dominance over brilliant people, with a well-equipped and disciplined army of janissaries, and yet they suffered one great and documented weakness: their Caliphs had no character. Without exception, the leaders of the Ottoman Empire were idiots. These are the people the descendents of Ibn Saud are trying to be

So is Bin Laden trying to destroy The West? Of course he is. He is remarkably candid about his plans, and has been repeating this intention like a devotional for most of his adult life. Does he, and a lot of other people poorer than he is, want to kill all Americans -- apparently even American Muslims? He certainly has done so, and still lives to boast of it.

He also wants to kill the House of Saud. To keep him quiet, the Saudis have long subsidized him and protected his operations. The Saudis are happy to see him belabor the Jews and the Christians -- on the theory that it Bin Laden's personal ambitions will run aground battling the West long before he has the opportunity to establish his own Caliphate at their expense in greater Arabia.

Now this is where "security" gets interesting. The Saudis were really counting on the West to take care of Bin Laden. They have got to be surprised that Bin Laden is still operating, in fact, has become far more popular IN ARABIA than the House of Saud. I think they did not realize that America has been taken over by Ottomans. People raised in cloistered compounds are incapable of "leadership". The Saudi royal family is actually very similar -- not just that they are friends -- to the Bush family.

When the Arabs and the Americans see that their leaders are incapable of leadership -- that these leaders do not define the word at all the same way -- I think it will stun them. Bin Laden knows that he is fighting people who are led by "leaders" who have no concept of Public Good. There is no such thing in their hearts. They only know personal acquisition. Government is simply a tool for acquisition. Mr. Cheney began with a small farm and then entered Public Service and is now one of the richest people in the world. He just defines "public service" differently than some of us. The House of Saud does not have a clue about "public service" either. These people breathe that same air, they "know" that it is all about what they can get for themselves.

And that is why we have less "homeland security" now than ever before. Because "security" is a collective condition. The American profiteers cannot winkle a profit by equipping enormous armies to fight a couple of young guys wearing back-pack nuclear weapons and still have "security". I am not suggesting that the profit option is what has lost this war. The profits made by the political factions are what make it expensive. What has made it an expensive LOSS is the fact that our leaders are incapable of making decisions that benefit "the public".

To most of us, "homeland security" is as simple as "public health". We think we can take care of ourselves, but we cannot help too many others, and especially if we are sick, injured or dead. The more of us that get sick, injured or dead, the less help any of us are going to be. So we live hoping someone or something does not hurt, sicken or kill too many of us.

Our "government" is something we support primarily because we think we need it for our "security". We look to our government as a means of getting information, pooling resources, preventing our environment from getting poisoned, protecting us from enemies "foreign and domestic" who would violate our persons, our property, and our rights.

Now it's personal, it always is, but for some of us, it is personal in a collegial way. Some of us do not think of Government, just right off, as a means of eliminating competition, getting the jump on suckers, and a way to benefit ourselves at the expense of others. We just do not think of Government in quite that way. This is because we are naive and have not "kept up" with the times.

Our "Government" -- and I mean every branch, and they are going after every Estate -- has been taken over by people who despise "public service". People who are doctrinally suspicious of Government are actually in power IN IT. They think that Government is "bad", not because People are Good, but because People are Bad, and ipso facto, "public service" is always illegitimate, taxes are theft, and they owe no public any service. This is who is now in power, using Government offices.

Homeland Security is a phrase with no meaning, but it was invented by people who have no concept of Public Service, and who are hostile to Government even when it is theirs. Thus, we are chickens in a coop with with guards but the guards are actually the foxes who take our eggs and children. We are sheep guarded by wolves.

Bin Laden dangerous? Of course. He has had the decency to declare war on everyone. He is clearly an idiot and he expresses his sociopathology. His adventures, subsidized by our allies, and by our leaders, have and will harm us. However, the worst he can try, will not be as destructive as has already been accomplished by our own house faction.

Recently we saw what our own house leadership has done for us in the Mississippi Delta. For many years, our scientists have documented the fact that our own engineering and use of the Delta has worn away the tideland barriers and the dikes that protected New Orleans from absolutely certain storm surge. Yet, for political reasons alone, restorative and preventative work that would have been done and could only be done at a Governmental level was not done. We had the money, we had the knowledge, we had the technology, we had the people. What we did not have was leadership. We are being led by Ottomans.

The Delta experience is instructive as to Homeland Security issues. Our "security" is so bad that not only did an enemy not even attack us, but we lost our use of the most productive, studied, and diversified river system in the world -- in the world -- for a period of months, with an impact over years, all because of completely natural and predicted Storm Surge, which arrived on schedule, with a month -- years really -- of warning. We lost fortunes, we lost lives, and we are still up to our neck in pollutants, diseases, and of course, blame.

Bin Laden did not succeed, because he did not destroy America. The Ottomans managed to snatch away our civil rights, our "choices", our religion, our travel time, our elections, our courts, our President, our congress, our free press, and now...all with very very little help from Bin Laden.

Curiously, with all the talk about "security", the Ottoman-Saudiis still subsidize Bin Laden. He is STILL receiving support and money. He and his family are richer now, than in September 11, 2001. Neither of the two Houses, of Saud and Bush, have any intention of capturing Osama. They have both repeatedly turned away from the opportunity. Neither the Saudis nor the American leadership, has made even a gesture of going after him. He lives.

With every passing day, from a Wahhabi point of view, the leadership of the West confirms its own evil. Everything evil comes from America and its minions (a prosaic phrase Osama has used -- translated from the Arabic). Osama not only lives, but he lives in confirmed rectitude.

Very few American leaders have "addressed" the Wahhabi point of view. Instead, the West has largely satisfied itself with exercising superior military weaponry. This gives the West an illusion of security. This veil can be torn away at any moment by military assaults which are taken at will against unarmed segments of our population by religious devotees. Their rectitude is confirmed by virtually every speech, every act, and every omission done by President Bush.

Has a single terrorist been convicted of a single crime as a result of the dramatically increased Police Powers? Are the Western banks which funnel money to the terrorists enlisted to help dry up the subsidy? Are the Wahhabi Saudis who aid terrorism asked to "rethink" their policy? Have the leaders of the Taliban -- the former government of Afghanistan -- been captured and tried for their crimes?

America is facing many threats. One of the simplest and most clear threats is the rise of religious ignorance in the Middle East, which is whipped into hatred directed against America by "Ottoman" wannabees who use it to hold onto their own power and control over oil. This is a military threat, but the weapon is not a gun, it is a plastic explosive triggered by religious ignorance.

Protein Transmission

Biologists are performing significant studies on "life" forms. As we get more involved in the details -- the cells, the smaller and constituent parts of the cellular entities, the chemistry of life -- we come closer to "non-life" forms. And we get right next to that miracle distinction between the crystal and the colloid, the unliving and the living. And right there, we find VIRUSES. They are basically protein shells, and most biologists do not regard them as "living". In fact they need cells of the living in order to reproduce.

But...what were viruses doing before there were cells? And what are they really doing now?

It will become increasingly apparent that the "protein" chemistry of viruses and cells is interactive and even interchangeable. Viruses are go from cell to cell injecting protein which the cell actually incorporates, and in so doing, makes its own responsive changes. Different proteins make different reactions. The relations between cells and viruses are an engine of change.

We would not be here without viruses.

What we did not know about the Hidden Hand of the Marketplace

Adam Smith, a professor of Ethics, coined the phrase "the hidden hand of the marketplace" to explain how the price for goods was set. He had observed that the activities of the wealthy were subsidized by the State, while the middle and lower classes were hardly supported at all in their activities, many of which were suppressed. THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. Anyway, the West and East India Trading Company has come a long way since 1776.

While Adam Smith did not actually invent "capitalism" or "socialism", and he did not advocate either a "free" market nor a "regulated" one, his description of the dynamics of human interaction has stood the test of Aristotles' unities -- time, place and action. And it appears now that we will always have both competition and paternalism, and both have their place. However, Adam Smith did not foresee the toll which Marketing would charge on the Market. Today, Marketing is an unrelenting, widespread, brilliant, and ruthless force. And it will have its way with all Sources of information -- it will corrupt the Government purse, violate the trust of Academia, and suck the will out of the Professions -- all on the way to influencing the mass consumer.

For example, Enron produced no product and offered no service, and yet it became the seventh largest corporate enterprise in the United States -- it positioned itself as a "marketing" entity, buying paper choses, artfully driving up the price, and then on the sale of the same thing at a higher price, claiming a "profit" for itself. Or rather, for its inner circle of pirates.

Did any economist remark the rapid, widespread and illegitimate electrical power market distortion? Did a single corporate lawyer report this violation of legal principle -- outright deception, fictitious partnering with fictitious off-shore entities, and fraud are all crimes the lawyers knew were occurring. Did a single government regulatory body -- across municipal, State, and Federal jurisdictions -- strip the pirates of their booty? The demise of Enron occurred as a result of the use of its "cover" to steal, and it collapsed internally. It even sought the protection of "bankruptcy" proceedings -- in other words, using legal cover and pretensions to the very end, to hide its own 60 billion-dollar fraud.

Marketing is wonderful. However, it is no longer "the music man" trumpeting instruments to keep the kids out of pool halls. Now it is bent and smart. Advertising is now a nasty piece of work devoted to taking the "choice" out of choice. For example, the Drug Industry: I used to love Merck. Just think of all those drugs they make that reduce our pain and heal our afflictions. Unfortunately, as the Vioxx litigation has brought to light, the Big Drug companies devote more billions to marketing than they do to developing new drugs. The "new drugs" they are making are not helping us -- they are killing us. Their new drugs are mostly for the side-effects their old drugs are giving us. The best "cough medicine" on the billion-dollar market, provides a little less help than a glass of water for a child with a cold.

So I am just getting to this Prediction: As Marketing takes over the Web, which it is and will, it will actively seek to prevent true facts from emerging. Google anything you want, the sites that will pop up are the ones that pay Google. Search engines will be bought and paid for as marketing tools. Nothing will survive which does not profit someone. This is not about food and shelter, this is about power.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Diarists - like Dante, Pepys, Sedaris...

Diarists -- Dante, Pepys, Sedaris -- perform a public service, perhaps intentionally, in making us feel guilty and envious at the same time, reminding us not to forget and not to remember.

MacLuhanesque -

Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.
-Marshall MacLuhan

It still rings true,
With humor and rue.

The Media massage
Is a hodge-podge.

What's hot, makes us blue.
What's not, does too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bell-Shaped Curve and the Jury

On an XY grid we plot,
To see what is or not.
The errors in our measurements
Tend to cluster around the true value.
The graph of our errors rings true --
The Bell is what we got.

European astronomers in the 18th century noticed that the errors of their multiple measurements of the positions of heavenly bodies tended to cluster around the true value. A plotted line on an XY graph of the errors always took the shape of a bell.

This also tells us not to rely heavily upon the single measurement, the individual, the centralizing point. The target is always moving, the truth is a direction, the bell tolls for us. Of course, for the plot to give us its comforting shape -- for the grouping to be "smart" -- it must be autonomous, decentralized, multiply diverse but cognitively focussed.

We of course, describe a Jury.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Nature's Fool after all....

When I was a young man, life was filled with promise. I was athletic, talented, smart, and good-looking, and attractive to women. I was a natural leader of men, brave and honest, with a sense of humor. I loved people in general, and a few good friends in particular.
When I got to middle age, somehow, I was minding my own business, which was basically trying to be of some help, and it suddenly dawned on me -- I was struck down -- that everything I had believed about myself was a simple but total illusion.
The reality was that Others did not notice my talent or intelligence. Women were looking for mates exactly NOT like me. My bravery was due to misunderstanding danger. My "leadership" was my own idiocy in not being able to follow. My humor was displaced anger. And as for my "friends", I seemed to be completely surrounded by people who were just borrowing money and time; they were not interested in anything I was interested in or who I was; they wanted my stuff.
Life is spiced richly simple. And it's on its head. Somersault and pepper.
Avoid advice given by idiots and fools, who are the only ones in the business.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Democracy

Democracy April 6, 2005

1. It is one thing to ask by what authority one acts, and another to legitimize that authority.

a. No human being has any “authority” over another.

(1) Parents have no “say” over their children; parents can only try to protect and teach their children during the period of physical dependency. Nothing in nature gives them title; parents do not own or govern the young, who, in time as the table of dependency shifts, will only hope for their protection when the parents need it.

(2) All the hierarchical relations are artificial. Pope over Cardinal over Bishop, Principal over Teacher over Student, Judge over Lawyer over Client, whatever layer you find yourself in, none of these are in the state of nature. None are universal among humankind.

b. No human being lives without the need to be under authority.

(1) Authority cannot be trusted. This is the meaning of the truism, “power corrupts”. It may do other things as well, but it certainly corrupts those who wield it. Human beings cannot be trusted to have power, because of what power does knowing that it is unnatural, illegitimate, and...a corruption of nature in which we are born one-at-a-time.

(2) Kings, even the Gods themselves, have each proved that they themselves require subordination.

(3) People are herd animals AND lone wolves. No one acts in a vaccuum, and we are all causes and effects to each other. It is our nature to respond to power with authority.

2. It is one thing to observe that Authority lacks Validity, and another to try to live without either the Authority, or its Validation.

(1) Without Authority, there is the danger of chaos and disorder.
(2) Without Validity, there is the danger of oppressive Authority

3. It is one thing to try to legitimize Authority by claiming Validity in some source, and quit another to actually have Validity:

(1) Is “consent of the governed” a source of Validity for Authority? No, it is mythological. No man consents to Authority over him – only soldiers and slaves, only the oppressed, or deprived, those whose gullibilities and fears are coaxed by fraud or force, have ever voluntarily given up their own Will.

1) “Consent”? Was it “informed”?
2) Was the election free?
3) Was the “choice” intelligent?

There is no "mandate" under heaven. The minute a man says he has the "mandate", or "the People have spoken" and claims it is his Word, you can be sure that awful events are sure to follow, and this fictitious justification has pre-ordained them.

(2) Is “divine right” a source of Validity for Authority? They must have their reasons, but the Divinities -- universally -- have taken extremely low profiles ever since Galileo looked through a telescope. Go figure. God does not choose the Pope -- he leaves this job to Cardinals. Cardinals!

(3) Is Birthright a source of Validity for Authority? The most forgiving and deferential review of the achievements of Aristocratic/Patrician/Noble classes compared to the Masses has underlined their parity. Many are born to wield authority, or not, but it is done in spite of, not because of, their Caste.

4. Democracy does not “work”. It is a myth. Unicorns do not “work”. They are occasionally useful to refer to. They can certainly be counted on, but only in the sense that they will never actually appear. They can be counted on to never ever actually interfere with the plans of mice and men. This is exactly like democracy.