The skill levels of our highest elites!


The meritocracy's ongoing fail:
No one loves "Einstein made easy" pseudo-discussion quite the way Nova does.

The PBS series loves to pretend that it knows how to make Einstein easy! This week, it's back with its latest hour-long effort, Einstein's Quantum Riddle.

The people at Nova have gone there again! At Nova's site, the new program is promoed like this:
Einstein's Quantum Riddle
Join scientists as they grab light from across the universe to prove quantum entanglement is real.
In effect, this program tries to make quantum mechanics and "entanglement" easy. We haven't watched the whole program yet, but today we'll give you a taste.

Fairly early in the program, the narrator introduces the famous 1927 Solvay Conference, "an amazing week-long series of discussions on, really, what the world was made of, on the nature of matter and the new quantum theory."

That said, what the heck was quantum theory? As the exposition starts, confusion quickly appears:
NARRATOR (1/9/19): This was one of the greatest meetings of minds in history. More than half were or would become Nobel Prize winners. Their experiments were showing that deep inside matter, tiny particles, like atoms and their orbiting electrons were not solid little spheres. They seemed fuzzy and undefined.

DAVID KAISER: So this, this group here, these, these were the folks who had just been plumbing deeper and deeper and deeper to find what they hoped would be a bedrock of what the world is made of. And, to their surprise, they found things less and less solid as they dug in.

This world was not tiny little bricks that got smaller and smaller. At some point, the bricks gave way to this "moosh" and what looked like solidity, solidness, in fact became very confusing and, kind of, a whole new way of thinking about nature.
To his credit, Kaiser notes that the early findings had been "very confusing." That said. almost one hundred years later, confusion seems to remain in what the narrator offers.

To wit:

If the "tiny particles" deep inside matter aren't "solid little spheres" after all—if they seem "fuzzy and undefined" in some rather undefined way—then why exactly are we still calling them "particles?"

Presumably, someone can answer that question. But as the discussion continues, we'd say the confusion only grows, though viewers are encouraged to believe that everything's being made amazingly clear.

(To peruse the whole transcript or watch the whole program, you can just click here.)

In our view, there's no bad explanation quite like an Einstein-made-easy bad explanation. Nova churns them out on an annual basis, and we the highly educated PBS viewers apparently keep tuning in.

No one at Nova, and no one at home, ever seems to realize that the easy-to-understand explanations are almost wholly impenetrable. It'a a bit like the old joke offered by an apocryphal worker in the old Soviet Union:

"We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."

So it goes with these Nova programs. We pretend to understand and they pretend to explain things! (Or so a wry viewer might say.)

Nova has never made Einstein easy in its whole institutional life! Despite this fact, the jumbled "explanations" keep coming, and we viewers keep tuning in.

So it goes in other precincts among our meritocratic elites. Most especially, so it has been, for many years, within our political discourse, which has been built around wardrobe and hair issues, routinely embellished pseudo-quotations, and the always important question of who's been zoomin' who, perhaps ten years ago.

In this post, Josh Marshall describes the New York Times' latest front-page howler. Everybody makes mistakes, but this one's a groaner, Josh says.

Then too, there's what the Times' David Leonhardt told us rubes this week. He's promoted as one of the Times' brightest players, but on Monday evening's Maddow Show, the gentleman actually said this:
LEONHARDT (1/7/19): And, look, I'm not the biggest fan of George W. Bush's presidency, but George W. Bush remained a competent president to the end and he had none of the ethical issues that Trump does. And if you think about what Bush did in his last two years, he managed the disaster in Iraq responsibly, and he managed the financial crisis extremely responsibly.

I'm not saying he doesn't deserve blame for what happened before. But imagine Donald Trump trying to manage a natural disaster or a war or a financial crisis. I find it frightening and I worry we would look back and say, "How did we not get rid of him beforehand?"
Leonhardt isn't a fan of Bush, but Bush was competent to the end! He managed the disaster in Iraq responsibly—the disaster he himself caused!

Leonhardt said it; Rachel didn't challenge it. After three or four decades of similar clowning, work like this from our empty elites gave us the president who is eventually going to start Mister Trump's Inevitable War. Or so Cassandra has told the analysts, in a series of late-night visits.

Tomorrow, we'll look at Leonhardt's column from last Sunday about the sins of Trump. Not to be gloomy, but the hapless work of our meritocratic elites have taken us from the valley of the shadow of earth toned suits all the way to our current sick ugly dumb deeply dangerous brain-dead mess.

Ain't meritocracy grand? And where are our greatest logicians?


  1. Like we're ever going to forget that George W. Bush, like Trump, is a standard issue Reagan Republican.
    The corporate media is always trying to whitewash fascists, and make them palatable to the general public. This is "same shit, different day" all the way down.

  2. "why exactly are we still calling them "particles?""

    Tsk. Wave–particle duality, Bob, wave–particle duality.

    "but George W. Bush remained a competent president to the end"

    Meh. Did you miss the memo, Bob? For your warmongering lib-zombie death-cult George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and (of course) your super-hero John McCain are Gods.

    Not even demigods, like Barry O; they are your true gods, Bob.

    Get used to it, Bob. And worship them, like your High Priests do.

    1. You know Mao, your vocabulary is severely limited. You should go back to school so you can learn some words other than dembot, which in your case is your best intellectual argument about anything. Like most Trump supporters, you are ignorant.

    2. Thank you for reading, dembot.

  3. Leonhard's criticizes Trump for imaginary failures. He writes, " imagine Donald Trump trying to manage a natural disaster or a war or a financial crisis." This statement tells us nothing about Trump. It tells us that Leonhard suffers from TDS.

    FWIW there's some reason to think that Trump would manage these things better than Bush or Obama Trump was more involved with high finance than Bush was and much more involved than Obama had been. Trump led to an almost total victory over Isis in Syria, and did not start a new war as Bush did in Iraq and Obama did in Libya. Trump had more administrative management experience than Bush or Obama, which ought to have made him a better manager to deal with a natural catastrophe.

    Leonhard is, sadly, one of many people who cannot think straight when Trump is involved.

    1. "Leonhard is, sadly, one of many people who cannot think straight when Trump is involved."

      This Leonhard fella is just a dembot, like any other dembot. He can't think at all, nor is he supposed to think.

    2. Trump was much more involved with the thugs who crashed the world's economy through fraud, than any President we've ever had.
      No argument here.

  4. “The PBS series loves to pretend that it knows how to make Einstein easy! “

    This is bullshit. Nowhere in the description of this show or the transcript does it say anything about making Einstein easy.

  5. “the hapless work of our meritocratic elites have taken us from the valley of the shadow of earth toned suits all the way to our current sick ugly dumb deeply dangerous brain-dead mess.”

    The old “it’s all the fault of the elites” line. Gotta love the way this erases the participation and culpability of large swaths of the American voting public.

    1. I just don't see how particle physicists are responsible for the Iraq war or any other public policy disaster.

      I don't see how those who study French literature are responsible for Trump's greed or his cabinet's corruption.

      I don't see how Somerby can label the people who study esoteric subjects "elites" as if they (or anyone else) thinks they hold a special place in society. There is nothing elite about pursuing advanced knowledge. It requires mostly perseverance and hard work directed toward a passionately held interest. Somerby could be accused of the same traits but I doubt he would consider himself one of the people he holds culpable for all of today's problems.

  6. The Nova program is 53 minutes long. It is clearly just an introduction to the concepts discussed. If a viewer (Somerby, for example) doesn’t fully understand the topic at the end of the show, he or she can seek out more information.

    Of course, it must be said that that would be true for a mildly interested, intellectually curious and honest viewer who doesn’t expect to be fully educated about Einstein’s quantum riddle after a 53 minute program.

  7. “In effect, this program tries to make quantum mechanics and "entanglement" easy. ”

    It does not try to do this, “in effect” or otherwise. It merely introduces the concepts and discusses them.

    The straw man argument strikes again.

  8. "And where are our greatest logicians?"

    Probably working in computer science to develop AI, those that haven't become lawyers.

  9. "Leonhardt said it; Rachel didn't challenge it. "

    Journalists don't conceive of their job as having arguments with those they are interviewing. They believe their role is to provide a forum to thoroughly explore the opinions or beliefs or proposals of a key person, by asking questions that allow that person to present views and then asking more questions to clarify or expand upon parts that are unclear, confusing, glossed over or vague, so that viewers can understand what is being stated. Journalists do not consider themselves partisans and they do not believe their role is to pick holes in, dispute or debate, or otherwise "challenge" to viewpoints of the person being interviewed.

    Journalists believe it is the role of the viewer, the audience, the public to critique what is said, once it is clearly presented. Pundits (unlike journalists) do have opinions and they are frequently brought on to present those opinions after an interview, to react to what was said, to raise issues and challenge statements.

    Rachel Maddow considers herself a humorist, not a journalist or a pundit. She said that to Jon Stewart when he interviewed her and Stewart tried to talk her out of that, tried to redefine her role to her. I believe that Stewart had a point and so does Somerby, when he criticizes her waste of time on her show. But Maddow can do whatever she wants with her time, including try to entertain viewers.

    Roger Ebert always believed in reviewing films according to their own aspirations, not compared to great films and not compared to something they were not trying to be or do. Somerby should adopt this posture when criticizing Maddow. He should call her a good or bad comedian, not criticize her for being a poor journalist when that is not what she is trying to do, or a poor pundit for not "challenging" the folks she interviews.

    Where was Somerby's personal logician today when he wrote his post? He does have one, doesn't he? Shouldn't he hire one himself before he dumps on everyone else for not using their logicians sufficiently?

    1. If this is snark, it's awesome. If not, you're a dimwit. Is that you, Elba?


    2. If you disagree with something @3:08 said, say so. You are just calling names. This person isn't using the nym Elba. Calling someone by a name you chose for them is disrespectful. Can't you play nice, Leroy?

    3. Where is that one dumb whore who used to comment ad naseum?

    4. Asks the dumb troll...

    5. No - I am one of you. Just like you. The last of the true.

  10. An unimportant, amusing irony: As the article points out, quantum physics is involved with teeny tiny items. Yet, in common usage, the word "quantum" has come to mean "huge". E.g., a "quantum change."

  11. “Not to be gloomy, but the hapless work of our meritocratic elites have taken us from the valley of the shadow of earth toned suits all the way to our current sick ugly dumb deeply dangerous brain-dead mess.”

    Somerby hereby ignores the real reason we find ourselves in our present situation. Trump is the culmination of a deliberate, systematic effort by the Republicans, starting with Nixon’s Southern strategy.

    Don’t believe me? Check out a blogger back in 2002, when he asks “When’s the last time you heard a discussion of Nixon and the southern strategy”:

    And the blogger is asserting that the *refusal* by the mainstream media to discuss the “Southern strategy” proves that the media did not have a liberal bias.

    How times have changed...for that blogger.

  12. “The meritocracy's ongoing fail”

    Somerby is amusing. He thinks that we are ruled by PBS, David Leonhardt, and Rachel Maddow.

    Funny, their names don’t appear as members of Congress or in the administration.

    1. Where do politicians get their knowledge from?

    2. "knowledge" or "marching orders"?
      "Marching orders" they get from global corporations. Not sure if they're getting "knowledge" at all.

    3. Hear, hear. Well said, 11:35 AM

    4. Politicians and voters have the ability to resist and reject “the elites.” They’re under no obligation to be dictated to be the “oligarchs.” It’s a lack of courage or conviction.

    5. Yes. And you could observe, in the last couple of years, what's been happening to one pol rejecting the liberal globalist/neocon elites.

    6. Well, yes. And that points out the absurdity of Somerby’s position.

  13. I watched this Einstein program twice-and I still don't get it :-). I think Einstein was right in one respect - he thought quantum mechanics was an incomplete theorem. From what I could tell from the program though quantum entanglement is apparently real it didn't seem to me the scientists really understood how or why it happens.

  14. Rude Pundit talks about crisis:

    "Besides, you want a fuckin' crisis? You want some awful shit that should terrify you to your core and demand that the government do something? Listen:

    In Georgia, a man walked into a his ex-wife's beauty salon and shot her. When she tried to run away, he shot her again until she fell dead. Then he shot himself in the head and died. Her adult daughter was in the salon and saw it all happen.

    In Florida, a man shot and killed his wife and then killed himself.

    In Alabama, a man shot and killed his wife and then killed himself.

    I don't have to go back to 2015 for my examples. These are from the last 48 hours. If I went back to 2015, we'd be here for weeks listing all the cases like these three. And I'd never mention gangs or undocumented immigrants.

    You want a crisis? You want a national emergency? Then motherfucking men with motherfucking guns are a motherfucking crisis. The threat to women is a goddamn emergency. But Trump and Republicans won't do shit about that.

    So, yeah, Trump is lying about the border in order to gin up the fear vote and solidify his mongrel base of racist idiots and racist paranoiacs.

    What Democrats ought to do is shove up his ass the gruesome facts behind one of the real crises in this country, not the fake shit. He wants to prance around with a few corpses? Then let's pile a war's worth of dead women on his front step and say, "Here's your fuckin' wall."

    end quote

    1. Hmm, it seems to me that family violence has absolutely nothing to do with border security.

      Also, I don't see how, say, a woman poisoning her husband (and staying alive herself) would be so much better than man shooting his wife and then killing himself. At least the guy in question had the decency to save the taxpayers money for his trial and incarceration...

      To summarize: I find the above comment to be typical brain-dead dembot bullshit. And I suspect I'm far from being alone in this.

    2. I don't see the connection between border security and violence either. That's probably why no one worth listening to has ever made the argument there was.

    3. By far the biggest class of murder in the US is blacks killing other blacks. Many of these are gang murders. This category deserves more discussion and more thought about how to improve the situation.

    4. Whites killing whites, and Southerners killing Southerners, and men killing men are all bigger class of murder in the USA.

      Where are you getting the fake fact you just laid out about black on black murder?

    5. "I don't see the connection between border security and violence either."

      Of course there is a connection between masses of desperate people illegally crossing the border -- and violence in places where they arrive.

      The reason you don't see it is because you're a dembot. Dembots can only do one thing: endlessly repeating their masters' bullshit talking points.

    6. "of course there is a connection"

      If this is true, why isn't that connection reflected in statistics for crime in those areas? Why don't the people and law enforcement in those areas want Trump's wall (and they don't)?

    7. I'm looking for a bit more connection than "of course there is". Do you have anything to back it up, other than Putin's fat-ass mouthpiece with the orange spray tan and bad hairpiece said so?

    8. "masses of desperate people illegally crossing the border".
      So "desperate people", not "terrorists". Got it.

      "terrorists crossing the border" is the new "Saddam's WMDs".

    9. "Why don't the people and law enforcement in those areas want Trump's wall (and they don't)?"

      Of course they do, dembot. In fact, they organize vigilante militias to protect the border. See here, for example:

      As for statistics, what statistics are you referring to? I'm pretty sure you, like every other dembot, wouldn't know statistics if it hit you in the face...

    10. "So "desperate people", not "terrorists". Got it."

      Dear dembot. I'm sure it's news to you, but there are actual good reasons why consulates screen visa applicants before issuing visas.

      Yes, some of the applicants might be suspected of terrorist connections and what-not. They get rejected - no visa, no legal entry.

      However, there is no reason to do all that screening when the border is wide open for illegal entry of everyone, including - yes - terrorists, among others.

      I know it's a fool's errand trying to explain even the most obvious things to a dembot, but hey - it Friday, and I'm in a relaxed mood, I guess.

    11. Mao,
      So you have nothing to support your claims. Typical.

    12. Anon 11:49 US News reported
      Of the 13,455 cases from last year in which the FBI listed a victim's racial information, 7,039 victims – or 52.3 percent – were black. That compares with 5,854 cases – or 43.5 percent – in which the victim was white, an increase of about 8 percent from last year.

      It's a disparity that becomes more pronounced in the context of population, as 2015 Census estimates suggest that whites account for 77.1 percent of the overall U.S. population of roughly 321 million, while blacks comprise 13.3 percent.

      See link for more statistics

    13. 2:50,
      I'm ready to tackle the black on black murder crisis, too. Heavy investment in black communities should be imperative. Fortunately, we are the richest nation in the history of mankind, and can easily afford to provide each man, woman and child with healthcare, housing, education and job opportunities.
      That's a great trade-off with Trump's useless border wall. Five billion dollars is chump change in comparison to what we can spend to tackle the black on black murder crisis.

      When do we start?

    14. If each man, woman and child is provided with healthcare, housing, education, and (presumably) food and entertainment, then who's going to comprise the army of unemployed, dembot?

      If they are not scared of losing everything and ending up in a ghetto, why would anyone agree to sell their labor to business owners and be exploited?

      I don't think you've thought this through, dembot. Study some political economy.

    15. "If they are not scared of losing everything and ending up in a ghetto, why would anyone agree to sell their labor to business owners and be exploited?"

      Got it.
      BTW, anyone remember when Mao was trying to pretend he was a "populist' and not a typical Right-wing oligarchy fan? He thought we were as stupid (racist?) as Trump voters.

    16. ...and as for "job opportunities", this is exactly what is achieved (in part) by building The Wall.

      Are you not aware the mass inflow of cheap undocumented labor inevitably produces high unemployment and wage suppression for the working class citizens, the blue collar segment in the country?

      Yes, political economy, dembot, study political economy...

    17. "Are you not aware the mass inflow of cheap undocumented labor inevitably produces high unemployment and wage suppression for the working class citizens, the blue collar segment in the country? "

      Fake news. High unemployment and wage suppression is a result of business hiring decisions. If businesses want to suppress wages, that's on them. Blaming hiring decisions on immigrants is the same typical Right-wing "economic anxiety" which purposefully confuses protest of police misconduct with "hating the troops".

    18. Mao is a typical Conservative. Always looking out for the little guy. Unless it cuts into the profits of the economic elites, then he'll gladly step on the little guy's neck to protect the Establishment.

  15. 3:16,
    I speak for all Trump voters, when I say I couldn't agree more. Even if it takes a trillion dollars of governmental investment, we need to alleviate the economic anxiety in black communities, which has led to the black on black murder crisis.
    Because Trump is a smart, successful businessman, he knows the return on this investment will actually save money, as well as lives. Both Republicans and Democrats need to get on board, or get out of the way.

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