Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Friday, December 30, 2011

And Hell Freezes Over

Commentary By Ron Beasley

I never thought it would be possible - yes a hell freezes over moment - but Charles Krauthammer as a column in the Washington Post that I can appreciate, Are we alone in the universe?  He points out that judging from the number of stars and hence the number of planets that could support life number in the millions or even billions we have received no radio signals that would indicate intelligent life.  This argument may be flawed since we really haven't been looking that long and the signals would take 100s or 1,000s of years to get here.  But if life is common and wide spread then why is intelligent life so uncommon we can't find any evidence of it?

That silence is maddening. Not just because it compounds our feeling of cosmic isolation, but because it makes no sense. As we inevitably find more and more exo-planets where intelligent life can exist, why have we found no evidence � no signals, no radio waves � that intelligent life does exist?

It�s called the Fermi Paradox, after the great physicist who once asked, �Where is everybody?� Or as was once elaborated: �All our logic, all our anti- isocentrism, assures us that we are not unique � that they must be there. And yet we do not see them.�

Did the late great Carl Sagan have the answer?

So why the silence? Carl Sagan (among others) thought that the answer is to be found, tragically, in the final variable: the high probability that advanced civilizations destroy themselves.

In other words, this silent universe is conveying not a flattering lesson about our uniqueness but a tragic story about our destiny. It is telling us that intelligence may be the most cursed faculty in the entire universe � an endowment not just ultimately fatal but, on the scale of cosmic time, nearly instantly so.

Although he does ignore man made climate change he does get this right.

Why, a mere 17 years after Homo sapiens � born 200,000 years ago � discovered atomic power, those most stable and sober states, America and the Soviet Union, came within inches of mutual annihilation.

Rather than despair, however, let�s put the most hopeful face on the cosmic silence and on humanity�s own short, already baleful history with its new Promethean powers: Intelligence is a capacity so godlike, so protean that it must be contained and disciplined. This is the work of politics � understood as the ordering of society and the regulation of power to permit human flourishing while simultaneously restraining the most Hobbesian human instincts.

There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty � statecraft). Because if we don�t get politics right, everything else risks extinction.

We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics � in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations � is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it.

Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day. Out there. By them, the few � the only � who got it right.

He's right of course but what he doesn't mention is that both now and historically those politicians responsible for "the ordering of society and the regulation of power" are more often than not sociopaths or even psychopaths. It is the politics and the politicians that are making sure we don't survive.


  1. Perhaps intelligent life forms are avoiding and hiding because they are intelligent enough to see what a primitive species we are. Given our history, I'd hide too.

  2. Seems like you are feeling generous this holiday season with your characterization of politicians.
    Actually, re signs of life, has anyone calculated how far the signals we have generated would travel intelligibly, and/or how far they would have travelled by now?

  3. I could get into how nutty the whole Drake equation is given that nearly every variable it contains is a guess at best and the fact that it misses a lot of otherwise important points, but suffice to say it isn�t all that surprising we haven�t stumbled across another radio-signaling civilization in the short time we�ve been looking for one. In any case, a sample of one (meaning us) doesn�t provide sufficient data to extrapolate anything from.