Is mass a number?

I think I deserve a response: retract and apologise, or try to support the accusations you've made.

Those would be the decent things to do. Don't you think?
I think you, James, should at least present your "mass is a number" idea at another forum, say physicsforums or similar.

If you truly believe you have the right idea, then it won't be too much trouble finding agreement among other people who have actually studied physics.
Then you can present the results here. You can demonstrate how many people understand what you're saying about mass, amounts of matter, inertia, the whole enchilada, cabron.

Or not. My guess is you already know how that will turn out for you. You won't be forwarding your ideas about physics to any physics professors, will you?

Objects have inertia because they are made out of matter, not because they "have mass". Mass is a property that quantifies inertia, but it doesn't cause inertia. How could a concept cause something physical?
See what you're saying there, James.

Mass is a word for a quantity of matter. It's more general because it doesn't specify what kind of matter.

You say in the quoted text that objects have inertia because they are made out of matter, not because they "have an amount of matter".
An amount of matter quantifies the inertia of the matter, you say. But an amount of matter is a concept. Well, no, an amount of matter isn't a concept, it's reality James.

And so, you are an idiot.

I think you, James, should at least present your "mass is a number" idea at another forum, say physicsforums or similar.
There's no need. All the sensible, knowledgable people will just agree with me. It's not a difficult thing.
If you truly believe you have the right idea, then it won't be too much trouble finding agreement among other people who have actually studied physics.
Correct.
Then you can present the results here.
Science isn't a popularity contest, you know.
You won't be forwarding your ideas about physics to any physics professors, will you?
Not something as trivial as this.
Mass is a word for a quantity of matter.
Yes. In common speech, the two are very often confused, because there's no need to make the fine distinction a physicist or philosopher might want to make. I covered this point in a couple of previous posts. Probably you forget, or didn't read them properly.
You say in the quoted text that objects have inertia because they are made out of matter, not because they "have an amount of matter".
An amount of matter quantifies the inertia of the matter, you say. But an amount of matter is a concept. Well, no, an amount of matter isn't a concept, it's reality James.
That was never in dispute.

And so, you are an idiot. (That's how the ad hominems go, isn't it?)

There's no need. All the sensible, knowledgable people will just agree with me. It's not a difficult thing.
Yet, when I posted your idea or asked the question "is mass a number" at physicsforums and thenakedscientists, I got no agreement. What I got seemed to be sympathy. Actually physicsforums was a bit sarcastic about the stupidity of the question. The answers I did get were pretty much, "No it isn't". Ok?
But I already knew that, I wanted some kind of confirmation that your idea is complete crap.

It's not a difficult thing you say. So that lets you weasel out? You're not just full of shit, you're a coward too? Grow a pair and ask someone trustworthy, like a physics professor. Or if you like, I can do it.

... there you are at the end of your dumbass post, agreeing that mass is another word for a quantity of matter. But you still insist this quantity is a number. Because you are the idiot. Why can't you see it can't be a quantity, some atoms, and also be a number? Numbers are not physical objects, like atoms.

Which is right? Mass is a quantity, or mass is a number? Numbers don't have volumes James. Mass is a number is idiotic. And so, you're still a physics moron, an idiot with nothing useful to say about this quite simple thing called mass. The back and forth, you bouncing from numbers to quantities of atoms, has gone precisely nowhere. You haven't said anything meaningful. You fuckwit.

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I need a reality check.

James, I've noted for years that you are difficult to talk to. The reality check on the topic is complicated because that's the way it works out.

Here's the sketch:

1) There is almost always a problem with your communication; it's part of your style.

2) The thing is that I'm not a scientist, but I see the same sort of communication problems occurring here as when you and Arf went back and forth about God.

― If that is actually consistent, the problem might be that you think Arf is trying to do something he's not.

Anecdote: It wasn't a big deal, at the time, so it's a sketch of a memory, but one time I upset someone—and no, I don't recall that it was you—by using the word "information" in a context that strayed too close to their verboten range, apparently sounding like some thoroughly debunked cosmological theory. All I was actually after was something not unfamiliar to you, the difference between the fact of something in existence and how we perceive or describe it.​

Your posture vis à vis Arfa Brane reminds me of your puffy, sneering disdain for religion. At some point in the past, he said something that offends your aesthetics, you responded to him as you saw fit, and if that response was actually crosscut at best and maybe even irrelevant, and led to some typical, distorted distrespect intended for your own gratification, yeah, you might have pissed him off.​

3) In trying to follow the current mess, there are at least three lines to observe. One is Arfa Brane, the other is you; the third are these characters always looking for a piece of you. And as much as I would like to ignore that last, I'm uncertain whether you see it as a third line or grouped with Arf according to your tendency to address and respond to dualism.

Not subtle: Here is a problem with your stylistic approach. Look to your response at #215↑: "I note that you have now made a serious accusation against me: that I engage in corrupt practices in relation to science, in some way. I now ask you to provide at least one example of my corrupt scientific practices, or else withdraw your unfounded (and unfriendly) accusation and apologise to me." What Motor Daddy actually said↑ was, that you are "a great example of corruption in science", further clarifying, "Corrupt Morons abusing their position of power for personal gain." The thing is, whether you are "a great example of corruption in science" seems more a matter of priorities; the line about corrupt morons abusing power for personal reasons, though, is within the pale.¹ And if MD cannot get past his rage to actually explain what he thinks is going on, that, too, is a matter of priorities.² Beyond that, the question of your corruption is a matter of definitions, which will have some relationship with priorities, each unto the beholder.³ It's not that he's not having a tantrum; it's not that he's not out of line; it's not that he's not being nearly paranoiac in his projections. But that laborious twist in #215 is both wilfully provocative and fallacious. Which, in turn, is the unsubtle point: You do that ... yeah, kind of a lot. And maybe someone is acting dickish in any given moment, but it remains unclear what good you expect of fallacious provocation. It's kind of like a staple; even when someone else is wrong, you do it. It's as if you're restating a circumstance so that you can deliver a response, instead of constructing the response to suit the circumstance. You do it to me, you do it to Arfa Brane, you do it ... oh, wait a minute, we're there.​

4) If it is true that I might say what I might of MD's performance but that doesn't say anything of your chosen course. And as you happen to provide in that episode a convenient example, we can turn back to you and Arfa Brane:

• Do you even know why he's so pissed off? To wit, I can tell Arf what I want about the wisdom of calling out James R so directly, but do you actually even know? Do you know what he said wrong that made you so disdainful of whatever it is he's trying to communicate? The thing is, I have a vague feeling that we're not anywhere near where Arfa Brane is going with all this because people won't let go of preconceptions long enough to give him a straight answer that does not wrongly predict his behavior. And, again, there is probably some advice to give him about what he's trying to accomplish, though I don't know what that is; rather, I recognize a paricular rhetorical result. If I had to guess, he called you out because something came up that in some way reminds of an error about how you disdained and dusted him once upon a time; he's reminding you of something, and you still haven't remembered. At least, that's what it looks like. Compared to whatever it is he's getting after in the long run, he could be utterly potsherd or not, but the discussion won't be going there until this other thing gets resolved, or something approximately like that.​

5) The thing is, James, this behavior of yours is so common it is nearly irrelevant to whether you are right or wrong. I can't rule out that Arf might be obtuse, but this is a downstream effect, and neither can I rule out that you're talking about something else entirely. That is, regardless of whether Arfa Brane is running crackpot, there is something else going on here. It's why Arf calls you an idiot—and, again, there is something to be said about the wisdom of doing so—and is part of what Motor Daddy is attacking. You behave that way when we discuss religion, politics, or site policy. It is in your manner of dealing with Vociferous, and even Jan Ardena. I saw you show that face to Sarkus, not so long ago, James. It's kind of a normal thing with you, nearly a discursive method, and no, not everybody adjusts for it the same way. Even on occasions when we agree, James, I can see you do this voodoo that you do so ... well, you.​

You ask if Arf is obtuse or perhaps you have run awry; both can be true at once. But this is a subsequent chapter in a dispute, so for those unaware of the origin story, there is a cloud over the answer. As with many other disputing episodes I've witnessed over time, it's possible that you each are talking about different things. While I can't promise Arfa Brane isn't out on some precarious limb, your performance looks more like a pretense intended for the fourth wall, i.e., he's talking to you, and you're talking to the audience about something else.

Here, then, is a short form: When you ask if anyone is "still confused about [your] position on the ontological status of mass, like arfa brane is", it is not clear that the propositon is neither straw nor herring; maybe you think you're clear, but it turns out you're actually tilting a windmill; it remains possible that the entire purpose of the inquiry is to call Arfa Brane confused. To some degree, James, that uncertainty is a symptom of your method.

And, yes, the advice for Arfa Brane is pretty straightforward, to reassess his priorities vis à vis the underlying point or argument he is trying to communicate, as well as what he expects to accomplish by calling you out so directly. But that becomes its own discussion. As it is, you happened to ask, and it's true, regardless of what else is going on, there is almost always something awry about your communication. Something about priorities, perhaps.
____________________

Notes:

¹ The note that goes here can be just as complicated as anything else, but at some point I am obliged to remind that we invented a new rule, on the spot, in order to save Motor Daddy's ass, and it was supposed to be so hush-hush that announcing the rule change to the membership caused its own staff controversy that conveniently diluted the discussion of why we might invent a new rule, and for whom, and inflicted lasting damage unto the community. It's not exactly funny, nor subtle, how those spontaneous deviations work, but still, the point in our moment is that his part of this discussion is only taking place because people went out of their way to keep him around after his time was up.

² I don't actually understand why he's so pissed off at you. It's kind of weird, the second time in not very long, that it is unclear why someone returning after something of an absence so badly wants a piece of you. While you weren't the one who bailed him out, you did as Administrator accept the deviation, and in truth it makes almost perfect political sense. But that's the thing, I remember him more in a political context; was MD some sort of science crackpot, and I just missed it or forgot? Seriously, he has received extraordinary benefit from you, so there must be something else. Still, like the recent episode↗ with Mr. G, the present occasion feels at least a little like MD showing up to vent some of his anger from living experience.

³ Before pointing out this can be said of others, think very carefully about how deeply you would wish to parse the details.

Anecdote (Not Necessarily Irrelevant)

One time when I was about fourteen, I figured something out. My teacher was in whatever mood, and grumbled about wasting time. Anyway, I'm not some obscure genius; rather, I'm kind of an idiot. What I found was a logical arrangement that allowed me to find the "next square", that is, the square of the next number after a result I already knew. It was a trivial bit I didn't think about much, and came up as pub or parlor talk now and then. As a result, it took me years to figure out I was using too complicated an arrangement; I could simplify the expression. And it was then that I said, oh, hey, look at that, it's that equation.

And then I didn't think about what that equation was, because look at me, after all that time, I finally became that clever. Some time later it occurred to me what that equation looked like on a graph. And again, I didn't think about it much, such that it was only in the last few years that it randomly occurred to me that what I had figured out, and what it looked like on a graph, was why it was that equation, which in turn was the heart of how Americans taught algebra at the time: x² + 2x + 1

It wasn't really that important, so it just didn't occur to me in that context until it did, but that also raises the question of how many people, over time, were capable of telling me what I was doing wrong, but didn't. Like I said, pub and parlor talk, yet nobody ever corrected me. Flip-side, of course, is that I never based a theory of everything, or anything, on it, so in a way I get to skip out on feeling like an idiot, because at least I finally figured it out. It's not like my teacher's mood drove me from mathematics, or anything, but still, it cracks me up to wonder at the difference if he had just told me to simplify the expression.

I have a love hate relationship with James. I really do love his wisdom and knowledge, and that he is level headed. I really do respect him for that knowledge and wisdom. I give him apologies when in order. I make certain comments about his great knowledge, effectively showing my respect for him. The flip side is that James shows no respect for me. It's a one sided relationship where I show him respect and he treats me like an idiot, by constantly claiming I'm too stupid to understand something.
Why does he usually make those types of comments to me? Because he considers me a crank and he could never let a crank teach him something or admit to a crank that they are right. He would NEVER apologize to a crank. In his mind he labeled me a crank because I did not agree with his ideas of space and time.

What really pisses me off more than anything is dishonesty and corruption. I have had so many episodes of dishonesty and corruption in my life making my life a living hell. I will not tolerate dishonesty and corruption, and I will stop at nothing to call it like I see it. I have NEVER been a "CLIQUE" kind of person, not even way back in High School where people either get with the clique or be ridiculed by the clique. 20 years in the Army and there is cliques, of which if you aren't part of can make your life a living hell. I REFUSE to be part of a clique! If it's a clique here I want no part of it, hence my request for a permaban and all my posts deleted. I would rather take my ball and go home than to be part of some clique that I have no desire to be part of.

James seems to treat me fairly, but on the same token he uses me as a punching bag. Someone to beat on that he thinks is an easy win. I think he likes me around here so that he can argue with me and win, and I will still treat him with respect. Again, he likes the respect that I give him, be he shows me no respect. When I start to prove him wrong he throws his moderator powers against me, so I can never win. It's a damn shame, really. James can be such a great guy, but then he is dishonest and abuses his power when he starts to lose a debate. If he starts losing, like is the case in this scenario with Arfa, then he will do and say anything necessary to prolong the argument and win, one way or the other. He is not capable of admitting defeat and giving an apology, and that is his biggest downfall, something I absolutely can't stand and will not tolerate. I couldn't care less if he calls me names, or makes little attacks on me, but I will not tolerate abuse of power! And so I must be gone. I simply can not tolerate abuse of power.

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In general at sites like this, and others where a more decorous tone is required, there isn't really much discussion.

There is sometimes in such places a bit of help or guidance (homework hints for students). Otherwise it's pretty much a free for all, a contest of egos, with the occasional reference to some definitive textbook or paper. But mostly people have fixed opinions and ways they have understood some science topic, maybe they took their education to tertiary level, maybe they didn't.

Discussion of new ideas, even old ideas and how the theories were developed--the philosophical aspects of Newton's or Einstein's thinking and how they led to the theories, none of that is generally observable at any of the science forums. Sciforums might just still scrape in to that category, but the bar isn't a high one. It's more a place where people can be as immature as they like and get away with it. Science, my ass.

Please do not insult other members.
I don't know how anyone who's been reading any of this can miss the obvious bullshit James is spouting, over and over. Presumably it's because he enjoys it.

James R: "Objects have inertia because they are made out of matter, not because they "have mass"."
arfa brane: "Mass is a word that means amount of matter, you're saying objects have inertia but not because they have an amount of matter."
James R: "Mass is a concept, how can a concept cause inertia?"
arfa brane: "An amount of matter isn't a concept, it's the cause of inertia"
James R: "That was never in dispute"

?? Yes James, it was in dispute. It still is, with you you fucking idiot.

Then James attempts to weasel out of his mistake with:
"In common speech, the two are very often confused, because . . ."

. . . because Australia is full of idiots like James R . . .

As for priorities, I don't know that I can name any. But James is bullshitting here, at sciforums, about a subject that most people encounter before they get to university (meh). I'm actually more interested in why he's doing it in such an openly dishonest way, and why I'm being accused of . . . something or other.

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Mass is actually a very simple idea. The idea exists in human minds because it reflects actuality in the world of humans.

"An amount or quantity of" something, is an idea that's been around for a while. When this idea is used for trading, say, it obviously then has an importance to humans it probably didn't have before trading of goods existed (but when was that? Who really knows?).

Anyway, at the anthropocentric level, classical amounts of matter have obvious inertia (resistance to being moved from rest, roughly), to claim that an object such as a rock has an amount of matter which is "just a number" is a serious logical error. Sorry, it just is.

A kilogram, or a pound, is familiar to humans because of standard trading "rules". A standard weight is a measure that applies to any goods that can be traded.
However, the classical version of mass has some problems at the atomic level, perhaps because classical mass and inertia are emergent.

Also, mass says nothing at all about how the atoms are configured in an amount of matter; it says nothing about elastic properties of solid objects, nothing about rotations or about other symmetries. But mass is a conserved quantity if the amount of matter is also conserved; it's part of Lorentz symmetry and is fundamental to the existence of a universe.

James R is the one out on a limb here. His ideas about mass are demonstrably useless.
I'm surprised that I seem to be the only one calling him out. That's a different kind of subject I guess, something to do with circling some wagons made out of numbers, perhaps.

That comment about matter "owning" its mass, another word, a German word for own, is eigen. Mass is an eigenvalue of a matter 'density'.
If we also assume, why wouldn't we, that it's a finite collection of parts, or atoms.

As I said the way the matter is arranged, how some configuration of atoms interacts, inter-atomically, is something else.
In a solid body the moment of inertia is a 2-dimensional 'physical' object which defines how angular momentum is distributed when any object rotates in one more dimension. The scalar (0,2) tensor only applies to a given 1-dimensional axis of rotation, there are no more than three possible such axes, which I hesitate to tell myself are also owned by any solid object.

Moderator note: arfa brane has been warned for insulting/flaming another member.

He has been doing this throughout this thread. We do have some site posting guidelines. Targeting a moderator with insults does not give a person a special license to ignore the usual rules.

To avoid a possible perception of bias, I have ignored arfa's repeated breaches of our posting guidelines up until now, but it's appropriate to draw a line after the n-th time somebody has been called a fucking idiot.

arfa brane would be better off learning some basic manners, and also learning how to disagree with somebody without resorting to fallacious ad hominem attacks.

Tiassa:

Thank you for your thoughtful response. It wasn't exactly a response to the specific question I asked, regarding a "reality check". However, it can be useful from time to time to reflect on one's posting style and how it comes across to different people.

I feel like any response to your post will seem like I'm trying to defend myself against attacks on my character. I don't think I need to do that. However, I would like to post some thoughts.
James, I've noted for years that you are difficult to talk to.
That may well be your perception. We have, at times, clashed.

One thing you (and other readers) might have noticed over time is that I become less "easy to talk to" the more the people who are trying to talk to me fail to observe basic human courtesies. For some reason, people on this forum sometimes seem to forget they are talking to another human being. Instead, they see only an opponent who needs to be "brought down" in some way. It tends to get worse when people run out of discussion points on a topic of dispute. That's when some of them start going for the ad hominem attacks, imagining for some reason that nobody will notice the loss of any on-topic point of discussion. Their aim becomes to try to hurt, belittle, provoke, or ridicule the other person, instead.

I am not well disposed towards humouring people who feel entitled, for some reason, to try to bully others. I never have been. I tend to want to stand up to bullies. I also don't have much patience for arrogance, especially when it has nothing to back it up, in terms of expertise or other "scores on the board".

In real life, a normal response to outright rudeness would be to remove oneself from the unpleasant person who is exhibiting that rudeness. In some circumstances, it would also be appropriate to call out the rudeness. On an internet forum like this one, however, it is harder to remove oneself from unpleasant people. They tend to want to put themselves in your face. I think that often it is because they are insecure in themselves - perhaps just regarding some particular topic of expertise, or perhaps more generally. They feel like they can have a "win" by establishing some kind of bully power dynamic over somebody else on an internet forum. One problem with that is that these people seem to think that if one leaves a discussion/argument with them, they have somehow "won" by default.

You might notice a pattern in my responses to such people, if you follow my posts closely. My default is that I am very easy to talk to. I am helpful. I like to share my knowledge with others. However, when things get nasty, I become less giving in my responses, which no doubt comes across as more terse. I also will sometimes remind people about how normal, polite and respectful, human beings talk to one another. My hope is that this can be a learning experience for some people who either never learned those skills in the first place, or else conveniently leave them behind when they are on the internet. I can understand that, at such times, I can become "difficult to talk to". The difficulty is mostly encountered by those who lack the presence of mind to pull themselves out of the "combat mode" they got themselves into, to start to act like a normal, decent human being.
Your posture vis à vis Arfa Brane reminds me of your puffy, sneering disdain for religion.
That's emotive language. We could have a more useful discussion about the reasons I might "disdain" certain aspects of religion, if you were interested. However, you ought to be aware that I have no automatic disdain for people who are religious. Believing in God doesn't automatically make somebody a bad person, any more than believing in lots of other things that may or may not turn out to be true.
Not subtle: Here is a problem with your stylistic approach. Look to your response at #215↑: "I note that you have now made a serious accusation against me: that I engage in corrupt practices in relation to science, in some way. I now ask you to provide at least one example of my corrupt scientific practices, or else withdraw your unfounded (and unfriendly) accusation and apologise to me." What Motor Daddy actually said↑ was, that you are "a great example of corruption in science", further clarifying, "Corrupt Morons abusing their position of power for personal gain." The thing is, whether you are "a great example of corruption in science" seems more a matter of priorities; the line about corrupt morons abusing power for personal reasons, though, is within the pale.¹
He should have stuck to accusing me of abusing my position as a moderator of this forum. As you say, that would be fair game. As moderators, we can expect that kind of criticism from time to time, even if it is baseless or misguided. However, to make the more general accusation that I am "corrupt" in general - or at least in matters of "science" - is a larger matter.

I should point out that, if somebody is going to make either of those accusations (against anyone), they should have the common decency to present a supporting case for their view, which ought to be objective and evidence-based. Otherwise, it's just rudeness - insults for insults sake. It can also be an attempt to bully.

In Motor Daddy's particular case, I was extraordinarily patient with him over a long period of time, and also probably too tolerant in the past of his trolling ways. If there was any "abuse" of my position as a moderator, regarding him, it must have worked in his favour.

(continued...)

And as you happen to provide in that episode a convenient example, we can turn back to you and Arfa Brane:
• Do you even know why he's so pissed off? To wit, I can tell Arf what I want about the wisdom of calling out James R so directly, but do you actually even know? Do you know what he said wrong that made you so disdainful of whatever it is he's trying to communicate? The thing is, I have a vague feeling that we're not anywhere near where Arfa Brane is going with all this because people won't let go of preconceptions long enough to give him a straight answer that does not wrongly predict his behavior. And, again, there is probably some advice to give him about what he's trying to accomplish, though I don't know what that is; rather, I recognize a paricular rhetorical result. If I had to guess, he called you out because something came up that in some way reminds of an error about how you disdained and dusted him once upon a time; he's reminding you of something, and you still haven't remembered. At least, that's what it looks like. Compared to whatever it is he's getting after in the long run, he could be utterly potsherd or not, but the discussion won't be going there until this other thing gets resolved, or something approximately like that.​
Of course you're right. The huge chip on arfa's shoulder dates back long before this particular thread. Over time he has worked himself into such a lather over me that he now goes out of his way to find excuses to disagree with me, even over trivial matters.

I think you're right. At some time in the past, I no doubt called arfa out on an error he made. That apparently caused some kind of crisis of ego in him. It seems to me that he is accustomed to believing himself to be the smartest person in every room. Rather than admitting an error or an inferior understanding of something, he feels like he needs to double down or triple down to protect his fragile ego.

Maybe arfa brane isn't like this "in real life". Maybe he reserves his particular brand of arrogance for internet forums. Whatever it is, though, on the internet he has apparently forgotten how to carry on a polite conversation - at least if there is any chance of somebody disagreeing with his views. Worse, he takes being gently corrected as a personal slight. It makes him angry, and he starts lashing out with personal attacks. He tries to bully, in short, and I'm the first to admit I don't like that.

No doubt there was a particular trigger point for arfa's animosity towards me. But he's now spent so long trying to come up excuses to pick fights with me that it's hard for me to pinpoint when the first one might have been.

I get it that it takes a certain strength of character to admit you're not perfect, and humility to admit when you are wrong. Some people struggle with developing that maturity. Probably, some never get there. Some like to deflect their problems and shortcomings onto others. I understand this. It doesn't mean I (or you) should pussy-foot around such people, to pander to their insecurities.
It is in your manner of dealing with Vociferous, and even Jan Ardena. I saw you show that face to Sarkus, not so long ago, James.
Perhaps you should consider not just my side of the interactions with those people, but also their side. See if you can spot some common, problematic behaviors in them. Hint: see above for ideas.
You ask if Arf is obtuse or perhaps you have run awry; both can be true at once.
Only one of the two of us is regularly resorting to insulting the other rather than presenting coherent arguments in support of our position on the particular topic of dispute. Granted, you'd need to read through and think about that topic to decide whose position is more sustainable, and I can understand if you don't want to do that. The problem with arfa in this thread, however, is not primarily that he is wrong about something in physics. The problem is that he's unwilling or unable to step outside of his rage, even to take a sober look at the arguments that have been put to him.
As with many other disputing episodes I've witnessed over time, it's possible that you each are talking about different things.
Anything is possible, I suppose. But it's really not a plausible reading of this thread. I have been very careful to clear up all possible points of confusion where arfa and I may have talked past each other for a post or two, although arfa is still pretending that I never posted such clarifications. He thinks that straw-manning me is a valid tactic, along with the ad hominems. His aim is to beat me down, not to win the argument, as such. It's quite apparent he can't do that, at this point. Nor is he willing to drop the subject because, well, it's me who has shown him up, again.
While I can't promise Arfa Brane isn't out on some precarious limb, your performance looks more like a pretense intended for the fourth wall, i.e., he's talking to you, and you're talking to the audience about something else.
There is a readership here, other than just the participants in this particular conversation. I always try to keep that in mind.
Here, then, is a short form: When you ask if anyone is "still confused about [your] position on the ontological status of mass, like arfa brane is", it is not clear that the propositon is neither straw nor herring; maybe you think you're clear, but it turns out you're actually tilting a windmill; it remains possible that the entire purpose of the inquiry is to call Arfa Brane confused. To some degree, James, that uncertainty is a symptom of your method.
We're over 200 posts into this thread. My pointing out arfa brane's strange reluctance to engage with my actual arguments is not the first thing I did here. We just reached a point in the thread where it became incredible to me that arfa's confused stance is for real. That is, I'm honestly asking whether what I have written is unclear (to other readers), or whether arfa is (a) actually incapable of understanding a straightforward point that I have carefully explained to him or (b) just feigning stupidity to try to get a rise out of me. There really are very few alternatives to these.

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arfa brane:
Yet, when I posted your idea or asked the question "is mass a number" at physicsforums and thenakedscientists, I got no agreement. What I got seemed to be sympathy. Actually physicsforums was a bit sarcastic about the stupidity of the question. The answers I did get were pretty much, "No it isn't". Ok?
I wonder whether you were an effective advocate for my position on those forums. Somehow, I doubt you were. For all I know, you misrepresented my views, either deliberately, or out of actual stupidity.

It's good you got some sympathy, I guess. It might make you less angry.
Grow a pair and ask someone trustworthy, like a physics professor. Or if you like, I can do it.
We've been through this. Science isn't a popularity contest. By all means, go and consult with as many physics professors as you think you need to. Bring them here and I'll talk to them, if they want. I don't think I can trust you as my advocate.
... there you are at the end of your dumbass post, agreeing that mass is another word for a quantity of matter. But you still insist this quantity is a number.
Straw man.
Yes, I agree that, in common usage, "mass" is another word for "matter". I posted on that very topic much earlier in this thread, in an effort to eliminate any possible confusion. Later, I clarified this point for you again, because I took you at face value when you appeared to still be confused about it. Now, I can't tell whether you're actually stupid, or just trolling. One last time, then, because I'm such a patient guy:

The technical ontological status of "mass" is that it is a concept used in physics to quantify a certain amount of matter. Hence, it is a number, as is every quantity. "Matter", on the other hand, is the actual "stuff" that's around us (indeed, that we're made of) - the actual atoms, molecules, quarks etc. that make up things in the physical universe, as opposed to the universe of ideas. Matter is the stuff we can pick up and put in a bottle. Mass is the number in our heads that quantifies how much matter is in the bottle.​

You ought to be past making excuses in this thread for your sloppy use of language. However, I fear that you're now just deliberately conflating the two clearly-separate concepts we have here: matter and mass. Stop being so angry and acknowledge the distinction, at least.
Because you are the idiot.
Pointless ad hominem. Stop it. Grow up.
Numbers don't have volumes James.
That has never been in dispute.
You haven't said anything meaningful. You fuckwit.
You're so incoherent with rage at this point that you're reduced to impotent swearing. Grow up.

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That is, I'm honestly asking whether what I have written is unclear (to other readers), or whether arfa is (a) actually incapable of understanding a straightforward point that I have carefully explained to him or (b) just feigning stupidity to try to get a rise out of me. There really are very few alternatives to these.
Yes James. Really there are few alternatives.
Either you are, as I keep saying, wrong about mass being a number, or I'm wrong about mass being an amount of matter.

Or you haven't been following this thread, including what you have posted repeatedly, "mass is just a concept, a number, it's in your head".
I say, "no, that's complete bullshit". You are back again with me "feigning stupidity".

There is something wrong with you

Either you are, as I keep saying, wrong about mass being a number, or I'm wrong about mass being an amount of matter.
Now is a good time for you to catch up and read post #234.

You no longer have an excuse to pretend you don't understand the distinction I'm making between "mass" and "matter".

Your ad hominem about there being something wrong with me is rude and childish. You ought to grow up and learn some manners.

The technical ontological status of "mass" is that it is a concept used in physics to quantify a certain amount of matter. Hence, it is a number, as is every quantity. "Matter", on the other hand, is the actual "stuff" that's around us (indeed, that we're made of) - the actual atoms, molecules, quarks etc. that make up things in the physical universe, as opposed to the universe of ideas. Matter is the stuff we can pick up and put in a bottle. Mass is the number in our heads that quantifies how much matter is in the bottle.
You can make all the metaphysical arguments you like, if you want to believe the sense you have of gravity, of weight, comes from you quantifying the matter your body has, in the volume it occupies, that's you.

I prefer to believe that the quantity exists before I conceive of it, there is no real difference between mass and matter except that you can choose a standard weight made out of your choice of matter. That's all there is to it. What you think about what that means isn't all that relevant.

What physics says about what you should think a distance, or a time interval "really is", amounts to nothing, really.

I guess I can't say where Susskind is going to that might be any kind of topic of discussion here.

But how much of what he does talk about, show diagrams of and so on, correspond to experiment, or is it all theory?

James R in another thread here, is saying he understands what mass is, or what any quantity is. It's all an idea, it's about numbers.
No, physics is about theories, and about experiments. Numbers are just the values, in physics, that we attach at our convenience to physical quantities.

There are standard ways to measure standard units; whether you also need to show that these are directly measured or indirectly 'computed' through some physical relation (law of nature), isn't in the frame. Susskind says that anyway, it's about complexity. So it's about when is it less complex--what do you have to do if you forgot to do something, but want to correct that and make sure an outcome--a measurement--will be what it would have been if you hadn't forgotten (to do whatever it was). (?)

I would suggest that university physics courses don't try to define distance or time, because both concepts are so intuitive, Measuring intervals of time or distance is generally not considered to be something deep and meaningful, rather it's the simple end of experimental physics.

And since humans have been trading goods for a long time, there's an intuitive understanding of weighing as a form of measurement, and how length area and volume can measure quantities (of tradeable goods). What's hard about any of that? The operational version of mass has been around for a lot longer than Newton because the weights of amounts of materials stay constant, conveniently, for humans. So the (approximately) constant acceleration of gravity is part of the measurement, of mass. The other part is usually a displacement, in space and in time.