Randoms of the past week

April 26, 2011

Sorry for the lack of content. I had a work trip last week (Florida) and then I a wedding last weekend. Frankly, the weather has also been pretty nice and I’ve spent some time enjoying my family. Nothing’s better than a good family life. In that post OneSTDV says, "The ironic thing is I do not plan on becoming a father – primarily because I don’t foresee myself being a good one. I know that’s a rather harsh admonishment of myself, but we deal in honesty at OneSTDV." I can’t speak from much experience – since my kid isn’t very old – but Iv’e taken to fatherhood much more quickly than I expected. To be honest, I expected to be unhappy with fatherhood until the kid(s) were about 4. Fortunately, it’s been great from the start.

Steve Sailer’s review of Bryan Caplan’s new book was the best thing I read all week.

Mr Roach:

The bane of our age is the popular view that we can think about politics in one way, contradict that thinking in our religious beliefs, act entirely differently in the realm of parenting or business, and then have artistic or music tastes that have no relation to any of the above.

School funding by race.

I should probably say something about that McDonald’s beating that happened last week. I found it pretty hard to watch. Imagine all those people standing around watching that happen. I’ve written about the interaction between gays/transgenders/whatevers and blacks before. They interact a lot, since the gays are generally the first to re-civilize urban areas that have been destroyed by large black populations. I find the interaction fascinating. I’ll be watching to see if this beating is considered a hate crime.

More reasons to act like a man.

Jim on the survival prospects of democracy.

On Saturday morning, I was looking out my front window. The first person to walk by was a black guy wearing a do-rag walking a non-neutered pit bull. The second person was a skinny young white guy pushing a unicycle. Gentrification is a strange process.

I a larger percentage of Koch’s employees vote Democratic than any Federal agency’s staff votes Republican.

The correlation between Presidents’ wealth and how much they’re liked by progressive scholars is -0.33. That’s a pretty solid correlated indicating that progressive scholars generally like wealthy Presidents.

The McDonald’s around me is pretty similar it has about 50 signs saying that they charge more money if customers want extra sauces.

Tino on "the rich."

According to the OECD, the top ten percent of American income earners pay 45% of taxes (this includes payroll taxes). In Sweden, the corresponding figure is only 27%, and in France 28% .

Keith Preston on the aristocratic left.

Dalyrmple:

In Britain we have completely lost sight of the proper place of vulgarity in the moral and cultural economy. We have made it king when it should be court jester. It is funny and valuable only when it mocks pretensions to gentility and recalls cultivated people to the limitations of their earthbound condition. Without a contrast with something else, something that is not itself vulgar, it becomes merely unpleasant, crude and stupid. In these circumstances it exerts a corrosive effect on minds and manners because, while it takes no effort at all to be vulgar and unrefined where vulgarity and lack of refinement are almost universal, it takes effort to be urbane and refined.


Randoms of the day

April 19, 2011

Aretae on economists and engineers. As someone who was educated as an economist and an engineer, I have to disagree. Both disciplines teach you that life is about trade-offs. That was the fundamental lesson that one should take away from both. Unfortunately, modern economists now teach you that you can solve all your problems using "science" by which they’re referring to statistical analysis. You could make a strong argument that the financial crisis was caused by economic models and therefore by economic PhDs. These people are not characterized by their skepticism of their own ability to understand complex systems. If engineers built bridges like economists built models, people would regularly be falling through broken bridges.

OneSTDV asks if we’re all liberals now. As you know, my answer is "yes." Matthew Yglesias also links to a study which finds that the North fought to protect its manufacturing interests.

Steve Sailer wonders how SWPLs will keep black kids out of their schools (I’m paraphrasing). This has already started happening in my neighborhood in DC – but only at the elementary level. The biggest problem around me is increasing the critical mass of white people. If all the SWPLs actually sent their kids to the public schools, the public schools would probably be fine. DC allows kids to get into schools outside their immediate neighborhood through a lottery, so if you can get all the white kids in the neighborhood to actually attend the local school, you can keep others out. It’s taken about seven years of work, but the elementary schools around me are now usable for upper middle class kids. The parents that took over the elementary school just started taking over the middle school last year. Frankly, property values do most of the work of getting smart kids in the district. The next step is to draw specific boundaries for each school. The next step is to enforce the boundaries (a lot of kids whose families live in MD attend DC schools via a relative, b/c DC has free day care – getting the cops to crack down on this is hard work). The next step is convincing enough white people to send their kids to school.

A Stephen King short story in The Atlantic is actually pretty good. Some interesting thoughts on class too.


Lots more on authority

April 18, 2011

There’s been some serious blogging on authority going on in my favorite corner of the blogosphere. I’m going to try to react to all of it in one post – we’ll see how this goes – but if you only have the stomach for one response, read Devin’s and Why I am Not’s not mine. AMcGuinn also makes the point that I’m going to try to make below – our government has solved the same problems in particularly bad ways.

Aretae responds to my post. I’ll re-state and address his arguments below:

First, he argues that authority is unnatural:

Life in hunter-gatherer tribes is profoundly anti-authoritarian, and violently so. The closest picture we have to our Evolutionarily Stable Environment (modern hunter-gatherers) is one in which a tribesman attempting to take authority is a worse evil than patricide.

He always makes this argument and I don’t understand it. Life in hunter-gather tribes was also totally devoid of privacy, filled with murder, filled with rape, short, chaotic, violent, characterized by zero economic growth, etc. If it’s true that authority was absent in these societies, I would count that as a positive for authority. Also, I’m not sure there was no authority in these societies. I’ve been parts of lots of small groups and they all develop unofficial leaders. I’m prepared to state that no group of people throughout the history of time has every worked together completely equally. Nor do I see why it would be good if they had.

Second, he lists two big problems for the pro-authority side:

  1. Advocating more independence for group (a) that I belong to, and less independence for group (b) that I don’t belong to is properly seen as self-delusion 99% of the time, such that a rational person may well stop listening once he hears the conclusion…because the time to figure out how someone is convincing himself of why he should get preferential rules is just not worth it.
  2. It’s worth noting that in the near future (10 years?), it is likely that automation will catch the middle of the bell curve, just as it’s caught the left. Once that happens, all the arguments currently made for lack of authority for the lower IQ types also apply to the vast majority of the population. (Quick calc…Middle 2/3 + left 1/6 of the curve…about 83%). Arguing to free men that folks should be obedient only works when you’re talking about other people.

I don’t understand why an authority couldn’t treat different people differently. It’s really only in the last 40 or 50 years that anyone has seriously believed that government should treat everyone absolutely equally and even during this time it has specifically not do so (see affirmative action, for example). It’s not hard at all to treat different groups differently. Again, I would be willing to go to the other extreme and argue that no actual historical authority has ever treated all groups of people over whom it has authority absolutely equally.

This concept of "free men" has stopped making sense to me. People – as a mass – don’t really want to be free. There are exceptions here and there, but generally men want to be obedient to those they perceive as their betters. You can wish this isn’t so all day long, but if you can’t account for it in your theory of government, you’re theory will remain theory forever.

Why I am Not also responds. I agree with all of his post expect the beginning:

An authoritarian policy of crushing dissent is a weakness, not a strength, because it means that if visible dissent does occur, the regime’s legitimacy is threatened. Whereas by allowing dissent, liberal democracy defangs it, and normalises discontent. The anti-cuts protests in London would have brought down most governments in the Arab world; here in England, they are a blip on the radar.

If you want to have an authoritarian state, like the formalists and reactionaries, then you have to be willing to do more than just crush all obstruction to the smooth working of the state – you have to crush all visible expressions of dissent. This is where the costs are huge. That is why authoritarian states tend to be either brittle (succumbing to coup or revolution in times of trouble) or backwards (the huge costs of suppressing all dissent stifling all growth).

First, not all Authorities crush dissent. We think of modern America as a place in which dissent is tolerated, but we delude ourselves. You can’t criticize minorities while attending a university or holding most jobs. You don’t get shipped to the gulag if you speak "inappropriately" but I think it’s a stretch to argue James Watson or Larry Summers didn’t have their dissent crushed. I think a strong case can be made that all stable societies need to believe certain lies. Lies give rise to dissidents. Stable societies much crush the dissidents. The only tolerant societies are dead societies.

Again, I don’t think this problem is unique to reactionary or formalist societies. Think of the enemies of progressivism. In three wars, the Civil War, WWI and WWII the enemies of progressivism were destroyed at massive costs. Apparently, the costs of maintaining a "tolerant" society are also huge.

Aretae then responds to Devin by trying to draw a distinction between authority (which I guess he limits to the situation in which a government passes a rule) and something else which happens outside of government. So apparently, a boss has no authority over his subordinates because everyone can sever the employment agreement. I don’t get the distinction, to be honest.

Aretae then responds to Why I am Not by arguing that there in the modern system, it is not possible to exercise authority over rich people in very liberal places. As a rich person in a very liberal, I can assure you that this is not true (if only!). In fact, in the context of DC, he’s almost perfectly wrong, when he says: "90-99% of laws in NYC have no impact whatsoever on a rich liberal." The poor in DC are totally unaffected by laws, while the rich have to put up with schools that go from being decent to shitty, onerous historical preservation laws to contend with, crime, etc.


Review of “The Married Man Sex Life Primer” by Athol Kay

April 18, 2011

(The book is here)

I don’t believe in God, nor do I believe that God has work. But, if there is such a thing as God’s work, Athol is doing it.

The book is divided into four parts – 1) the science of human attraction; 2) the male action plan; 3) helpful suggestions; 4) mistakes. Each section deserves some discussion.

The science of human attraction

The first part is – by far – the weakest part of the book. While I strongly recommend the book, my only substantive criticisms relate to this first part. The scientific discussions are not Athol at his best (see part 3 for that). Generally, a person’s writing suffers when they’re not at their best, and as a result there are a fair number of typos in the early part of the book.

More substantively, there is a line between describing the science behind human attraction on one hand and making the whole process seem like it’s subject to scientific laws on the other hand. I think Athol probably crosses the line – you may disagree but he certainly comes close.

Ultimately, knowing the science helps, but Game is an art – you’ll do well to keep that in mind and I don’t think it can be overemphasized. I can almost picture the really dorky types reading the first part of the book and getting out their Excel spreadsheets to calculate their likelihood of success with a woman based on her point in her menstrual cycle and the amount of dopamine he’s released into her system.

If Athol plans to re-write this book – and he should – I would suggest focusing on the way he discusses the science. He needs to find a way to explain the science without making seduction sound scientific.

The male action plan

The second part explains the basics of Game. Athol explains sex rank and tells men how it increase theirs. This is familiar stuff (to me at least) but I’m not sure anybody explains it better.

Athol is the best around at explaining what alpha and beta really mean. Both should be viewed positively, as both are necessary for a successful relationship. If you’re a beta, you need to work on alpha characteristics and vice versa. This is Game as it should be discussed and used. The book should not be underestimated as an introduction to realistic thinking about sexual relationships – it’s not just advice for married men who want more sex from their wives.

Suggestions

The third – as I said – is Athol at his best. It’s filled with tips that will work on your wife and on anyone else that you’re interested in. Much of this section is taken directly from old blog posts that I’d already read, but it doesn’t really matter. The stories are good and the writing is great. Here again, basically nobody does it better.

My own style is different than Athol’s. If tried some of the stuff that works for him, my wife would call me a douchebag (in a loving way). But the overall advice works for all relationships.

Mistakes

In this section Athol covers common mistakes. Then he concludes with some thoughts on marriage 2.0. If I were dictator for a day, I would make everyone read the final chapters on modern marriage.


Fun with USG

April 18, 2011

For some reason, on Sunday, I found myself watching morning news shows, which I haven’t done in a long time.

Fox News Sunday had an interview with the Transportation Secretary about all the air-traffic controllers falling asleep. It’s fun to watch this stuff when you know what’s really going on.

Realize that this is a big deal for the Secretary’s staff. This is a pretty high profile interview and the agency is in a bad position. I imagine the staff developing a long list of possible questions that the Secretary will be asked, writing up all the answers, and then spending a long time going over the answers with the Secretary.

Here’s the transcript of the interview.

The secretary comes off as a reasonably likable guy.

This answer basically sums up all that’s wrong with modern USG:

We cannot allow controllers to fall asleep in control towers. We’re not going to stand by and let that happen. And we’ve taken steps, as of this morning, to begin changing schedules for controllers, to change schedules for managers, and to make sure that controllers cannot switch in and out of their schedules in order for the convenience of them if they are not well-rested.

But I also want to emphasize this, Chris — controllers need to take personal responsibility for the very important safety jobs that they have. We can make changes but when these controllers come to work, they have to take personal responsibility for the fact that they are guiding planes in and out of airports. It has to be done safely. They have to be well-rest and they have to be alert.

And we’ll take care of the fact they need to be well-trained. But they have to take some personal responsibility for this.

On one hand, the Secretary’s staff (via the Secretary) is saying that USG will make sure that controllers don’t fall asleep. On the other hand, they’re telling controllers to take personal responsibility. Sigh.

The staff has a plan to fix the problem:

Well, Chris, number one: we’re going to make sure that controllers are well-rested. We’re going to increase the rest time by an hour. This is what we’re recommending for pilots going from eight- hour rest to nine-hour rest. [This is what the time increase means: They [air traffic controllers] could work two evening shifts followed by an eight-hour turn-around


Randoms of the day

April 18, 2011

John Derbyshire on dissidents.

Is C. Van Carter making fun of Half Sigma (unfortunately, I could have linked to many HS posts)? I hope so.

Ilkka is following the Finnish election and it makes for great blogging.

Arnold Kling on the budget.

Compassionate reactionism.

A monarchist review of Atlas Shrugged (I love the internet).

Jehu on insurance. Public health insurance isn’t really insurance, it’s the fallacy that if everyone tries to pay for something unaffordable we’ll be able to afford it.

Whiskey on unaffordable family formation.

Ferdinand on socialism and multiculturalism.

Good book.


Austerity

April 18, 2011

It’s fashionable among economic propagandists to argue that "austerity" has failed in a few European countries.

I would point out a few things. First, if it’s already legitimate to conclude that austerity has failed, then it’s equally legitimate to conclude that High Church Economics (i.e. Keynesianism) has failed.

More substantively and less propaganda-y, I like to think of the current economic slowdown as a confrontation with truth. The truth is that every poor immigrant from Mexico can’t own his own five-bedroom house. The truth is that the country cannot afford to pay everyone’s medical bills. The truth is that high finance is built on a foundation of sand. Etc.

There is going to be a lot of pain associated with accepting these new truths. We have two choices: 1) spread out the pain over a long period of time or 2) get it over with.

I favor getting the pain over with as quickly as possible – this is not the popular answer.

Austerity is much closer to second camp. Therefore, it should not "work" in the short term, but only in the long term. I assumed this was obvious.


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