Randoms and thoughts on the past week

October 18, 2011

Can black people be guilty of plagiarism if they all do it? These are the dilemmas of the modern university. It appears we haven’t progressed much since debates about angels and pins.

Jim on Fast and Furious: "’Fast and Furious’ confirms what we all know: That the government wants criminals armed, and productive citizens disarmed, in order to make its subjects dependent on the state."

Jim also makes the differences between progressives and communists very clear. I now see the error of my ways.

David Friedman thinks that the Amish are a strange form of anarchy. Actually, this is exactly how I expect anarchy to work.

Here’s an article that talks about how badly run California’s death row is and then concludes that . . . California should abolish the death penalty. Behold, progressive logic in action.

Laura Wood has some complaints about NYT coverage of an interracial couple. We have some good friends that are an interracial couple (she’s black and he’s white). I’ve never heard them complain about racism, but they’ve often complained that people are excessively nice to them (everyone wants to demonstrate their open-mindedness), which they find annoying. DC, of course, may not be representative of the nation as a whole.

CWNY:

During what the Northern liberals called “Reconstruction” and the Southern people experienced as hell, the liberals of the North tried to exterminate the white race in the South, just as the whites in San Domingo were exterminated, by placing them at the mercy of black barbarians who had no concept of mercy. The Northern liberals failed to exterminate the white Southerners for one reason and one reason only.

The best quote of the week though, was Moldbug’s:

If you convert loanable funds of one duration into loanable funds of another duration, either by wholesome George Bailey banking or by synthesizing collateralized instruments (a category which logically includes nominally zero-term demand deposits), you are taking this elegant market signal, the yield curve, and raping it in the ass. You will give it AIDS. It will give you AIDS back. This will become known as the "business cycle" – a sort of historical quartan ague. Though no one understands it, it exists.

Chuck writes that big banks are the pawns of USG. As you know, I think it’s a mistake to think of big banks and USG as separate entities. They are one entity.

Tino (and his brother) on the Swedish model.

Notes for the reactionary of tomorrow (I haven’t read this yet)

Dead people on race.

Everyone has a point beyond which they will resort to violence against ruling elite. This may be my breaking point.

Tribalism is still interested in you.

Optimism is self-defeating.

"The extension of human rights does not liberate us; it turns us into feral egotists who are at the same time dependent." - TD

Lots of bloggers were discussing the lack of hot flight attendants last week (I think Megan McArdle started it). Two points: 1) hot flight attendants still exist – have you ever flown an Asian airline? and 2) if hot flight attendants are gone in the US, could we at least get not fat flight attendants? Thanks.

Come on, it’s kind of funny, right?


Hamster in overdrive

October 18, 2011

I was going to write something criticizing this piece in The Atlantic, but Dalrock wrote a good response. And Ilkka summarized it in a sentence, saying it "hilariously confirms everything that Roissy ever wrote, especially his observation that the sixties ‘sexual revolution’ was really just a return to the sexual organization of the Pleistocene."

I’d like to add a few points to Dalrock’s able response.

Ms Bolick’s piece is particularly frustrating because – in several cases – she seems to understand the issues at hand.

For example, she makes several realistic assessments of sexual market value. She also notes that the lifestyle she comes close to supporting has been prevalent in the black community for decades, with devastating results. And yet . . . she can’t stop the hamster.

She claims that she has yet to decide whether or not she’s having children, for example. Newsflash: if you’re 39 and single, you’ve decided not to have children.

The article concludes with a strange discussion of alternative lifestyles. She seems to be suggesting that women should get together and live in whorehouses, sorry, I mean communal houses and collectively raise their bastard children.

Truly, the power of the hamster is awesome to behold.

Al Fin makes perhaps the most important point: "When too many people in a society grow old and childless, the potential — the future — of that society withers on the vine. The generations of the unborn begin to haunt the false over-cheeriness of the singles gathering in bars and pubs."


The top 20%

October 18, 2011

[The following is a rant]

I don’t believe that it’s possible to solve the problem of income stagnation for the bottom x% of the population without making things much worse.

We’ve made it easier and less costly for people to screw up their lives and they’ve done so. Stagnation of larger portions of the population is the obvious consequence. The masses have embraced their new freedoms and they don’t like the results. They want to be able to act as if they’re free without suffering the consequences of their actions (they seek the freedom of a child). As Theodore Dalrymple recently put it:

The problem with meritocracy, however, even in its purest imaginable form, is that few people are of exceptional merit. The realisation that the fault lies in us, not in our stars, that we are underlings, is a painful one; and in the nature of things, there are more underlings than what I am tempted to call overlings.

Here’s a thought experiment: What should be the economic situation of the following people:

- person A dropped out of high school or college to follow his or her dreams of traveling the world/etc;
– person B had a kid with someone they didn’t know and got stuck paying child support or raising a child (or multiple children) alone;

- person C took on $100,000 in student loan debt to get a degree in a worthless field;
– person D pissed away a small fortune on one or more divorces, which is ever easier to do;
– person E never took a job because he or she never found something that excited his or her passions?

Their economic situations should be stagnant – they’ve made bad choices. In any free society bad choices have consequences.

I’ve read a seemingly endless number of statistics about the modern worker or whatever he/she is called these days. However, no matter how the data is cut, someone who sticks with school, gets a job, stays married and doesn’t have kids until he’s married does fine. He always has and it seems he always will. If you fuck one of those things up, you’re going to stagnate, at least for a while.

Everyone seems to write as if this life path – i.e. school, work, marriage, kids – is obvious, common and easy. The major disconnect is that not that many people seem to be following it and it can be quite difficult. Increasingly, we’ve become freer – a term which has come to mean making it easier for people to not do these things (i.e. finish school, get a job, etc.) – and at this point it may not be reasonable to expect more than 20% of the population to be able to stick to this path.

I should also note that – though it’s obvious, this path is also incredibly rewarding, in my experience. Accordingly, I strongly agree with Mangan:

While I’m mostly in agreement that the man who wants to get married and have a job ought to tread very carefully across the landmine-strewn field of marriage, feminism, divorce, and tax theft, the alternatives as set forth across the manosphere seem pretty unappealing to this blogger. Sitting on a beach? Yeah, I could do that for a few days, after which it would get old in a hurry. Clubbing? Nah, a pursuit for young (under 25) guys. Travel? Been there, done that, in spades.

One needs a sense of purpose in life, one that goes beyond the pursuit of pleasure, and I don’t see that taken very seriously by these blogs. To each his own of course, but hedonism is a vapid ideology in which pleasure must run ever faster just to stay in the same place.

Related thoughts from OneSTDV are here.


Review of “Reamde” by Neal Stephenson

October 18, 2011

One has to be careful reviewing Neal Stephenson, as they’re liable to mis-interpret him. For example, Aretae says, that Stephenson’s writing shows that "The future does not resemble the past." Yet I thought that the whole point of the Baroque Cycle was that the 17th Century experienced a wave of innovation much like the one experienced in the late 20th Century. Reamde has a couple characters who are completely preoccupied by medieval times, for example, "they had managed to convince him [i.e. one such character] that the medieval world wasn’t worse or more primitive than the modern, just different."

Matthew Yglesias likes Stephenson even though all of Stephenson’s books seem to be preoccupied with creating better currencies, while Yglesias himself seems preoccupied with debasing the currency we’ve got.

The better currency in Reamde is a fictional one. Actually it’s the currency of an MMORPG. The creator of Stephenson’s MMORPG, who plays a large part in the story, seems to have created the MMORPG – at least in part – to launder money. The soundness of the currency is emphasized a couple times: "He [i.e. the creator of the game] sensed at a primal, almost olfactory level that the game could only be as successful as the stability of its virtual currency."

The other problem with reviewing Stephenson is that it’s almost impossible to summarize the book. Here’s my shot (minor spoilers follow):

The main character of the book is the world’s only black female engineer (ha, just kidding, sort of). Her boyfriend gets involved with selling stolen credit card numbers to the Russian mob. The particular Russian mobster who’s buying the stolen credit cards has his computer infected by the Reamde virus, which encrypts his files (encryption being another favorite Stephenson theme). The mobster can only get his files back by depositing some gold in a certain location in the MMORPG.

It just so happens that the main character’s uncle created the MMORPG in question. The Russian mobster does not like settling disputes using computer games, so he kidnaps the main character and various other hackers and makes them track down the Chinese kids that wrote Reamde.

Chaos ensues when an Islamist terrorist cell is living about the Chinese kids apartments. Now, we’re following the Chinese kids, the Russians, the hackers, the terrorists, the creator of the MMORPG and the rest of the main character’s family, and various government officials and spies.

Along the way, you get lots of asides of the sort that only Stephenson can write. For example, would you like a brief and enlightening summary of the history of Hungary? You either love this stuff or you don’t. I do.

Some other themes pop up in the book. For example, Stephenson touches on class conflicts or the culture war in several different contexts. There are several references to the differences between the people on the coasts and those in the middle of the country. For example, here’s a brief aside on recombinant food (i.e. the food of the Midwest):

The unifying principle behind all recombinant cuisine seemed to be indifference, if not outright hostility, to the use of anything that a coastal foodie would define as an ingredient. Was it too much of a stretch to think that the rejection, by the Dales of the world [a member of the Forces of Brightness (see below)], of traditional fantasy-world races such as elves and dwarves was motivated by the same deep, mysterious cultural mojo as their spurning of onions and salt in favor of onion salt?

Or here is an interaction between John (the Iowan) and his brother, Richard, the Seattleite:

“It’s fine,” John insisted, speaking to Richard from across a cultural divide that never got any easier to navigate. The idea being that even if John’s seat [in Richard's car] were positioned too far forward—limiting his legroom and reducing his level of physical comfort—the mere act of scooting it back a few inches was, by midwestern standards, a gratuitous waste of energy as well as an implicit admission that the scooter was the sort of person who could not handle a little bit of trouble.

I really miss the Midwest.

Anyway, in the MMORPG, the culture war flares up as well. The world of the MMORPG is initially set up in a good vs evil alignment. Over time however, it switches into a "Earthtone coalition" vs "Forces of Brightness" alignment, with the former being composed of the coastal types (generally) and the latter composed of those with less taste, as one might put it.

Finally, I can’t resist noting that the rationalization hamster makes an appearance:

Olivia [just coming off a one night stand], a highly cultivated and rational woman, was unwilling to admit that she was the kind of person who could engage in such a liaison, and so she was even now putting her powerful brain to work coming up with a story according to which it was really much, much more than that.

It’s Stephenson, so it’s self-recommending, as they say. Enjoy.


Review of “Boomerang” by Michael Lewis

October 18, 2011

This book contains a short introduction followed by five of Lewis’ recent articles (mostly from Vanity Fair, I believe) on the sovereign portion of the current financial crisis.

There are articles on Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and the US (the US portion is devoted mostly to California). I had read most of the articles before, and I believe they’re available online.

The introduction was the most interesting part, since I think I had read all the other parts. The introduction sets up the rest of the book through a chat with Kyle Bass. The Daily Mail sums up Bass in the following headline: "Meet the Texan investor who made millions from the credit crunch…and now he stands to make 65,000% profit if Europe goes down the drain."

Lewis describes Bass’ views by quoting him as follows:

“We’ve never had this kind of accumulation of debt in world history,” said Bass. Critically, the big banks that had extended much of this credit were no longer treated as private enterprises but as extensions of their local governments, sure to be bailed out in a crisis. The public debt of rich countries already stood at what appeared to be dangerously high levels and, in response to the crisis, was rapidly growing. But the public debt of these countries was no longer the official public debt. As a practical matter it included the debts inside each country’s banking system, which, in another crisis, would be transferred to the government.

So he shorted a bunch of European sovereigns before doing so was cool. Lewis embarks on these trips to see what Bass has shorted, and the results aren’t pretty.


On politics

October 18, 2011

I try not write about politics because it’s just a show designed to entertain the high-IQ masses.

However, reading all of last weeks blog posts during a very long plane ride, I noticed that either Matthew Yglesias hijacked Half Sigma’s blog or vice versa. They both endorse Mitt Romney and hate Herman Cain. (If you want examples peruse the archives, I’m too lazy to dig for links)

The level and intensity of agreement among these two is strange.

Assuming that Yglesias and HS are different people, I’d guess that Yglesias likes Romney because Yglesais wants a government run by technocrats and Romney is the ultimate technocrat. HS likes Romney because Romney has a high IQ, which is apparently sufficient in his estimation.

Another comment that I’ve seen, particularly from John Derbyshire, is that Herman Cain would be likely to get rolled by the bureaucracy, whereas Romney would be less so.

I’m sorry to say that we’ll roll either of them, however, my intuition would be precisely opposite Mr Derbyshire’s.

Here’s an example. The other day I was listening to a podcast from The Economist. Their position on the troubles with Europe is essentially: we don’t like bailouts, but if Europe sovereigns and banks don’t get bailed out, we’re headed for a massive depression. This being The Economist, this is the official position of anyone who is not a knuckle-dragging idiot.

I think this analysis is horseshit, but setting that aside . . . Imagine if a bunch of high-level American and international bureaucrats are sitting a briefing with Romney and they lay out this situation and recommend bailout to avoid the second great depression. Romney would be reading confirming analysis in The Economist, the WSJ, and the NYT. I’m 100% sure that Romney bails out Europe. The whole structure of the bureaucracy is designed to make guys like Romney dance. He wants to be popular, he wants to do the smart thing, he wants to think of himself as a little tough. He’s the perfect politician and the bureaucracy pwns politicians.

Cain would be a tougher nut to crack (if only cause he’s much less predictable), but he’d still crack. Frankly, if the bureaucracy decides to do something, it’s not even clear how the President could stop it. He could slow it down, but that’s it.


OWS

October 18, 2011

I, of course, oppose Occupy Wall Street. I look forward, however, to seeing whether or not it will be successful.

Occupy Wall Street is different from the Tea Party in that the Tea Party (being a rightist movement) is peaceful while the OWS movement (being a leftist movement) aims toward violence. For example, I expect OWS to hang out in in Zuccotti Park until someone kicks them out – the confrontation at the end being the whole point of the exercise to date. Leftist movements continue until they provoke violence, which is why they’re generally successful. Perhaps the new media is capable of reversing this historical trend. I’m skeptical, but we’ll see.

Many people complain that the movement has no goal, which seems pretty clear. But the goal of this movement, like all leftists movements, is to incite violence and get arrested (and, of course to do all of it under the cover of lies).

Stay tuned.


Randoms

October 7, 2011

On Steve Jobs. Interestingly, basically everyone I’ve read seems to have loved Jobs – Half Sigma and Vox excepted.

DC has a very onerous process ("which includes various fees, five hours of training, multiple visits to government offices, fingerprinting, and recurring background checks") for obtaining a license to own a gun. Generally, I like an armed citizenry, however given DC’s particular population, I think this onerous process is a near perfect policy. In effect, it means that only conscientious and intelligent citizens (cough, cough) can legally own guns.

Ferd notes that there are "More black men in prison today then were enslaved before the Civil War." As I’ve said before, meaningfully ending slavery is quite hard.

I know I get criticized every time I point out that progressives/liberals are communists, but whenever they get together to make a big list of demands, the demands look an awful lot like Commie demands (HT: Chuck).


Review of “Mao: The Unknown Story” by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

October 7, 2011

Someday, an incredible "life and times" of Mao will be written. This is not that book, but when that book is written, it will draw heavily from this book.

Chang and Halliday present a portrait of Mao that remains unsatisfying because Mao comes across as unbelievably evil and petty. I do not mean to suggest that Mao was not unbelievably evil and petty, however there must have been more to his character than evil and pettiness. Mao, after all, did run the world’s most populous country for a long time. He also managed to get a lot of people (e.g. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger) say a lot of nice things about him.

Chang and Halliday portray Maoist China as a Soviet creation. Someone may not have lost China, but the Soviets definitely won it. This telling helps one to understand the Sino-Soviet split. The Sino-Soviet relationship was clear while Stalin was still in power – Stalin was in charge. However, when Stalin died, the form of the relationship became unclear. There was less of a direct Sino-Soviet split, following the death of Stalin, than there was a jockeying for position as head of international Communism between Khrushchev and Mao.

Chang and Halliday estimate that Mao was responsible for 70 million deaths. That number certainly seems believable. According to their telling, Mao wanted advanced weaponry. All China had to offer (the Soviets) for such weaponry was food. Unfortunately, China didn’t produce a lot of excess food. So, Mao confiscated food to exchange for weaponry, resulting in mass starvation. If Mao could starve a few more Chinese peasants to increase his weapons knowledge or his international prestige among the Communist Party, he would do so.

Another interesting part of the story relates to the Korean War. In the book, the Korean War was portrayed as a war run by the Russians and fought by the Chinese. Paging General MacArthur . . .

Marshall comes under fire for his involvement in the Chinese Civil War as well implicitly at the end of the Korean War. Marshall intervenes at a very key time to virtually ensure that Chiang Kai-Shek loses (and Mao wins). Chang and Halliday don’t really offer an explanation for Marshall’s apparent screw up.

Nixon and Kissinger also look like buffoons near the end of the story for supplicating to Mao for no apparent reason.

Chang and Halliday portray Mao as someone whose regime ended the day he died. Mao did not choose his successor and if he could have chosen his successor, he would not have chosen Deng. In fact, Mao had done terrible things to Deng and his family. Mao’s successors have maintained the myth of Mao (like Caesar maintained the Roman Senate), but departed from his style of leadership.


PIIGS and nordic assistance

October 5, 2011

When you notice things about various racial groups, you’re often confronted with the fact that people used to notice things about a lot of other racial groups. For example, it used to be common to have bad opinions about the Irish and the Italians.

Nowadays, we’re all supposed to know that those old ideas are absurd. No one pays attention to who is Italian these days, they’re just white people!

And yet . . .

If you pay attention to what’s happening in Europe, you can’t help but notice that the bigots of yesteryear seem to have been on to something. All the nationalities that were discriminated against in 1800s and early 1900s in America – the Italians, the Irish, the Greeks, the Spaniards – are the ones that are close to default in Europe today. All the nationalities that are supposed to do the bailing out are the ones that were not discriminated against (and that presumably did the discriminating) in the same time period – for example, the Germans and the Scandinavians.

I’m sure this is just coincidence.


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