Defining feminism

March 31, 2010

An interesting article:

Pinker dares to posit the idea that women don’t have the same preferences as men and therefore, might actually choose different paths, not be forced into them by the patriarchy. Now we’re talking! . . .

In particular, she examines the role testosterone plays in male risk taking (including those amusing Darwin Awards) and the role oxytocin and empathy play in female career choices. . . .

Pinker does more than dryly discuss the biology; she provides example after example of women who have succeeded in this “man’s world” and found it wanting. As Pinker explains, let’s move on past the idea that a woman can’t do the same work as a man, and discuss why she may not want to. Any woman who has wondered if her preferences run counter to the feminist cause should pay close attention here; believing that a woman should have every right to pursue the same goals as men is different from believing that every woman should want to. Time and again, Pinker points out how women have sought those goals, attained them, and then shifted their eyes to a different prize. These “opt out” women can be found, as Pinker states, “in every major university, law, engineering, and accounting firm in North America and Europe” (p. 64). Women are 2.8 times more likely than men to leave science and engineering careers for other occupations and 13 times more likely to exit the labor force entirely. This is not because they are overwhelmed with childcare, either. They leave their careers at every age and every stage of life, whether or not they have families. Pinker concludes with what seems to be an obvious yet ignored truth, that women are autonomous beings who know their own desires. As one woman put it, “…work is not the only thing I do. I have a life” (p. 90). . . .

All of which creates a wide range of male ability with huge numbers of both extremely low and high achievers. Boys are three times more likely to be placed in special education classes, twice as likely to repeat a grade, and a third more likely to drop out of high school. However, males also dominate the highest percentiles of achievement, from math competitions to scrabble tournaments. . . .

Girls are often taught that females bond together while males are cutthroat. Indeed, the opposite is often true. Girls are also taught that females are beaten down by that oppressive patriarchy, but in actuality, women are more competitive with each other than with men. Once again Pinker gives example after example of women who have undermined, sabotaged, and exploited each other. . . .

After systematically breaking down each of these misconceptions about gender, gender differences, and the power of society, Pinker sums things up this way, “…forty years of discounting biology have led us to a strange and discomfiting place, one where women are afraid to own up to their desires and men—despite their foibles—are seen as standard issue” (p. 254).

Feminism killed femininity.

No blogging today

March 30, 2010

Because I’ve been commenting at Aretae’s place on Moldbuggery

Heather MacDonald on crime and policing

March 29, 2010

At The NY Post

Moldbug questions

March 29, 2010

A discussion at Aretae’s place.

Where HBD and SWPLs collide

March 29, 2010

I previously posted an entry with this subject. I’ve had a couple discussions with Obsidian in his comments section. He seems to think that HBDers should shut up about blacks, since HBDers don’t live near blacks. I don’t understand his argument, but then, I rarely understand his arguments in his comments section.

This exchange got me thinking. I live in an area of DC that is historically black but has recently been invaded by SWPLs – super SWPLs. SWPLs acknowledge the existence of blacks in the area by talking about the "lack of safety" in the area and by talking about how "bad the schools are," but they never actually mention blacks specifically. So, the areas of the neighborhood that are still largely black are referred to as "unsafe" (which they are) but never as "mostly black" (which they are).

It seemed to me that Obsidian was implicitly arguing that if HBDers were around blacks more often, they would be less strident in their claims about differences between races. In one sense, I think he would be correct. I live around a lot of middle/upper-middle class blacks, who are great neighbors. In another sense, he’d be incorrect. Living in proximity makes the differences between races more obvious. So much so that even the super-SWPLs have developed code words (like "safety") to allow them to discuss the differences without having to explicitly acknowledge that the differences are race-based.

So, I was thinking that I’d start a series of posts in which I briefly describe some of the differences that I notice between the SWPLs and the HBDers. I’m going to kick it off with this post, in which I discuss Halloween.

Halloween is a big deal in the neighborhood. It starts early with the SWPL kids.

(A brief aside about DC with thanks to Steve Sailer: "Indeed, DC has by far the highest scoring white kids (15 points ahead of Massachusetts). It’s black students are no longer the lowest scoring, being four points ahead of Wisconsin. . . . Unfortunately, there aren’t enough white 8th graders in DC public schools for the NAEP to come up with an adequate sample size of white 8th graders in DC." All the white kids in the neighborhood are young, when they get older their families have to leave the neighborhood because "the schools are so bad" (read: the schools are heavily black). So, by 8th grade there are no more white kids around).

The SWPL kids were well coached. They all had serious costumes, all said "trick or treat" and all took one piece of candy. A couple kids asked if they could take two.

After about an hour and a half of this, the older kids (i.e. the black kids) started coming around. At that point, I was just holding out the bowl of candy, for the kids to take from.

The black kids would grab handfuls, so I had to start passing it out.

Only about 40% of the black kids were in costume (though one had the best costume of the night – an incredible Sherlock Holmes costume). The rest were just wearing normal clothes.

Most interesting, their mothers (none of whom were dressed up) also went trick-or-treating with them. The first time a mother held out her purse for me, I had no idea what to do. It took me 15 seconds to figure out that she wanted candy. The first year we were in the neighborhood, my neighbor was watching me the first time this happened and laughing at me. So, I was putting candy in the purses’ of random women who weren’t even dressed up. Happy Halloween in DC!

On one hand, I can understand the logic of the blacks – they’re thinking "these people are giving away candy, I might as well take some." On the other hand, the whole point of Halloween is for kids – it gets damn weird if grown adults start going around asking each other for candy.

If anyone is interested in these observations, I’ll keep posting them. If not, I’ll probably do it anyway. I’ll try to do at least one a week.

What do women find attractive?

March 28, 2010

This study finds that women in country’s with high standards of living prefer more feminine looking men. Except in the US, where the findings seem to be reversed. Any Roissy fans out there want to write to the researchers to explain the reversal in the US? Maybe you can save them some time and money by pointing out that women in the US only need men for sex – they have the government for everything else.

Review of “The Man Who Came Early” by Poul Anderson

March 26, 2010

Wikipedia notes that this book is the antithesis of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Anderson’s book is way shorter than Twain’s and way more interesting. In Twain’s the character that travels back in time manages to take over the backward society. In Anderson’s the character that travels back in time is basically worthless – except for his gun – and he ends up getting himself killed. In the meantime, the men of the past think of him as womanly and he is womanly by comparison.

A couple of quotes that I can’t refrain from highlighting. Here is a discussion of the contents of the time-traveler’s pockets:

There were some coins of re­mark­able round­ness and sharp­ness, a small key, a stick with lead in it for writ­ing, a flat purse hold­ing many bits of marked pa­per; when he told us solemn­ly that some of this pa­per was mon­ey, even Thorgunna had to laugh.

Our modern man has no poetry:

That evening he en­ter­tained us well with sto­ries of his home; true or not, they made good lis­ten­ing. How­ev­er, he had no re­al pol­ish, be­ing un­able to com­pose even two lines of verse. They must be a raw and back­ward lot in the Unit­ed States.

On freedom (note that the modern man is in the US army):

When he added that the term of a levy in the Unit­ed States was two years, and that men could be called to war even in har­vest time, I said he was well out of a coun­try with so ruth­less and pow­er­ful a king.

Thanks to Isegoria for the recommendation.

Books that influenced me

March 26, 2010

I’ll throw in to books that have influenced me (started here). I’m going to break the rules and go beyond books to writing general.

I think of influence, with respect to books, as changing the way I view the world. Some things that I’ve read add a filter to the way I experience and understand the world. These books go beyond learning and into altering my personality and modes of thought. These are the books I’m thinking of:

1. The writings of Ayn Rand – Ms Rand was the first to spark my interest in ideas. Once you have absorbed her modes of thought, you begin to see the world in a different way and you can’t go back to the old way. Our society worships all the wrong things. Soon, you’ll pay your taxes, which explicitly encourage debt, divorce, unproductivity and having lots of children that you can’t afford. Health care reform reallocates assets from the productive to the unproductive – society may be able to survive some of this, but at some point, production cannot keep up with the needs of the unproductive. A worldview that places needs above ability is a perverted worldview that will end in failure.

2. The writings of Murray Rothbard – From Rand, I moved to Rothbard. Rothbard lays a great economic and historical foundation for future learning. He answered many questions and raised many others.

3. The writings of Mencius Moldbug (and the works of Thomas Carlyle (e.g. here, here, here, here)) – Ultimately, many of the questions raised by Rothbard were answered by Moldbug. I’d put Carlyle here alone, but I wouldn’t have understood Carlyle without Moldbug. Again, the way that you see history, politics, and society will change once you understand Moldbug. You can’t understand modern society or recent history unless you understand democracy and no one understands it better. Every piece of news that you read will be read differently once you’ve absorbed Moldbug. Every history book you read will be read differently. The veil falls and your eyes begin to adjust to the light of truth. (That was poor attempt mimic the style of Carlyle as adapted by Moldbug, I know that it was a poor attempt, but roll with it).

4. The writings of Albert J. Nock and H.L. Mencken (and to a lesser extent Tom Wolfe) – From these men, I learned two lessons: 1) how to observe happenings around you and 2) how to behave in a society that you believe to be in decay. These men are the best observers. They all seem to share the same detachment from their own time that helps one observe insightfully and cope with living in a civilization that one knows to be in decay. Instead of being sad about what they saw, they laughed at it – a lot.

5. James Burnham’s The Machiavellians – the best political science book that I’ve read. Once you’re done, you will always view politics for what it is, not what it says it wants to be. You will therefore understand it.

6. Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, John T. Flynn’s The Roosevelt Myth, and Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative – The first two books showed me that the history I learned in school was (shall we say) incomplete. Moldbug took care of tearing down the rest of the historical myths that I had learned. The last book showed me what history could be, even in the modern era.

7. Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, the writings of Steve Sailer, Cochran’s The 10,000 Year Explosion, Hart’s Understanding Human History, and Clark’s A Farewell to Alms – I could have just listed The Bell Curve here, but you get so much more out of it when you get other perspectives on the same fundamental topic. Once you understand these works, you understand that most of the "policy discussions" that you hear about in the news totally miss the point. For example, once you understand these books, you can’t help but sit back and laugh when you see people trying to improve the educational system. The mainstream ideas are so wrong. If you’ve learned from Nock and Mencken, watching "reform ideas" while knowing what the real problems are will make you laugh. If you haven’t read Nock and Mencken, you’ll get frustrated and angry. Read Nock and Mencken first.

8. The writings of Roissy and the writings of Mickey Spillane and Anthony Trollope – I admit this is a strange group of writers. I don’t always agree with Roissy, but you can’t deny that he changes the way you view the world. To understand the decay of modern society in one sphere, you can’t do better. This item on the list deals broadly with what it means to be a man (so I could add the movies of John Wayne, but we’re talking about writing). Roissy will show you the obstacles facing modern man. Nobody wrote men, as men, better than Spillane. Nobody wrote about men, as men, better than Trollope.

9. The writings of Neal Stephenson – science fiction at it’s best (I could add a couple books by others if pressed).

10. Nicholas Antongiavanni’s The Suit – you have to learn how to dress.

Review of “A Farewell to Alms” by Gregory Clark

March 26, 2010

This book has been in my stack of books to read for a while. I kept seeing it on other peoples’ lists of books that have impacted their thinking (e.g. Isegoria’s), so I decided it was time.

The book’s argument is pretty straightforward. The vast majority of the book discusses evidence which bolsters the relatively simple argument. I think I may have waited too long to read the book, as I had basically accepted the argument already, after reading summaries of the evidence from so many others.

Here’s the argument:

In the Malthu­sian econ­omy be­fore 1800 eco­nom­ic pol­icy was turned on its head: vice now was virtue then, and virtue vice. Those scourges of failed mod­ern states—war, vi­olence, dis­or­der, har­vest fail­ures, col­lapsed pub­lic in­fras­truc­tures, bad san­ita­tion—were the friends of mankind be­fore 1800. They re­duced pop­ula­tion pres­sures and in­creased ma­te­ri­al liv­ing stan­dards. In con­trast poli­cies beloved of the World Bank and the Unit­ed Na­tions to­day—peace, sta­bil­ity, or­der, pub­lic health, trans­fers to the poor—were the en­emies of pros­per­ity. They gen­er­at­ed the pop­ula­tion growth that im­pov­er­ished so­ci­eties.

How did England escape this Malthusian trap? The rest of the argument is:

The rich­est men [in England] had twice as many sur­viv­ing chil­dren at death as the poor­est. The poor­est in­di­vid­uals in Malthu­sian Eng­land had so few sur­viv­ing chil­dren that their fam­ilies were dy­ing out. . . . The at­tributes that would en­sure lat­er eco­nom­ic dy­namism—pa­tience, hard work, in­ge­nu­ity, in­no­va­tive­ness, ed­uca­tion—were thus spread­ing bi­olog­ical­ly through­out the pop­ula­tion. . . . In­deed the ev­idence is that the poor­est in­di­vid­uals in the Malthu­sian era would typ­ical­ly not re­pro­duce them­selves at all. [This is basically opposite of what is happening today]

Thus, in sum:

The an­swer haz­ard­ed here is that Eng­land’s ad­van­tages were not coal, not colonies, not the Protes­tant Ref­or­ma­tion, not the En­light­en­ment, but the ac­ci­dents of in­sti­tu­tion­al sta­bil­ity and de­mog­ra­phy: in par­tic­ular the ex­traor­di­nary sta­bil­ity of Eng­land back to at least 1200, the slow growth of En­glish pop­ula­tion be­tween 1300 and 1760, and the ex­traor­di­nary fe­cun­di­ty of the rich and eco­nom­ical­ly suc­cess­ful. The em­bed­ding of bour­geois val­ues in­to the cul­ture, and per­haps even the ge­net­ics, was for these rea­sons the most ad­vanced in Eng­land.

This argument also explains why other countries and cultures have been unable to reap the rewards of advanced technologies:

In a mod­ern world in which the path to rich­es lies through in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, why are bad-tem­pered ze­bras and hip­pos the bar­ri­er to eco­nom­ic growth in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa? Why didn’t the In­dus­tri­al Rev­olu­tion free Africa, New Guinea, and South Amer­ica from their old ge­ograph­ic dis­ad­van­tages, rather than ac­cen­tu­ate their back­ward­ness? And why did the takeover of Aus­tralia by the British pro­pel a part of the world that had not de­vel­oped set­tled agri­cul­ture by 1800 in­to the first rank among de­vel­oped economies?

It’s worth noting that the book’s finding undermines the basic assumption of modern, mainstream economics:

The pre­ferred as­sump­tion [of modern, mainstream economics] is that the de­sires and ra­tio­nal­ities of peo­ple in all hu­man so­ci­eties are es­sen­tial­ly the same. The me­dieval peas­ant in Eu­rope, the In­di­an coolie, the Yanomamo of the rain for­est, the Tas­ma­ni­an Abo­rig­inal, all share a com­mon set of as­pi­ra­tions and a com­mon abil­ity to act ra­tio­nal­ly to achieve those as­pi­ra­tions. What dif­fers across so­ci­eties, how­ev­er, are the in­sti­tu­tions that gov­ern eco­nom­ic life.

Er, not, if Clark is correct:

The bite of the Malthu­sian con­straints was tighter in Eng­land than in Asia. The pro­cess­es of se­lec­tive sur­vival were ac­tu­al­ly more se­vere in pre-in­dus­tri­al Eng­land. . . . income-based dif­fer­ences in fer­til­ity seem to have been much less pro­nounced in both Japan and Chi­na.

So the resulting populations were selected based on different pressures.

I think the book goes best with Understanding Human History and The 10,000 Year Explosion. If I take a meta-lesson from these works it’s that evolution is constantly happening, whether we like it or not. The effects of evolution, even over relatively short periods of time, are difficult to underestimate. Read the books together for maximum effect.

Review of “A History of Western Philosophy: Kant and the Nineteenth Century, V. IV” by W. T. Jones

March 26, 2010

This book is the fourth in a five part series.

These books are a great introduction to philosophy. They give enough depth to allow the reader to understand the major points, without getting bogged down in the (often ridiculously complex) weeds. Jones does a wonderful job of explaining. This is not to say that the books are easy to read. They still take quite a bit of effort.

I’m not going to try to get into the philosophers discussed in the book. Jones takes 360 pages and that is, already, a high-level summary. I can’t summarize beyond that. I can, tell you what is discussed. This book deals with 19th Century philosophy. 19th Century philosophy begins with Kant’s reaction to Hume. Kant recognized the destructive effects of Hume’s devastating critique of reason and tried to salvage reason.

The rest of 19th Century philosophy deals with Kant’s ideas, the death of reason and the death of the mood of the enlightenment (which believed in the perfection of mankind). Later in the Century, 19th Century philosophy tries to deal with the alienation created by industrialization. Philosophers discussed are Kant, Hegel & Schopenhauer (Romanticism), Bentham & Mill & Comte & Marx (scientism), Kierkegaard & Nietzsche, C. S. Pierce, William James, and F. H. Bradley.