The truth is revealed

June 28, 2012

So, as I understand today’s edict, the rulers decided that the particular manner in which healthcare was taken over by the feds was unconstitutional, but that it was totally cool for the feds to take over healthcare in a different way. In the end, the fact the feds had the power was good enough, so they just decided to cut the bullshit and call it cool.

Where have I heard that before?

(Also, I wrote last week that nobody celebrates their own defeats more aggressively than libertarians. I know it’s conceited to think that this article was written as a joke to prove me right, but come on. What am I supposed to think?)

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Review of “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin

June 26, 2012

It took me a while to realize that this series hit the wall big time after the 3rd book. I was so into the books after the first three, that it took a long time (well into book 5) for me to notice that the interesting parts of the story weren’t progressing at all.

Nevertheless, I’ll read the rest of the books in the series. There are a couple ways the story could end that would be really good (and delightfully reactionary).

It was interesting to read The 48 Laws of Power while reading the books in this series. Martin’s successful characters follow the laws closely, while the unsuccessful clearly violate one or more laws.

This series was really the first fantasy series that I’ve read (excluding Tolkien). If any readers have other recommendations, leave them in the comments or shoot me an email.


Review of “Mongoliad” by lots of people

June 26, 2012

This book isn’t all that great, but I’ll give anything by Neil Stephenson a shot.

The setting is cool. I didn’t know much about Genghis Khan’s successor. The way the book was released was pretty interesting as well. But the best parts of the book were the fight scenes.


Review of “Parkinson’s Law” by C. Northcote Parkinson

June 26, 2012

"An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along." – Evelyn Waugh

The same is true of a political scientist. Instead of the bullshit theories from our progressive political scientists of today, reactionary ones would give us books that begin thusly:

To the very young, to schoolteachers, as also to those who compile textbooks about constitutional history, politics, and current affairs, the world is a more or less rational place. They visualize the election of representatives, freely chosen from among those the people trust. They picture the process by which the wisest and best of these become ministers of state. They imagine how captains of industry, freely elected by shareholders, choose for managerial responsibility those who have proved their ability in a humbler role. Books exist in which assumptions such as these are boldly stated or tacitly implied. To those, on the other hand, with any experience of affairs, these assumptions are merely ludicrous. Solemn conclaves of the wise and good are mere figments of the teacher’s mind. It is salutary, therefore, if an occasional warning is uttered on this subject. Heaven forbid that students should cease to read books on the science of public or business administration–provided only that these works are classified as fiction. Placed between the novels of Rider Haggard and H. G. Wells, intermingled with volumes about ape men and space ships, these textbooks could harm no one. Placed elsewhere, among works of reference, they can do more damage than might at first sight seem possible.

Dismayed to realize what other people suppose to be the truth about civil servants or building plans, I have occasionally tried to provide, for those interested, a glimpse of reality.

It basically stays this good for the rest of the book.

On picking a Prime Minister:

Let us suppose that the post tobe filled is that of Prime Minister. The modern tendency is to trust in various methods of election, with results that are almost invariably disastrous. Were we to turn, instead, to the fairy stories we learned inchildhood, we should realize that at the period to which these stories relate far more satisfactory methods were in use. When the king had to choose a man to marry his eldest or only daughter and so inherit thekingdom, he normally planned some obstacle course from which only the right candidate would emerge with credit; and from which indeed (in many instances) only the right candidate would emerge at all. . . . All that is required is to translate the technique of the fairy story into a form applicable to the modern world. In this, as we shall see, there is no essential difficulty. The first step in the process is to decide on the qualities a Prime Minister ought to have. These need not be the same in all circumstances, but they need to be listed and agreed upon. Let us suppose that the qualities deemed essential are (i) Energy, (2) Courage, (3) Patriotism, (4) Experience, (5 )Popularity, and (6) Eloquence. Now, it will be observed that all these are general-qualities which all possible applicants would believe themselves to possess. The field could readily, of course, be narrowed by stipulating (4) Experience of lion-taming, or (6) Eloquence in Mandarin. But that is not the way in which we want to narrow the field. We do not want to stipulate aquality in a special form; rather, each quality in an exceptional degree. In other words, the successful candidate must be the most energetic,courageous, patriotic, experienced, popular, and eloquent man in thecountry. Only one man can answer to that description and his is the only application we want. The terms of the appointment must thus be phrased so as to exclude everyone else. We should therefore word the advertisement in some such way as follows:

Wanted– Prime Minister of Ruritania. Hours of work: 4 A.M. to 11.59 P.M. Candidates must be prepared to fight three rounds with the current heavyweight champion (regulation gloves to be worn). Candidates will die for their country, by painless means, on reaching the age of retirement (65). They will have to pass an examination in parliamentary procedure and will be liquidated should they fail to obtain 95% marks. They will also be liquidated if they fail to gain 75% votes in a popularity poll held under the Gallup Rules. They will finally be invited to try their eloquence on a Baptist Congress, the object being to induce those present to rock and roll. Those who fail will be liquidated. All candidates should present themselvesat the Sporting Club (side entrance) at 11.15 A.M. on the morning of September 19. Gloves will be provided, but they should bring their own rubber-soled shoes, singlet, and shorts.

Observe that this advertisement saves all trouble about application forms, testimonials, photographs, references, and short lists.

Anyway, I linked to the whole book above. It’s free. Enjoy.


Review of “The Death of Common Sense” by Philip K. Howard

June 26, 2012

The subtitle of this book is: "how law is suffocating America." It should probably be: "how regulation is suffocating America."

In general, Howard does a fine job of recognizing many symptoms of USG’s disease. He misses the underlying disease though.

Most of the book describes absurd regulatory requirements – the sort that been well chronicled elsewhere. It’s impossible to build a new road, for example, because environmentalist requirements can delay the process indefinitely.

These sorts of things are worth recording and analyzing. The hard part though is figuring out how we got here.

Howard (much too) briefly describes the rise of the bureaucratic state. In the first third of the 20th Century, the constitution of the American government changed fundamentally. Power given to bureaucrats surged. Initially, bureaucrats were free to exercise their own judgment, but they’ve since been hamstrung by vast complex rules that basically eliminate discretion. These rules, in Howard’s telling, make good government impossible. In order to really govern, there must be some scope for discretion and judgment.

This is all well and good, however discretion without responsibility is not a recipe for good government. Howard doesn’t stop to consider where the binding, inflexible rules that he doesn’t like came from. They were largely created by . . . bureaucrats who don’t want to exercise their own discretion. Governing is hard. Why do it, if you don’t get the glory of success? Do you really want someone to do it if the consequences of failure are nothing?

The book is ultimately a call for leadership, yet Howard’s view of leadership is a bureaucratic one. Seeking responsible leadership from a massive unaccountable bureaucracy that is insulated from the upsides of providing good government and the downsides of providing bad government is a waste of everyone’s time.


Randoms

June 26, 2012

Jim on PC

– If you don’t replace the Commerce Secretary, the department won’t go away. It’ll probably do more than ever.

– Someone’s been beating up gays in DC. I wonder why the cops have been careful in how they respond to these incidents. It’s all very mysterious.

– I’m going to start referring to the present era as the "post-civilized age"

– Nydwracu on the school system

– Vox on the "liberalizing" effects of free trade:

the European Union is one of the most fascistic, illiberal, intrusive, and centralized state powers in the world and it was largely constructed upon free trade-based arguments

– A call for separation between the church of secular humanism and state

Communism and democracy

– If you miss Ferd’s link round-ups, go here. Incidentally, I think it’s funny to read everyone describing Ferd as an alt-righter. He always struck me as a lefty.


Creationism

June 26, 2012

A while back, this survey was going around. It shows that lots of people believe in creationism. I think it wildly underestimates the number of creationists.

According to the survey about 22% of people don’t believe that God was involved in creating humans. What does this 22% believe? My guess is many of those in this 22% are among the strongest believers in human neurological uniformity HNU: "given the genetic history of the human species, global equality in any quantitative trait – physical or behavioral – is about as likely as dropping a handful of quarters and having them all land on edge."

Believers in HNU would seem to believe that some mysterious force intervened in the process of evolution many thousands of years ago. This force acted to ensure that all populations of humans – regardless of how isolated they were from one another and how differently other traits diverged across these populations – evolved the exact same mental qualities/abilities. In other words, the evolutionary optimal IQ for people in Norway 30,000 years ago is exactly the same as the evolutionary optimal IQ for someone in Nigeria 30,000 years ago. It’s science.

If these people were honest, they would admit that they believe in God and that they’re creationists. Instead, they call themselves scientists, despite the fact that clearly stating their idea immediately demonstrates its absurdity. Hence, if you state the idea clearly, you will be dealt with.

I’d estimate the true number of creationists in our society is closer to 95-98%. Of course, the most destructive ones, are the ones who generally aren’t considered creationists.