Randoms

September 26, 2012

– Jim on the Dark Enlightenment. I’ve got a few quibbles, but this is good:

The fundamental realization of the Dark Enlightenment is that all men are not created equal, not individual men, nor the various groups and categories of men, nor are women equal to men, that these beliefs and others like them are religious beliefs, that society is just as religious as ever it was, with an official state religion of progressivism, but this is a new religion, an evil religion, and, if you are a Christian, a demonic religion.

– Rod Dreher thinks that somebody did warn a student about the perils of the hookup culture on college campuses. Alas, they don’t. They warn men that about half of them will be rapists by the time they leave college and that the other half are probably gay. That’s about it as far as warnings go. My wife is still angry that no one, throughout her education and career, ever told her that she might – just might – really like having and taking care of children. A civilization is defined by its priorities.

– For some odd reason, I’m zero percent surprised by the notion that central banks are now sovereign. Perhaps nothing could better symbolize modernity than rule by economists.

– In completely unrelated news, it’s apparently difficult to get good institutions in Honduras.

– I’ve tried to explain how strange the gentrifying parts of DC can be many times. It’s hard. Here’s a drug deal going down in the middle of the day in a park that’s a few blocks from the Supreme Court. The nearest home for sale is a four bedroom listed at $1.2 million. On any given day, the park is parody of SWPLdom.

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Review of “Prelude to Foundation” by Isaac Asimov

September 18, 2012

I loved the Robot Series and was distinctly unimpressed with the Galactic Empire Series, so I was a bit concerned about the Foundation Series. This book, however, was great.

This book flows nicely from the Robot Series (though lots of time has elapsed). The events in the Galactic Empire Series, which took place in between, seem not to have had much relevance. In addition, much of the history that had been lost during the time period of the Galactic Empire Series had been rediscovered.

We also get back to the most interesting story lines from the Robot Series, like the spacers vs. settlers issue and the robots issues. The settlers seem to have decisively won and expanded throughout the galaxy – what was tens of planets is now thousands or millions of planets. The remnants of Aurora are still around – there may be some spacer remnants there too. There are definitely some human-form robots remaining, but we don’t yet know how many. Asimov also gives us some detail on the empire that is the background to the Galactic Empire Series. It’s modeled on the Roman Empire.

The book is about Hari Seldon, who is developing psychohistory. Psychohistory seems to be a huge regression equation that will probabilistically predict the future.

What I found most interesting was that the presence of at least one robot who lived through all the millennia in which the universe was settled and the empire was founded gives a great sense of societal decay.

We tend to think of decay, retrogression and the fall of civilizations as events that happen on some specific date, but the reality of large-scale decay is that it happens slowly. Decay is masked to any individual observer because it happens so slowly. It’s also masked by progress in certain, isolated areas. To robots that have seen it all, however, decay is painfully apparent.

Our old friend, Daneel, is interested in psychohistory because of the limitations on his actions due to his hard-coded ethical system. He can act to benefit humanity, even if doing so harms a specific individual human, but it’s very hard for him to know what will benefit humanity. Psychohistory would allow his to quantify the costs and benefits of various actions with respect to humanity. Perhaps, allowing him to act to prevent decay – or at least to act to minimize the fallout.


Randoms

September 17, 2012

Kanazawa:

What I have learned in this ordeal [i.e. his Two Minutes Hate] is that, in the Year 2011, there are certain questions that scientists may not ask, or, more accurately, for some questions, there are certain answers that scientists must a priori preclude from consideration. There are certain conclusions that scientists may not reach about some groups of people.

If you stop and think about this for a second, it means that “science” isn’t really science anymore. I’m pretty sure that means we’re fscked. More bad news here.

– AnomalyUK on Michael Lewis’s Obama propaganda:

If Lewis’s account is to be believed, the decision to take out the Libyan army on the road to Benghazi, thereby destroying the Libyan state and producing a revolutionary government, was made entirely on the basis of the humanitarian issue caused by the steps Gadaffi would be likely to take to regain control of Benghazi. The arguments made against decisively taking the rebel side in the civil war were purely based on the cost and the risk of tying up further US military resources. The question of who would take over Libya and what they would do afterwards doesn’t seem to have arisen; rather, “The ghosts of 800,000 Tutsis were in that room.” The mind boggles.

– Is the Chicago teachers’ strike really about HBD:

So what’s the sticking point? In exchange for the salary increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others are insisting that standardized test scores play some role in evaluating teachers and that school principals be given more power to run their schools the way they want to. Teachers say they don’t have enough control over their students’ socioeconomic situations to be judged on what they teach kids.

– Note to self: do not go to the Czech Republic.

– “And we white Americans? Are we the most pussified of all—the pussies of the world?”

Detropia.

Gay


Black crime victims

September 17, 2012

While we’re having fun with The Atlantic . . .

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes to The Atlantic to argue against racial stereotyping. Apparently he thinks this will be best achieved by writing exclusively about how racist white people are in a super angry tone.

He gives one example of white violence against blacks – the Trayvon Martin case. (Apparently he couldn’t find a “white” person who committed crimes against a black person who doesn’t qualify as black by the standards of affirmative action in America). Then he notes that white people can’t “moderate their own penchant for violence.”

Just how violent are whites toward blacks? John Derbyshire dug up the numbers a couple weeks back:

The first time Mrs. Obama registered on my consciousness was that interview on the 60 Minutes show back in 2007 when she told Steve Croft that, quote: “As a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.” Given that rates of interracial violent crime run about 85 percent black-on-nonblack versus only 15 percent nonblack-on-black, that may be the wrongest thing anyone ever said on 60 Minutes.

Apparently it got by the layers of fact checkers at The Atlantic as well.

What’s with the focus on white violence? Surely it would be more logical to focus on some aspect of “racism” that’s not so easy to disprove, no?


The end of men

September 17, 2012

Heartiste has already written about this, and so has Stuart Schneiderman (HT: Paleo Retiree), but a closer look is worthwhile, as Rosin’s own reporting does a better job of destroying her thesis than anything else I’ve read.

Here’s Hanna Rosin explaining how the hook up culture is good for women:

For an upwardly mobile, ambitious young woman, hookups were a way to dip into relationships without disrupting her self-development [i.e. career – “self-development” should in no way be confused with starting a family] or schoolwork. Hookups functioned as a “delay tactic,” Armstrong writes, because the immediate priority, for the privileged women at least, was setting themselves up for a career. “If I want to maintain the lifestyle that I’ve grown up with,” one woman told Armstrong, “I have to work. I just don’t see myself being someone who marries young and lives off of some boy’s money.” Or from another woman: “I want to get secure in a city and in a job … I’m not in any hurry at all. As long as I’m married by 30, I’m good.”

What happens in the meantime? What does this woman bring to the table as a 30 year old? Let’s explore the lurid carnival of hook-up culture with more from Rosin’s article:

members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity stood outside freshman dorms chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” I’d heard this phrase before, from the business-school students, of course: on spring break, they had played a game called “dirty rounds”—something like charades, except instead of acting out movie or book titles, they acted out sex slogans like the one above, or terms like pink sock (what your anus looks like after too much anal sex).

Ah, progress – are there no limits to your extent?

David Brooks explains that Rosin’s thesis is that women are more adaptable than men, which is why women are now more successful in the modern economy.

Might it instead be that men just aren’t willing to work that hard when the only reward is a women like the ones described above? Who wouldn’t want a completely unfeminine, over used, and desperate 30-year old woman in a sea of 20-something women giving it away?

Well . . . basically everybody.

The oddest part about this discussion is that no one brings up the fact that we know exactly what an “end of men” society looks like. What Rosin describes is basically modern African-American society.

I’ve seen almost nobody, no matter how PC they are, argue that this society is the one on which we should model our future. Nor frankly does it seem particularly good for women.

Rosin seems to have pulled off a strange feat. She’s trumpeting the success of a lifestyle that’s visibly failing as she trumpets it. She’s the Baghdad Bob of modern feminism.


QE4eva

September 17, 2012

If you count operation twist as QE, we’re at least on the fourth try. This QE is “unlimited,” (economics has gotten much more scientific in recent decades, in case you hadn’t heard) so I think QE4eva is a much more apt title.

One would hope that this would be true: “The good news is, when we go into a recession in 2013 well be able to say, DEFINITIVELY, that QE doesn’t work.”

Err, nevermind. Professor Sumner says that we’ll never know.

See how scientific economics has become? Would just one falsifiable statement be too much to ask for?

It looks like the Fed will buy more than 50% of new Fannie and Freddie mortgages. So, I guess the sage advice we’re getting from modern economics profession is that the best way to recover from a housing bubble is to start another housing bubble.

That’s almost as absurd as cheering for this operation to buy unlimited amounts of mortgages while demanding that housing costs come down.

I always thought that economics was nicely encapsulated in the statement: there’s no such things as a free lunch. I guess somewhere along the line they discovered free lunches: “I see this as a free lunch, and I am quite curious to find out just how big or small of a free lunch it is going to be.”

This stuff basically makes fun of itself. I give up.

Let’s give Hayek the last word:

The increased dependence of the individual upon government which inflation produces and the demand for move government action to which this leads may for the socialist be an argument in its favor. Those who wish to preserve freedom should recognize, however, that inflation is probably the most important single factor in that vicious circle wherein one kind of government action makes more and more government control necessary. For this reason, all those who wish to stop the drift toward increasing government control should concentrate their efforts on monetary policy. There is perhaps nothing more disheartening than the fact the there are still so many intelligent and informed people who in most other respects will defend freedom and yet are induced by the immediate benefits of an expansionist policy to support what, in the long run, must destroy the foundations of a free society.


Review of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe

September 11, 2012

Certain parts of history are very tough to understand. Some parts of history are really boring. In general, it’s also very difficult to understand more recent events. Nevertheless, I find the late ’60s/early ’70s to be particularly difficult to understand.

Imagine being at Leonard Bernstein’s fundraiser for the Black Panthers. That shit actually happened. Even terrorism was cool. It certainly wasn’t the sort of activity that would prevent you from teaching at major universities or associating with future Presidents.

In some ways, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test may help you understand these times better. However, in general, it just adds a lot of items to the list of things that happened in the late ’60s/early ’70s that don’t make any damn sense.

The book follows Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they sort of invent/discover Hippiedom.

Wolfe’s description of it all is fantastic, and I’m sure realistic (which is perhaps why none of it makes sense to me). Wolfe claims he didn’t try LSD, but it seems like he must have.

My favorite part was the pranksters at a Unitarian conference. Their sex and drugs bit didn’t play too well. But the Unitarians wanted to be non-judgmental, I guess.

I suppose if you want to under this time period, this is required reading. On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s possible to understand this time period.