Randoms

October 31, 2012

Hail explains why Romney is popular in Kenya. It would be impolite to draw any broader conclusions from his facts – it’s so much simpler to wish tribalism away.

– It’s interesting that Ron Paul’s biggest supporters are USG employees.

– It seems like some economist makes the headlines every couple weeks with a new theory about what’s really driving The Gap (i.e. besides genetics). The latest is, perhaps, how many words your parents say to you while you’re incapable of understanding words, or something like that. Being a believer in evolution, I prefer the genetic explanation, but if I had to pick a non-genetic one, I’d pick single parenthood.

– Danger and Play on being a man.

– I think these are also bad pieces of advice.

– Austerity is just another word for increased spending. Yglesias tries to clarify that austerity is any policy which he doesn’t like.

– The true face of academia.

– The effects of education spending on growth.

Thoughts on Finland.

– Todd Zywicki reviews Bailout.

– Roderick Long reviews Ayn Rand’s Anthem.


Randoms

October 24, 2012

An 18 minute talk from Moldbug

– Jim Kalb on the ’60s:

The ‘60s claimed to be about liberation. In fact, they were much more about the rise of a new ruling class of experts, managers, and media people. That class, which is still with us, has some unusual qualities. The most notable is that it denies that it is a ruling class, and claims instead to be a neutral means through which expertise, rational administration, and the machinery of publicity help people attain their goals. Our rulers today tell us they are here to help us: to educate us, free us from the prejudices of the past, let us know what we really want, and make sure we all get it. They claim their power is liberating, and back up the claim by pointing to their suppression of authorities that compete with them, such as family, custom, religion, and traditional hierarchies. If we can go shopping, play video games, surf the Internet, and sleep around, and we don’t have to listen to Mom, Dad, or the Pope, we must be free. Aren’t suppression of incorrect thoughts and safeguards like the Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) mandate worth having to protect that?

A class that rules by claiming not to rule needs to hide what it is. Our new rulers deny their identity as a class while denouncing the influence of classes that remain identifiable as such. If the Supreme Court is all white or male, that’s domination by a particular class and something must be done about it. If it’s all graduates of Yale and Harvard Law School, and recent presidential elections have all been contests between various Yale and Harvard graduates, that’s not domination by a particular class, it’s just proof that Yale and Harvard are superior and the more power we give the Supreme Court and president the better.

(HT: Paleo Retiree)

– Chuck is still basically the only source for decent information on the Trayvon Martin case.

Switzerland and good government

– There’s no way this could happen, right? Right?


Back to Blood

October 24, 2012

Steve Sailer is excited about Tom Wolfe’s new book. So am I.

Here’s the part in the prologue that explains what the title means:

A phrase pops into his head from out of nowhere. “Everybody . . . all of them . . . it’s back to blood! Religion is dying . . . but everybody still has to believe in something. It would be intolerable – you couldn’t stand it – to finally have to say to yourself, ‘Why keep pretending? I’m nothing but a random atom inside a supercollider known as the universe.’ But believing in by definition means blindly, irrationally, doesn’t it. So, my people, that leaves only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies, to unite us. ‘La Raza!‘ as the Puerto Ricans cry out. ‘The Race!‘ cries the whole world. All people, all people everywhere, have but one last thing on their minds – Back to blood!” All people, everywhere, you have no choice but – Back to blood!

Maybe the last half of the book will be about a bunch of middle-aged white Economics professors from an nice exurban university that visit Miami for a conference and enjoy chalupas available at low, low prices . . . but I doubt it.


Randoms

October 19, 2012

– I was unaware that Yglesias’ planned, dense, urban communities were allowed to be filled entirely with Koreans. I take back everything bad I ever said about them.

Looks like there’s an increase in violent crime this year. I always read the crime reports for my neighborhood. If my neighborhood is any indication, most of the assaults are committed by “juveniles.” All in all, it really shouldn’t be surprising that crime is increasing among those who are not punished for committing crimes. Someone on the neighborhood message board once suggested actually penalizing juvenile offenders and I’m pretty sure he was kicked out of town.

Introversion vs extraversion

– Chuck on race-based test score goals.

Only in DC does the presence of college students increase the percentage of Republicans.


Randoms

October 15, 2012

– A few good posts on fertility and dysgenics.

– Economists apparently must believe in human neurological uniformity. Here’s my favorite part:

But the economists say that they have been misunderstood, and are merely using genetics as a proxy for other factors that can drive an economy, such as history and culture.

This is the same thing as saying, “we were using nature as a proxy for nurture,” right? More on this topic here and here.

– A dark enlightenment meeting

– John Derbyshire on the dark enlightenment

– Professor Cowen can’t believe how well things work in Seoul. Indeed, things work very well, but there were no Chalupas. Surely these facts are unrelated.

– So wait, if you win the Nobel Peace Prize do you now have to invade a random North African country?

This policy will – if anything – widen The Gap. I guess we know what’s really important.

Socialism pre-Marx in America.

– The poster child for feminism. In related news, it’s “unbelievably horrible” to tell women that they get less hot as they get older.

– It’s too bad there was no way to see this coming.


A plea for common sense

October 15, 2012

Bryan Caplan would like to know how he could better argue in favor of open borders. What follows is a serious attempt to answer him. In sum, he should: 1) analyze the issue of immigration like an economist instead of like a religious fanatic and 2) start living as though he actually believes what he says.

Professor Caplan is at his most convincing when he thinks like an economist. Economics is a discipline of trade-offs. Every option – to the true economist – has trade-offs. In other, more famous words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Unfortunately, Professor Caplan refuses to allow economic thinking into his treatment of open borders. Open borders, in his telling, have no trade-offs. They’re all upside all the time. I’ve read more nuanced discussions on the existence of God from priests (and really, believing in open borders seems to be as much a prerequisite for being an economics professor as belief in God is for being a priest).

In general, I find this sort of zealous thinking very unpersuasive. I’m up for a good discussion on any topic (indeed, I’ve changed my mind on most topics (including immigration) at one point or another), but you can’t argue with someone’s faith, and Professor Caplan’s belief in open borders seems to come down to faith.

Any zealous belief of this sort can easily be refuted by extreme examples (a trick I first learned from an economics professor, incidentally). Would it really be all awesomeness if the residents of Boystown immigrated to Riyadh? May I direct your attention to this Wikipedia page? Is this really an idea with no obvious downsides? Do these cities have nothing at all in common? Isn’t this just a little bit scary? How’s this working out?

I’m prepared to accept the case that many forms of immigration are good for many types of societies, but Professor Caplan’s arguments are orders of magnitude stronger than that. It’s not that hard to find some downsides to mass immigration. If you deny the existence of things that are easy to find, you’re not convincing.

The pro-mass-immigration position has a delightful built-in bullshit detector. Most people (and almost certainly Professor Caplan) could move a few miles from where they live and be in a community that is filled with more immigrants. This community is generally quite affordable relative to other communities.

Any people that talk in favor of mass immigration, but spend lots of extra money to live far away from immigrants are . . . in an awkward position. In general, I tend to believe peoples’ actions over their words.

Professor Caplan has previously admitted that he likes living in a bubble. For all intents and purposes this is the same as admitting that he doesn’t actually like living anywhere near the sort of people that he thinks should be immigrating into this country.

His distaste for living near the sort of immigrants he “wants” is understandable. Frankly, it’s something that the majority of Americans also don’t want . . . which is why they don’t favor mass immigration.

If Professor Caplan really wants to be convincing, he could move. He’d save a lot of money too.


Review of “Forward the Foundation” by Isaac Asimov

October 15, 2012

Well, that was surprisingly reactionary.

This book picks up right where the last one left off. Plot wise, not much actually happens. We now have a basic understanding of what Hari Seldon’s plan for the foundation actually is. As best we can tell, Seldin has devised a method for storing as much human knowledge as possible to minimize the fallout from the collapse of society.

What’s most interesting about this book, since it’s not particularly plot-drive, is Asimov’s description of civilizational decay. His description is very reactionary.

You’re, of course, considered a nut for thinking that our current civilization is in decline. Many of those who do think our civilization is in decline, think that our civilization will end with a bang. Your humble blogger, however, is a member of the few nuts that think our civilization is in a slow, relatively comfortable, but nevertheless inexorable decay.

This is the sort of decay that Asimov describes in this book. He may opt for a bang that shatters civilization in a later book, but not yet.

His decline is characterized by an Empire that’s getting larger and more costly, but that is unable to exert any kind of good governance. It’s anarcho-tyranny in fictional form. It’s also characterized by buildings that aren’t regularly repaired, litter, petty crime, red tape, and thinking small. In sum, stuff like this and this.

It’s the sort of decline, that if you notice it today, you’re considered cranky or hopelessly reactionary. These sorts of things don’t really matter on a societal scale, you’re told. Yet these sorts of things are the real symptoms of societal decay.

We know these symptoms, we see them all around us and we’re told not to pay attention.