What a difference a week makes

March 29, 2013

Washington Post last week, Washington Post today.


Randoms

March 29, 2013

Dalrock:

While I’m not a professor of economics from MIT, I do have a real degree in economics and an honorary PhD in red pill pharmacy. Putting those two together allows me to explain what so frightens the good professor and the journalists quoting him. To start with, they very much should be frightened by the shrinking wage gap, but not because men are ignoring market signals or are somehow unfit for the modern economy. In fact, the problem is that men are slowly but surely starting to respond to market signals stemming from our radical overhaul of the family structure in recent decades.

Facts from world history

Frost: “Where does it all end? There appears to be a lifecycle to the typical man’s induction into Red Pill thought . . . Inevitably, we must draw one of three conclusions . . .”

– Specific predictions made by “science” do not materialize. “Science” still valid.

James Kalb: “the kind of meritocracy we have leads to stupidity. Its effect is that local and subordinate groupings are deprived of talent and respect, and the leadership at the top becomes unable to think or function outside established understandings.”

– What might modern slavery look like?

– See Nydwracu and Anomaly UK for some reactionary geekery.

– Derbyshire on gay marriage: “The three or four percent of the population that is homosexual will have arguably enjoyed a tiny increase in their freedoms. But for the rest of us, the zones of ideas we may discuss and opinions we may respectably hold will have shrunk yet further.”


Diversity

March 29, 2013

David Friedman has some thoughts on diversity:

Imagine that a university department has an opening and is down to two or three well qualified candidates. They learn that one of them is an articulate supporter of South African Apartheid. Does the chance of hiring him go up or down? If the university is actually committed to intellectual diversity, the chance should go up—it is, after all, a position that neither faculty nor students are likely to have been exposed to. In fact, in any university I am familiar with, it would go sharply down.

What’s most interesting about this is that if you’re looking for real intellectual diversity, you have to seek out opponents of “diversity.” It’s the supporters of diversity that demand uniformity of thought.

Friedman’s post pairs nicely with this gem from Yglesias. Yglesias is trying to explain away the fact that writers at Slate are less politically diverse than voters in rigged elections in authoritarian countries.

Fear not, gentle reader. There is much diversity nonetheless:

Is Obama’s manufacturing boosterism is a good idea? I say no. Do municipalities over-regulate food trucks? I say yes. Would single-payer health care lead to catastrophically low incomes for American doctors? I say no. Should we try to reduce the level of online copyright infringement to zero? I say no. Do we need more expansionary monetary policy? I say yes.

I’m willing to wager that the opinions on these topics are as skewed as those on Presidential politics. Nevertheless, such is the best defense of diversity of thought in The Cathedral.


Review of “Foundation’s Edge” by Isaac Asimov

March 28, 2013

This book begins with a group of First Foundationers who believe the Second Foundation still exists. They also believe the Second Foundation will eventually take over the Empire once it has been built by the First Foundation. Although they basically worship Hari Seldon (which is sort of creepy) and they were defeated by the Mule (who was only stopped by the Second Foundation), they decide they need to wipe out the Second Foundation once and for all.

They send out Golan Travize to find the Second Foundation. Travize is particularly intuitive. It’s hinted that he possesses enough intuitive ability to thwart the Seldon plan.

Thus, we’ve had two individuals who can thwart the Seldon plan, which is otherwise impossible to improve upon after centuries. Make whatever excuses you want for Asimov, but that’s weird.

Anyway, through a series of events, Travize ends up at a planet called Gaia. Gaia is basically the planet that hippies hallucinated about while on LSD.

All living things on the planet are connected and work together. Throughout the Foundation and Robot novels, Asimov has been fascinated by this sort of ability – a collective consciousness, basically. Gaia is the ultimate end point of this ability. It also seems like robots are present in some form on the planet.

The climax comes when Travize (with his special decision making ability) must decide who will rule the galaxy – the First Foundation (wiping out Gaia and the Second Foundation), the Second Foundation (returning the Seldon Plan) or Gaia (returning to the Seldon Plan, but moving toward a galaxy-wide super-consciousness). He picks Gaia.

The story is well-told and it’s super impressive that Asimov is able to tie together so much of his work. On the other hand, it stretches too far in parts – some of it just doesn’t hold together.


Review of “Second Foundation” by Isaac Asimov

March 28, 2013

I’ve been reading these books in chronological order within the series, not in the order they were published. Asimov’s oldest books in the series are packed with interesting ideas, but the writing tends to be . . . underdeveloped. The newer books are well written but, at times, they struggle to tie together story lines from lots of earlier books (it’s incredibly impressive that Asimov was able to tie it all together as well as he did, but it’s often a stretch).

This one is a one of the older books. It would probably have seemed much better if I’d read the books in the order they were written. As I read them, this book seemed rather dull.

The big surprise is supposed to be that a Second Foundation dedicated to “mentallics” – which is basically a mental ability to communicate with others and influence the opinions and actions of others – exists separately from the First Foundation, which is dedicated to science.

If you read the books in the order I read them, there’s nothing surprising about the Second Foundation.

This book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the Second Foundation defeats the Mule. Frankly, the first part was pretty bad. There was very little development, so the end wasn’t particularly interesting. The Second Foundation manages to turn the Mule into a benevolent dictator (apparently it can’t use his incredible powers to speed up the original plan at all).

However, in defeating the Mule, the Second Foundation revealed its existence to the First Foundation. The second part of the book deals with the efforts of the First Foundation to find and destroy the Second Foundation.

I found this a bit far fetched. The First Foundationers basically worshipped Hari Seldon as a god, but apparently wanted to wipe out the Second Foundation. Anyway, the First Foundation eventually finds what it believes is the Second Foundation and wipes it out.

Once the Second Foundation is revealed, it’s not clear why they haven’t found any way of improving on Seldon’s original plan. After all, in hundreds of years, some variables should have changed, right?

Anyway, I’ve got two books left in this series, then I’ll be looking for other good fiction to listen to on my commute. Recommendations are always appreciated.


Randoms

March 25, 2013

– A review of Paul Gottfried’s War and Democracy.

– The electoral consequences of a path to citizenship.

How bad is USG?

– Mangan reviews a book on mental illness.

The people is an ass.

– Africa has a fever, and the only prescription is more self-government.

– Free Northerner on natural slaves.

Detroit fact of the day.


More on immigration

March 25, 2013

Steve Sailer and Moldbug both have thoughts on the crappy immigration piece I linked to last week.

This just might be the best idea ever: “There should be an award given each year to the taxpayer-supported American economist who most lives up to the high standards of cosmopolitan morality established by economist Harry Dexter White (1892-1948).” (I couldn’t resist changing the link).

Here’s Moldbug:

Every institution, private or public, is chartered to serve the interests and purposes of its beneficiaries. If it decides it has the right to trade off the interests of those beneficiaries, purportedly for the purpose of serving other beneficiaries to whom it is not contractually responsible, but has decided to love simply out of the goodness of its gigantic and perpetually hemorrhaging heart –

When USG decided it had the right not to serve the people of America, to whom it was exclusively responsible, it set the precedent that it could abuse American interests for any purpose it desired. And what other precedent could tyranny demand?


An interview with Richelieu

March 25, 2013

Here’s an imaginary interview with Cardinal Richelieu:

“The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world,” the cardinal replied, “you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression.

“The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem.

Read it all (HT).


Volunteer thought police

March 22, 2013

I remain fascinated by people who voluntarily work as thought police for the PC regime. As I’ve said before, totalitarian regimes have always had to pay or threaten people into doing their bidding. Today’s progressive regime has lots of people who are apparently willing to ruin the lives of others to enforce unwritten speech codes.

I can’t, in all honesty, understand such hatred of another person, especially one that I don’t know (let alone his family or other dependents).

Today’s incredible intolerable offense is making penis jokes. That’s right, it’s now a fire-able offense in America, the land of the free, to make a penis joke. Your speech is “free,” but if you find penis jokes funny, you’re unfit to work. Behold, the shining city on a hill!

Chuck has been all over the story (which weirdly now seems to have generated an orgy of firing people for reasons that are incomprehensible to me).

Imagine you’re at a conference, and someone keeps repeating the word “dongle.” If you’re not a queer, a non-native speaker, or a humorless douchebag, what do you do? (Frankly, that was unfair to the gay guys. I know lots of them who would be among the first to laugh). You laugh and make a dongle jokewith your buddy.

Every self-respecting man thinks someone saying dongle a lot on stage is sort of funny. I have a 2-year old who has already started making the occasional penis joke. I’ve heard men in the 80s make penis jokes.

Must every man with a sense of humor now lose his job?

Are we really this fscking lame?


Randoms

March 20, 2013

– The court of public opinion:

The court of public opinion is an alternative system of justice. It’s very different from the traditional court system: This court is based on reputation, revenge, public shaming, and the whims of the crowd. Having a good story is more important than having the law on your side. Being a sympathetic underdog is more important than being fair. Facts matter, but there are no standards of accuracy. The speed of the internet exacerbates this; a good story spreads faster than a bunch of facts.

In related news:

They [i.e. the mob] are faced with choices and decisions which demand maturity, knowledge, and a range of information which they do not and cannot have. Elections are limited to the selection of individuals, which reduces the problem of participation to its simplest form. But the individual wishes to participate in other ways than just elections. He wants to be conversant with economic questions. In fact, his government asks him to be. He wants to form an opinion on foreign policy. But in reality he can’t. He is caught between his desire and his inability, which he refuses to accept.

For no citizen will believe that he is unable to have opinions. Public opinion surveys always reveal that people have opinions even on the most complicated questions, except for a small minority (usually the most informed and those who have reflected most). The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing opinion: this gives them the feeling of participation. For this they need simple thoughts, elementary explanations, a “key” that will permit them to take a position, and even ready-made opinions.

As most people have the desire and at the same time the incapacity to participate, they are ready to accept a propaganda that will permit them to participate, and which hides their incapacity beneath explanations, judgments, and news, enabling them to satisfy their desire without eliminating their incompetence. The more complex, general, and accelerated political and economic phenomena become, the more individuals feel concerned, the more they want to be involved. In a certain sense this is democracy’s gain, but it also leads to more propaganda.

– Newsflash: China is neither Puritanical nor retarded. Also, it might work.

– A review of The Problem of Democracy (HT: Paleo Retiree)

Babies

Interesting stuff on the (lack of) diversity in Silicon Valley.

The deserving poor and race. More.

– Economics taught us about the invisible hand, which put in the negative means that we’re too stupid to figure out what’s best for everybody, and that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Oddly, “economists” don’t believe in these things with respect to immigration. On this issue, it instead appears that nations should act to promote general well-being (having somehow solved the knowledge problem) and that there’s all sorts of free stuff lying around (especially if you don’t count any of the costs!). My favorite part:

Truly open borders might prove unworkable, especially in countries with welfare states, and kill the goose laying the proverbial golden eggs; in this regard Mr. Clemens’s analysis may require some modification.

Is New York’s renaissance sustainable?

Black twitter

The end of Reader and Google