What a difference a week makes

March 29, 2013

Washington Post last week, Washington Post today.

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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?