Randoms

Heartiste on the Cathedral:

The hamster is the errand-rodent of the ego, the most powerful source of energy in the universe. The hamster spins as ruthlessly for believers in universal human biological equality (which in the present cultural milieu necessitates a belief in white male nefariousness) as it spins for girls with a reputation in mind who want their romantic surrender minus the messiness of personal agency.

It is no less incomprehensible to those who have been around the block more than a few times that an ideologically ego-invested Bryan Caplan will live in an all-white collar white bubble while clamoring for open borders than it is that a nice girl will sleep with a taciturn, tattooed bike messenger while claiming she wants a niceguy who’s sensitive to her needs and loves poetry.

– Frost has some good thoughts on the reaction.  I’d add that we should have a sense of humor, remember just how intractable progressivism is (cars are on fire in Sweden, their government is doing nothing about it, and the vast majority of Swedes seem totally cool with it), maintain a relatively low level of specialization (where else can you converse with people on so many unrelated subjects at the same time?), and write mostly for ourselves.  (Related discussion in the comments here).

An apology for crony capitalism.  If it’s any consolation, most legislation I’m aware of is written in part by the bureaucracy, the professoriate, and the firms to be regulated, in addition to lobbyists (I don’t know of anyone who thinks Congressmen or Executive Branch officials actually write laws).

– Yes, they’re electing a new people.  Also, in the 21st Century, we should expect a certain (positive) number of soldiers in the most civilized countries to get their heads cut off.  Such is life, apparently.

We know the IRS targeted groups that wanted “to make America a better place to live.”  Perhaps by doing so, they were just targeting racists, which would presumably make it ok.

Teaching Spanish is now racist.  Thank God for small blessings.

– Government can be surprisingly good when it’s actually trying.

Divorce killed marriage.

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17 Responses to Randoms

  1. dearieme says:

    “Divorce killed marriage.” I’m not too worried about divorce if the couple haven’t had children. If they have, however, I incline to the view that “it’s better for the children than if we argue all day” is a self-indulgent lie, not least because it excludes the option of staying together and preserving good manners in front of the children.

  2. Handle says:

    Except for the evil filibuster, Yglesias does a lot of apologizing for Washington business-as-usual; earmarks, pork, logrolling, campaign bribing finance, revolving door employment, etc. and now lobbyist input. It’s an interesting game to watch.

    It’s almost like at layer-1 (ordinary person), the belief is “Washington works like Civics 101”. At layer 2 (informed reform advocate) “Ha, you rubes! Washington doesn’t work like that at all. And the way it does work is insanely corrupt and we need to do X, Y, Z, etc..” But at layer 3 (Yglesias-level pundit), “Of course Washington doesn’t work that way, duh, but all you people who think you’re informed aren’t sophisticated enough to understand that there are good reasons the system works the way it does, and it works pretty well. We shouldn’t worry about the structure of power and influence or whether that structure can be abused, but only which policies are being implemented via that structure and abuse.”

    This is very clever. He gets to achieve higher status that his rivals on the left and neutralize potential common-cause criticism from the right via “a more sophisticated understanding” of the system. At the same time, he seems to grasp that the system as it is works very much in favor of his agenda, most of time, in the long run, and so he is signalling to his less savvy allies who don’t see the big picture to stop fussing about it. In a way – it’s a very Machiavellian approach to Moldbug analysis, except on the side of the Cathedral.

    I thought the much more interesting Yglesias post was this one (prepare for me to start posting it around these parts). The contrast between “rightist” concentric-circles of particularist loyalties and “leftist” Christian / Kantian Universalism is made very explicit here.

    What interesting about it is his observation that Hollywood, which is in the business of knowing its audience, has decided that current theatergoers (go to Sailer for a profile of that evolving demographic) favor particularism tropes vs universalism themes. Perhaps this is indeed a shift. Yglesias says that’s because we’re changing from a “high trust” to “low trust” society because of … growing economic inequality. Sigh.

    I agree with his symptoms, but not his diagnosis, and certainly not with his prescription. I think the Doctor doesn’t understand that he keeps advocating upping the dose on “medicine” which is actually the poison at fault.

    -BREAK-

    In other news – Bryan Caplan asks how to monetize job security. He says his tenure (“horrible system, but I personally love it”) is worth at least $50K a year to him. Thoughts?

    • Foseti says:

      I’ve turned down a raise higher than that (that didn’t include job security)

      • Anonymous says:

        If the correct price of a thing is exactly what it would bring, no more, no less, then the monetary value of job security would vary widely from person to person. For me, as with Foseti, it is well in excess of $50,000. In fact, after working for over a decade as an attorney in private practice and watching people get let go right and left, it would be worth significantly more than that to me. Which probably explains why I’m a USG employee now….

      • Handle says:

        @Anonymous, @Foseti: (Anonymous, please pick a pseudonym, there are too many Anonymice around here). Both of your assessments and experiences match my own closely – I think it’s worth closer to $100K or something like a doubling of actual salary.

        It’s got to be worth even more as one gets closer to retirement. The irony is that when we pay them the most, most government workers would work for peanuts if they had to in those last two years in order to secure sanctuary immunity from relief and the secure pension and health care.

        I’d add that, when I was young and single and mobile, I’d probably have jumped on the higher pay – and it needn’t have been that much higher. As I get older, my perspective has changed a lot, and now that I’ve got a family to think about, the security means much more. I now realize (surprise, surprise) that I’ve taken on the views of my father on the subject, which I once thought were too risk-averse. How ridiculous we are as adolescents. It’s hard to make an “all-ages-consistent” society, youth-and-flexibility should not compete directly with maturity-and-rootedness-and-responsibility.

        I think this, especially in this labor market when I know lots of folks struggling to find work, also made me more sympathetic to the deep emotions and anxieties that most people feel about employment and the turmoil they experience when they are out of work. My father once said that this was what he viewed as his union’s primary job, and if it messed up anything it was larding up a million other costly benefits and stubborn requirements in its contracts instead of giving management a certain amount of flexibility but focusing like a laser on job security for deserving workers – junior and senior alike.

        I think this is one of the great blind spots of most Libertarian and Conservative thinkers. I’m surprised Caplan’s even pointed it out. And it’s gotten more important recently as labor markets have become clearly much more inflexible and with high lag and latency. When I look for “common sense about the common man” on these issues, I read Sailer.

        But getting back to how our perspectives change. You know, two years ago, Caplan, riffing on something Krugman said, proposed his ideological Turing test experiments. That was fun, but lately I’ve been thinking that a more important experiment would be a “Self Turing Test”. People don’t even know their current selves very well.

        Can they pass a Turing Test on what they’ll actually do vs. what they think they’ll do, vs. what they say they’ll do in various circumstances? I’m confident that people don’t know what they want, and don’t know what will make they happy – and they have a lot of confusion, or deluded ideas, or are very vulnerable to suggestion about all those “human fundamentals”.

        Add all that difficulty to trying to accurately simulate (“understand”) what you are like distant in time. It’s a common cliche and movie trope for teenagers to accuse their parents of forgetting what it was like when they were young, how intensely trivial matters were felt, and thus how cruel their disciplines are experienced. As usual, the teenagers have this backward, it’s because the parents remember so well that they discipline in the first place.

        But still, they’re not all wrong, and I think most people would not get it right if they tried to simulate their younger selves, who they actually were. Now try to simulate your future self. I wouldn’t have succeeded. Would you?

        Now try passing the Turing Test for other people – or your ideological opposites. The more one thinks about it, the more amazing it is that we can understand anybody at all.

        Over at Nydwracu’s we’ve been talking some about our society’s strict de facto age-based apartheid. Not being around older or younger people for most of our active waking hours, and being bombarded with ludicrous portrayals of youth by the entertainment complex, certainly makes it harder to bridge this gap.

        In a very important way, our friends are closer to our present selves – than we are to our own pasts and futures.

      • Foseti says:

        “Can they pass a Turing Test on what they’ll actually do vs. what they think they’ll do, vs. what they say they’ll do in various circumstances?”

        Everyone thinks, for example, that they’ll defend the truth-seeking dissident. In reality, virtually everyone falls over himself trying to get to the head of the lunch mob.

      • Marc Cabot says:

        I am trying to hire for a regulatory position at an advertised salary of ca. US$100K. I have gotten interest, strong interest, from at least two candidates whose last positions paid not less than *three times* that.

        Now, perhaps they figure they can bargain me up (they can’t.) Or perhaps they consider a 8-5 corporate job “retirement” and have accrued enough material goods/money from several years working at the high end that this is just something to do and earn a little money.

        Or perhaps they figure that working for a company with an average employee tenure >10 years is worth considerable money.

    • Alrenous says:

      For completeness.

      Layer-4: the system is not corrupt, the ‘corruption’ is the system. It is indeed terrible, but can easily absorb any ‘reform’ from inside the system. It will require a much bigger impact to change anything. Even in the case of such an impact, it is likely to destroy more than creatively-destroy. (The Vandals did not manage to implement their ideal Rome.) We would end up with a worse system, as much of the incentives that shape this one are timeless. (E.g. rent-seeking.)

      Layer-5: Oh hey, about that, neocameralism* changes some of the key the incentives. *(Or something. Whatever you have a good justification for.) We’re working on how to shape the impact correctly.

      Presumably there’s at least layer-6 as well. Who has experience and success with ruling large amounts of people? Who has old-style-King level earned competence? I bet they could do layer-6 if they wanted.

      • Handle says:

        “Who has experience and success with ruling large amounts of people?” – Military Commanders and CEO’s.

        As far as the levels go – I wasn’t going so much for “levels of understanding” but concentrating more on the commentariat. Remember that discussion here about how the only surprise is that people seem to be surprised, and the media seems to be unable to suppress reporting it as if it’s all a shocking surprise.

        If you think about it, this is the obvious way to do reporting and commentary. In fact, it’s 99.9% of what you actually encounter. “Journalists” like to imagine themselves in this idealistic frame and “role in Democracy” – this, “exposing to the public the secret evils of the system!” It certainly gets old and boring and even a Pulitzer-winning expose seems copied from some master template you’ve read a thousand times. If you’re pursuing this well-worn path, you’re not going to be able to distinguish yourself above the herd of your peers merely by producing high quality versions of what everybody else is making.

        What Yglesias does instead is adopt an almost transcendent frame of needing to explain to his inferiors, like he’s an elite member from their own side how they aren’t really sophisticated (with his philosophy and economics) and/or insidery (with his connections) enough to “really get it”. Simultaneously, he gets to act as an apologist for the powers that be and what they say they need to preserve in “business as usual”. Which is a smart and useful and symbiotic thing to do for both subject and object. I look forward to reading Yglesias in the NYT one day soon when Slate implodes financially, as a kind of anti-Douthat.

        And there’s two ways to “really get it” – two different conclusions stemming from different preferences but a shared understanding of the underlying reality. One way is Yglesias’ way, which is from the elite-level Pro-Cathedral perspective, and, very revealingly, says “it’s not Civics 101, but it shouldn’t be, and everything is fine with the system, and stop fussing about it and certainly stop disturbing the public illusion too much because it’s currently very useful to us.”

        The other way is from the Reactionary anti-Cathedral perspective, which says, “It’s not Civics 101, and it can’t be because modern Democracy is impossible and ridiculous, and it’s so entrenched that the system cannot be tinkered with and is irreparable and unreformable without fundamental overhaul of first principles. Sorry about that. Let’s move on.”

        As a complete aside, why do we call it “Journalism” and not “Journalistry” since it’s a “profession” and not an “ideology”? Or is it. We don’t say that Dentists practice “Dentism” or Gynecologists practice “Gynecologism”, but we do say that Communists work for the implementation of Communism. And we say that Journalists do Journalism. Hmm.

      • Erik says:

        English is less than consistent. We say Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Protestantism, Catholicism, but Christianity not Christianism, and then Islam is the one that fits the group pattern while Islamism fits the naming pattern.

  3. mittelwerk says:

    the idea that there’s some kind of parity between a yglesias-like cathedral perspective and the relevant anti-cathedral one seems to be a massive misunderstanding or misstatement of the concept itself

  4. mittelwerk says:

    this brings to mind what i see (esp after the recent neoreactive accalamation deluge) as the general weakness of philosophy chops among this crowd — coming, as most here seem to, from scientific backgrounds, specifically, computer or cog science or statistics. carlyle is a great writer, but no serious thinker gives a shit about his philosophy. similarly, the notion of moldbug as a neo-machiavel elides the confessional florentine’s relationship to modernity; he may be, as strauss points out, main midwife of the cathedral itself (in guise of a technocracy that has “lowered its sights”). also, re modlbug and the cs types: read up on the history of probability theory sometime. it’s a encapsulated microhistory of enlightenment

    • Dave says:

      I have sometimes wondered if Moldbug’s blog is a colossal troll. What if his goal was simply to discredit the right by demonstrating how un-right they are?

      • mittelwerk says:

        the kmac “group-survival-strategy” types accuse him basically every thread of trying to hebraize the reaction

      • Dave says:

        I don’t get how the jews have anything to do with Moldbug’s thorough denigration of the sad institutions of the right.

  5. Handle says:

    Random Facts about USG:

    40% of the entire US population is now either on Medicaid or Medicare. Source 1, Source 2.

    A record 11 Million are on Disability, and 48 million are on “Food Stamps” at a cost of over $75B a year.

    And that’s just the tip of the welfare-state iceberg. Sometimes the scale of it amazes me. Recently Sailer noted Peter Schaeffer’s complete domination of this thread where he points out that dividing total health care expenditures by total hours worked in the US comes to … $12 an hour. Obviously we spend more money on old people, but even excluding Medicare only brings it down to about $9.70. Doing the math on the implications is a dismal but fascinating exercise.

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