Saturday, September 20, 2014

Allow me to translate

Science's sexual assault problem, via Vox Popoli.
I was a promising graduate student. I landed a position as a professor before I even started to write my dissertation. While I prepared to start my new job, I decided that I would begin by studying the brine that bleeds sideways within the rocks that underlie the inner Aegean region of Turkey. I dreamed of an ocean of hot water underneath Denizli Province, an ocean that occasionally sloshes out onto the surface to form ice-blue thermal springs. I had seen photographs, but I wanted to be there, to take samples and make measurements, to make it “my” field site. I was trying to find an intellectual home.

I was careful to do everything right. I started out modestly and cautiously, in the summer of 1996, with simple reconnaissance. I booked a spot within a chaperoned group tour and stayed in prearranged hotel rooms and ate bland meals with the 10 or so elderly Australian tourists who were my travel companions. We rode in an air-conditioned bus for days while I stared out the window and scribbled notes about the roads and cataloged photos of the landscape. I covered my head with a scarf and averted my eyes toward the sidewalk.

And then, one day in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya, instead of going to the marketplace with the group, I sat in a cafe to study some maps. It was broad daylight when I began walking back to the hotel, and a stranger pulled me into a stairwell — and then did some other things. Perhaps an hour later I staggered out with his blood under my fingernails. I cannot describe what happened in a way you will understand, because I still do not understand it myself. I have been trying to understand it for almost 20 years.

As I said, allow me to translate:

Eighteen years ago, Dr. A. Hope Jahren was the 20-something, globe-trotting grad student getting picked up for rough sex by exotic strangers in Turkey. Now, at age 45, she realizes that everybody's looking straight through her--like she's invisible or something--to the latest grad-student hottie to saunter into the department. So suddenly, after 18 years of silence!, Dr. Jahren drops the bombshell that she was RAPED, yes, RAVISHED in her virginal bloom without her consent, lo those long years ago.

Therefore, we obviously and urgently need to keep all of Dr. Jahren's rapacious male colleagues in the present from sleeping with all these new, young, female grad students.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The U.S. Democratic Rainbow Warrior Army

Is there anything it can't do?

US to commit up to 3,000 troops to fight Ebola in Africa, from The Vault.
WASHINGTON — Under pressure to do more to confront the EBOLA sweeping across West Africa, President Obama on Tuesday is to announce an expansion of military resources to combat this deadly attack on liberal democratic values, administration officials said.

The president will go beyond the 25 anti-EBOLA missile batteries that Pentagon officials have already established in Liberia, one of the three West African countries ravaged by EBOLA.

Mr. Obama will offer help to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia in the construction of as many as 17 missile silos in the region, with about 1,700 unit-yields of anti-EBOLA nuclear megatonnage per warhead. The silos will be fed by direct conveyors from Martin Marietta facilities in Seattle, Washington, powered by micro-credit and killer whale farts in LEED-certified plants, lovingly attended by immigrant labor.

Senior administration officials said Monday night that the Department of Defense would open a joint command operation in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate the international effort to rip off EBOLA's head and shit down its neck. The military will also spawn 10,000 orcs to construct siege machines, trebouchets and catapults to rain down over 500 pounds of Greek fire per minute to deal with the crisis.

"We will bomb EBOLA into the dirt, then we will bomb the dirt, then we will decompose the dirt into its constituent elements, then we will form the elemental slurry into clay balls which we shall load on to rockets and fire into the heart of the Sun," said Obama, severing the head of an EBOLA minion and displaying it to the delighted hoots and gibberings of his Cabinet members.

Obama, in blood-crazed frenzy, severs head of EBOLA minion

Just kidding. Click through the links and read the actual New York Times article. And yes, that's really the name of the head of the Liberian matriarchy.

All of the media's effusive coverage is a polite way to leave unsaid that West Africa is so lawless and barbaric that we have to send 3,000 troops along to protect the medical professionals attempting to rescue Africa from its enormous disease load. You're welcome.

UPDATE: Eight dead in attack on Ebola team in Guinea.

So how come the CIA isn't offering me and my friends in this corner of the Internet lucrative contracts for our prognostications?

Monday, September 15, 2014

What then?

As the US assembles its multi-national coalition to wage war on the Dar-al-Islam, now would seem to be a good time to ask, what then? As in, once we've bombed what I will henceforth refer to as ISIS into the dirt, and put occupying troops on the ground, what then?

Or, if we are not going to put occupying troops on the ground, once we've bombed ISIS into the dirt and the survivors are left to poke around in the rubble, what then?

Commenter Cataline Sergius at Vox Popoli calls this Schrodinger's War:
This is a war caught up in quantum entanglement. It has both objectives and non-objectives. A desired end-state and no way to measure that end state. A state of war and non-war simultaneously.

It does however have a goal.

It is particularly important to Obama that the box containing it, isn't supposed to be opened for three years.

This adjunct law professor and community activist, just two and one-half years away from the lecture/book tour circuit where he'll earn millions, is about to be Commander-in-Chief of military operations in the Middle Eastern theater. I do not expect combat operations to begin until an overwhelming force has been assembled, just as I do not expect the Obama administration to change course until this force has been assembled, even if it requires the US commit 100,000 troops. And, it follows, Obama and the US Congress will secure military victory by any means necessary.

So, after ISIS is defeated--as they will surely be--what then?

Who will police what's left of Syria and Iraq at that point? Who will provide food, shelter, potable water and sewage to millions of Middle Easterners whose infrastructure has been destroyed?

Do we really expect the Sunnis currently paying tribute to ISIS to unite behind pluralistic governments of "Syria" and "Iraq"? (Do these states still exist?)

Who gets to be the government of what's left of these places? How do we choose them? Where do we draw the borders? Do we carve out an Assad-ruled coastal region? Who gets Aleppo? Does Kurdistan get legal recognition?

Any members of the Obama administration reading this, feel free to chime in.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Great Mesopotamian War

It's lasted twenty-four years; arguably an entire century.

For the fifth time in my adult life, the US will engage in combat operations in the Middle East. We are doing this because the corrupt meatballs who rule the Arabian peninsula are terrified, and because the jihadists will be coming home, this time with live-fire experience. As the lonely voices of Pat Buchanan and Steve Sailer have pointed out for two decades, we invite the world, so we must invade the world. ISIS is not actually a threat to the US per se. It is a threat to the US government's open borders policy, because a few instances of jihadists setting off IED's in shopping malls and the US Congress, under threat of complete electoral eviction, will be adopting the immigration policy of Israel. Therefore, ISIS must be destroyed.

I also suspect this is actually a pretext to bomb Damascus and its resident Assad family into the dirt, as long desired by the Saud and Thani clans.

Also in play are the semi-conscious motivations of President Peace Prize, who I think would love nothing more than to honor the memory of his father as an openly devout Sunni Muslim.

What are we up to now--four proposed wars on this guy's watch? If the Nobel committee were so desperate for a tall, articulate, African head of state who stopped bloodshed, I'd nominate Paul Kagame.

In what number of possible realities is this latest intervention supposed to work out? I doubt Americans have the stomach for another decade of young infantrymen patrolling crowded Middle Eastern cities surrounded by people who hate them. So I'm guessing the plan is to bomb the shit out of the place and hope we can pay enough rival Syrians and Iraqis to supply the boots on the ground. (They haven't stepped up so far, so I tend to doubt it.) The infrastructure of the region will be totally destroyed, and it will take about a week of footage of Syrian and Iraqi children hunting for rats and begging cameramen for food before the foreign aid starts rolling in. There will be more refugees, more corruption, more seething resentment. In sum, more of every bad thing we can imagine and no way out.

UPDATE: Malcolm Pollack weighs in. Malcolm links in turn to another assessment, wherein the authors put a great deal of stock in the supposed soothing balm of pluralistic democracy.* Stable countries are formed around market-dominant majorities. Multiculturalism is actually premised on the opposite: the ethnic or creedal majority is required to accommodate itself to the minority. Ruling minorities are overthrown, as we see in Syria or Iraq, or the multicultural polity devolves into its constituent nations, as with Rome, Austro-Hungary, the Soviet Union and Britain.

* - This sentence is a correction. Malcolm shares my view of Western liberal democracy. Wise man, that Malcolm. And doubtless, stunningly handsome.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mister Russell

He mad.

Remember Jason Russell? He was a Christian activist who lobbied for armed intervention against Ugandan strongman Joseph Kony. More on Jason in a bit.

The Kakistocracy has been documenting just how worried this whole Islamic-militancy-thing has got our leaders. After all, enough incidents like Israel experienced from 2000 to 2005, and native-born mobs react to a quiescent government by chasing Muslims into the ocean and telling them to swim home. And the Djinn will be truly out of the lamp at that point, because the government will have lost legitimacy. High profile politicians will find themselves evicted, literally, from their offices and lots of government employee-pensions get abolished with a stroke of the new leadership's pen. Or it's full-scale coups and drumhead trials, as will probably happen in Europe.

Like Kak, I too wonder if a grim realization is beginning to nag at people, even as they nonetheless feel compelled to continue going through the motions.
How many staunch advocates realize that the philosophy underpinning their purple-faced apoplexy is almost entirely driven by externalities? That if the rails of acceptability were shifted suddenly from 10-20 on the left to 70-80 on the right, they’d abandon their cherished liberal ideals with the enthusiasm of a straight man who just felt a bulge in the crotch of his make-out partner.

It is true that most people are idiots. And most are also cowards. That’s why he who controls the narrative, controls. People will generally espouse not what they believe, but what they are permitted to believe. And this is why we have a mainstream political spectrum that ranges from liberal all the way to neocon. That these two groups, who agree on practically every fundamental of society, manage to summon the energy for even lethargic combat is a testament to the power of propaganda. That simple preservation of our civilization and its people is a topic unfit for discourse is a better testament still...

...I wonder how many mainstreamers–liberals even–sometimes take a surreptitious peek under the skirt of our lewd philosophy. I like to think a few of the semi-lucid ones are beginning to see the hideosity they’ve brought home from the bar. Not that an inchoate awareness or even rapid sobriety will cease their forward “progress.”

It will continue for now because it may do no other. As we have discussed previously, madness has its own momentum and traces a common route. Race replacement has been cheered for years as the only acceptable opinion in the West. And who dares stop applauding first? Richard the Lionhearted Lowry?

Even if there were sober men of the ascendant left who realized the enormity of their mistake, what may they do now but continue clapping? It’s possible some may even be sweating along with their betrayed countrymen…a horrified rictus where the smirk used to reside. And still they continue clanging palms like an organ grinder’s monkey. From their perspective, what else is permitted?

And from our good friend's routine eloquence, these words are what grabbed me: "madness" and "horrified rictus."

From my last post, we see two responses to our society's hysterical embrace of the other:

1. Madness in the ennervated gazes of Adriana Ford-Thompson and Pippa Bacca. They have lost their minds, like poor, brainwashed Winston Smith.

2. Here's the terrified Amy Biehl and her parents, gazing into the abyss as their limbic systems scream at their cerebrums that they are in danger and need to leave quickly:

And now, back to Mister Russell, so capably diagnosed by an anonymous AltRight author two years ago:
As people we learn to moderate our vulnerability to horror and madness by drawing boundaries around ourselves. The more prudently and conservatively we give our love and our faith, the more protected from madness we become. The more liberally we empathize or otherwise identify with strange peoples, the more heartrending their fates or their atrocities become. This is because our litmus for sanity is different than theirs. When we “go native” in Africa, we go mad, because we are not psychologically prepared for the horror that alien humanity manifests.

Jason Russell has, at least momentarily, gone mad. And he has probably been unstable for a long time. Russell’s problem is likely multifold, but central to any pathology the man has is his inability to reconcile reality to his conception of reality. For “Mister Russell,” Africans are Whites who don’t yet have coffee shops or grief counselors because of a few evil men (and, likely, White racism).

To Russell’s eye, Jacob is just one of thousands of ordinary children trapped in hell and tormented by a devil. It is an unbearable vision for the young filmmaker because he views Africans empathetically. But Russell’s is a view askew because Jacob is not White. Jacob is an organic part of a different world. A world that fits him even as it puts him at risk. A world he made before he was born.

It seems that not all White liberals are disingenuous after all. Some, the literally crazy ones, are entirely genuine.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Economists make astounding discovery

Importing poverty increases inequality. (Via Marginal Revolution).
Given current patterns of immigration to the United States, Washington faces an enormous policy challenge. Two in five of all immigrants to the United States are from Mexico and Central America. Latinos now constitute 22 percent of all children in the United States; by 2050, they are expected to be 39 percent. But the social status of Latinos, even those born in the United States, is persistently low.

This perhaps shouldn't be a surprise, given that migrants from Mexico and Central America tend to be negatively selected from their home populations: they are often the people who found themselves in such desperate economic circumstances at home that they preferred to live as illegal immigrants in the United States. (Latinos constitute nearly half of the foreign born in the United States, but four in five of illegal migrants.) The effects have been dire: there can be no doubt that immigration is widening social inequality in the United States.

Consider the table below, which shows educational attainment of 25–34-year-olds in the United States in 2009. Descendants of Latino immigrants are dropping out of high school at rates far in excess of the domestic population and the descendants of other immigrant groups; similarly, the Latino population is much less likely than those other groups to complete higher education. Educational attainment in all societies is a strong predictor of future social status, and the prediction here for the Latino population is not good.

Of course, Clark cannot bring himself to mouth the dread word, "I.Q." but that's why he's published in Foreign Affairs and Steve Sailer is not. Thus, given the human capital we're importing, lots of such people from crowded, destitute places can only mean the same lowered wages and increased competition for housing, education, green space, public utilities, etc. as in the originating country. Wages stagnate, goods and services get more scarce. Profits are captured at the top, costs are socialized downward, and the bottom finds socio-economic break-out increasingly difficult.

In sum, immigration means the developing-world (i.e., those regions which are perenially "developing" yet never ultimately developed) conditions are simply replicated here. The US is literally engineering its own decline into Third World status.

And, once again, we have been over this before. My question is, if the Council of Foreign Relations has figured this out; if prominent academic economists like Tyler Cowen have figured this out, then why aren't they shouting it from all their high profile outlets? The same tsunami is going to drown them and theirs too, after all. Are they insane, or just evil?

Friday, September 5, 2014

The tax on existence, and Uber

Scott Sumner (via Marginal Revolution) is worried about bipartisan intellectual decay because, among other things, conservatives now argue against the "carbon tax," which economists like Sumner espouse as the "market solution" for global climatewarmingchange. I'll support such a tax when somebody can address the following (OK - I'm cheating. I mean, " my satisfaction"):

Animals, dead things, forest fires, volcanoes, etc., have been producing carbon dioxide for over 4 billion years, and the Earth has turned into this singular blue planet instead of the planet Venus. Life on earth would actually be impossible without CO2, so the carbon that imposes a cost that theoretically should be paid is extraordinary or excess in some amount. What is that amount?

If we are able to calculate it to that degree of precision, then we could just weigh certain activities on some metric and declare them illegal, like we do murder or dumping raw sewage in rivers. We could ban SUV’s, or tell Al Gore to use video-conferencing instead of burning kerosene to fly to sustainability conferences.

That we’re talking about a tax that, inescapably, consumers and not producers will actually pay suggests this is not really about eliminating “excess” carbon. Just like requiring producers to pay a minimum wage does not actually eliminate the phenomenon of the "working poor."

Also at Marginal Revolution, above, is a link to an economists dissection of Uber, which is basically a yuppified gypsy cab that lets customers hire an under-employed liberal arts major instead of a sketchy Somalian to ferry them from the airport to the hotel. (True story: I once deposed a Somalian plaintiff and her husband and had to get a Somalian translator who spoke the plaintiff's dialect for the deposition. The translator entered the conference room and warmly greeted the plaintiff's husband, whom he knew from the cab business.)

The hilariously-named Uber is, for some reason, the darling of the chattering class. Turns out that busting your hump for well over 40 hrs/wk, and assuming no hiccups along the way (bad wreck, faulty transmission, psycho passenger), you make about $10-12/hr hawking your car as a gypsy cab. About average for a taxi driver, but maybe better than Barnes & Noble or Starbucks are paying English majors. I don't know.

Uber's constant regulatory and court battle against municipalities and traditional taxi companies ends in one of two ways: everybody has to get a taxi medallion or nobody has to get a taxi medallion. Uber's investors are idiots.