Wednesday, February 26, 2014


California town shaken as police officers arrested

Monterey County District attorney Dean Flippo, left, and Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller address a news conference, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Salinas, Calif. Six county officers, including the recently retired police chief and the acting chief, have been arrested in connection with a scheme to steal more than 200 cars from poor Hispanic people.

Who could do such a thing? From poor Hispanic people?
Tow shop owner Brian Miller, his brother acting police chief Bruce Miller and Sgt. Bobby Carillo were scheduled to be arraigned Monday on bribery charges after authorities said vehicles impounded from Hispanic immigrants were funneled to the tow yard then sold or given away.

Prosecutors said an undetermined number of vehicles were sold or given away for free when the owners couldn't pay fees to reclaim them. Two people at Miller's Towing in King City refused comment.

Former Chief Dominic David Baldiviez and Mario Alonso Mottu Sr. were set to be arraigned March 6 for embezzlement of a city-owned Crown Victoria. Officer Jaime Andrade, accused of possession of an assault weapon and illegal storage of a firearm, and officer Mark Allen Baker, accused of making criminal threats, are also slated for a March 6 arraignment.
Hopefully, when the old, white District Attorney Flippo and Sheriff Miller are retired in the next couple of months, a younger, dynamic breed of law enforcement will take the reins in Salinas and enforce the rule of law.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Some things the technocrats haven't considered

Lion of the Blogosphere, on Ross Douthat:
Ross Douthat had an op-ed column about leaving work behind in which he points out that Keynes, in 1930, predicted a future 15-hour work week. And he takes issue with other conservatives who reflexively criticized Obamacare because there was a prediction that some people would take advantage of Obamacare to quit their jobs (because they can now obtain health insurance without having a job).
But it’s also possible to argue that as a rich, post-scarcity society, we shouldn’t really care that much about whether the poor choose to work. The important thing is just making sure they have a decent standard of living, full stop, and if they choose Keynesian leisure over a low-paying job, that’s their business.
The fact that he understand there’s a good argument there shows that Douthat is a much smarter thinker than most conservatives. Note that he uses the phrase “post-scarcity economy.” That sounds like something I would write. It’s like I’m reading my own ideas in the mainstream media.
Douthat and Lion are smart, conservative thinkers but this is where they show their technocratic blind spots.

First, I'm not sure how or why K-selected net producers will decide to keep working 40 to 60 hours per week to support r-selected net consumers and their preference for Keynesian leisure. The r-selected will use their free stuff to breed to the Malthusian limits. When that happens, the K-selected start withdrawing to their upper-caste suburbs and in-town redoubts. When they can no longer withdraw, they shut down. In either event, the idealistic, K-selected civilization that enables this free ride disappears. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.

That's what has been happening in the Middle East for many decades: the K-selected have been leaving; now, they're shutting down. Same thing with Honduras, Peru, Libya, Somalia, Egypt. Or, closer to home, Camden, Detroit, Birmingham. There's no longer a sufficient Smart Fraction to maintain civilization. When the oil runs out, much of the Middle East will revert to nomadic tribes and banditry. When the EBT cards don't work, places like Detroit will be full of starving people. Since there won't be anybody to steal from, they'll die or become itinerant beggars. Detroit will revert to prairie like it's already doing in a lot of areas.

Second, something that Keynes himself overlooked is that inflationary monetary policy leverages future production for present consumption. So when we arrive at the future, we’re still just hustling to maintain our living standards instead of enjoying the fruits of increased productivity. Eventually, we'll run out of future like we did in 2008. The Fed's economists responded by printing up a couple of trillion dollars and handing them out to their friends. Next time they'll have to print up even more. This can't go on forever.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

In stunning policy reversal, Anti-Gnostic expresses support for Ukrainian popular revolt

Via iSteve. I don't think things are going to turn out in Ukraine the way the social democrats in the EU and the US are fantasizing they will.

I really don't get this whole Internet thing

CNN Opinion: WhatsApp is well worth $19 billion
One of this week's most astounding stories is Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service that has more than 450 million monthly active users globally. The $19 billion that Facebook will spend on buying WhatsApp created a collective jaw-drop in the tech world.

Sure, the price tag is getting a lot of buzz -- $19 billion is a historically big number for a venture funded company. But what exactly is Facebook getting out of it?

A company just a few years old with less than a billion dollars in revenue and a service that is nearly (but not quite) free.

Is all of that worth so much money?

Just as with the acquisition of YouTube by Google for $1.65 billion or Facebook's purchase of Instagram for $1 billion, many people simply have a hard time wrapping their mind around an acquisition of a service that doesn't fit with traditional valuation principles.

In the old world, company valuations were based on a multiple of revenue or free cash flow, while also factoring growth over time. But in the new world of Internet and social media, revenue is often something that will come later as the result of hyper growth, and traditional valuation techniques don't apply.
This guy is hilarious. Didn't we hear this sort of thing in 2007? This time it's different!

WhatsApp is apparently a company that services a lot of "emerging markets" by offering an instant-messaging service for something like $ .99/yr. WhatsApp does not run ads but we'll see how long that lasts. In other words, WhatsApp and its 55 employees make money scrambling for a few pennies from customers who are so far down the food chain that they can only get these crummy cell phone plans that will gouge them for their text-messaging.

For $19 billion and a little bit of financing, you could just buy T-Mobile. Nineteen bajillions for an IM service that doesn't run ads? What happens when the cell phone providers figure this out and start offering "free" text messaging? What's keeping Skype, Viper, or any other company from offering this?

I just don't see it. But then again, if I were so smart I'd be an Internet billionaire so maybe somebody can explain how wrong I am.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The dismal science--somebody's gotta do it

Here's how economists argue against the minimum wage:
Spin it as you wish, we should not have a major party promoting, as a centerpiece initiative and for perceived electoral gain, a law that might put half a million vulnerable people out of work, and that during a slow labor market.

And the American people will never understand the ins and outs of the monopsony debate and the like. Overall, what kind of useful lesson is being taught here about the determinants of wages and prosperity?

I’m sorry people, but those are the bottom lines on this one.
Verily, thou shalt not mess with the supply-demand curve.

Immigration, by contrast, is the categorical imperative. We can because we ought!
The moral argument for open borders is powerful. How can it be moral that through the mere accident of birth some people are imprisoned in countries where their political or geographic institutions prevent them from making a living? Indeed, most moral frameworks (libertarian, utilitarian, egalitarian, and others) strongly favor open borders or find it difficult to justify restrictions on freedom of movement. As a result, people who openly defend closed borders sound evil, even when they are simply defending what most people implicitly accept. When your opponents occupy ground that they cannot–even on their own moral premises–defend then it is time to attack.

Alex Tabarrok works himself into quite a tizzy there. Personally, I don't see people grabbing their rifles and manning the ramparts so they can have more numerous and more exotic peoples in their school districts.

It’s hilarious how economists wring their hands and weep great tears and dust off their Immanuel Kant when the subject is immigration, but when the subject is the minimum wage suddenly they’re all gimlet-eyed dismal scientists again.

You could actually give a nice little boost to the bargaining power of American workers just by halting immigration and booting out the trespassers. But the agendas of academic economists--dovetailing nicely with the agendas of American billionaires--are that American workers should take a pay cut so immigrant workers can get a pay raise.

This is the allegedly moral outcome that all these suddenly warm, fuzzy economists embrace on this particular subject. But where is the limiting principle? There are a lot of Africans who would be perfectly happy to pitch a tent in the extra space of the George Mason University campus--who are we to deny them?

The other argument that gets trotted out is that who's on this side or that side of the border is just "an accident of birth." The concept that's being eluded here is posterity. A specific people built the place, took care of themselves and their institutions, and handed the place off to their kids to hand off to their kids. How much traction would the idea that people are not entitled to an ancestral homeland because of their "accident of birth" get outside the US? Try telling that to the Georgians, Russans, Israelis, Croatians, Ethiopians, et al. They'd probably be rather offended at your telling them they were Georgian, Russian or Israeli by an "accident of birth." Generally speaking, parents choose the circumstances of their children's birth rather deliberately.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Children first, then career

Says a career woman, via Alpha Game.

It's not the front end that's really the problem with late child birth (well, apart from the higher risk of chromosomal abnormality and complicated pregnancy).

It's the back end that's the problem, when you start doing the math and realizing you will not be a very energetic grandparent, and you may not survive to be a grandparent if your child waits around like you did.

50 is not the new 40, and 40 is not the new 30 is not the new 20, and never will be.

Christian theatrics

There are a lot of politically active Christians engaged in pro-life crusades, social justice, prayer in schools, and any number of other causes. Gay marriage is of course the latest battle in the culture war, as the actual sovereigns get about the business of deconstructing marriage. What shall we do?, the Christian cry goes up. To which Contra Niche responds, get over it losers:
I think most Christians are happy to fail. They feel the need to say things- like whining like a baby about marriage laws in this country- but this is simply a political version of the word magic Christianity has become. We must, apparently, say the name of Jesus, and or say things we think he might like to hear, but to take something back to ourselves- like marriage, or any sacrament for that matter- is impossible.

It matters not at all that it would be fairly simple, given that we already have these organizations, as useless and bureaucrat ridden as they are, called churches, which, if they felt like it, could arbitrate. Of course, we have to be invested in not having Christian governance, because the last bit of Christian governance came from monarchs, and if we started thinking about Christian governance again, we'd have to think about not stealing from people.

No, we must have democracy, the insidious drive of politics into every sphere, and exposure to godless judges, lawyers, and child protection people.

Let me give you a clue. You are going to fail. You are going to fail badly. You are going to hum your stupid tune, and make up pretty pictures in your head, and irrationally ascribe serious import to random events. You are going to say 'in the name of Jesus' while having no sense of Him or what He might want you to do.
A lot of Christian clergy and laity of the Apostolic Churches are stuck in the ancestral memory of the institution as advisor and counselor to Christian monarchs, evangelizing the pagans and distributing alms to the poor. But an Enlightenment, some major Revolutions and two World Wars later, it is the secular, demotist governments which enjoy power and prosperity the likes of which few monarchs could imagine, the Church settles Muslims in formerly Christian lands, and clergy are embarrassed to notice that the modern poor enjoy the pleasures of the Biblical rich.

Like August (Contra Niche), I get the feeling the handwringers really enjoy this theater, imagining themselves as St. Paul before Herod Agrippa.

I don't think that role is left to play any more. I'd ask whether the mission of the Church at this point is to obtain space for her flock to live a Christian life, like the Amish and Hasidim do for their membership.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Dork Enlightenment

The Reaction has taken some hits lately, not the least being that its enthusiasts are a handful of RPG players who read Carlyle and Chesterton and pound out blog posts from their parents' basements.

I tend to dismiss such attacks, and then I come across stuff like this.

An actual KING? I doubt Americans or anybody else outside the Arab emirates could have a king if they wanted one.

In the first place, WHO would be King? The bloodlines are hopelessly tangled if not completely corrupted by intervening democratic and revolutionary acts.

In the second place, who would CORONATE the American king? The Lutheran-Missouri Synod? The Mormon Tabernacle? Oprah? Joel O’Steen? Archbishop Jose’ Gomez?

In the third place, a king is the head of an ancestral family who owns his people’s land and their State in allodial title. America has no ancestral people. All competing public claims to the output of the American people, their territory, and the State apparatus would have to be completely extinguished, and the dial reset to Zero, in order for there to exist a set of State privileges to which an extremely forceful and ruthless individual could lay claim and bequeath to his posterity.

Bottom line, I don't see monarchy breaking out anywhere in the near or further future. If we're lucky we get a military coup or populist dictatorship.

I've plowed this ground before.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sochi Opening Ceremonies

So this is what $51 billion will buy you.

Seriously, bravo Russia. This is jaw-dropping.

Contrasted with the clownish, neo-pagan horror of the London Olympic ceremonies in 2012:

The cloud no bigger than a man's hand

Enoch Powell used the phrase in prophetic reference to the social breakdown he foresaw as a result of Britain's immigration policies. I think it may apply in the context of robotics as well:
The standard response of conservative-libertarian economist types when they hear warnings about robots putting people out of work is that technology has never put people out of work in the past, people always find new jobs to do.

Their problem is that they deny the truth of HBD. They think that everyone can become an economics professor or do other high-level creative and self-actualizing work. They don’t understand that intelligence is genetic and that most people are not born with genes that would enable them to become an economics professor.

The coming robot revolution will make the labor of people below a certain IQ totally worthless. This is an event never before experienced by humanity.
This foreboding gets dismissed as the Luddite fallacy: that advancing technology creates unemployment, as increasing numbers of people see their skill sets rendered obsolete by machine processes. What actually happens, the economists say, is that the savings captured by technology are re-deployed elsewhere, and people re-tool for the new jobs. Blacksmiths become mechanics, farm laborers go work for landscaping companies.

Lion of the Blogosphere sees something far more comprehensive, with practically all labor below a certain level of sophistication and intelligence quotient rendered obsolete.

Alex Tabarrok says if advancing technology created joblessness, we'd all be unemployed after two centuries of rising productivity. But leisure is valued over work, so with perenially rising productivity why aren't we all just working a few hours a week and spending the rest of our time in self-actualizing activities? There must be some losers in this game, because everybody keeps working away.

When every job that was formerly performed by a skill-set consisting of a strong back and a 10th grade education is automated, what then? I guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Circular firing squad getting warmed up

In the great, liberal state of Minnesota, the Somalis are getting uppity (via Vox Popoli) as old, white Democrats find themselves challenged for the levers of power by the ethnic minorities (now majorities) they formerly championed.

Elsewhere, Sailer hilariously dissects this rant by an upper-caste, American-born Gujarati named Suketu Mehta against Han ubermenschen Amy Chua. I assume the foks who follow here have already read this. If not, please click that link.

As a follow-up, Time magazine ran this riposte from Vivia Chen, who runs a blog called, no kidding, The Careerist. Here's an example of Vivia's work.

This is not Vivia, by the way:

This is Vivia (in the mink):

All the old Marxists railing about class struggle have got to be disappointed, what with all these ethnic minorities knifing each other in the ribs, jockeying for power and status. On the other hand, they can take some comfort from this inspiring story of multicultural proles uniting to pull a Vietnamese member of the overpaid US bourgeoisie from his Range Rover and bringing him down a peg or two.

This should all end well.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bleak Christianity

I've added Contra Niche to the blogroll. There seems to be a growing number of "non-affiliated" Christians who look at the Catholic Church, look at Orthodoxy, look at the perpetually-splintering Protestant sects, and figure they can't do any worse just reading the Bible and praying their private devotions at home.

God knows there is plenty wrong with establishment Christendom. The Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies seem perplexed about the world since at least 1000 A.D. The Western Church prostrates herself shamelessly before universalist social democracy as the apparent successor to the Holy Roman Empire. The Eastern Church clings to the ecclesiology of its glory days in Late Antiquity. The Protestant sects splinter and splinter, even as they wield enormous global influence from the tithes of American suburbanites, who themselves are riding a tide of artificial prosperity that globalism is about to smash.

All of these branches of Christendom are extraordinarily myopic. Catholics wring their hands over the immigrants and poor who will, frankly, destroy their host societies. The Orthodox bog down in their arcane jurisdictional disputes and incomprehension of a world where people pick up and move whenever they feel like it. And the Protestants stuff free food into the faces of Africans and Asians while rallying against higher capital gains taxes and transfer payments to their fellow Americans. (Not that anybody would be so racist and provincial to broach the concept of 'fellow Americans.')

Christendom has passed through her Apostolic age, as the men taught by Christ and the men who were taught by the men who were taught by Christ transmitted the Gospel. There was the age of persecution under the pagan kingdoms and empires. Then the age of asceticism and long, golden age of theology, as Christianity triumphed in the civilized world.

Incredibly, with churches on every street corner and the most catholic, the most orthodox, the most scholarly and rigorous Christianity available to everyone in the whole wide world with a few keystrokes, I still hear that the cure to all that ails us is evangelism, evangelism and more evangelism.

To which I respond, get effing real.

Christianity is utterly transparent at this point. We don't meet in the catacombs, we don't shoo the non-initiates out when we begin to recite the Creed. Anybody wanting to find out about the Christian faith can contact me, anybody in my blogroll, any number of their neighbors, or just walk to any church within a stone's throw of their present GPS coordinates. If such people by some chance have yet never heard of the Christian faith, they will find pastors who will drop everything they are doing to tell them whatever they need in order to convert to Christianity.

The age of evangelism is over. The Church is fading because she frankly offers nothing to people that any other positive, purportedly compassionate movement--such as political liberalism--does not. The Church thrived under the pagans and the Bolsheviks by virtue of the contrast between her charitable practices and the godless brutality of the ruling regimes. Now, the secular state provides the poor with all the food, clothing, shelter and medical care they need. The poor now manifest the sins of the Biblical rich; secular capitalism generates sufficient tax revenue such that the poor need not even ponder marriage when deciding to reproduce. All that's left for the Church to do is lecture the well-nourished, sheltered and medicated citizenry on the need to curb their sexuality. Really? Or what--Hell?

The religious orders that are doing well these days seem to be the ones that are trying to knock the sharp corners off life for their adherents. For example, in exchange for being an Amish or Hasidic male, you get a job, a definite place in the community's pecking order, and a decent-looking wife who'll have sex with you, bear your children and keep your house. Likewise, Amish and Hasidic females get a guaranteed provider, standing in the community, a reprieve from the status games and career ambitions that occupy the lives of non-Amish and non-Hasidic women, and nuclear and extended family to keep you busy to the end of your days.

Until the Church can offer that sort of arrangement, then from the perspective of the world it's just a lifestyle and ideological choice among innumerable others.