Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Think Tank Archipelago

The Gulag Archipelago was the term used by Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solshenitzyn to describe the secretive network of precincts, star-chambers and labor camps by which the Soviet government terrorized its own citizens. (Reminder: things like the "Secret Service" and the "Department of the Interior" mean very different things outside the US). I've borrowed the term for the network of think tanks, magazines, and political consulting firms that became much more noticeable with the 2016 Republican primary and general election. Z-Man calls them The Rackets. (Again, no copy-pasta, so you'll just have to click through). I was unaware of most of them until Trump started threatening to put the supposedly conservative GOP into actual power. Then all these people I never heard of came out of the woodwork to tell us Trump would grab your wives' cootches and put everybody in the camps and Russian troops would be sleeping on cots in the very White House.

When people squawk that hard, usually the real concern is not so much policy as loss of money or status. Jeb Bush lavished millions on people who couldn't tell him that the fly-overs don't want to be made strangers in their own country and don't care whether Jeff Bezos gets a few more million in tax savings to tack on to his multi-billion dollar net worth. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio ran expensive, hard-fought campaigns premised on the subtleties of Constitutional law and how awful it would be if we socialized medicine for anybody who's not employed by federal, state or local government, military or ex-military, and anybody who's not old or poor. (That leaves the rest of you to pick up the tab, schmucks).

I recall hearing the name Rick Wilson a lot in 2016, and wondering who in the world that was.

Apparently there's this whole industry of people who make a very good living off political consulting. I hadn't really thought about them at all until they started crawling out from under rocks in 2016. Political campaigns are scrupulously managed by an army of paid consultants. Then a blowhard like Trump comes along and tweets off his cellphone and rents arenas and gets the locals to volunteer the entertainment and spends an hour extemporaneously telling people what they want to hear. You don't need to pay anybody several million dollars to figure that out.

The related pundit and journalist classes have the same problem: their product is not particularly unique or arcane, and people are wondering why they ever paid for it. You can fork over your credit card information and wade through all the ads and pop-ups to sniff through George Will's precious droppings, or you can just type in Or click on Sailer, or Z-Man, or anybody else in the blogroll, or thousands of others.

Trump and Trumpism threaten livelihoods and status of a large class of feeders, and this motivates the animus toward him as much as any actual policy. The Think Tank Archipelago subsists off favorable treatment under 501(c)(3) and tax-sheltered gifts from wealthy individuals. Naturally, therefore, the Archipelago broadcasts the sort of policies that keep the wealthy wealthy. It's also no coincidence that many of these entities are clustered in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, near Washington D.C. Trump calls them The Swamp--a whole political-economic sector whose members rotate among government employment, government contracting, government lobbying, campaign consulting, and lecturing the rest of us via legacy media.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


From Investopedia:
What is 'Bitcoin Mining'
Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the block chain, and also the means through which new bitcoin are released. Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining. The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards, which incentivize mining, are both the transaction fees associated with the transactions compiled in the block as well as newly released bitcoin. (Related: How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?)

BREAKING DOWN 'Bitcoin Mining'
The amount of new bitcoin released with each mined block is called the block reward. The block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks, or roughly every 4 years. The block reward started at 50 in 2009, is now 25 in 2014, and will continue to decrease. This diminishing block reward will result in a total release of bitcoin that approaches 21 million.

How hard are the puzzles involved in mining? Well, that depends on how much effort is being put into mining across the network. The difficulty of the mining can be adjusted, and is adjusted by the protocol every 2016 blocks, or roughly every 2 weeks. The difficulty adjusts itself with the aim of keeping the rate of block discovery constant. Thus if more computational power is employed in mining, then the difficulty will adjust upwards to make mining harder. And if computational power is taken off of the network, the opposite happens. The difficulty adjusts downward to make mining easier.

In the earliest days of Bitcoin, mining was done with CPUs from normal desktop computers. Graphics cards, or graphics processing units (GPUs), are more effective at mining than CPUs and as Bitcoin gained popularity, GPUs became dominant. Eventually, hardware known as an ASIC, which stands for Application-Specific Integrated Circuit, was designed specifically for mining bitcoin. The first ones were released in 2013 and have been improved upon since, with more efficient designs coming to market. Mining is competitive and today can only be done profitably with the latest ASICs. When using CPUs, GPUs, or even the older ASICs, the cost of energy consumption is greater than the revenue generated.

I want to know if anybody has bought a car for 1 Bitcoin–maybe this is happening. Like Tyler Cowen says, the valuation seems to be a Mobius strip: Bitcoin is valuable because a lot of people think it's valuable.

What makes money valuable? The Austrians say its anticipated purchasing power, from which they conclude that only commodities originally valued for their own sake can function sustainably as money. This doesn’t seem right, since fiat money seems to function just fine for the foreseeable future, or maybe that’s just normalcy bias. I’ve also read the explanation that fiat money is backed by all the goods and services available for exchange, which strikes me as a way of saying it’s backed by the ability of market actors to compel its use as tender. Does Bitcoin have this ability and to what extent? The technology is way over my head, but my dim understanding is the relative scarcity is ironclad and the units are portable and divisible. Is it durable? Where do the bitcoins “exist” and can they be taken out with a well-placed EM pulse or hack? Or maybe they’re too diffuse for this to happen. If I print the code out on a piece of paper can I take my sheaf of papers to Publix and trade them for groceries?

Fundamentally, if all you end up with is a square of Python code derived from an increasingly difficult and eventually insoluble set of equations, then Bitcoin seems to be just a competing fiat currency. And if that’s the case, is Bitcoin a bet that the dollar will crash spectacularly–i.e., that the ability of the USG to compel the dollar’s acceptance as market tender will be severely curtailed? What are the odds on that bet? Pretty long from what I can see. I guess we’ll find out when we find out.

Anyway, the number of question marks probably indicates that at my level I have no business buying Bitcoin. So I’ll just resume standing by the side of the road here with my cardboard sign: “Will work for food.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bert gets his own post

Not this Bert:

This Bert:

Bert is a longtime fan. I can't tell much about him from his terse, grumpy comments but I appreciate his reading and participation in my tiny corner of the Internet. Reminder: if you comment, even if to grouse that I should post more and what about the Flynn indictment and what's this Orthodoxy crap, expect it to be published when I get around to reviewing it. I went to moderated comments--much against my grain--to handle a few people (perhaps the same one) posting fatuous, half-baked comments that warp the discussion as everybody chases down all the strawmen and question-begging. Not. Productive. Ideas matter but people matter more, and the Enlightenment is over so try to keep up.

Any way, to repeat my comment from the previous post, there seem to be four fundamental spheres in which people, including me, construct their worldview:

1. Spirituality/being (ontology, morality, purpose)
2. Nationhood/community (group identity and society)
3. Economics (hierarchy of needs)
4. Inter-personal relations (love, family, community, group dynamics)

I think that runs the gamut of human existence, and there's lots of overlap so the material is finite and the other limitation is my personal creativity and time. I'm more deductive than inductive so I don't post unless a particular event strikes a chord with me. If I did this for a living, you'd get more posts. Also, as commenter patrick kelly observes, truth is a broken record (for those of us who remember "records").

I am flattered and grateful to hear that my rants switch on some light bulbs. We are indeed in interesting times. Vox Popoli and Stefan Molyneux are big, concrete examples of the paradigm shift if you review their posts from way back to the present. Steve Sailer seems to be getting angrier as well. All the intellectual ferment is with the Alt-Right. You won't see it from public figures with mainstream gigs because they are paid not to offend.

I've gotten some interesting e-mails over the years so I'll set that up again. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ghost dancing

The Ghost Dance (Caddo: Nanissáanah, also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a new religious movement incorporated into numerous American Indian belief systems. According to the teachings of the Northern Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka (renamed Jack Wilson), proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region.

The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional form that has been used by many Indian peoples since prehistoric times, but this new ceremony was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Indian tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs.

The Ghost Dance was associated with Wilson's (Wovoka's) prophecy of an end to white expansion while preaching goals of clean living, an honest life, and cross-cultural cooperation by Indians. Practice of the Ghost Dance movement was believed to have contributed to Lakota resistance to assimilation under the Dawes Act. In the Wounded Knee Massacre in December 1890, United States Army forces killed at least 153 Miniconjou and Hunkpapa from the Lakota people. The Lakota variation on the Ghost Dance tended towards millenarianism, an innovation that distinguished the Lakota interpretation from Jack Wilson's original teachings.
There is a lot of ghost-dancing going on these days.

Conservatives chant the old mantras of limited government, low taxes, and THE CONSTITUTION (their ghost-shirt) to resurrect Ronald Reagan and drive the godless heathens into the sea. Liberals screech about “Nazism” and “fascism” (neither of which survived World War 2) and pine for a newer, darker Franklin Roosevelt to confiscate all the guns and turn us into a Scandinavian social democracy. Both are hilariously backward-looking and inapt. A government with over 300 million people to tax is not going to be limited, and I don't care what you write into its charter. Low taxes mean nothing when the government just prints all the money it needs. Social democracy only works, assuming it ever works, so long as you have more net producers than net consumers and everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel. We no longer have the demographics, the mean IQ, or the cultural consensus for either ideal.

The world has changed but the hunter-gatherers don’t have a lot of attractive options when the farmers show up. So in the face of irrevocable change the conventional thinkers double down on their invocations and dance frantically to exorcise the demons polluting the land. The fly-over people, God bless them, saw that things had changed and voted for a coarse 70-year old billionaire who's never held public office.

Conservatives are an easier target for this critique since "conservatism" is, one might say, backward-looking by definition. But above all else one must be a realist; to be realist is to embrace truth. The Old Calendarists are an example of extreme conservatism, dutifully following a calendar which no longer reflects the actual movements of the God-created celestial bodies. Or Orthodox following an ecclesiology based on the administrative structure of an extinct Empire. But I digress.

It is noteworthy too how in the current political debates the liberals rely less on their traditional Year Zero rhetoric and more on a rehash of 1965, or 1933, or 1860, or even 1789, retconning Alexander Hamilton as America's First Black President. Of all things, it is now the nominal conservatives arguing for Year Zero, in the firm conviction that history has ended.

This is a titanic shift, and only myself and a few others are remarking on it. Here's the always excellent Z-man's contribution. (You'll have to click through, because he's disabled copy-pasta.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Our strangely demotic elite

A comment on Marginal Revolution got me thinking about this. The OP talks about nurturing entrepeneurship, and the linked comment chimes in on government funding:
Of course, government funding–such as NSF grants– as a source of innovation are not popular to the more libertarian minded who focus on the “gov’ment “rgulation” as the impediment.

But, if we continue to cut back on government funded research and develop, and then later get surprised that innovation and entrepreneurial activity using this work declines, well, we get what we didn’t pay for and what we deserve.
I have a lot of issues with this. Public funding is like the quantum observer: its very existence distorts the market. Would cancer research end if the public funds dried up? I suppose quantum physics would take a hit, but is it socially just to tax people so a few geniuses can pursue such arcane areas? Silicon Valley and Wall Street have enormous amounts of wealth piled up by brilliant people. Let the quantum physicists make their pitch to them. And governments, like oligopolistic corporations, have their own agendas. The public sector is not going to fund research that reveals there's very little that government can do about a certain problem, just like a corporation is not going to fund research that shows its product is literally killing people.

On the other hand, there’s an odd demotic trend among modern merchant class-elites (who are THE elites at this point) that undercuts my thesis. Formerly, aristocrats derived prestige from subsidizing intellectuals and high culture. The current elites don’t seem to think along those lines. Museums and orchestras are perennially broke, even as the people you would think care about such things are accruing enormous wealth. But they can't even get the more broad-based, populist things right either. Facebook is devoting lots of money to getting Africans more access to Facebook, which would increase the company’s eyeball-count and its founders’ already obscene wealth, but doesn’t address more basic (and life-changing) advances, like potable water and functioning sewers.

There really is a lot of low-hanging fruit still to pick in development economics. But things like municipal water systems and sewage treatment don't seem to attract nearly the enthusiasm as making sure the Third World can post on social media and learn how to emigrate from the Third World. I've written before about the billions of dollars and thousands of NGO employees lavished on Haitians, who still can't seem to get a functioning sewage treatment plant.

There are a lot of "think tanks" out there funded by wealthy people, but their resident scholars seem content drafting papers to wave around at Congressional hearings and penning an essay in their flagship publication that nobody reads. The conservative think tanks don't seem to do much other than occasionally send a scholar to go trigger protests at lefty campuses and agitate for democracy in low-trust countries. They are unmotivated and appallingly ineffective on the cultural and demographic fronts back home.

The wealthy don't seem to know what to do with their already obscene levels of wealth other than use it to generate more wealth, like lobbying for Open Borders and "free trade" and buying their own media outlets to get the word out. Per my title, the modern elite seem to have a strangely pedestrian vision.

My semi-serious suggestion is that once you notch a billion dollars we just give you a region of the country for life, and after your death to your heirs for life. Then you and yours have to figure out how to nurture the Louis Pasteurs and Michelangelos and Leonardo Da Vincis instead of bribing State actors and rigging the democratic process.

Friday, November 3, 2017

An episcopal Church

The spirit of Vatican II marches on, with +Francis now calling for a re-examination of priestly celibacy. The doctrine is not of itself the real controversy. After all, the Orthodox allow priests to marry with some important qualifications: a priest cannot marry after ordination, and bishops must be celibate. A good illustration of the twin dignity of both sacraments is the person of Antiochian bishop +John.

A priest married for 33 years, he was elevated to bishop after the repose of his wife. He now carries the Church in his person and cannot remarry.

The problem is, again, not the new doctrine being explored but the fact of the exploration. This has come up before, on the issue of lay divorce and remarriage, and was previously commented upon by Catholic writer John Zmirak:
It's essential to understand the stakes:
No Marriage, No Infallibility, No Papacy, No Catholic Church
- If no subject is "taboo", the authority of Bishops is not taboo either

No, don't expect any insane theory, or a "heretical pope" argument, to salvage this. If the Pope endorses polygamy, including in its spread-out format as any kind of legitimacy of the "remarriage" of "divorced" individuals, with the redefinition of the dogmatic theology of one of the seven Sacraments, then Trent, Vatican I, and the entire edifice of Catholic claims of authority fall with it. Catholic claims on the absolutely indissoluble Sacrament of Matrimony (1), from which spring forth the children who are Baptized (2), Confirmed (3), Ordained (4), hear confessions (5), celebrate Mass (6), confer Extreme Unction (7), and marry new couples (1 once again) are dogmatically strong and at the same time systematically fragile. They fall down, and the Papacy as it has always been understood falls with it. [From Rorate Caeli.]
So, if the Catholic understanding concerning the sacraments of priesthood and marriage becomes malleable once enough bishops disagree with it, then Synods aren't discerning eternal Truth guided by the Holy Spirit. They're just secular policy-making bodies with no more theological and thus ecclesial authority than a parish book club. Or, in another context, no more authority than the Parish Life Conference recently attended by several Orthodox Patriarchs. Or than me.

In other words, the Catholic Church is becoming not so much hierarchical as episcopal, which means it will become Episcopal. The geography is important as well: Rome is becoming a Global South Church. Catholics like Ross Douthat banking on the Global South to save the institution are going to be disappointed. And as with The Episcopal Church, the crack-up (which I should add I consider probable, and not certain) will be bitter indeed. Our good friend Porter is even less optimistic.

Prayers for all of Christ's Church.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The end of conservatism as we know it

I've staked my ground on the thesis that ideology is no longer the primary driver of US politics, and here's somebody who agrees with me:
Is ‘Classical Liberalism’ Conservative?

Trump didn’t divide the right. Centuries-old philosophical divisions have re-emerged.
American conservatism is having something of an identity crisis. Most conservatives supported Donald Trump last November. But many prominent conservative intellectuals—journalists, academics and think-tank personalities—have entrenched themselves in bitter opposition. Some have left the Republican Party, while others are waging guerrilla warfare against a Republican administration. Longtime friendships have been ended and resignations tendered. Talk of establishing a new political party alternates with declarations that Mr. Trump will be denied the GOP nomination in 2020.

Those in the “Never Trump” camp say the cause of the split is the president—that he’s mentally unstable, morally unspeakable, a leftist populist, a rightist authoritarian, a danger to the republic. One prominent Republican told me he is praying for Mr. Trump to have a brain aneurysm so the nightmare can end.

But the conservative unity that Never Trumpers seek won’t be coming back, even if the president leaves office prematurely. An apparently unbridgeable ideological chasm is opening between two camps that were once closely allied. Mr. Trump’s rise is the effect, not the cause, of this rift.
As I put it, conservatism now finds itself polarized between the End-Of-History camp and the Clash-Of-Civilizations camp. Yoram Hazony distinguishes between the Enlightenment-era classical liberalism that came to suffuse so much of modern conservative thought, and WASP-American pragmatism.
In his “Second Treatise on Government” (1689), Locke asserts that universal reason teaches the same political truths to all human beings; that all individuals are by nature “perfectly free” and “perfectly equal”; and that obligation to political institutions arises only from the consent of the individual. From these assumptions, Locke deduces a political doctrine that he supposes must hold good in all times and places.

The term “classical liberal” came into use in 20th-century America to distinguish the supporters of old-school laissez-faire from the welfare-state liberalism of figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Modern classical liberals, inheriting the rationalism of Hobbes and Locke, believe they can speak authoritatively to the political needs of every human society, everywhere. In his seminal work, “Liberalism” (1927), the great classical-liberal economist Ludwig von Mises thus advocates a “world super-state really deserving of the name,” which will arise if we “succeed in creating throughout the world . . . nothing less than unqualified, unconditional acceptance of liberalism. Liberal thinking must permeate all nations, liberal principles must pervade all political institutions.”

Friedrich Hayek, the leading classical-liberal theorist of the 20th century, likewise argued, in a 1939 essay, for replacing independent nations with a world-wide federation: “The abrogation of national sovereignties and the creation of an effective international order of law is a necessary complement and the logical consummation of the liberal program.”
Classical liberalism thus offers ground for imposing a single doctrine on all nations for their own good. It provides an ideological basis for an American universal dominion.

By contrast, Anglo-American conservatism historically has had little interest in putatively self-evident political axioms. Conservatives want to learn from experience what actually holds societies together, benefits them and destroys them. That empiricism has persuaded most Anglo-American conservative thinkers of the importance of traditional Protestant institutions such as the independent national state, biblical religion and the family.

As an English Protestant, Locke could have endorsed these institutions as well. But his rationalist theory provides little basis for understanding their role in political life. Even today liberals are plagued by this failing: The rigidly Lockean assumptions of classical-liberal writers such as Hayek, Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand place the nation, the family and religion outside the scope of what is essential to know about politics and government. Students who grow up reading these brilliant writers develop an excellent grasp of how an economy works. But they are often marvelously ignorant about much else, having no clue why a flourishing state requires a cohesive nation, or how such bonds are established through family and religious ties.

Hazony points out that modern conservative unity was, in retrospect, a product of the times, specifically the great and defining Cold War. Then the Cold War ended (we won) and a certain class of thinker waited expectantly for the rest of the world to join us at the Eschaton. Thus imagine the shock, the anger when, as it turned out, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Muslims remained stubbornly parochial. For the true-believing classical liberal, it was the equivalent of continued heresy in the face of the physically incarnate Christ. This same aggrieved shock and anger manifests in the reactions to Trump, who casually tore up the ideological rule book and beat a whole bench of well-funded political pros at their own game.

As I've mentioned before, it's useless to talk about fiscal prudence in a country where half the people are net tax-consumers and the government prints all the money it wants. It's dishonest to lecture people about the free market when the central bank will backstop Goldman Sachs' and AIG's bad investments. And if Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, India, Greek Cyprus, the Vatican, and lots of other places can have border fences well, why can't we? Principled Conservatism doesn't really have a response. The Left, of course, is completely honest about its aims: white people are systemically, irredeemably racist, sexist, and just all-around awful and their social and economic clout must be reduced via immigration. Whites outside coastal socio-economic bubbles quite naturally voted for the billionaire who tells them he won't let that happen. Why wouldn't they?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Las Vegas

You have to be quick in the ranting game. Here I was strolling to the weekend collecting my thoughts while an astute troika already summed it up.

Pat Buchanan points out Stephen Paddock had no soul.

Steve Sailer suggests the ex-Christians no longer fear Hell.

Vox Day observes we can no longer answer sentient Man's oldest question, "Why not?"

Healthy society has three fundamental elements: hierarchy, aesthetics, and transcendence. We are distorting and deconstructing all three: everybody is equal, the aesthetics suck, and secular progressivism has replaced religious faith as the moral center.

The big mystery is the shooter's motive. He was not completely delusional and actually quite functional. He planned the massacre rigorously over a period of months. Recall anti-hero Anders Breivik transformed himself into a successful small farmer to get the licensing he needed to nearly take out Norway's governing class. By contrast, nobody knows (or nobody will yet reveal) Stephen Paddock's manifesto but that's beside the point. It could have been anything: holy war, bolshevism, environmentalism. Lots of people have agendas; I have an agenda. Most people have outlets that keep them from going into full berserker mode. Something is removing those outlets but I imagine the questions will peter out before we get too far down that path.

I love a good conspiracy theory but operationally I think we're going to be disappointed. Paddock may have had knowing assistance but that just gets us back where we started--his enablers were as broken as he was. Paddock had a hypotenuse of around 300 meters. The effective range of a decent AR-15 is 500 meters, and Paddock had a big, fat target of around 40,000 feet by area. Lots of people can do it. A middling Muslim couple could do it. Sixty-four year old white guy real estate investors can do it. For around $3,000 a rig (rifle, bump stock, bipod, scope, magazine, ammo--all commonly available), Stephen Paddock was able to project the killing force of an infantry fire team. Combine atomized society and normalcy bias with a not-uncommon amount of income and you too can go full berserker mode, and this gets me to my final point.

In the old days when somebody went off the rails all they had was a sword or muzzleloader. Capitalism and The Industrial Revolution have not only democratized luxury goods but the tools and technology of war, and delivered them to an atomized people. In the inevitable gun control debate to follow, Second Amendment advocates will ignore the technology, and liberals will ignore the atomization.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Why Capt. Villanueva had to apologize

I've bestirred myself to write on the current NFL mess.

Out of all this, an NFL player and Army veteran named Alejandro Villanueva is the only one who's had to apologize for his behavior. Here's the Wiki entry on his military career:
After graduating from the United States Military Academy Villanueva was commissioned into the United States Army on May 22, 2010 as a second lieutenant in the Infantry.[5] Directly after being commissioned he attended various military schools, including the Infantry, Airborne and Ranger Schools; all located at Fort Benning, Georgia. After completing the three courses he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. It was with the 10th Mountain Division he deployed for the first time for 12 months to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader.[5] As a result of his actions during this deployment he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire.[5] When he returned from his deployment, he was reassigned as a company executive officer.[5]

Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger Orientation Program in 2013.[5] He was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion. His roles within the Battalion have included plans officer, platoon leader, and company executive officer.[5]

He has deployed two more times to Afghanistan for a total of eight months between both deployments.[5]
Solid, right? Here he is apologizing for leaving the locker room and standing respectfully with his hand over his heart as the US anthem was played:

Remember the Martin-Incognito dust-up I wrote about four years ago? Goggle-eyed sports fans were shocked, shocked! at Incognito's effrontery toward a teammate. But that’s just life among platoons of big, violent men. Whitey-white-white Peyton Manning and the not-terribly athletic Irish Catholic Brian Finneran negotiated the culture successfully. You hang with the bros, or you really will hang.

Football players have to depend on each other for, among other things, deterring an opponent's potentially career-ending cheap shot by threat of violent retaliation from your comrades. So when the majorities in the locker rooms voted for BLM, the owners ignored their own operations manual and pivoted to the locker rooms, and so did the white quarterbacks and linemen. Majority rule, and enlightened self-interest.

And that’s why Capt. Villanueva apologized.

This is actually a pretty big deal. As Steve Sailer explains, the hidden theme in American football's unscripted drama is defense and capture of territory, and we passionately support the physical exploits of "our" young men against "their" young men. Americans love these pageants because they demonstrate national solidarity despite deep-rooted racial and cultural differences--we fight for you, because you fight for us! Not surprisingly, the US military enthusiastically joins in the pageantry, with color guards and fly-overs and lavish recruiting ads.

Athletic events channel powerful tribal instincts into non-destructive outlets, but this gets kind of awkward when you have different tribes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The News Business

Hurricane Harvey, and now Irma, remind us that the news media is not a public service: it is a for-profit business. The Business sells ratings to advertisers, not actually useful information or analysis. Thus, the hurricane is the story, not the fact that cities like New Orleans and Houston are sitting at sea level with nowhere for the water to go or that the building codes of the Florida coast bear no relation to its geography. Cities are also behavioral and economic sinks, filled with people with no means to weather a natural disaster--which, of course, is the only reason a natural phenomenon becomes a "disaster." Cities are, in a word, fragile.

The Business is also an oligopoly, thanks to IP laws and founder effects, in the economic and cultural sense. Like all oligopolies, the Business is concerned primarily with maintenance of its oligopoly status.

The State, special interests, and others use this oligopoly to great effect. The interests of the State and its patrons coincide very nicely with the interests of the Business. They create Panic where there is no need for panic and Complacency where there is need for Urgency. Thus, in Atlanta today, hysterical people shut down a city over wind and rain; meanwhile, population density increases and giant poplars and oaks tower over power lines.

Apply this analysis to any crisis out there: hunger in Africa, not explosive r-selected reproductive practices; HIV/AIDS, not self-destructive behavior; poverty, not poor life-choices.

None of this is to deny the tragic and often capricious nature of human suffering nor to suggest that we should not seek to alleviate suffering. Poverty can result from illness or economic displacement. Unforeseen natural disasters and social catastrophes do occur. But there is a stubborn resistance to thinking critically about root causes and perverse incentives. And the Business, of all the institutions, is fundamentally and structurally not motivated even to ask the right questions.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


Chaos Manor's Jerry Pournelle has passed away. This is his Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Such clear thinking is now rare.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You must see this

Wealthy, influential Anglo-Europeans develop plan to rule foreign countries. From Marginal Revolution.

Comments are just getting cranked up as of 8:30 a.m. Hilarity ensuing.

The Anti-Gnostic August 13, 2017 at 8:16 am
“The first thing that you are missing (probably because you never lived in poor and dangerous countries) is that walls matter, this is why rich people tend to live in closed communities. Crime hits the poor much more than the rich. I move around with an armoured car and two bodyguards: not being a narco, I am afraid only of police, not assault by usual criminals.” [Emphasis added].

Wait, what?! I am repeatedly assured by many wealthy, intelligent people that walls don’t work!

I can see where this whole “wall” thing might catch on. Like-minded people, many of whom aren’t individually wealthy enough to afford a gated community, two bodyguards, and an armored car, could pool their resources and pay some agency to build a wall, say, a “Border” and hire some guys, say, a “Border Patrol” to keep out all the people who can out-thug, out-breed and out-vote them and take their stuff.

It’s like, you either have a single public wall for your community of culturally-similar people who trust each other, or you have hundreds of private walls reserved for those wealthy enough to afford them. Intriguing.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"When was the Golden Age of conservative intellectualism?"

Tyler Cowen asks:
Paul Krugman says a mix of “never” and “certainly not now” (my paraphrases, not actual quotations from him). Here is one bit:

On environment, a similar turn took place a bit later. The use of markets and price incentives to fight pollution was, initially, a conservative idea condemned by some on the left. But liberals eventually took it on board — while cap-and-trade became a dirty word on the right. Crude slogans — government bad! — plus subservience to corporate interests trump analysis.
I believe this is pretty far from the reality, here are a few points:
Tyler proceeds to mount a vigorous defense of conservative thinking on the environment but he needn't have bothered. Environmental stewardship is already reviled as a racist, i.e., conservative, i.e., old-white-guy cause.

Anyway, it's a worthwhile question but not one that I think can be answered at this point because the consensus on what constitutes conservatism has broken down. Who are conservatives--Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton or Bill Kristol and David Frum? The former would probably be denounced as, what else, fascists by the latter. Not True Conservatives.

“Conservatives” are irrevocably split between the Clash-Of-Civilizations camp and the End-Of-History camp. The former argues for conserving a civilization and the latter argues for conserving universalist ideals. My previous entry sets out the two worldviews. I regard the End-Of-History camp as naive and impotent, operationally resulting in conservatives forever apologizing Left and punching Right, thereby consolidating progressivist gains. Whig “conservatism” which conserves nothing. So that’s my Not True Conservative two cents.

I’d say the Golden Age of conservative intellectuals would be the late Victorian period of Belloc and Chesterton, and the astounding Rudyard Kipling. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Enoch Powell were the last heirs to that intellectual tradition. I’m biased toward England (which is where Belloc ended up), so there are doubtless some Continental thinkers I’m overlooking.

I agree with Krugman: conservatism in its ideological, universalist iteration has never had an intellectual Golden Age.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The dismal health care debate

I don't have a head for numeric concepts and I bore easily, so the details of the health care legislation making its way through the sausage factory elude me. I'm also blessed with good health and income, so I tend not to think about this that much, other than to marvel at how much I pay for coverage which I have never tapped into. Apparently 48.6 million Americans lacked coverage and, since Obamacare, only 27 million do. Obamacare, I am told, is intended to address that gap of people with no available employer-sponsored plan who are too young for Medicare and too affluent for Medicaid.

Individuals who lack employer-sponsored coverage tend not to make a lot of money and will forego insurance, particularly if they are young. They also tend to be less healthy and make poor life choices. So not enough premiums coming in, too many claims paying out, which is the insurance death spiral. Therefore, Obamacare subsidized this scheme with all sorts of taxes including one on "Cadillac" plans offered by large public companies with expensive workforces. Of course, this resulted in regularizing coverage across the board. Health insurance is perforce expensive and not really economical unless you are badly injured or get diagnosed with a chronic illness, and the disincentives and inefficiencies just pile up from there.

This is actually well-trod ground in these parts. I'll summarize by pointing out that there's really no such thing as "health insurance." There are a lot of genetic diseases and pre-dispositions that can't be incentivized away, and everyone is also 100% destined to get older, sicker and more expensive. There's also no such thing as "preventive medicine." Access to medicine does not actually make people healthier.

All that being said, with over $3 trillion in federal tax revenue and 320 million people to spread the costs among, we seemingly should be able to find enough change in the sofa cushions to fund comprehensive medical insurance coverage, which is the norm in the civilized world. The purported horrors of national medical coverage don't seem to be showing up where you'd expect in the metrics. The US actually has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality for higher cost.

With the election of Trump, largely thanks to the efforts of working class whites who don't seem nearly so squeamish over the prospect of national medical insurance, one would expect some soul-searching and political calculation among Republicans. I personally would be licking my chops over my time at the podium:

"My fellow Americans, today I am proud to announce that from this day forward, no American will ever go bankrupt from a horrible accident or a cancer diagnosis ever again!" [Cue release of a dozen bald eagles, 21-gun salute, and the Sunshine Gospel Mass Choir].

I'll reign for 40 years, and my marble tomb will be ensconced in the Lincoln Memorial.

And after that a lot of things start falling into place: sensible immigration policy--we can't afford net consumers; labor mobility, as people are no longer shackled to a job by medical coverage; moms can choose to stay home or work part-time, lowering the costs of family formation, which is how you grow conservatives; a sense of priorities, and national cohesion finally returning to budgets--war in Bumfuckistan, or medical coverage for US citizens?

Doubtless such Machiavellian calculation is beneath the quiet dignity and rock-ribbed principle of the Republican leadership, but this message is beginning to resonate with some pretty prominent Megaphone Holders:

The difference in the competing visions could not be more stark:


I'll leave the details to the experts. If the Republican Party can pass comprehensive medical insurance coverage, they will hold the levers of power for the next two generations. Then they will have all the political capital they need to close the border, de-fund the colleges and propaganda organs, ignore and ridicule the national media, and trample all over toxic political correctness. The conservative long march through the institutions can begin. This is using the Left's tactics against them to advance conservative goals, as opposed to current conservative ideology which adopts the rhetoric and moral framework of the Left ("Dems r the real racists!"), resulting in tactical impotence.

Remember: the end to be kept in mind is not how to spread conservative ideas, but how to grow conservatives.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Housekeeping, and sad news about Bob Wallace

A few changes to the blogroll:

Happy Acres' Tumblr account got yanked for hate. Apparently the musings of a married, retired software engineer with two kids living near Lake Tahoe are dangerous! Follow this despicable thoughtcriminal on Twitter.

The Anarcho-Monarchist has been silent for a long time and locked up his content.

Radish has not posted in a while. I hope he's okay and I'm leaving him up for now. He last posted on Twitter on March 1 of this year.

Per the comments, Bob Wallace at Uncle Bob's Treehouse passed away unexpectedly this Spring. He used to post articles at before getting banned for hatespeech. He seemed to have lived a pretty hardscrabble life in the Midwest, driving a taxi and working for a newspaper. Judging from his commentary, he despised newspaper work and the broken people doing it. It's a zombie-industry at this point, which is probably why he left it and started posting on the internet. He was apparently just doing menial work in warehouses toward the end. That sort of life-arc is hard on reflective people and I hope he was at peace. God rest his soul. No spouse, no children. He was 60 years old.

Finally, a voice from the past has resurfaced. Please visit Generic Views. He needs to retire from the Department of Defense so he can really let loose. I've referred to him before as one of the few people who grasps that international law is the law of sovereigns, not citizens.

I'd like to have a news site in the blogroll but I'm not sure actual news reporting exists any more. The sites are full of misleading headlines, content by incurious people who don't know how to ask a question, and irritating click-bait.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


In September 2016, I posted on the conundrum faced by Clayton County landlords given explicit policy choices by juries to hold them responsible for acts perpetrated by criminals on their premises:

In summary, whites are fleeing, vibrancy is moving in, and incomes are stagnant and declining, despite the unmitigated boon of cheap immigrant labor. I know white rednecks who just up and left, dropping their keys off at the bank. Central American stoop laborers, paid in cash, stumbling around drunk, are easy marks for black predators.

The security measures necessary to keep Bradford Ridge Apartments predator-free would likely price the unit costs out of the reach of the late Perez-Hernandez. The tactics necessary to keeping his assailants away would be illegal. This is quintessential anarcho-tyranny: the property owners are placed between the Scylla and Charybdis of pricing out their own customers thereby eliminating their income stream, or assuming the full expense for the general criminality of Clayton County and its dysfunctional demographics, which is frankly uninsurable and impossible.

Let me unpack this a bit more: a Clayton County jury (none of whom, I assure you, were landlords) apportioned practically no fault to the actual trigger-pullers (that's what the "post-apportionment" means) and simply speculated that something could have been done to prevent a group of human predators from preying on their unfortunate marks (machine guns? Ghurkas? a crocodile-filled moat?). Note also the strange tale of the survivor: they hit him over the head, and apparently drag his buddy 50 to 100 feet away where they shoot him, then conveniently disappear, allowing Perez-Lopez to regain consciousness, return to the apartment, then go looking for the decedent whom (hey, presto!) they find shot dead. I'm not an actor on Law & Order, but this story stinks to high heaven.

Which gets me to my Anarcho-Capitalist Proposal: If the costs of general criminal activity in counties are going to be socialized on to the county's property owners, why not just give the property owners the county?

I also posted this meme, which needs to be spread far and wide, and shoved up the effete snout of every libertarian and "anarcho-capitalist" you encounter:

Now, the Georgia Supreme Court has enthusiastically piled on, in the recent case of Martin v. Six Flags Over Georgia, a decision issued June 2017.

First some context: Six Flags is an amusement park on the far south side of Atlanta. I went there a number of times as a child and as a teenager in what were, as we shall see, much more innocent times.

"Never again!," as the saying goes, and the Martin opinion dutifully underscores, laying out in excruciating detail the lengths to which we have distanced ourselves from these embarrassingly idyllic photos:

On July 3, 2007, Martin went to Six Flags for the day with his brother, Gerard Martin, and a friend, Devon Carter. As the park’s closing time approached, the trio exited the park, walked to a nearby hotel to use the bathroom, and returned to Six Flags property in front of the park entrance to await the arrival of a Cobb County Transit (CCT) bus. The three sat on a guardrail in an area adjacent to the park’s main entrance along Six Flags Parkway, the roadway leading into the park. The bus stop, which was visible from the guardrail, was situated just around the corner of the intersection of Six Flags Parkway and another public road, some 200 or so feet from the Six Flags property line.

During the course of the day and early evening, a throng of young men were roaming the park. Throughout the day their numbers ranged from 15 to 40. The young men in the group, which included several off-duty Six Flags employees, were dressed similarly, most in some combination of white or black T-shirts, jeans, and bandanas. The men were observed running through the park, yelling obscenities, and otherwise causing commotion. In the early evening, park patrons John Tapp and Eric Queen, who were visiting the park with their families, were accosted by the group after one of its members nearly knocked over Queen’s young son. Tapp testified that, after he diverted the near collision and admonished the man who was running, approximately 15 men surrounded him and Queen, “fixing to beat the sh*t out of us.” The confrontation lasted five to ten minutes, until park security appeared. As security approached and the group began to back off, they made “finger gun” gestures and admonished Tapp and Queen to “watch your back,” “we’ll get you in the parking lot.” Tapp and Queen reported to the security officer what had happened, including the parking lot threat. The officers confronted the assailants they could locate, reprimanded them, and released them back into the park. A Six Flags security officer testified at trial that this response was contrary to Six Flags’ policy, under which the assailants should have been ejected from the park.

Shortly before closing time, as the Tapp and Queen families prepared to exit through the park’s main gates, they noticed the same group of men, whose numbers had grown to approximately 40. Surveillance video footage filmed at that time showed a group of similarly-dressed men running to the front gate in what one witness described as a “frenzy.” The group exited the park, followed by security guards, who then stood outside watching. Once the guards reentered the park, the families, believing the group had left, exited the gates towards the parking lot, only to find the same group congregated on the sidewalk, outside the gates but still on Six Flags property. Despite their efforts to be inconspicuous, the families were spotted by the group, who began following the families and yelling at them. Alarmed, the families hurried to their cars; Tapp heard one man say “drop the hammer,” which Tapp believed was a reference to a gun. The families reached their cars and were able to depart without further incident.

The group of young men then made their way back to the area outside the park’s main gate where Martin and his companions were sitting. Two members of the group testified that others within the group were actively planning a fight. One stated that when he met up with the group he “found out that they were going to fight people at the bus stop”; another said that he heard the group planning for the beating and that the group “knew they needed to fight somebody.”

Aware of the group’s presence, and overhearing talk to the effect that “some guy’s going to get messed up,” Martin and his companions got up from the rail to move away, proceeding towards the bus stop. The group followed the trio to the bus stop, where, without any provocation or delay, defendant Franklin approached Martin and began beating him with brass knuckles. Others among the group joined in on the attack, with one witness estimating that nine people participated in Martin’s beating. This same witness testified that the attack began only five minutes after the group concluded their pursuit of the Tapp and Queen families; Franklin, similarly, testified that “it happened so fast.” Carter and Martin’s brother Gerard were also victims in the attack. The beating and stomping inflicted on Martin rendered him comatose for seven days, and resulted in debilitating permanent brain damage and other injuries.

The ensuing police investigation revealed that the assailants were affiliated with a gang-like group called the “YGL,” and other evidence established that the park was routinely the site of gang congregation and activity. Multiple witnesses testified to the presence of gang members at the park, both as patrons and employees; one witness, who was himself a Six Flags employee, testified that the “majority” of Six Flags’ park employees were affiliated with one gang or another. Evidence of gang “tags” and similar graffiti in the male employees’ locker room, and the testimony of a Cobb County police officer who worked off-duty as a park security officer, indicated that Six Flags’ management was—or should have been—aware that many of its employees were gang members.

A Six Flags security officer testified that, during the park’s daily security briefings, gang-related issues were reported, on average, at least once a week. Following the attack on Martin, one Six Flags employee was reprimanded by her superiors after reporting to the media that gang members frequented the park, often bullying others. Nearly one year to the day prior to the attack on Martin, Six Flags had been the site of a gang-related drive-by shooting. According to the Cobb County police officer who investigated the incident, a fight involving gang members had erupted in line at one of the park’s rides, and the fight continued as the participants left the park. Approximately 20 minutes after the fight began, the intended target of the shooting was standing at a bus stop located within Six Flags’ west parking lot and was approached by a car whose passenger, a member of the “Southside Mafia” gang, called out, referring to the earlier incident. The passenger then fired a pistol, missing his target but hitting three Six Flags employees who were standing nearby. Remarkably, despite their injuries, none of these employees were willing to make a statement to police.

The investigating officer testified that, a few days after the incident, a Six Flags official contacted him seeking assurances that the police would “not release any information that would lead the public to believe that Six Flags Over Georgia was anything but a safe, family atmosphere.” This officer further testified that he had refused to make any such commitment, and that he had told this official that he would not take his own family to Six Flags, “[b]ecause of the numerous incidents that I’ve responded to there, the criminal gang activity that goes on there.” According to this witness, 18 to 20 percent of the Cobb County Police Department’s call volume per day comes from within a two-mile radius of Six Flags.
On the above facts, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the jury's verdict against Six Flags for 92% of a $35 million award for an attack that occurred off its property. Of course, the Court scrupulously avoided discussion of the legal whipsaw under which Six Flags as an employer and property owner operates, pursuant to which platoons of lawyers can sue under Title VII for Six Flags' refusal to hire or allow entry to certain "young men," while simultaneously sticking them with the tab when these same young men beat another such young man nearly to death.

Also left unanalyzed by the Court, what is really going on here is that the State is too broke, too dysfunctional, and too inept to enforce a stable civil order. Therefore, idealistic judges resort to banging their gavels and yelling "Fix it!," like spoiled children, insisting that Six Flags bear the liability and expense for generalized civil breakdown and rending of the social fabric.

The obvious solution is to depose the inept and ineffectual government and turn over the public commons and order to the business and property owners who are going to get stuck with the tab for all of this in any event.

Anarcho-capitalism, that is, neo-feudalism is coming, whether the statists and, not least, the anarcho-capitalists themselves, are ready for it or not.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My problem with the Benedict Option

Rod Dreher has spilled a lot of ink on this. I have a lot of sympathy for Rod's vision but ultimately, I think the "Ben Op" is the same approach to rapacious secularism as that taken by the Middle Eastern Christians in response to rapacious Islam. That is, in exchange for payment of taxes and pledges of loyalty to their Arab overlords, the Christians were allowed to raise their children in the Faith and function as mercantile middlemen. This has not worked out well as Christianity slowly goes extinct in its former homelands. In like fashion, Rod Dreher begs to be left alone with his nuclear family and a few close friends in rural Louisiana as the world goes to Hell and our children slowly slip away from us.

There is also the ahistorical understanding of St. Benedict's mission and his context. The early Christians practiced their faith and seized the levers of State power as soon as they could. Modern Christianity by contrast practices secularism as the first and greatest Commandment.

Contrast Christianity's endless cession to its enemies with the robustness of Islam in the West: when they need their cultural space, they simply carve it out, and nobody lectures them about the lack of female imams or refusal to recognize gay marriage. In similar fashion, the Amish are expanding into the American Southwest and Mexico, and the Hasidim maintain their millenium-old bloodlines. Even the Mormons with their bizarre creed have managed to insinuate themselves into much of the United State's national security apparatus.

The future belongs to those who show up, and the "Ben Op" doesn't seem to be a strategy for showing up. Rather, it strikes me as a rear-guard action by aging converts begging to be allowed to die in peace.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In case you were wondering if the Age of Ideas is over,

It's over.

I'll just let Steve Sailer carry the ball on this one:

From the NYT’s new columnist Bret Stephens formerly of the WSJ and Jerusalem Post.

Only Mass Deportation Can Save America

Bret Stephens JUNE 16, 2017

In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness of the American system.

They need to return whence they came.

I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning.

On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones.

Okay, so you want to deport African Americans. Got it. …

Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers
In other words, if your ancestors started arriving as slaves in 1619, American doesn’t belong to you in Bret Stephens way of thinking.

— the people who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realize that it’s precious; and who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.

That used to be a cliché, but in the Age of Trump it needs to be explained all over again. We’re a country of immigrants — by and for them, too. Americans who don’t get it should get out.

I’m sure Bret wrote lots of editorials when he was editor of the Jerusalem Post about how Israel needs lots of non-Jewish immigrants. Right?


A little context on Stephens:
Stephens was born in New York City,[3] the son of Xenia and Charles J. Stephens, a former vice president of General Products, a chemical company in Mexico.[4][5] His parents were both secular Jews. His paternal grandfather had changed the family surname from Ehrlich to Stephens (after poet James Stephens).[6]

How does one reconcile these competing worldviews? Is the middle ground we only deport 25% of native-born Americans?

According to Stephens' crazed vision, America is and must always be a nation of immigrants, and must never be allowed to become a nation of natives. Thus the categorical imperative to import evermore remote, exotic future-Americans to whom we can bequeath our birthrights.

Stephens' absolutist view leaves no room for debate: it really all boils down to Who gets to live Where and Run things.

The Age of Ideas is over. The great Glubb Pasha saw it all coming.


Immigrants, welfare, and inflation.

Twenty-four stories of public housing erupted into a Roman candle on Wednesday, as sacrifice to the Great God Equality, who decrees that impoverished Third World immigrants must be vertically housed in some of the most expensive real estate on Earth. The tower was built with public funds in the awful 1970's, from the same Satanic mindset which built Cabrini-Green.

Cash-starved municipalities in the U.S. figured out some time ago that it is much more lucrative to tear down these vertical cesspools and give the tenants Section 8 vouchers to go be somebody else's problem. Britain, still in thrall to post-World War egalitarianism, has not yet deduced that salutary measures to eliminate poverty in expensive cities would include encouraging the impoverished to move to less expensive cities.

This cheap relic should have been torn down long ago of course. But with an endless flood of Third Worlders desperate to live in the lap of social democratic milk-and-honey, the local council thought it could slap on some cladding and hey presto, everybody gets a bourgeois, British lifestyle!

The cladding was apparently an aluminum composite product with a polyethyene core. Polyethylene burns hot and beautifully, enough to melt the rebar inside of concrete.

The cladding also enabled chimneying for red-hot gases to race up the exterior of the building. And there were probably a lot of free-standing propane stoves favored by people trying to avoid a utility bill, which would explain the blue flame in units reported by residents. And of course the local council has neither the incentive nor the resources to retrofit this monument of Peak Boomer democratic socialism to current industry standards.

Fix it!

So much to deconstruct here, I can't even. We can start with the unchecked movement of immigrants into this small North Sea island. (If anybody has any luck finding actual numbers, let me know.) London is a center of global capital and expensive even for the natives. Why move barely afloat, net tax-consuming immigrants there?

Welfare is hopelessly dystopic. Has anybody ever made it work? Greenfell Tower is owned and managed by local government with no pricing signals, no profit-and-loss discipline at all.

Great Britain, like every place else in the Anglosphere, is printing money to keep its debt marketable, distorting the cone of production and incentivizing crap products, crap workmanship, and a race-to-the-bottom by producers. This is rampant in all sectors.

The over-arching tragedy is how little difference our beneficent One World vision will all make in the end. The teeming Global South masses will die by fire, violence, and neglect in the ruins of Western capitals as readily as in the urban fever-swamps of their homelands. And all the current virtue-signalling by Occidental social democrats will have been for naught.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


One week late. I need to focus more on the spiritual life.

Political Science 101, cont'd.

Broke, joke, woke, bespoke, in a single Twitter thread:

Commenter Bert asked for thoughts on Year Zero, Anno Trump. My first thought is gratitude to the States of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Otherwise it would be Justice Sista Souljah and Attorney General Sally Yates cementing a dry-foot/dry-foot immigration policy into the law of the land, and "hate speech" getting carved out of the First Amendment and "assault weapons" out of the Second. Also, theater-level warfare in the Middle East to save the children from the chlorine barrel bombs.

By the way, there is no such thing as a chlorine barrel bomb. If the Syrian government wanted to make cheap, homemade bombs to terrorize their populace, they'd just combine gasoline and styrofoam in 50-gallon drums to make napalm, attach a fuse, and roll them out of helicopters. Chlorine is noxious, comparatively expensive, and much more unpleasant for your unmotivated conscript troops to handle.

Getting back to Trump, I really wish he'd be more Trump-ian, but with the entire media, bureaucracy and much of his own party arrayed against him I'm not sure there's that much he can accomplish. I'm told the Republican Party has majorities in both the House and Senate but I've seen no evidence of this. For now, I think Trump is doing the best he can on his agenda.

One area of disappointment is foreign policy, but I think he's hedged in by decisions made back to post-World War Two. Jews wield a lot of influence in American society, and a New York real estate developer would be especially sensitive to this. The Sunnis have made their peace with Israel but the Shia have not, so Trump aligns with the Sunni pole. A commenter at iSteve offers the following realpolitik analysis:

To his credit Trump is certainly “putting America first”. Whether it is really in America’s long term interest to buddy up to Saudi Arabia and alienate the Europeans is a different question. The funny thing is that Trump is actually executing the pivot towards Asia that the Obama team kept talking about but couldn’t really pull off.

Trump’s foreign policy moves make no sense if he were really a “white nationalist” but make a lot of sense if he and his team are cynical realists who see the world this way:

1. China is clearly the next world power.
2. Europe is in terminal decline, and the EU is doomed to failure
3. Russia will remain a strong regional player but has no hope of regaining superpower status and becoming an equal player with China and the US.
4. China’s Achilles heel is energy. Controlling energy resources will keep the US dominant for the foreseeable future.

If you accept those premises than Trump’s seemingly crazy actions all makes sense. It makes sense to cozy up to Saudi Arabia and Russia in order to keep them out of Chinese orbit. It also makes sense to cut Europe loose in order to strengthen ties with Russia.. If you need Erdogan to help keep order in the Middle East and watch Saudi Arabia’s flank, then you make friends with Erdogan and let him continue to blackmail Europeans with refugees and to fund Islamic cells throughout Germany.

This suggests Trump has really been a great power conservative all along, which is probably why the military seems to be solidly behind him. If true then Trump is going to disappoint idealists – both leftists who want the US to stand for human rights and “progressive” values, as well as white nationalists and fundamentalist Christians who want the US to stand up for “traditional” values.

I like especially that Trump consigned the horrid Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to Hell, and rescinded Obama's pointless signing of the Paris Accord. The optics are fantastic: America First! But with respect to the Middle East, Trump is trapped in convention: Israel must be the strongest power in the region, Iran and Shia Islam threaten that status, therefore Iran and its allies (including Russia) are the perennial enemy. This aligns us with the odious Wahabbists.

In the long run of course, the US has too much debt, too many restive, resentful ethnic minorities, and half the white people hate the other half and wish they were dead. Trump is either the next-to-last or next-to-next-to-last President of the US as presently constituted.

In case you're wondering about the title, here's the first post in "Political Science 101."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Environmental stewardship, revisited

Finally, someone besides me is noticing that this is no longer your grandfather's environmentalism:

Even environmentalism, which was once motivated by a love of the natural world, now seems more concerned with finding slightly less destructive ways of enabling an overprivileged civilisation to carry on surfing the internet and buying laptops and yoga mats than it does with protecting wildlife from its ravenous jaws.

All the talk these days is about carbon and something obscure called “sustainability”. There’s much less talk about the kind of human-scale cultures we might want to foster, or why we would even want to help sustain a culture that requires the ransacking of every square centimetre of soil, forest, ocean, river and wilderness to survive. In its understandably pragmatic, green-lite approach to reducing emissions, it lost both its vision and its soul, forgetting that a movement without either is hardly pragmatic.

As Paul Kingsnorth notes in his remarkable new collection of essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, environmentalism has reduced itself to being “the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy”. Kingsnorth remarks that it is now, in broad terms, focusing its efforts on “sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level that the world’s rich – us – feel is their right, without destroying the ‘natural capital’ needed to do so”.

So instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places – deserts, oceans, mountains – to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, up until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need. Environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset, Kingsnorth claims, can be summed up by an absurd equation: “Destruction – Carbon = Sustainability”.

Guardian - Comment Is Free.

As far back as 1988, 75 million people ago, Edmund Abbey sounded the alarm in an essay the New York Times refused to publish:

To everything there is a season, to every wave a limit, to every range an optimum capacity. The United States has been fully settled, and more than full, for at least a century. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by allowing the old boat to be swamped. How many of us, truthfully, would prefer to be submerged in the Caribbean-Latin version of civilization? (Howls of "Racism! Elitism! Xenophobia!" from the Marx brothers and the documented liberals.) Harsh words: but somebody has to say them. We cannot play "let's pretend" much longer, not in the present world.

Therefore-let us close our national borders to any further mass immigration, legal or illegal, from any source, as does every other nation on earth. The means are available, it's a simple technical-military problem. Even our Pentagon should be able to handle it. We've got an army somewhere on this planet, let's bring our soldiers home and station them where they can be of some actual and immediate benefit to the taxpayers who support them. That done, we can begin to concentrate attention on badly neglected internal affairs. Our internal affairs. Everyone would benefit, including the neighbors. Especially the neighbors. Ah yes. But what about those hungry hundreds of millions, those anxious billions, yearning toward the United States from every dark and desperate corner of the world? Shall we simply ignore them? Reject them? Is such a course possible?

"Poverty," said Samuel Johnson, "is the great enemy of human happiness. It certainly destroys liberty, makes some virtues impracticable, and all virtues extremely difficult."

You can say that again, Sam.

Poverty, injustice, over breeding, overpopulation, suffering, oppression, military rule, squalor, torture, terror, massacre: these ancient evils feed and breed on one another in synergistic symbiosis. To break the cycles of pain at least two new forces are required: social equity - and birth control. Population control. Our Hispanic neighbors are groping toward this discovery. If we truly wish to help them we must stop meddling in their domestic troubles and permit them to carry out the social, political, and moral revolution which is both necessary and inevitable.

Or if we must meddle, as we have always done, let us meddle for a change in a constructive way. Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

March For Science!

All across the country yesterday, dozens if not hundreds of people marched for Science! As such things go, this wasn't so much about science as about another excuse for the usual suspects on the manic spectrum to act out in public.

Science! is unfortunately a recurrent theme on this blog. I wonder if any of the Science Marchers are open to discussion of IQ heritability, or the reproducibility crisis, or Mann's hockey-stick?

Science seems increasingly less about collecting data and going where observation and inductive inquiry lead you, and more about constructing non-falsifiable hypotheses to support pre-ordained conclusions. "Climate Change" and "Nurture, not Nature" are good examples of hortatory, non-falsifiable hypotheses, because the variables and data sets are so large you can always string enough stuff together to support the Cathedral's pronouncements.

You think they're joking.

As noted Scientist Robert Reich Pee Aitch Dee reminds us, there's Good Science and there's Bad Science. Cosmological and biological evolution are Good Science, because they contradict the Biblical literary narrative of Creation espoused by Christian nutjobs. Observing that biological evolution means homo sapiens evolved to fit different environmental and social niches is Bad Science, because it implies that not all men are created equal.

Even venerable old academics like Darwin's Dangerous Clan
run afoul of Good Science. Hopefully this Internet dialogue published by David Haig's Edge stays up for posterity.

One of the Edge participants, Daniel Dennett, apparently offends Good Science for his rather prosaic observation that Consciousness appears to occur along a spectrum of neural complexity. I find this controversy odd because when I was growing up, Dennett would have been the anti-Establishment rebel quoting Charles Darwin and Sartre, versus the Baptist preacher lecturing his congregation that Man is not an Ape. Now, Dennett is the stodgy Darwinist who sings Christmas carols and says natural selection molded brain structures to an apex point of Conscious Man, while Australian academic David Chalmers is the fundamentalist preacher handing out Chick tracts and denouncing Dennett's soulless materialism. Dennett looks at increasingly complex brains and behaviors and concludes consciousness exists along a spectrum. In opposition, Chalmers talks about "feelings" (no kidding) and "pan-proto-psychism" ("It's out there, man!") and Dennett, frustratingly, finds himself wrestling Jell-o. Guess which one gets invited to TED talks.

Why is Dennett's hypothesis so controversial? Chalmers argues for a Mind-Brain dichotomy which is not observable (and hence, non-falsifiable). But even non-scientists observe that as human brains degenerate, consciousness ebbs. Nevertheless, the Mind-Brain dichotomy must be maintained because, among other topics, it "explains" trans-genderism. After all, nobody has yet found a "female" brain in a male body so, by transcendent leap, we conclude that Caitlyn Jenner's Mind got metaphysically trapped in Bruce's Body, through all those years when he was winning the decathlon and siring six children by three women. Likewise, if mentation is proficient to the extent of an individual's neural structure, then Education is a private good with diminishing marginal utility.

Chalmers' discomfiture appears rooted in the Cathedral's dictate of Equality, to which even Science must bend the knee: humans are bound by an over-riding psychic unity; all humans are equally educable; hierarchy has no basis in reality.