Archive for April, 2018
30 Apr 2018

The Tribal Fallacy

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Jonah Goldberg, in connection with his new book, Suicide of the West, did a recent podcast with EconTalk host Russ Roberts.

Russ Roberts: And just to expand on the Hayek point, in The Fatal Conceit, he says: This micro-cosmos and macro-cosmos, we have two –we have to have two ways of thinking about the world. In our small families or our bands or our tribes or our communities, we have a more socialist–what you and I would call a Socialist–enterprise. We don’t sell stuff to our kids: typically, we share. It’s top down, not bottom up. In the family, the parents tend to run things. And, that’s very appropriate in a small group that’s held together by bonds of love, for genetics–whatever keeps it together. And, he says, we have to have a different mindset when we go out to the extended order–when we are traders and commercial actors. And he said, we have a tendency to try to take the beautiful and poetic ethos of the family and extend it into the larger order. And he says that leads to tyranny.

Jonah Goldberg: Right.

Russ Roberts: In a way, that’s–that’s what I want to–you might–it’s one of the things you are worried about in your book. Which is that the tribalism that we are hardwired for seems to be spreading beyond the immediate family.

Jonah Goldberg: That’s right. I think it’s worth pointing out: It is disastrous going both ways.

Russ Roberts: Hayek makes that point, yeah.

Jonah Goldberg: Right. Right. It’s disastrous to treat the larger society like a family or tribe. But it’s also disastrous–getting your g’mindschaft[?] and your Gesellschaft is always a problem. And treating your family like a contractual society destroys the family. And, both are really, really bad. And I agree that it’s not just that we are Socialist. I mean, the way I always put it is: We are literally Communist, in the sense that in my family it is: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. You have a sick kid, you don’t do any kind of calculus about what their contribution to the family is. You just do whatever they need. And, yeah. So, part of my argument is that–you know, the Roman philosopher Horus has this line where he says, ‘You can chase nature without–you can chase nature out with a pitchfork, but it always comes running back in.’ And, so, part of my argument is that human nature is always with us. Right? We are born with it. That is the preloaded software of the human condition, and you can’t erase that hard-drive. All you can do is channel and harness human nature towards productive ends as best you can. And when you don’t do that, human nature will assert itself. And I think of this in terms of corruption: That, just as if you don’t maintain their upkeep–a car, a boat, or a house–the Second Law of Thermodynamics or entropy or just rust will–you know, rust never sleeps. Eventually, nature reclaims everything. And that’s true of civilizations, too. And if we don’t civilize people to understand this distinction between the micro- and the macro-cosm, what inevitably happens is that the logic of the microcosm, the desire to live tribally which we’re all born with, starts to infect politics. And if you are not on guard for it, it can swamp politics. And this is why I would argue that virtually every form of authoritarianism, totalitarianism–whether you want to call it right-wing or left-wing–doesn’t really matter to me any more. They are all reactionary. Because they are all trying to restore that tribal sense of social solidarity–whether, you know, it’s a monarchy or treating the leader of the country as the father of the country or the Fuehrer or whatever you want to call it. Or whether you are just saying that the entire society is just one family. Whether it’s nationalism, or socialism, or populism–all of these things are basically the reassertion of human nature, which says: I don’t like your artificial constraints on my human desires and my desire for my group to be victorious. And that is the fundamental form of human corruption.

RTWT

30 Apr 2018

Suing Russia

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30 Apr 2018

Also What the Results of Universal Lawn Care Would Look Like

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30 Apr 2018

Dornier 17 in Suburban London, September 1940

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29 Apr 2018

Boy, Were We Ever Right to Declare Independence!

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Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

That prediction proved wrong, of course. After WWII, Labour offered them free health care and they’re slaves now.

Kira Davis explains why Alfie Evans’ parents could not be permitted to take their child to Italy for treatment the British National Health Service could not provide.

Some years ago I watched a documentary on the design and building of the Berlin Wall between East Germany and West Germany. It included extremely rare clips of interviews with the architects (I was shocked to learn there was actually a deliberate design to that monstrosity).

I searched high and low for the film, but was unable to locate it. If any reader has any clue where to find it please do let me know…I’ve been desperate to watch it again.

In one clip, an aging (former) East German Wall architect spoke briskly about the strategy of his designs. Although the interview was conducted during what must have been the last years of his life, he still seemed deeply resentful that he was being asked to defend the wall’s erection even after the fall of the Eastern Bloc. I’ll never forget what he said in that interview – it made the hair stand up on my arms.

With great sincerity – almost pleading with the interviewer – he said, “We had to build the wall. Too many people were leaving for the West and you need people to make socialism work. We had to build the wall to keep them in so they could see how great socialism was, so they could see that it works.”

As I can’t find the clip, you’ll just have to take my word for it (or not). The point is – this man and his comrades felt that the only way to sell people on their socialist vision was to force them to live in it. Those leaving were just too stupid to understand that it was the best thing for them.

This is exactly the point in the ruling by the NHS and the courts to forbid their free citizens from leaving the country. If they are allowed to flee the heart-wrenching consequences of socialism, then others will want to do the same. How can a socialist system work without the cooperation of everyone? And how can you force people to participate in that socialist system when they discover that system may kill them or their loved ones?

You build a wall.

Great Britain doesn’t yet have a wall to keep its citizens in, but the courts have built one with the law. Just as East Germany could not tolerate the massive loss of defectors who were leaving with their training, intellect and tax dollars, Great Britain’s healthcare system cannot tolerate the defection of those who might find better healthcare somewhere else.

After all, how would it look if Alfie were allowed to leave England (allowed to leave a free country! Even to write the words feels absurd!) and then found a successful treatment in another country?

It would be an abject embarrassment to a government that holds up their socialist healthcare as one of the wonders of the Western world. Not only would they be forced to admit that their own doctors and bureaucrats were wrong for denying this baby life-saving measures, but they would then have to deal with hundreds, maybe thousands of other citizens fleeing the bondage of NHS algorithms for a chance at swifter, more modern healthcare.

For some bizarre reason, a nation that boasts figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, a tiny island nation that was once so powerful and broad it was said that the sun never set on the British empire…for some inexplicable reason that nation has chosen to hang its pride and joy on socialized medicine.

If you think I exaggerate just look up the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.

To release this child to the care of any other nation would be to admit failure, and heartless bureaucrats who will never have to watch young Alfie struggle for air or dehydrate to death have decided that their misplaced pride is more valuable than the lives of their citizens.

RTWT

Little Alfie Evans died yesterday.

They aren’t allowed guns. They aren’t allowed to hunt with hounds. They get tossed in jail if they give the finger to a traffic camera or say something really politically incorrect. Soon, they won’t be allowed to own knives.

I’m buying extra fireworks for the Fourth of July this year.

28 Apr 2018

The Right Kind of Secretary of Defense

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Free Beacon reports that Mattis ordered the annihilation of Russian mercenaries in Syria.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis explained Thursday why he directed a strike that reportedly killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Syria back in February.

Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. has a deconfliction line with Russia to ensure that the two countries can communicate in order to avoid direct conflict with one another in Syria. He said that a group of “irregular forces” were in conflict with U.S. forces, and once it was ascertained that those forces were not Russian regulars, Mattis directed a counterattack.

“The Russian high command in Syria assured us it was not their people, and my direction to the chairman was for the force, then, to be annihilated,” Mattis said. “And it was.”

RTWT

27 Apr 2018

“Huddle” (1932)

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My wife Karen and I watched last night an old movie I had recorded earlier that day from TCM, set at Yale.

IMDB describes the plot:

Tony, the son of Italian immigrants, works in a smoky steel mill in Gary, Indiana. He wins a company scholarship which will enable him to attend Yale college. Over the four years of his college career he learns about football, love, and class prejudice.

I can add more. Tony Amato’s (Ramon Navarro) four-year scholarship to Yale amounts to $2000 ($500 a year for tuition, room and board)!

Tony arrives at Yale (we see lots of real images of the Yale campus), and starts rooming in Fayerweather Hall, part of the long-gone Berkeley Oval that was torn down in the early 1930s.

Rooms in Fayerweather Hall were a lot bigger than in Yale residence halls in my day, and –even for Freshman Italians on scholarship– they were two-person, three-room suites! The evil Yale Administration later turned all of those into four person, three-room suites: more money to spend on hiring additional bureaucrats and funding Identity Studies Departments.

Life at Yale circa 1932 was not all rosy, however. Conniving upperclassmen arrived rapidly to meet gullible freshmen and to sell them all the furniture that came as part of the room. The audience twigs to what is going on when, after upperclassman 1 has already collected for a bureau, bed, mattress, and carpet, along comes upperclassman 2 trying to sell the same bureau.

You would think that Tony would have more problems, as a working-class Catholic of immigrant background, and an Italian to boot, fitting in. He does have a pretty thick (Mexican) accent, which he never really loses. But his suit is just fine. The only problem he has is his slightly Italianate hat. It is a bit too Chico Marx, and when it is negatively remarked upon, Tony discards it and goes bare-headed, but that, too, is a faux pas for a Yale freshman. Before long, the problem is resolved. Tony gets a perfectly suitable fedora, just like those worn by everybody else.

Surprisingly, Tony has no academic difficulties at all. We see little of him in class, but –as the football coach assures him– “You’ll learn more here outside the classroom!”

Even more surprisingly, Tony has no financial problems. He can keep up with his rich classmmates without difficulty. He dresses the same. He is never seen laboring at any student job. He hangs out at Mory’s and intends to join DKE, just like all the millionaires.

The only financial issue is the romantic one: he falls in love with a young heiress, but her father in a private talk persuades Tony that it would be wrong for him to let her marry someone like himself, lacking the means to keep her in her accustomed life style. Tony gallantly gives her up, but the young lovers –of course– do get back together in the end, complete with the rich dad’s approval.

Tony does have social problems. He is too arrogant and pushy and insensitive to others. He is bull-headed and, despite a promising start, messes up at football. His teammates and contemporaries at Yale write him off. He does not receive membership in Deke, and his best friend and roommate nobly declines his own bid out of solidarity with Tony.

The best scene, I thought, came when the angry Tony starts trying to fist fight his football coach in the coach’s office. The older coach has some defensive skills and a good punch, and he knocks Tony down. Tony barely resists the temptation to (unsportingly) pick up a blunt object and try evening the odds, and the two men wind up reconciled and friends again, laughing, admiring each other’s shiners, and the coach tending to Tony’s facial wounds.

The fateful Harvard game nears. Tony is unfortunately unwell. He covertly consults a doctor off-campus. It is appendicitis! The doc wants to hospitalize the young man and operate immediately, but Tony escapes and goes to play in the Big Game.

Predictably, Tony is visibly unwell. He performs poorly and gets benched. But as the fourth quarter’s end draws near, with the game still tied 0-0, Tony begs to go back in, and scores a touchdown. He then fails again and Harvard ties in the final moments of the game.

After the game, at the post-game banquet, students are speaking ill of Tony’s performance, but Tony’s roommate indignantly breaks his vow of silence and tells them Tony is lying near death in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. Now, they know.

In the final scene, we see Tony’s class marching into Woolsey Hall in graduation robes. The girl charges up and kisses Tony, while her father and his classmates applaud.

Real Yale students performed as extras for $5 a day (big money in 1932). The film incorporates lots of absolutely delightful real scenes of the Yale campus and New Haven. And you get to hear a ton of Yale songs, including the now-I-think-forgotten:

“Oh! More work for the undertaker,
‘Nother little job for the casket maker
In the local cemetary they are
Very very busy with a brand new grave:
No hope for Harvard, No hope for Harvard!”

And:

And a number of fraternity songs not heard in many years.

27 Apr 2018

Stephen Foster Statue Removed in Pittsburgh

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The statue that formerly stood outside the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh depicted the young Stephen Foster being inspired by an African American playing a banjo.

Nearly all the important American music of the 19th century was composed by Stephen Foster in the course of his brief lifetime. The music of the minstrel show comes essentially from Stephen Foster, and that music went right on into vaudeville and later Hollywood. A handful of Stephen Foster tunes remain staples even today. Try imagining the Kentucky Derby without “My Old Kentucky Home.”

No one played a greater role in integrating the music and culture of African Americans into the universal popular culture of the country. No one ever depicted the viewpoint and character of the African American with more sympathy and affection.

It was the music of Stephen Foster that made white entertainers don blackface in order to emulate with affection the humor, the rhetoric, and the distinctive character of the African American.

No one more important and influential to the culture of the United States ever came from Pittsburgh.

Who would imagine that in blue-collar, beer-drinking, steel-making Pittsburgh the Social Justice Warriors would be in power and able yesterday to pull down Stephen Foster’s statue put up in 1900 by a local committee headed –no less– by Andrew Mellon?

What a despicable time we live in, in which being some species of nincompoop seems to be an essential ingredient for promotion to a position of public responsibility and authority!

Some News Agency has the story.

The Second Reconstruction marches on, right over America.

26 Apr 2018

Jaron Lanier Regrets His Own Role in Creating Digital Maoism

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Jaron Lanier tells New York Magazine how Big Internet Tech Companies went wrong.

We used to be kind of rebels, like, if you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.

We have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness having won. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves, which is preposterous. And so in doing that we really kind of turn into assholes, you know? …

when you move out of the tech world, everybody’s struggling. It’s a very strange thing. The numbers show an economy that’s doing well, but the reality is that the way it’s doing well doesn’t give many people a feeling of security or confidence in their futures. It’s like everybody’s working for Uber in one way or another. Everything’s become the gig economy. And we routed it that way, that’s our doing. There’s this strange feeling when you just look outside of the tight circle of Silicon Valley, almost like entering another country, where people are less secure. It’s not a good feeling. I don’t think it’s worth it, I think we’re wrong to want that feeling.

It’s not so much that they’re doing badly, but they have only labor and no capital. Or the way I used to put it is, they have to sing for their supper, for every single meal. It’s making everyone else take on all the risk. It’s like we’re the people running the casino and everybody else takes the risks and we don’t. That’s how it feels to me. It’s not so much that everyone else is doing badly as that they’ve lost economic capital and standing, and momentum and plannability. It’s a subtle difference. …

I think the fundamental mistake we made is that we set up the wrong financial incentives, and that’s caused us to turn into jerks and screw around with people too much. Way back in the ’80s, we wanted everything to be free because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs because we loved Steve Jobs. So you wanna be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, and it’s absurd. But that’s the kind of absurdity that Silicon Valley culture has to grapple with.

And there’s only one way to merge the two things, which is what we call the advertising model, where everything’s free but you pay for it by selling ads. But then because the technology gets better and better, the computers get bigger and cheaper, there’s more and more data — what started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. So you end up with this mass behavior-modification empire, which is straight out of Philip K. Dick, or from earlier generations, from 1984.

It’s this thing that we were warned about. It’s this thing that we knew could happen. Norbert Wiener, who coined the term cybernetics, warned about it as a possibility. And despite all the warnings, and despite all of the cautions, we just walked right into it, and we created mass behavior-modification regimes out of our digital networks. We did it out of this desire to be both cool socialists and cool libertarians at the same time.

RTWT

26 Apr 2018

“An Element of Immortality”

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William Harnden Foster, New England Grouse Shooting.

Terry Wieland, in Vintage British Shotguns (2008), writes:

There is, at the root of all this, a passion. For years I pondered the question of why I, and others, become emotional about firearms, new and old. Almost always, the passion is directed at finer guns. They could be the largely hand-fitted, hand-finished Winchesters of 1900, or the Colts of the same era, or the best bespoke Purdys and Lancasters. Or, they could be medium-quality boxlocks of the years before 1914. Different guns appeal to different people, but there are common threads.

The common thread here is hand labor –the skill and knowledge that flows from a craftsman’s head through his fingers, into the gun that he is making. That magical quality stays throughout its life, and that life can be very long — virtually infinite, in fact. These guns are made with steel and wood, crafted in a vise with a file, tempered by fire. A thousand years from now, that gun can still be shooting, or made to shoot once again, provided a man exists with the skill and the knowledge and the vise and the file and a piece of steel.

The magic simply does not exist with a gun fashioned from polymer, stamped out by a machine. No matter how well it functions in the short term, it is still a product of a disposable age. Fine guns are not disposable. They are made to last forever.

A man and his dog go out to hunt grouse, and he takes with him a hundred-year-old English shotgun. He may be the gun’s sixth or seventh owner. Each of these participants –dog, man, gun, bird — is an essential element in a timeless ballet, but each participates within its own cycle. A grouse may live for three seasons, a dog may hunt for ten; the man will hunt for 50, but the guncan go a-birding for a century, and the grouse as a species outlasts them all.

This metaphysical reality of hunting is one of the things that intrigues serious bird hunters so much, and gives us all a feeling of participating in something much larger, and older, and more important than ourselves. There is an element of immortality about it.

26 Apr 2018

“British Toddler Alfie Evans Not Allowed to Leave Country, UK Court Says”

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CNN:

Judges on the UK Court of Appeal once again ruled against 23-month-old Alfie Evans’ family.

Wednesday’s ruling rejected new arguments intended to overturn a decision by the High Court on Tuesday that prevented the terminally ill toddler from leaving Britain for medical treatment, said Roger Kiska, a lawyer with Christian Legal Center and part of the legal team representing Alfie’s parents.

25 Apr 2018

J.K. Rowling is a TERF!

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Tranny Phaylen Fairchild has not actually even read the Harry Potter books, but he/she/it somehow knows what they are really all about.

[T]he world of Harry Potter parallels our own. You have those bad guys with power and prestige versus the underdogs, those whose freedoms and civil rights are at risk. In every form and fashion, Harry Potter is an allegory, and perhaps more relevant today than when it was published two decades ago. There is a reason that many Harry potter fans identify as LGBT… it is one of the few pieces of literary fiction that provides us access and underscores the emotional and psychological trials of being an undesirable, an outcast.

And he/she/it is on top of every minute expression of opinion on Rowling’s part relevant to his/her/its politics of identity, and it seems that J.K. Rowling, more than once, indulged in politically-unbecoming female solidarity, “liking” some tweets on Twitter denying that real femininity can be achieved through personal choice in defiance of biological reality.

Oh, my god!

I do know who Rowling is, though, and I admired her as an artist; As a purveyor of all things good; A proverbial speck of light in an encroaching political darkness that she could have very well written about. As a writer myself, she was a beacon of hope. As a Trans person, I admired her decision to use her platform to reach across the boundaries of the Have and Have-Nots and provide us a line of defense that’s not typical of celebrities. Most are terrified of ruffling feathers or polarizing their fan base. I believed that Rowling had a distinct appreciation for the struggles we face here on the ground, and when she spoke it was not simple word-candy, but from an authentic place. Rowling had once been down here with rest of us who do the doggy paddle to stay afloat, all the while pleading for acceptance, inclusion and basic survival, lest we are swept away by the current of indifference.

It’s not the first time that someone has exhibited outspoken allegiance with women, people of color and gay men, but felt that embracing the Transgender community was stepping too far outside their comfort zone. We see it in politics all the time. There are those who supported the legalization of gay marriage, but those same people also feel Transgender individuals shouldn’t be allowed in public bathrooms. I didn’t expect to see J.K. Rowling reveal herself to be one of them.

Spokesmen for the writer were soon apologizing and crawfishing, but you know how it is: Hell hath no fury like a Social Justice Warrior with a grievance. And he/she/it is unforgiving and determined to lower the boom, concluding: J.K. Rowling is a “TERF- A Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.”

It’s fun watching lefties fight.

RTWT

25 Apr 2018

Another Trump Accomplishment

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24 Apr 2018

How to Lose Millions of Customers Overnight

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AllOutdoor.Com:

In a move destined to create a chasm between gun owners and high-priced hipster gear, Yeti has decided to stop selling merchandise to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), according to a statement posted on the NRA-ILA website Friday.

    For years YETI Coolers have been a hot item for sportsmen at the Friends of NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction events around the country.

    These Foundation events raise money to support youth programs and educational programs nationwide. The youth of America who benefit from these programs are the future hunters, hikers, fishermen/women, bikers, campers, wildlife photographers, mountain climbers, sportsmen/women and conservationists who will protect our natural resources and recreational lands.

    Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with The NRA Foundation saying they no longer wish to be an NRA vendor, and refused to say why. They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed. They have declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities. These activities enable them to appreciate America and enjoy our natural resources with wholesome and healthy outdoor recreational and educational programs.

    The NRA Foundation is 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization.

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The maven reports that Yeti also broke ties to Safari Club International, but (hypocritically) forwarded an email to Yeti ambassadors and dealers denying that it was taking the anti-gun side. The email was quoted on Instagram:

Yeah, sure.

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Rival Pelican was quick to respond:


For every cooler purchased this month, we’ll donate $10 to the NRA + and give you a FREE 22oz tumbler of your choice. Promo code: PELICANPROUD

pelicancoolers.com/freetumbler

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