31 December 2014

The Subjective Objective


From Yahoo:

It's bad enough that the Panthers made the playoffs with a losing record. But the historic ineptitude of the division also had a wide-ranging effect on which other teams made the playoffs.
Two of the three divisions with multiple playoff teams this year are the NFC North (Lions and Packers) and the AFC North (Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens). Not so coincidentally, those are also the two divisions that got to play all four NFC South teams.

The NFL is the only sport to which I pay attention these days (though Roger Goodell appears to be trying his damnedest to dissuade me), and this controversy over the NFC South is utterly confusing to me.  I simply cannot wrap my head around why some people are upset that a) a team with a losing record is in the playoffs and b) why said team is hosting a playoff game in the first round of the playoffs.

Allegations of some cosmic “unfairness” are bandied about (as in the linked article)—as if the matter in question is of supreme importance instead of being merely a boys’ game played by men—while some also wish to completely alter a system generally well-geared for parity on the basis of a highly irregular aberration.  This is somewhat troubling to me, as it is indicative of a rather significant intellectual failure and also a rather significant moral failure.

The intellectual failure is rather straightforward:  In complaining about how a supposedly “bad” team has made “the playoffs,” one makes the mistake of confusing the subjective with the objective.  The goodness or badness of a team is a purely subjective valuation; for proof, look at any set of power rankings that have been updated weekly throughout the season.  Astute observers will note, for example, that FOXSports had the Seahawks ranked first and the Titans ranked last in week seventeen, but in week eight those teams were ranked tenth and twenty-ninth, respectively.  Incidentally, I do not quibble with those rankings in either of those weeks because, at the time, those teams were roughly playing at those ranks.

My point, then, is that the “best” team in the league is more or less always in a state of flux.  Some teams look good on paper, while others look bad.  Some play well early in the season and then fade a little, like the Broncos.  Some look good when playing poor teams but get beat up by playoff contenders, like the Colts.  Some teams look dominant the first week, have a rough stretch, then regain their dominance, like the Seahawks.  What is obvious is that the best team in the league is generally in flux, and its status is contingent on a host of variables.  Would the Broncos still be considered a good team if they lost Peyton Manning?  Would the Patriots be favorites if Belichick died and went straight to Satan’s bosom?  Clearly not.  Thus, it is obvious that a team’s value is not only subjective, but also dynamic given that no human is immortal or infallible, and that all teams and management are comprised of humans.

The beauty of the playoff system of which the NFL makes use is that it is objective and temporal, which is to say that the system is rigidly defined by time.  There is a champion for every season, and the process by which a champion is decided is objective.  The purpose of the system is clarity and decisiveness, which is why playoff games are not allowed to end in ties.  The point is to crown a champion in a straightforward manner.  Concessions are made towards the more-accomplished teams by way of determining seeding, home-field advantage, etc.  However, the whole point of the playoffs is to introduce the element of uncertainty into the championship process.  The NFL could skip the playoff process altogether and award the title to the team with the best regular season record.  Tiebreakers could be decided as they are now:  divisional and conference records, strength of wins, etc.

Frankly, those pushing for an upheaval of the playoff system make absolutely no sense.  If the whole point of the playoff is to make sure that the best team wins, then the playoffs themselves are meaningless; the regular season records will suffice to determine that, especially given how the NFL schedule works.  However, if one concedes that the point of the playoffs is to introduce a greater level of uncertainty into the process of determining a league champion, then giving a mediocre team a long shot to win the Super Bowl would do the trick.  Thus, altering the playoffs to only include the best teams or favor the teams with better records over the winners of weaker divisions will only undermine the playoff system and ultimately lead to its undoing.

Of greater concern, though, is the moral failure of the intellectual half-wits who blindly champion this change in the name of fairness.  Of utmost concern is the sheer amount of energy spent arguing about a trivial detail of a game.

Of even greater concern, though, is how there are a not insignificant number of people who are willing to considering radically altering a tradition simply because of a highly irregular aberration.  There have been remarkably few teams with losing records in the playoffs, and no losing team has ever played in a Super Bowl, let alone won one.

Some might argue that it’s “unfair” for a losing team to not only make the playoffs but host a game.  This is simply not true.  The rules for the playoffs have existed in their current state for quite some team.  Every team and organization, and probably even most fans know what those rules are. There is no mystery about how to make the playoffs; the only question is of execution:  can you do it.  And every year, twenty teams cannot.

The rules and processes are straightforward and clear.  If you want to make the playoffs, you need to win.  If a team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s because it didn’t win enough games. Relying on luck for victory is the mindset of losers, so those who complain about not winning the schedule lottery have no place in the playoffs because they don’t have the mentality of winning.

Frankly, it is disgusting that anyone heeds this nonsensical celebration of pusillanimous loserdom.  Throwing out tradition because one time a mediocre team got a chance to make a playoff run while other teams with better records are sitting out in spite of having ample opportunities to knock of their competitors is sick.  Everyone knows the rules, so don’t complain about them when you can’t execute well enough to make the playoffs.  You had your chance and you lost; deal with it.

Is luck a factor?  Yes.  It’s funny, though, how often it is the case that the lucky teams also happen to be pretty damn good.  It’s also funny how the good teams don’t use bad luck as an excuse.  Maybe there’s a lesson in that.

24 September 2014

Attempting the Impossible

Via Buzzfeed:
“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating,” Watson said. “If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.” 
Watson, a U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, was in New York to launch “HeForShe,” a campaign for men and boys worldwide to advocate an end to gender inequality. She spoke frequently about the role men have in helping women and girls achieve equal rights, and said that liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women.
There's a lot to pick through, of course, and the talking points are familiar:  advocates of female equality do tend to be man-haters, women's rights aren't actually rights in the traditional sense, etc.  One thing that's always interesting, though, is the utter absurdity of the call for men to help women achieve equal rights.
This call is absurd because it is intrinsically self-contradicting.  It would be one thing to say that men should recognize women's equal rights (which assumes that equal rights exist and can generally be exercised by anyone); it's an entirely different matter to say that men can help women achieve equal rights.

Either women already have equal rights or they do not already have equal rights.  If women already have equal rights, then there is no need for women to achieve equal rights.  If women do not already have equal rights, then the question becomes why this is the case. The obvious answer is that men and women are not equal to each other (i.e. they are different from one another).  A less obvious answer is that men are trampling on women's rights.

If it is the case that men and women are not equal, then it is logically necessary to ask whether they can have equal rights in any meaningful sense.  After all, why would anyone expend energy trying to redress an intractable problem?

However, if the real problem is that men are suppressing women, then the question becomes:  why haven't women successfully overcome male oppression?  For, if women are equal to men, then how can it be that they are oppressed?  If women are intrinsically the same as men, how can it be that they are taken advatange of?

If there is a race of two runners of equal speed, the race will result in a tie.  If there is clear winner, then the two runners do not have equal speed.  In like manner, if women are the exact same as men, how is that they end up oppressed?  This brings us back to the prior observation that men and women are not equal, which in turn begs the question of whether there can actually be equality.

When all is said and done, Ms. Watson's pablum is simply an attempt to spur people to attempt the impossible: getting two intrinsically unequal groups to be treated as if they are equal.  I'm guessing it won't work.

09 September 2014

Strangers in a Strange Land

Kathy Shaidle:
It’s a testament to the stifling conformity of the black community that pop subcultures such as whites (and certain nonwhites) conceive of them do not exist. 
Think about it: except for Rastas, there are no African-American equivalents to the beatniks and goths, mods and rockers, skins and Teds, punks and new romantics, hippies and hipsters or (God help us) Juggalos. 
Not only that, but very few blacks dare (or care) to venture into these mostly white subcultures. When they do—as punk pioneer of Jamaican descent Don Letts will frankly tell you—they are generally embraced by their new white friends and shunned by their old black ones. To cite the subculture I’m most familiar with, the total number of well-known black punks fits comfortably into, well, one 66-minute film. (Directed by a half-white guy.)
The fundamental reality of the situation is that, for all their dysfunction and faults, black people understand one thing quite well:  blacks and whites are different.  Blacks are observably more racist than whites, which is a shorthanded way of saying that blacks don't really believe in inequality, except insofar as it is a magical word that can be used to get more government handouts.

More to the point, blacks know that blacks and whites are different, and they know that equality doesn't really exist.  What matters are ethnic ties, and skin color is a damned good marker of that (though not exactly perfect).  Blacks, then, recognize their status as being minority outsiders and take the logical step of engaging in a repulsive cultural conformity that achieves two goals.  First, it keeps fellow blacks in lockstep because, as Taleeb Starkes demonstrates in The Un-civil War, NIGGER culture is extremely dysfucntional, which makes the culture a kind of suicide pact.

Second, it keeps white people at bay.  White people never really venture into the ghetto because it is dangerous.  Detroit's not much of a vacation destination for upper-class white folks for a reason.

Thus, black dysfunction can be viewed as a cultural coping mechanism that ensures members of the tribe are stuck with the tribe and those who are not of the tribe want nothing to do with it.  Solving this problem is pretty simple, and it's still the same as when Abraham Lincoln proposed it back in 1862:  ship the black people out of America.  Their dysfunction isn't doing anyone any good and it's clear that they either cannot or will not assimilate into White European society.  As such, there is no point in keeping them around as distrusted minorities.

08 September 2014

Good Luck With That

An economist with a proposal to fix inequality:
If people married each other more randomly, poverty levels would be considerably lower than they are now.  If we abandoned all current family arrangements and randomly grouped all Bolivians into new families of 5 persons, poverty levels would fall by about 15 percentage points (from the current level of 55% of all households to about 40% of all households).  The Gini coefficient measuring inequality would also fall from about 0.70 to 0.55.
So one way to reduce inequality in Bolivia is to get women to be more random in mate selection.  Or, to state it another way, to be less concerned with getting the best man they can land.  Do economists ever realize how fucking stupid they sound when they say shit like this?

The reason why economic equality will always exist is because genetic (for lack of a better adjective) inequality will always exist.  Not everyone is a hard-charging go-getter with plans for conquering the world.  Not everyone has artistic tendencies, not everyone is a ruthless self-promoter, not everyone is a ripped athletic specimen.  Some women are willing to settle quickly for less-than-ideal mates; others are willing to wait longer to see if they can do better.  Some men won't stop being world-beaters until they land a supermodel trophy wife; other men will marry at age 20 to the first 6 that says yes.

We all make choices in life, most of which are gnetically influenced.  This is an intractable element of human nature and will never ever go away, no matter how many economists tell people to be more random in their marital choices.

Furthermore, inequality is not the absolute worst thing in the world.  Some people are quite content with being poor.  Beleive it or not, there are some people who don't view the accumulation of material goods as the be-all, end-all of life.  Consequently, they aren't really all they wealthy.  Some people are content with dropping out of the rat race so as to spend more time enjoying the finer things in life (I'm looking at you, Aaron Clarey).  Some people just don't care about being rich, or even middle-class, so why view their failure to attain such status as a problem if they don't?  It boggles the mind.

What's even more mind-boggling is how this trained economist could probably expalin how individual preferences work in micro but but completely ignores the role individual preferences when conducting macro analysis.  Perhaps he should read Steve Keen.

07 September 2014

Female Fantasy

Cane:
My blogging superior is fond of pointing out the foolishness of this notion that most modern women are at risk of most modern men; especially when compared to the brutality of previous eras. My own view is that, as a rule, most men have never been very brutal to most women under them; that they were not much different back then than men now. Men are deferential to women’s preferences now.
I largely agree with this assessment.  There have been brutal men, to be sure (like, say, Muslims living in modern England).  But male brutality towards women is more the exception than the norm, esepcially when discussing male brutality towards women under their care (e.g. male brutality towards women is more likely directed towards foreign women in a war zone than one's own wife or daughter).

Thus, it becomes quite interesting to contemplate from whence the charges of male brutality come.  It's a fantasy, but is it of the wish-fulfillment variety or the martyr-complex variety?

Doubling Down

I feel like it's time for me to redouble my efforts at calling for the dissolution of the federal government:
A Texas catering business will pay the United States $26,400 for engaging in “citizenship-discrimination,” as part of a settlement with the Justice Department announced Tuesday. 
Culinaire International unlawfully discriminated against employees based on their citizenship status, the Justice Department claimed, because it required non-citizen employees to provide extra proof of their right to work in the United States. 
Culinaire has agreed to pay the United States $20,460 in civil penalties, receive training in anti-discrimination rules of the Immigration and Nationality Act, revise its work eligibility verification process, and create a $40,000 back pay fund for “potential economic victims.” 
“Employers cannot discriminate against workers by requiring them to produce more documents than necessary in the employment eligibility verification and reverification processes,” Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights division, Molly Moran, said in a statement.
With the employment rate being at some of its lowest levels ever, and given the rampant spread of illegal immigration generally non-violent foreign invasion, it seems beyond insane for the federal government of the United fucking States of America to fine a productive business for doing a little extra due diligence in ensuring that its fucking employees weren't illegal immigrants.  Because the main thing America needs is more foreign workers, particularly of the "undocumented" variety.

This is simply evil, pure and simple.  The federal government completely hates its citizens and is actively seeking their misery and destruction.  It's time to water the tree of liberty with the blood of all federal employees, elected and unelected.

Before I completely let my anger get the best of me, though, it behooves me to question whether this is actually some world-class black-knighting.  If an employer is genuinely concerned about the legal status of his employees, fining said employer for being too rigorous (and calling it citizenship-discrimination) is actually a pretty good way to ensure that fewer foreign workers are hired since the potential costs of hiring them are now higher.  This gives the administration the appearance of helping poor third-world immigrants while actually hurting them.  This would assume that the administration is assuming that their political support base is economically ignorant, which is actually quite plausible.

Or it could be the case that the federal government has nothing but disdain for its citizens.  Given how the citizens continually vote to keep the federal system alive, there's a good chance that the federal government just might be onto something.

The Fappening

I'm with Bob Lefsetz on this:
Maybe I grew up in the dark ages, when you had to go to the porn shop to buy European magazines to see naked ladies, when it was a breakthrough when “Penthouse” printed pictures of women below the waist. But despite being aged, a veritable antique, I’m fully aware that if you don’t want anybody to know anything, don’t put it on the Internet! 
No, let me restate that. If you’re going to do anything illicit, do it alone, in the bathroom, in the dark. 
Is it any wonder the public is interested in nude photos of celebrities? Isn’t that what they’re selling? There aren’t that many unattractive actors and actresses in America. No, you won the gene derby, you worked on your craft and you made it. Congratulations! But do you have to be so dumb?
Exactly.  I don't see any reason to be outraged over this incident.  I'm of the opinion that intellectual property is a nonsensical belief system and does not actually exist; therefore, IP cannot be "stolen" per se, only copied.  So what happened wasn't theft, and was not unlawful, at least in the more metaphysical sense (though it was undoubtedly illegal per the law currently on the books).

I'm not entirely sure I feel comfortable saying it was an intrinsically immoral act either.  More precisely, I don't feel comfortable blaming just the distributor of the photos for contributing to social degeneracy.  Sure, distributing pornographic content is immoral, but so is generating the content that's getting distributed.  Internet porn sites are in the same moral boat as porn stars, and thus it would stand to reason that Jennifer Lawrence, Hope Solo, etc. are as complicit in the spread of licentious imagery as the anonymous "liberator" of their selfies.  Or, to put it another way, I don't feel comfortable with condemning a random 4chan user without also vociferously condemning the exposed celebrities since you can't really have the one without the other.

What I do feel comfortable saying, though, is that the cloud is completely unreliable for security, especially if it's Apple.  People can lament privacy breaches day and night if they want, but internet privacy is an oxymoron.  Whatever you put on the internet is up for grabs and is already known by the US federal government and Google, probably Facebook, and dozens more entities besides.  If you don't want someone to know something about you, never ever put it on any sort of web page or site.

In like manner, the easiest way to avoid leaked nude pics is to never take/have them in the first place (TSA body scanners notwithstanding).  You can't get an STD if you don't have sex, generally speaking, and you can't get nude pics hacked if you don't have nude pics.  This isn't all that complicated.

Incidentally, it seems a little strange that rich, attractive female celebrities are being treated as victims when a) they make their money by selling their sexuality to some degree (e.g. would Hope Solo be famous if she looked more like an overweight lesbo?  Would Lawrence be a big movie star if she was disfigured?) and b) they clearly have no problems with nude pictures of themselves.  Complaining that you are no longer able to control who sees your pictures seems like a quintessential first-world problem to me.

Perhaps would should worry about more important things, like the impending financial collapse...

28 August 2014

The Future of Work is Sales

Mangan:
I forsee in the near future a vast mass of the formerly employed living on food stamps and Section 8 - yes, even more than now. (But I will get a little schadenfreude out of seeing unemployed baristas with degrees in gender studies with 50 grand in student debt.) 
What is to be done? The video states, and I agree, that this time is different, that the idea that those unemployed truck drivers and waitrons will just go on to some other work, type unforeseen at the moment. They just won't be able to add any value. The left side of the bell curve looks to be screwed, and the right side isn't exactly safe either. 
Algorithms have been shown to be more competent than humans at things like medical diagnoses, wine tasting, anything really that requires human judgment. The reason, one of them anyway, is that algorithms and the machines that use them have no biases.
What always seems to be overlooked in this sort of hand-wringing is that a) technology is hardly an unstoppable march forward and b) employment is mostly a proxy for relationships (i.e. networking).
Modern tech is incredibly complex and is built on highly technical platforms.  Technology and its supporting platforms require maintenance, and people will be hired to perform said maintenance.  As tech becomes complex to the point where there are not enough smart people to maintain it, the maintenance interface will be dumbed to broaden the maintenance support base for dumb people.  For proof, look at cash register systems at fast food restaurants.

Additionally, it is important to realize that employment is primarily a way of selling yourself.  You are the product that is being purchased, and so it is helpful to have people like you or otherwise get along with you.  Recent Spike Jonze' movies aside, people don't really have relationships with technology; they have relationships with people.  Those who do not form relationships with people will eventually be weeded out of the gene pool, leaving those who can form relationships to continue on and prosper.

What this implies is that corporate jobs may start to disappear because corporate jobs are dehumanizing.  Additionally, recipients of federal and state welfare will also begin to disappear because welfare is for those who failed to develop good relationships.  What will happen, then, is that those in corporate jobs will either succeed in branching out their networks and improving their general relationships with others or they will lose out and go on welfare.  While society will always have a bottom, it does not stand to reason that it will be increasing in size over the next century.  The human system self-corrects.  As such, it is a tad foolish to chase this trend to its logical extreme given it is virtually never the case that any trend continues infinitely unabated.

24 July 2014

At Least Chalupas Are Cheap

PJ Media:
Millennials are slower to marry than previous generations. They have moved the median marriage age up to 29 for men and 27 for women. They are largely delaying marriage because they are loaded down with massive student debt, and because there are few jobs available to them upon which they can build their lives.
Fortunately, there are a ton of immigrants, legal and otherwise, who will work for cheap.  Thus, when Millenials finally get those big jobs that their student loans have bought them, they'll be able to afford not only a gardener and pool boy, but a nanny as well!  And all by the age of 50 to boot!

A Self-Righteous Hypocrite

Jeffrey Tucker:
The humanitarians are drawn to reasons such as the following. Liberty allows peaceful human cooperation. It inspires the creative service of others. It keeps violence at bay. It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms. It socializes people with rewards toward getting along rather than tearing each other apart, and leads to a world in which people are valued as ends in themselves rather than fodder in the central plan. 
We know all of this from history and experience. These are all great reasons to love liberty. 
But they are not the only reasons that people support liberty. There is a segment of the population of self-described libertarians—described here as brutalists—who find all the above rather boring, broad, and excessively humanitarian. To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards, to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions, to be openly racist and sexist, to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity, and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.
What poor Mr. Tucker seems to not understand is that the liberty that enables "human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms" must necessarily be both positive and negative.  What does this mean?  Well let's turn to Jeffrey Tucker for the answer:
Even in the case of the Garden of Eden, where superabundance would mean that all things we ever wanted were in our grasp, Hoppe explains that there would still be a need for property rights. This is because the human body itself is scarce: choices about who can use it and how it can be used necessarily exclude other choices. One cannot simultaneously eat an apple, smoke a cigarette, climb a tree, and build a house.
If I might be so bold, it would also appear that one cannot simultaneously have a relationship with everyone on earth.  Or, to spell it out for our dear anti-racist Jeffrey Tucker, the ability to choose to form relationships with certain people necessarily requires that one choose to not have relationships with other people.  Thus, Tucker's complaint that some libertarians are not the right type of libertarians because they want to use liberty to exclude others is a wash because, per Tucker's own logic regarding the scarcity of the human body, every libertarian is a libertarian brutalist, including Tucker himself.

There is much more to be said about Tucker's self-serving platitudinous nonsense, but that will have to be for another post.  In the meantime, isn't interesting how fascistly progressive the libertarian movement has become?