31 December 2013

Who Is The Best?



But winning the division, no matter how bad a division may be, continues to carry a playoff berth and a home game.  While it would be unfair and impractical strip a division winner from a berth in the postseason, why does the best of four bad teams deserve a home playoff game?

Florio’s analysis—breathtakingly stupid as it is—really just hinges on one tiny little error:  he assumes that the team that wins the championship is really the best team in the NFL in a given year.  This is an astonishingly stupid assumption because a) “best” is a subjective valuation while “champion” is an objective state of being and b) “best” is dynamic.

To illustrate this, simply ask which team is better: the week 7 Colts that beat the Broncos or the week 10 Colts that got crushed by the Rams?  Clearly, anyone with two functioning brain cells would have to say that the week 7 Colts were superior to the week 10 Colts.  Also, anyone with two functioning brain cells would have to note that the two Colts teams were not the same, as one had Reggie Wayne and the other did not.  Trying to evaluate which team is the best is a dynamic activity because the teams themselves are dynamic, and their composition is generally subject to change, which is why it is difficult to make accurate single-team comparisons not only a cross an entire season, but season-to-season and even across eras as well.

But more to the point, the best teams of the 2013 NFL season are clearly the weeks 1-5 Broncos and the weeks 10-13 Seahawks.  You’ll note that neither of these teams are considered best for the entire season since a) their team compositions have varied and b) their performances have as well.  The Broncos opened their season with a five game stretch of utter dominance that they haven’t shown since, and while the Seahawks have been generally consistent (all of their losses have been by less than seven points), no stretch of games quite matches that middle stretch of utter dominance.  Clearly, the “bestness” of a team is subject to some degree of fluctuation, and no team is perfectly and unequivocally dominant as evidenced by the fact that both the Broncos and Seahawks have suffered losses.

Trying to determine the “best” team is thus a fool’s errand because the best team isn’t always the same team week-to-week, as any perusal of a weekly power rankings system will show.  Thus, it is subsequently foolish to expect the annual champion to be the best in the league simply because there is too much variance in a team’s quality on a daily and weekly basis.

Consequently, the rules for determining a champion are always going to be both arbitrary and flawed.  Florio has noted the flaws of the NFL championship system, but this is hardly cause for concern since it is never the case that the “worst” team in the league is the champion.  In fact, it is pretty much always the case, under the current set of rules, that a very good team will be crowned champion.  Not the best team, mind you, but a very good one.

The last ten AFC representatives in the Super Bowl have been New England (4 times), Pittsburgh (3 times), Indianapolis (twice) and Baltimore (once), while the last ten NFC representatives have been (in reverse order): the 49ers, the Giants, the Packers, the Saints, the Cardinals, the Giants, the Bears, the Seahawks, the Eagles, and the Panthers.  Of the two lists, the only team arguably bad team would be the 2008 Cardinals.  And the lost to the considerably superior Steelers, which again goes to show that the NFL’s attempt to design a championship system that favors very good teams does, in fact, work as intended.

My personal preference for a playoff system is simple:  division winners only, no wildcards.  Want to make the playoffs?  Win your division.  Now, this is an entirely arbitrary system.  But here’s the thing:  any and all playoff systems are completely arbitrary.  Every last one.  Even the ones that are based solely on record.

More to the point, the playoff style of the NFL makes a lot of Florio’s objections kind of dumb.  If, say, the Packers really are the best team in the league right now, what with Rodgers getting healthy again, does it really make that big a difference whether they are seeded fourth or sixth?  I mean, if their dominance is inevitable, does their seeding really matter?  To put it in a more tautological perspective, if the champion is the best team, then the advantages conferred by seeding are mostly illusory, when viewed ex post.  Since you actually have to play the games, the advantages of seeding are just that:  advantages. They are not guarantees.  Sure, you don’t want to put the better team at an unnecessary disadvantage, but if they are the best  team, they will likely find a way to overcome their disadvantages.

Getting back to Florio, if what he wants is the best team crowned champion each year, then what he needs to advocate is a 31-game schedule that ensures each team play all the other teams in the league once, and then crown the team with the best record as champion.  This would be the most fair way of determining record, but even this method has obvious flaws.

The truth is, what makes the NFL—and sports in general—so entertaining is that it is frankly impossible to say with certainty who the best team or player is.  The debate—not the answer—is what makes the NFL so fun.  And trying to determine the definitively best team is to destroy to the essence of sports entertainment.

15 December 2013

The World’s Dumbest Protest



A Google Inc commuter bus was blocked in San Francisco's Mission district for about a half hour Monday morning, highlighting many residents' growing concern that an influx of affluent technology workers is driving up costs in the city.
"San Francisco, not for sale" and "Stop evictions now" numbered among the slogans yellow-vested protesters chanted as they surrounded the double-decker bus. Google's offices are in Mountain View, about 34 miles away from the incident.
The protest, organized by an advocacy group called Heart of the City, took aim at private commuter buses which whisk thousands of employees from stops around San Francisco to jobs at technology companies south of the city such as Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Google.
Advocates of the buses say they ease traffic on already clogged highways as workers give up driving individual cars for the convenience of riding in the buses, which usually come with plush seats and WiFi.
Foes say the buses jam up municipal bus stops and remove potential customers from cash-strapped public transportation systems, including regional rail service, that could use their revenue.

Sweet Karl Marx, but lefties are hilarious once they run out of problems to solve.
The money quote:

The commuter-bus situation "has become very symbolic of what's happening to the city in terms of gentrification," said McElroy in a phone interview. "It's creating a system where San Francisco is being flooded with capital, and creating a technology class where other people can't compete."

It’s almost as if they want to live in increasing poverty.  I say let them.

Life isn’t fair, and no two people are equal.  Don’t get mad at Google for revealing what everyone who has matured past toddlerhood knows.

Still, this is about as funny the recent Smash WhiteSupremacy Fun Run in LA (no, I'm not making it up).  If the collapse ever happens, I think I’ll keep a few lefties around just for laughs.

The Wrong Tool



The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and hiking it to $12 would solve many of our economic problems at a single stroke.
A $12 minimum wage is hardly extreme or ridiculous. At the 1968 height of our post-war economic prosperity, the American minimum wage was over $10.50 in current dollars, and setting the rate at $12 today would represent a real rise of merely 11 percent over a 45-year period, which seems reasonable since worker productivity has grown by over 115 percent during the same period. The minimum wage in France is almost $13 while Australian workers benefit from an hourly minimum wage of around $15, together with unemployment of just 5.7 percent.
Walmart is America’s largest private employer and 300,000 of its workers have average wages of just $8.75 per hour, forcing many of them to receive food stamps and other government welfare benefits to survive. But if a minimum wage hike boosted their pay to at least $12 per hour, Walmart could cover the costs by a one-time price rise of just 1.1 percent, and the average Walmart shopper would only pay an extra $12.50 per year. Meanwhile, a $12 minimum wage would increase the incomes of America’s lower-wage work force by a total of over $150 billion each year, shifting those huge sums from the pockets of the sort of people who don’t shop at Walmart to those who do. A minimum wage of $12 per hour would be very good for Walmart’s business.

It is a given in economic theory that price is determined by the intersection of supply and demand. When demand is greater than supply, the price goes up.  When supply is greater than demand, price goes down.  Last I checked, the labor market is not exempt from the laws of supply and demand.  As such, trying to impose minimum prices by legislative fiat in order to boost wages is misguided at best, especially if it doesn’t fix the underlying problem of supply and demand.

As such, using minimum wage legislation is the wrong tool for the job of raising labor prices since, as basic price theory would postulate, a price floor tends to lead to a glut.  So, the better tool is labor regulations.  Specifically, it would be better to reduce the size of the labor market.

One specific policy that would make a considerable difference in wages would be deporting immigrants, particularly illegals, but also unskilled migrant laborers, and maybe even highly skilled migrant workers if they are working in sectors that have seen especially depressed wages since 2008.  Since apparently even smart people like Ron Unz are apparently ignorant of basic economics, I will spell out the consequences of this policy:  the supply of labor will contract more rapidly than demand for labor, leading to increased rates.  Again, in case Unz and his ilk missed this class in Econ 101: the supply of labor will contract more rapidly than demand for labor, leading to increased rates.

One other specific policy that would make a decent difference in wages would be offering tax credits for mothers who decide to drop out of the workforce to homeschool their children, since this would help to reduce women’s labor participation to 1968 levels (which, as Unz notes, is when the minimum wage was higher, as if there is some sort of correlation between price, supply, and demand in the labor market).  An added bonus of this tax policy is that not only would American PISA scores rise because most mothers can’t help but be better teachers than those who major in education, but this would also save the federal government some money in education grants.*  Since apparently even smart people like Ron Unz are apparently ignorant of basic economics, I will spell out the consequences of this policy:  the supply of labor will contract more rapidly than demand for labor, leading to increased rates.  Again, in case Unz and his ilk missed this class in Econ 101: the supply of labor will contract more rapidly than demand for labor, leading to increased rates.

By now, it should be clear that Ron Unz is either too stupid to be given any sort of authority over labor policy, or he is simply a charlatan.  Minimum wage laws simply don’t work, either because they are too low for the market (making them irrelevant), too high for the market (making them counterproductive), or the same as the market (making them redundant).  Thus, the only effective way to change wages is to tweak either supply or demand for labor.

The only mystery at this point is why Ron Unz appears to not know this.
* Hypothetically, of course, as the government never decreases funding for a program, let alone end it.

14 December 2013

I Don’t Think the Retards Are Getting Into Harvard



Reports that A- is the median grade in Harvard College have reopened the debate about grade inflation. Many of the arguments offered in response to the news are familiar. The venerable grade hawk Harvey “C-” Mansfield, who brought the figures to public attention, describes the situation as an “indefensible” relaxation of standards.
More provocative are defenses of grade inflation as the natural result of increased competition for admission to selective colleges and universities. A new breed of grade doves point out that standards have actually been tightened in recent years. But the change has been made to admissions standards rather than expectations for achievement in class.

Mansfield would be right if Harvard let anyone on the left half of the bell curve into their hallowed halls.  I presume there are a couple of legacy students who are in Harvard because of their daddy’s money but are cursed with his trophy wife’s brains (I don’t know if this is the case, I’m just theorizing).  However, I would generally suspect that most Harvard students have a lot of raw intelligence.  This doesn’t make them wise, or necessarily brilliant or insightful, but I don’t think that any of them are going to turn in shitty work.  As such, it doesn’t really make sense to distribute grades on a typical curve because the students themselves are distributed on a typical curve.

But more to the point, just why is the lack of low grades a problem?  Do employers actually ask for grades?  Are there any besides bored pundits on a slow news day even asking this question?  Do college grades even matter in the grand scheme of things?  Hell, is it even legal for employers to ask about grades?

I readily admit that this is nothing but intellectual masturbation on my end.  I just wish all the other pundits would admit it too.

It’s All An Innocent Misunderstanding


Nathan at Open Borders makes a clarification:

The communication failure occurs because we mean different thing by “open borders.” I mean simply that immigrants will be allowed to enter the country physically, and allowed to work. Not that they will reside there on equal terms with citizens, subject to the same tax rules for example. Certainly not that they will have access to the vote, which is a separate issue, or to welfare benefits, which I would strongly object to.

Well this isn’t really open borders.  This would probably be better described as free labor.  If you accept that nation-states are their own actual entities with the right to bar or welcome whoever they want, then ultimately the question that’s being asked and answered is:  who, exactly, should be allowed to cross the border and what should be the terms of their crossing?  In this case, with restrictionist principle of collective ownership theory already conceded, advocating or arguing in terms of border openness is highly misleading, to say the least.  Really, the main concern is primarily a matter of labor policy because the only immigrants in consideration are laborers and not, say, political refugees or criminals or terrorists.

What’s interesting to me is that the Open Borders bloggers aren’t really advocates for the dissolution of borders or even absolutists for all forms of migration.  According to them, it’s mostly just a matter of international labor policy.  So why not just call it that instead of misnomering the movement?  Why not say you advocate free labor and clear up a host of confusion?  Why not use an appropriate term instead of lecturing people when they take your term at face value instead of the highly nuanced sense in which you use it?  Is that really so much to ask?

13 December 2013

Speaking of the Coming Aristocracy...


The British government confirms its arrival:

Today's middle-class children are on track to be the first in more than a century to be materially less well off in adulthood than their parents, a government commission is expected to warn this week.
Leaked findings reveal the existence of a national trend not experienced since the early 20th century, with children from families with above-average incomes, as well as the most deprived, set to enjoy a worse standard of living when they grow up than their mothers and fathers.
The social mobility and child poverty commission, established by David Cameron, is expected to warn that government initiatives have all too often been aimed at the poorest 10%. Yet the inability to get on in life is a now a major and growing problem for middle-class children and this group is in dire need of attention, it is expected to report.

As noted in my post about the heart of Progressivism, this sort of thing is to be expected when people who have a constant need for change are put in charge.  Once they attain wealth and opulence, the only change that can be made is to go back to poverty. Therefore, as I’ve noted before, the best thing to do is to get ready for the coming aristocracy.

To do this, one must change one’s expectations about wealth and freedom.  Given the trends, it is best to simply accept the fact that you will not have as much liberty as your parents or grandparents. It’s not likely that you will be totally enslaved, but expecting a high degree of freedom is mostly a pipe dream at this point.  You will be controlled to a fairly high degree, but you won’t be micromanaged.

You should also come to terms with being relatively poor.  You won’t have as much as your parents, or possibly even your grandparents.  But you will still have more than most people throughout history.  My advice is to find pleasure in inexpensive standalone things.  Tablets are better than home theaters; guitars are better than pianos.  Video games are better than board games, though a deck of cards is the best.  Don’t get too hung up on owning lake or beach property.  Prioritize canoes over speedboats if you want water sports.  Simple cars are better than luxury SUVs. So on and so forth.  Prioritize things that will provide simple, daily pleasures over things that provide immense but occasional pleasures.  Also, invest in quality goods that will last a while instead of cheap things that need replaced constantly.  This isn’t the great depression, but frivolous spending is going to be a luxury instead of the norm.

While it’s probably disappointing to know that the best days are behind us, and will be for centuries if not millennia, we can at least take comfort in knowing that the initial decline will still be fairly comfortable and enjoyable.  It may not be the peak, but it is still a considerable distance from the nadir.

Inflation is Everywhere



The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.
Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration. [Emphasis added.]

Between QE4eva, all the padding of official statistics, Twitter followers, and now this, it would appear that the word that most defines Obama’s legacy is inflation.  I suppose it’s fitting, given Obama’s own inflated sense of self-importance and his believers’ tendency to overrate his ambition and abilities.  Everything about him is overrated and overblown, right down to the minutiae of his victory claims.

* This has to be the most fucking absurd sentence I’ve ever written.  Seriously, why the fuck am I even seriously talking about a head of state a) having a social media account and b) using it as propaganda?  He resembles 30 Rock’s version of Kim Jong-Il more than the actual George Washington.  Perhaps this is just the madness of this modern age.

12 December 2013

Race and Smarts


Turns out we’re all racist:

Being more intelligent does not stop people being racist – it simply makes them better at covering it up.
A study found that they were just as likely to be prejudiced as their less educated peers but did not act on their feelings.

I assume that being racist really means noticing that people who a certain marker of genetic difference (i.e. skin color and ethnicity) also tend to have other things that are statistically true about them as well.  That said, I find it interesting that smart people are less likely to act on their observations.

I mean, it’s not hard to see that blacks and whites and Asians and Hispanics are all different in a lot of ways.  Not necessarily better or worse, mind you, but different.

I guess what this really means is that it takes a lot of brainpower to convince yourself that reality is a lie, which is why you can always trust dumb people.  It’s not that they never lie; it’s just that when they do they’re so bad at it that it’s easy to see right through it.

Come to think of it, it would be really interesting to see research on the relationship between intelligence and trustworthiness.  My bet is that the results wouldn’t be so hot for the cult of intelligence.

The Heart of Libertarianism


I’ve addressed the heart of conservatism and the heart of progressivism prior on this blog.  Consequently, I think it worthwhile to address the heart of libertarianism.  Perhaps I will continue this series by looking at the group identities of other political movements, but I think with conservatism, progressivism, and libertarianism, I’ve pretty much covered the bulk of political identities that express human personality.

While the heart of progressivism is the seeking of novelty and the heart of conservatism is the avoidance of change, the heart of libertarianism is a dissatisfaction with authority.  There are two senses in which this is true, though it must be remembered that every libertarian is a special snowflake who simply cannot be pigeonholed into any one belief system, for all libertarians are independent free-thinkers, each of whom always devise their own a priori principles from which they each build their particular philosophy of freedom.  Yes, libertarians are arrogant little fucks.

Anyway, to the point at hand, the two main types of libertarians are a) those who hate authority in general and those who b) who authority in specific.

The former hate authority because they are rebellious little punks who don’t like being controlled or being told what to do.  They wish to bow down to their basest, destructive desires, but they are simply too cowardly to do so.  The only reason they don’t go about doing drugs and violating property rights is because they don’t want to go to jail.  They are rational decision makers but wish they didn’t have to be.  This is, to be sure, a fairly extreme description, but nonetheless the general mindset of rebelling against all authority fits.  This describes the left-leaning anarchists and atheists wings of the libertarian movement as the former hates all types of hierarchy whereas the latter merely hates most types of hierarchy. Basically, anarchists are emotionally stunted adolescents who are still stuck in their teenage rebelliousness.

The latter only hate specific authorities, mostly because they believe said authorities are corrupt.  There are libertarians like Tom Woods and Tom DiLorenzo who basically take the approach that the American constitution establishes good principles for a goof government, but these principles have been betrayed, in these days, by morally corrupt men.  In essence, they would complain about a king, not necessarily the monarchy.  Basically, Libertarians are humble middle-aged men who have a long history of behaving responsibly and having no desire to lead others.

The reason why libertarianism can never gain any political traction stems from two problems.  First, most people don’t want liberty.  Second, those who do want liberty are at odds with each other on the most foundational principle:  should liberty be established through the proper authorities?  The anarchist says no, the Libertarian says yes, and they can never really establish a coalition.  Also, libertarians like signal status by nonconformity and commitment to principle, so the practical consequence of everyone trying to be unyieldingly different precludes any sort of solidarity.

Anarchism is an intellectual and social dead end because it appeals to its own authority to call for an end to all authority.  It has no method for establishing its principles, and must appeal to superstition.  The emotional and moral validations for rebellion are simply intellectual window dressing.  It cannot build society, for it denies any form of hierarchy, and hierarchy is essential to social growth.  Anarchists cannot be trusted with power for if they accept it and put it to use, they will eventually become fascists.

Libertarianism, though, can lead to social wealth and prosperity, though it does not actually cause it, and therefore is not guaranteed to do so.  Libertarianism can balance the Progressive need for change with the conservative need for stasis, though it is rare to actually see this happen for any long period of time.  Libertarians can be trusted with power, and it is usually wise to let them have it.  However, their general lack of desire to control others tends to preclude them from being invested in political minutiae, so they always get overrun by those who are more meddlesome, like Progressives and Conservatives.  Though they can be trusted with power, they can never be trusted for long because they are too laissez-faire to make preparation for the future.  They are managers more than leaders.

Fuck Obama



Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act.
'I thought the kinks were worked out of Obamacare at the first of the month,' Central Florida volunteer firefighter Carl Fabrizi told Sunshine State News.
'Man, oh, man, this could potentially destroy some real good companies in Florida.'
The U.S. Department of Labor takes the term 'volunteer' literally, but the IRS says volunteer firefighters are technically employees if they're on the job more than 30 hours per week, making them subject to Obamacare's employee-mandate rules.
Since the Obamacare law doesn't specifically carve out an exemption for them, fire departments where 50 or more people work – either as volunteers or officially as employees – are expected to provide health insurance for every one of them.
In towns with more than one volunteer fire department, all the staffers will likely be lumped together for tax purposes, pushing many municipalities above the 50-worker threshold.
That could cost departments of life-savers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Those that dump their volunteers into the federal insurance exchanges would still have to pay an annual $2,000 fine for each 'employee' after the first 30.

While starry-eyed dreamers spent the 2008 election in mystical haze of leg-tingles, growing misty-eyed about the prospect of Obama providing free health care to the entire universe, righting all the civil wrongs, making America not racist, and shitting rainbows while riding unicorns to pay off old black ladies’ car loans, there were a decent number of wet blankets warning that such hypothetically sweeping legislation could have seriously negative consequences.  It turns out the wet blankets were right and the starry-eyed tinglers were wrong.

In addition to a complete joke of a website, ridiculous rising costs, decreased coverage for employees, and fines for the uninsured (i.e. the ones most presumably in need of insurance), it turns out ObamaCare might also destroy some volunteer departments.  That’s just fuckin’ great.  Are there no limits to the incompetence-fueled disaster that is misnomered as the Affordable Care Act?

Yes, the IRS will probably be pressured to grant exemptions to volunteer fire departments, but that’s just the beginning of a rather troubling trend.  In order to make the ACA work, the law will have to be, practically speaking, rewritten by bureaucracies.  Alternatively, the law could be repealed.  Or, people could just be fucked over.  My guess is that special groups will get exemptions while others will be left to deal with the onerous requirements of the law.  Needless to say, this isn’t going to do much to foster a unified civic spirit, nor is it going to promote political stability.  In fact, this trend pretty much marks the beginning of the end.  All because some dumb-fuck progressives couldn’t live with the heinously oppressive thought that someone somewhere might have to deal with some sort of medical problem in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Goodbye America.  I guess this is what you get for letting fools have a say in running the country.

Another Terrorist Dies



The 20/20 special peddled such obviously fraudulent lies as the allegation that Mandela’s African National Congress was “committed to nonviolent resistance.” Not a peep was made about the fact that Mandela was sentenced to prison not only for “treason”—which is the only charge the show mentioned—but that he pled guilty to an indictment accusing him of complicity in “the preparation, manufacture and use of explosives—for the purpose of committing acts of violence.” Nothing was said about the radical guerrilla army he founded called “Spear of the Nation” that was linked to hundreds of acts of violence and sabotage. Nothing was said about his claim that “violence in this country was inevitable.” Nor was it mentioned that he was offered freedom from prison in February 1985 if he agreed to foreswear violence but that he refused. And they certainly didn’t dare to show a clip of an ANC “necklacing” that’s one of the most brutal snippets of mob violence I’ve ever witnessed. Nothing was said about the Church Street Bombing or any of the other bombings and violent acts committed in the ANC’s name that in other contexts would have Mandela dubbed a violent terrorist. Instead, 20/20 referred to him with the much cheerier sobriquet of “freedom fighter.”

Much is made in PUA/Game circles about how chicks dig jerks.  But I think the greater truth is that people in general dig jerks.  Especially liberals.

More to the point, most of the so-called “great leaders” in history tend to be incredibly violent men.  King David, most of the successful Roman emperors, and a decent number of US presidents (Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt), among a host of others.  For whatever reason, people just seem to admire men who are brutally violent to their enemies, and take no shit from anyone.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that Mandela has a fairly sizable fan club; he was a pretty violent guy.

So, perhaps it is true that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.  I guess one’s perspective almost entirely depends on whether the leader’s violence is in opposition or in support of one’s personal beliefs and politics.  The amusing thing, though, is that if the violent leader uses force to support your politics, he suddenly becomes a paragon of peace.  I guess humans can rationalize anything for any man who is sufficiently alpha.

11 December 2013

A Brief Thought Exercise


If you’re an anarchist, then it would be illogical for you to argue that the US government should sell off federal land in order to divest itself of property.  Instead, the logical argument should be that the federal government should vacate the land it has taken possession of and not interfere with its original owners’ resettlement.

For, if you argue that the government should sell the land it holds, then you are implicitly admitting that the government is a) a legitimate entity and that b) it possesses property rights.  If the government were an illegitimate entity, then whatever ownership claims it would make would subsequently be illegitimate as well.  Thus, it would have to forfeit all claims to the proceeds of the sales, since those claims are derivative from the initial illegitimate ownership claim.

The Crux of the Borders Debate


Regarding my prior post, I think that the borders debate can be condensed even further.  Are the restrictionists wrong because they a) apply the wrong principles logically, b) apply the right principles illogically, or c) because open borders advocates are offended by restrictionist policy?

If a), the open borders crowd needs to show why the (often implicit) principles upon which restrictionist arguments are founded are wrong.  If b), the open borders crowd needs to show how the restrictionists went awry in their thinking.  If c), though, who cares?

Ought and Can



Yet, at the same time, no immigration restrictionist in his or her right mind would argue that a citizen of Levittown ought to be barred from moving, working, hanging out, or even couch-surfing in Massapequa. Even the prospect of such border enforcement seems absurd to the average immigration restrictionist. [Emphasis added.]

The problem with this response is that I never argue this sort of thing on any sort of level.  My argument is that any property owner—whether an individual owner of a single property or a collective owner of multiple properties, or even a citizen of a countryCAN bar anyone who is not an owner or citizen form using the resources they own/control.  I would argue that someone who owns a house can bar every sort of repairman from entering the property from now to the end of time if said property owner so chooses.  I will never, however, argue that he ought to do so.

Since collective ownership theory is but an extension of this general understanding of property rights, it should be clear that restrictive arguments are as much an argument of what can be done as much as what ought to be done.  From my end, I have not been particularly clear when making these sort of arguments, so I’ve undoubtedly contributed to the confusion.  I would very much argue that a citizen of Levittown can be completely banned from Massapequa, but I wouldn’t necessarily argue that said citizen ought to be banned from Massapequa.

In like manner, under the general assumptions of collective property theory, I would argue that America can prohibit Mexicans (or Asians, or Englishmen, etc.) from ever crossing over the border, but that is not the same as saying that America ought to do so.  Rather, my argument of oughtness stems more from economic and social considerations.  For example, I don’t think it particularly prudent to allow violent Mexican criminals to be allowed to freely enter America, for reasons that should be fairly obvious.  I also don’t think that it would be wise to allow 100 million Chinese workers to enter America next Tuesday and begin looking for jobs, for reasons that should likewise be obvious.

This is not all that different from saying that while I think that all homeowners should have the right to choose who to let into their homes, I also think it foolish for homeowners to allow convicted thieves unfettered access to their house and, insofar as I get to determine policy, this sort of thing will be forbidden.

So, rebutting the restrictionist argument requires explaining why collective ownership theory is morally wrong, self-contradicting on its own terms, or why it’s not adequately suited to addressing the issue.  Basically, Ryan Long needs to prove that the theory of collective ownership is immoral, illogical, or irrelevant.  If he cannot or will not, then the only real question that is left is how much and what sort of border policy is optimal for X country, and that’s a completely different question.

Note: I intended to write this a couple of months ago, but work had simply gotten in the way.  Apologies to Ryan Long for not getting to this sooner.

10 December 2013

Suppress vs. Channel


Among the more puritanically-minded Christians, and especially among the more conservative denominations of which I’m a member, there seems to be this notion that every bad thing is sinful and must be avoided at all costs.  It seems that every form of disobedience to God’s Rules is assumed to stem from sinful desire instead of human appetite.  This is basically the Gnostic doctrine of the first century, which teaches that everything physical is corrupt and therefore sinful, while only that which is spiritual is good.

This doesn’t really distinguish sinful desires from human desires, and so it leads to a shallow doctrine where all human impulses are treated as sinful impulses, requiring that all impulses be suppressed.  This leads to doctrines like wearing bikinis is sinful, and looking at girls is bad.  While this may or may not be true in some instances, it is simply too shallow of an approach to discerning good and evil to be of much use.

The truth is that young women like to be admired by young men, and that young men like to look at young women.  This is the nature of humanity as God created it, and there is nothing wrong with this.  Young men should not feel guilty for liking pretty girls, nor should they feel guilty for looking at them.  Nor should young women feel guilty for desiring the attention of young men.  Again, this is how humanity was created by God.

Likewise, husbands shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to lead and rule over (in a benevolent sense, it must be noted) their wives.  Wives shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to submit to their husbands.  Women, contra the careerist feminists, should feel guilty for desiring to bear and raise children. Men should not feel guilty for wanting to please God and serve him.  This is our human nature, as designed by God.

Human nature, though, is not always perfect.  It is often short-sighted and selfish, and is prone to mistakes.  This doesn’t make human nature immoral; it makes human nature Human.

In contrast, Sinful nature is intrinsically rebellious.  It constantly desires to undermine God and rebel against his authority.  Everything that stems from sinful nature is sinful, since it is intrinsically opposed to God.  Everything Satanic is sinful, since Satan is at war with God.  Those who are his foot soldiers must be suppressed because everything they do is in opposition to God, and intentionally so.

The difference, then, between Human Nature and Sinful Nature is this:  Human Nature must be channeled but Sinful Nature must be suppressed.

A young man has a natural appetite for sex.  This is well-established by thousands of years of human history, to the point where this observation is so cliché that it is almost insulting to even mention it.  At any rate, the appropriate way for a young man to deal with his natural appetite is not to suppress it, as some of the more Puritanical Christians claim, but to channel it effectively.

To put it in more practical terms, if a young man wishes to have sex, the proper way for him to channel this desire is for him to find a suitable wife.  This basically means looking at women and trying to discern which ones can a) be married and b) are worth marrying.  This doesn’t mean that he should feel guilty about being attracted to pretty young women, and thus seek to suppress his natural urges completely.

Incidentally, if you do assume that human desires are intrinsically sinful, the only logical way to deal with sexual desire is neutering.  Perhaps that why so many young Christian men seem emasculated and why so many young Christian women are destined for a future as frumpy cat ladies.

That problem that arises, though, is that mastering one’s Human Nature is a bit messy at times, and often prone to mistakes.  Or, to state it another way, a young man that embraces his sexual desires is going to prone to fornication.  Of course, the upside of emasculation is that this option is largely taken off the table.  So the options for churches, when they set about to write their doctrines is to weigh the problems of fornication against the problems of emasculation.  At first blush, it might seem that emasculation is the less sinful route, but it should be remembered that emasculation doesn’t generally have much of a future.

The truth is that Human Nature is a vibrant and wonderful thing, but that it is prone to mistakes and imperfections.  While emasculating Humanity may solve the problem of corrupted sexual desire that solution comes with a fairly steep price.
To get back to the original point of the post, it is my contention that the church, and the leaders thereof, need to do a better job discerning and understanding the difference between human nature and sinful nature.  The church and its leaders also need to do a better job of deciding when people should suppress their desires instead of channeling or controlling them as best they can.

For an example of this, consider the matter of modesty.  Per the writings of Paul in I Timothy 2:8-12, it is generally accepted in the church and among religious leaders that women should dress modestly.  Depending on what denomination one is a member of, and which specific leader one is following, there are usually a couple of very specific rules for what modest dress entails.  In my specific denomination and among my specific church leaders, modesty entails ensuring that one’s body is completely covered from shoulder to knees.  It is assumed, naturally, that modesty refers to what is revealed and what message is conveyed by one’s dress, so conservatism is generally recommended when it comes to clothing choice.  One point that is often made when arguing for these specific rules is that young women don’t want to be guilty of inducing lust among (young) men.

But is this actually what God desires from Mankind? To be concerned about hem lengths and conservative attire?  Is he that much of a stickler?  And can it really be said that wearing a skirt that is two inches too short automatically means you’re playing for team Satan?

This is where a deeper understanding of scriptures and theology would come in handy, at least for my particular denomination, for Paul’s command for modest dress is actually, per a proper understanding of the original Greek, a call for orderly dress.  Additionally, Paul is talking about the spiritual roles of men and women (Men are to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands; women are learn in silence and submission).  At the very least, it should be clear that Paul is not talking about young men and women who are in the act of seeking mates. In fact, it appears that he is talking about the collective assembly.

As such, the command for women to dress modestly should be understood as a command for women to know their place in the church.  Their modest dress is an extension of this understanding.  The assembly is no place for women to seek male attention.  It is disorderly.  The assembly is a place for men to seek God’s attention and approval, and to instruct one another about God’s word.  As such, women who seek to receive attention from men and in doing so distract men from worshiping God and studying from his word are subverting the natural and acting sinfully.  In this particular instance, women who dress in distracting clothes are on team Satan.

But this is an entirely different scenario from a woman dressing somewhat provocatively so as to ensure that they have a man’s attention while out on a date.  A date is not a worship assembly (though if it is, something is undoubtedly wrong), and therefore the attire for a date can, and perhaps even should, be different from the attire one wears to the worship assembly.  What is appropriate for one setting is not always appropriate for another setting.

To state the distinction in starker terms, a woman who wishes to have a man’s attention at a point in time when it belongs to God is sinful whereas a woman who wishes to have a man’s attention when he is looking to give it to some girl is being human.  The former desire needs to be suppressed, the latter desire needs to be channeled wisely.  An application to be drawn from this is that when it comes to the matter of dress and appearance, there are some times when it needs to be discussed in terms of right and wrong, and there are some times when it needs to be discussed in terms of wise and foolish.  It should be remembered, though, that just because something is foolish doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

To wrap all this together, I think it wise to consider Rahab.  Per Hebrews 11, there is no doubt that Rahab was on team God.  There’s also no doubt that she was a hooker.  In like manner, King David was also unequivocally on team God, and was even called a man after God’s own heart.  David was also a polygamist.  You can say that Rahab’s and David’s decisions in the sexual realm were less than wise, but given that they are both paragons of faith according to God, it is exceedingly dangerous to call their decisions sinful.

Thus, the lesson to draw from this is to consider matters in the proper light.  Calling something sinful when it is merely foolish is a category error, and the prescription that accompanies it is likely to be wrong.  Calling something merely foolish when it is sinful is also category error, and the prescription that accompanies it is also likely to be wrong.  Therefore, it would be best, when addressing various personal and spiritual matters, to first ask whether the matter concerns Human Nature or Sinful Nature, and then ask whether one must channel their desires or suppress their desires.  We won’t get the right answers unless we first ask the right questions.

How to Prepare for the Coming Aristocracy



Make damn sure you are not withholding or otherwise paying the IRS more than your actual taxes due.  Present law does not permit them to sue, seize or lien your property to get the "fines"; all they can do is send nasty letters and dock refunds.  So don't have one.  (Caution: This will require monitoring, as you can bet they'll try to change that part of the law eventually.) [Emphasis original.]

Financial reality will eventually catch up with the current state of affairs, and so it will become necessary for the government to seize property in order to make good on its promise of unlimited health care all the time for everyone.  It will take a massive amount of resources to ensure that everyone can get medical care, and those resource will have to come from somewhere, otherwise people won’t receive treatment.  As such, it is highly likely that there will eventually be rationing of some sort, since resources aren’t unlimited.  It is also likely that the government will have to take more resources from people in order to give them extra health care.  I imagine that it will eventually be the case that the IRS will be permitted to seize property to get the fines for non-compliance.

What this means is that America will have effectively shifted from a market-based democracy to a command aristocracy.  Or, to be more blunt, ownership is effectively dead.  If the government can take whatever it wants from you in order to raise revenue, then you don’t actually own anything.  That being the case, the best way to stick it to the government once America becomes an aristocracy is to avoid owning things.

Ideally, it would be best to be a member of the aristocracy so as to enjoy all the nice shit in life, as well as all of the benefits of being elite.  But the second-best alternative is to rent from the elite and make them compete for your allegiance.

To put it in more practical terms, it is better to rent things from a major company than to own things yourself.  In doing so, you ensure that the government can’t take anything from you (because you don’t own anything, you are merely renting it).  You also ensure that you have an advocate among the powerful if anything goes poorly for you because, say, renting an apartment form a major real estate company ensures that if the government does try to seize what you’re renting, you’ll have someone pleading your/their case.  By renting your living space and most of your possessions, you ensure that the government won’t get too zealous in prosecuting you because that means less revenue for the big businesses from which you’re renting.

If the aristocracy does come to pass, the best thing to do is make sure that the aristocratic elite are competing amongst themselves for your loyalty.  Understand, though, that this means you don’t really own anything, even yourself, nor does this preclude the government from turning totalitarian.  However, your best chance of wealth and success, such as it is, hangs on you paying people for the privilege of using what they own.  You may not be wealthy or enjoy a high standard of living, but you can get away with shirking your taxes because there will be very little recourse for your actions.  Just make sure to work under the table or for straight cash.

09 December 2013

Adulthood



The cult operates by a very simple formula defined by Marx: Find something that does something good, and blame it for not being perfect, identify a victim group, preferably one actually being benefited by the good, identify their benefactors as witches, that is, as the wrongthinking people. Then, make windy claims that the imaginary victim group will have its imaginary problems obliterated once the witches are burned and the witchhunters get all the property, material or spiritual, once belonging to the witches, and then everything will be copasetic.

Arguably, the defining characteristic of adulthood and maturity is the ability to accept and even embrace reality.  Reality is often difficult, painful, ugly, imperfect, and marred by sin.  It is easy, and rather tempting, to construct an alternate reality where everything is perfect.  Mankind has chased the dream of a perfect world from time immemorial.

Now, there is nothing wrong with fantasies, nor is there anything wrong with being enamored of an ideal state.  There are great spiritual lessons to be learned simply from being able to imagine an ideal state.*  Thus, it would be foolish to condemn fantasy and idealizations as sinful.

However, the true mark of adulthood is accepting the fact that the ideal world will never come to pass in this world.  And, if it does, it will not come from the hands of men.

There is an ideal world that currently exists; that world is called heaven.  It was created by God for his children.  The ideal world, as it exists, does not exist among men or by their hands.  The fatal conceit of Marxists, who are really Satanists, is that they believe the first lie:  “Ye shall be as God…”

As such, it should come as no surprise that these Satanists are constantly on the lookout for both witches and victims.  The world is imperfect—only the most dishonest fool would claim otherwise—so there must be some sort of natural explanation.  The Marxist brand of Satanism always seeks to explain the problems of the world in the form of class oppression.  Some victim class is being oppressed by witches, so the witches must be killed and everything will be perfect again.

It doesn’t matter, as John Wright notes, if the alleged witches are doing something good.  Because what they are doing isn’t perfect, it is clearly wrong.  This is a rather infantile mindset, for only children get hung up on the intrinsic imperfection and unfairness of the real world.  It is the adult who sees all the unfairness and imperfections and resolves to do good; the child sees all the unfairness and imperfections and simply pouts and throws a tantrum.

When children become adults in body while remaining infantile in thought, they see the imperfections and unfairness in life and still throw tantrums and pout.  They don’t call it this, however; they call it protesting and raising awareness and fighting for Social Justice.

Because they try to make the world perfect, they end up destroying a lot of the good in this world.  The old cliché is true: perfect is the enemy of good.

Fundamentally, this tendency to destroy Good in the pursuit of perfection stems from the spiritual immaturity of not knowing one’s place.  It is true that the world is not perfect.  It is also true, in a theoretical sense, that the world could be made perfect.  What’s forgotten, though, is that the only one who could make the world perfect is God, not Man, and even he chose to make the world merely “good” the first go-round, so that he could make it perfect later.

And so, the mature adult is one who sees the imperfections and unfairness in life and accepts that those things are beyond his control and thus resolves to whatever good he can.  It is not his place to make the world perfect, and so he is not obsessed with creating utopia.  He leaves that for the children.

* For example, Paul uses the imagery of Christ’s relationship with the church to construct an ideal for marriage that all should aspire.  Mankind’s intuitive understanding of the marital ideal leads to some rather deep theology, and a practical side effect is that marriages can be improved simply by aspiring to a practically unattainable ideal.

The Heart of Conservatism


In a prior post I noted that the heart of progressivism is nothing more than the rather human desire for novelty.  The constant search for dynamos is adolescent in nature, making Progressivism nothing more than a movement—not a philosophy—for the adventurous.

Conservatism, then, is the antithesis of progressivism.  As Chesterton noted, some time ago, “The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”  Like Progressivism, Conservatism is not a philosophy, it is merely a movement. Also like Progressivism, Conservatism loves to pretend that it is a philosophy and masquerade its true motive with the language of thinkers.  Ultimately, though, it is nothing more than risk-aversion in fancy language.

Conservatism is both infantile and geriatric, for it is infants and old folks who detest risk and change the most.  Young children crave structure and routine, and find security in knowing that everything is always the same.  Old people love structure and routine, in part because it makes life easier by removing the intellectual difficulty of adapting to constant change.  Consequently, most conservatives tend to be older, and argue either like infants* or like old geezers pining for the good old days.**

While conservatism can never build a society from scratch (trying to preserve huts made out of mud rarely leads to skyscrapers, after all), it can maintain a society once it’s built.  Unfortunately, this means that conservatives have to be kept out of the way while society is being built, else it will never go anywhere.  Like Progressivism, Conservatism’s tactical aims are always adapted to the times.  Conservatives didn’t really do much to defend against gay marriage until it was too late; then conservatives surrendered once it was clear that the battle was over.  Their surrender wasn’t a matter of principle but of pragmatism.  Any appeal to principle is mostly a matter of trying to convince themselves that they are motivated by principle and not simply a mindset of risk-aversion.

Thus, it should be clear that conservatism is also an intellectual dead end because it cannot think in terms of principles, only in terms of actions.  The only action is risk minimization.  As with Progressivism, the moral and emotional arguments in favor of Conservatism’s current aims are simply intellectual window dressing.  Conservatives simply oppose change, and will say or do anything they can to get what they want.  They cannot be trusted with power because they will not wield it with principle.

* A tendency that Vox exploited in this WND post.  This basically mimics the bulk of articles on the few conservative sites I read, in that it starts with a basic premise and argues from unsupported tertiary principles, which the readers are assumed to already agree with.

** Which, frankly have never existed ever at any point in history.

08 December 2013

The Heart of Progressivism


Seen here:

Libertarians and other economists neglect the possibility that government serves as a useful irritant. Government regulations are truly an impediment. No doubt about it. No doubt they make life harder for people with some power. The usual argument is they protect the weak from the powerful. Without them, the powerful would exploit the weak. Sure. They would. But that’s not all. What goes unsaid and apparently unnoticed is irritating the powerful makes them think. Pain produces thought — about how to avoid the pain. And thought increases innovation. [Emphasis added.]

This, I believe, is the heart of progressivism, modern liberalism, leftism, fascism, etc.:  We must always and forever be making some sort of progress.  This constant desire for change, for novelty, for titillation, for improvement of sort, this spiritual restlessness, is the foundation of leftist/progressive thought.  Everything else is merely a rationalization for change.

Incidentally, this is why most progressives are either young (like most college-aged students) or why they seem to be permanently stuck in adolescence.  Youth craves novelty, which is why youth and immature people are naturally progressive.

The problem with leftism, though, is that it is not principled.  It favors change, and believes that change is morally good, but not once do progressives ever actually make the argument that change is morally good.  They assert that change is an unfettered good, but the argument is usually circular.  (What is good? Change.  What is change? Good.)  Progressivism assumes that which must be proven, which is why most all objections to progressivism are met with the rejoinder that, “you just hate change.”

Incidentally, progressivism is absolutely essential for building society; conservatism cannot generate change by trying to preserve the status quo.*  The problem, though, is that progressives, once they build society, are only ever left with tearing it down again and starting from scratch.  Progressivism is a political perpetual motion machine, for once it solves all the problems, it creates new ones from scratch so as to have something to do.

Once upon a time, man lived in thatched huts and absolute squalor.  The progressives dreamed of a way to live in nice house and opulent wealth.  This dream has roughly occurred from the middles ages to the 1950s, at least in Western society.  But now that wealth and opulence—the likes of which the world has not ever seen—has been attained, the new progressive vision is that we should all return to our pastoral roots, and live in squalor and poverty once more.  They cannot help this impulse, for they simply crave change.  When poor, they want wealth; when wealthy, they want poverty.

Thus, it should be clear that progressivism is an intellectual dead because it cannot think in terms of principles, only actions.  And the only action is change.  The moral and emotional validations for change are intellectual window dressing.  They are vapid and inane attempts at adult philosophy.  Progressives simply want change, and will say or do anything to get what they want.  They are not to be trusted with power because they will not wield it with principle.

* Though conservatives can maintain achievements once said achievements are attained.

What About the Future?



What do millions of people do in a world in which, in Marxian terms, “capital” no longer needs “labor”? America’s liberal elite seem to enjoy having a domestic-servant class on hand, but, unlike the Downton Abbey crowd, are vaguely uncomfortable with having them drawn from the sturdy yokel stock of the village, and thus favor, to a degree only the Saudis can match, importing their maids and pool boys from a permanent subordinate class of cheap foreign labor. Hence the fetishization of the “undocumented,” soon to be reflected in the multimillion bipartisan amnesty for those willing to do “the jobs Americans won’t do.”
So what jobs will Americans get to do? We dignify the new age as “the knowledge economy,” although, to the casual observer, it doesn’t seem to require a lot of knowledge. One of the advantages of Obamacare, according to Nancy Pelosi, is that it will liberate the citizenry: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.” It’s certainly true that employer-based health coverage distorts the job market, but what’s more likely in a world without work? A new golden age of American sculpture and opera? Or millions more people who live vicariously through celebrity gossip and electronic diversions? One of the differences between government health care in America compared to, say, Sweden is the costs of obesity, heart disease, childhood diabetes, etc. In an ever-more sedentary society where fewer and fewer have to get up to go to work in the morning, is it likely that those trends will diminish or increase?
Consider Vermont. Unlike my own state of New Hampshire, it has a bucolic image: Holsteins, dirt roads, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Howard Dean … . And yet the Green Mountain State has appalling levels of heroin and meth addiction, and the social chaos that follows.

While a future without work for millions of underclass humans seems not only dystopic but downright likely, I think a couple of points are in order.

First, the black market always exists.  I suspect that it will flourish during the coming time of economic contraction, hyper-regulation, and mass immigration.  As such, while many people will appear to be nominally poor, the reality will be that they will earn more than is officially reflected because it is considerably more profitable to keep one’s economic activity on the DL as much as possible.  Thus, to some extent, it will appear that Americans aren’t working while in reality they are but not telling the government about it.

Second, it must be remembered that technology is not permanent.  Roman arches were a high achievement in architecture by the first century.  Then Roman society collapsed and arches were not seen again for hundreds of years because it took people forever to figure out how to reverse-engineer that particular technology.  In like manner, it is simply foolish to assume that this current level of technology can be maintained indefinitely.  Technological systems have become extremely complex and dependent on other technologies.  A full power outage in a single city renders basically all technology in that city useless.  Tech systems are incredibly fragile, and it is truly a testament to American engineering that American tech systems are as hyper-reliable as they are.

Unfortunately, this good fortune is not guaranteed to last.  Economic regulation is trending towards making the power grid less reliable (production is regulated, as is pricing in some instances).  The dumbing-down of education will eventually mean that there will arise a generation of citizens who completely lack the intellectual tools to even grasp, let alone maintain or repair the current tech system in America.  Furthermore, planned obsolescence is becoming a feature of modern life, which means that machines will not last as long, and that repairs will be more difficult, time-consuming, and expensive than before.  Also, the software and programming side of things is becoming more complex, which makes it harder to completely master software systems and maintain them.  This layered complexity coupled with predictable unreliability of gadgets will make for a nasty ending once we run out of people who aren’t smart enough to maintain the current level of technology.  To put it simply, machines will never replace people because we will eventually run out of people to keep the machines going.

Finally, it must be noted that the drug abuse culture is pretty much a dead end.  By this I mean that those whose only goal in life is to destroy their bodies with drugs will eventually succeed, and will eventually breed and die out.  Society is not built on the backs of those who drop out of society to do mind-altering drugs.  While this is a sad development, it is not a permanently major development.

As such, the current lamentation about the future seems a little misguided.  Yes, it is currently the case that a lot of Americans will, in the immediate future, find themselves unemployed and hopeless.  The general social trends, however, suggest that in the longer run technology will eat itself while the black market expands, which means that there will be plenty of work for everyone in the future.  Unfortunately, everyone will be poorer, hence the need for work, but they will at least have plenty of work.  The short run, though, should be a sadly painful transition.

05 December 2013

The Fatal Conceit of Science Fiction



It has been interesting watching SF wrestle with the question of the ongoing IT revolution of the last few decades, especially since society as a whole has not yet figured out how to deal with the Internet. If you read older science fiction, the computers of the future were supposed to be the computer from STAR TREK, Wintermute, and Tron-style virtual reality. No one anticipated the banal reality of YouTube, Hulu, Internet pornography, and people Instagramming pictures of their breakfast toast. All of a sudden, science fiction novels have to wrestle with a future containing smartphones and the Internet, and this book does a good job of grafting the IT revolution onto a space-opera framework. [Emphasis added.]

Well of course no one in science fiction anticipated banal reality.  Why would misanthropic, ill-adjusted, highly intelligent, anti-social nerds be able to anticipate the banality of 99%?  The people most drawn to reading and writing science fiction are most likely completely unable to relate to Mass-Man.  Of course, this may be projection, but it still seems a little far-fetched to think that people who are more interested in science and technology than in actual real-life human nature would be able to anticipate just how banal technology usage would turn out to be.

Most people, as Vox is fond of noting, are idiots.  This, incidentally, is by design.  Most people are not going to be interested in using their free time to do nerdy, intellectually challenging things.  Most people are not adventurous.  Most people, at the end of a long day of work, chores, and menial labor simply want to have fun and relax.  Hence YouTube.  Hence Hulu.  Hence internet porn.  Technology is the new pipeline for entertaining diversions and games because ultimately most people are content with living a simple life of work and entertainment.  The masses truly need only bread and circuses.

Thus, the fatal conceit of Sci-Fi is that it generally rests on the intrinsically Progressive (which is not actually progressive) assumption that Human Nature is not intractable but moldable, and thus the only thing holding humanity back from achieving impressive feats is simply a lack of technology and human resources.  Sci-Fi assumed that technology would ameliorate Human Nature, but now that technology has come to pass, the score reads Human Nature: 1, Technology: 0.

Technology—indeed every natural resource—will always be used predominately for rather banal ends because human nature remains completely and totally fixed and immovable.  The technological utopia envisioned by some writers will simply never come to pass because humanity does not want utopia; indeed, it is content with far less.  Or perhaps humanity believes that utopia is reserved for another life.

Thus, Sci-Fi, like all other genres, will only ever be a template for story-telling.  The best stories are those that probe at the depths of the human condition.  They transcend their genre, and are memorable not for the setting but for the story.  Setting is important—it makes the story possible—but it is only ever window dressing.  Those who look to Sci-Fi to advance the cause of science are about as misguided as those who look to detective stories to advance the cause of crime-solving.  This is not to say that it can’t be done; rather, it is to merely observe that there are better ways of going about this.

Ultimately, those who get caught up in window dressing are going to miss the real point of writing, which is to illuminate some truth about humanity’s perpetual condition.  There are certainly some well-dressed windows in the world of Sci-Fi, and other genres as well.  But the mannequins are a poor substitute for character.

Gay Marriage Revisited

Gavin McInnes:

I then reiterated what everyone on the panel seemed to agree on. One, the right needs to get over gay marriage. Rush Limbaugh admits that battle has been lost and even Bill O’Reilly says gay-marriage proponents have a good argument. Let’s let it go. Us straights are not exactly setting a great example when it comes to the tradition.
I’ve written on gay marriage before, and I still stand by what I’ve said.  As McInnes notes, straights aren’t exactly paragons when it comes to holding marriage sacred (divorce and single parenthood, e.g.).  However, let’s not pretend like the matter of gay marriage is anything other than gays wanting the government to impose moral/ethical values on those of the Judeo-Christian religious persuasion.  Gay marriage is not about rights; it’s about controlling the culture.

I say this because, as a legal institution, straights have the exact same restrictions regarding marriage that gays do.  No one, whether straight or gay, can marry another person of the same gender, can marry a close blood relative (parent or sibling, say), can marry a minor,* can marry an animal, can marry a corpse, can marry multiple people simultaneously, or can marry someone of unsound mind and judgment.

The restrictions on marrying minors or those of unsound mind and judgment stem from historical legal ethics rooted in common law.**  The remaining restrictions are strongly rooted in Judeo-Christian ethics, which is why the specific form of contract is called marriage, and not civil union.  As such, and attempt to redefine marriage is simply an attempt to undermine Judeo-Christian values.  It is not a matter of fairness or justice because the law applies equally to everyone.  If, hypothetically, two straight men wanted to marry each other for tax purposes, they could not.  Nor can a straight man marry multiple women simultaneously, nor could he marry his mother, sister, or daughter.  The law doesn’t actually care about sexual orientation or discriminate based on it, but is concerned solely with the nature of the arrangement. Thus, gay men are forbidden from marrying each other not because they are gay but because marriage is between one man and one women, who are not blood relatives, dead, from another species, etc.

Fundamentally, though, the real reason why the war against gay marriage is lost is because, as I have noted before, the war against marriage in general is already over:
Gay marriage is not ruining this country.  This country is already ruined.  Gay marriage is simply a symptom of the underlying pathology.  The social fabric of the county is already in tatters, and hating gays isn’t going to fix that particular problem.
 Furthermore, gay marriage isn’t even ruining marriage.  Feminism, coupled with no-fault divorce and a misandrist family court system have done more damage to the social institution of marriage than Adam and Steve ever could.
Thus, I continue to stand by my recommendation that the government get out of the marriage business altogether.  Conservatives who are serious about marriage can establish their own societies and uphold the norms they see fit; gays can do likewise.  My advice for conservatives, though, is that they should fix divorce and the underlying spiritual pathology that accompanies it instead of merely worrying about the gays. Conservatives need to worry about the beams in their eyes before they start picking at the motes in others’ eyes.

* There are exceptions, but they generally involve parental consent, and there are still minimum age requirements.

**  Specifically regarding contracts since it was generally assumed to be unfair to contractually bind those who were generally considered incapable of understanding the nature of contracts for themselves.