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?

09 July 2014

What A Surprise

News from Texas:
We have yet another armed robbery at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Texas just weeks after the chain asked legal gun owners to leave their firearms at home. 
According to Your Houston News, "Police are asking for help identifying a possible suspect in an armed robbery. The robbery occurred around 2 a.m. Monday, June 9. One white male subject held employees at gunpoint shortly after 2 a.m. at the Jack in the Box on North Main in Liberty."
This may come as a surprise to some, but not everyone is nice, kind, and peaceful.  In fact, some people are completely selfish assholes who have no regard for the lives and rights o other people, and are thus willing to go around exerting coercive dominance over others in order to get what they want.  This is not to say that everyone is like this, but clearly some people are.

Interestingly, it is often the case that those who are most willing to violently exert control over others will stand down when anyone else demonstrates an equal or greater willingness to violently exert control over them.  To state it differently, those who are willing to threatened violence are usually the ones most threatened by violence.  Thus, warding off violent assholes can generally be accomplished by returning their threat in kind.  So, if you don't wish to be robbed by an armed criminal, it is usually heplful to be armed yourself.

It is easier to stop an armed robber with arms of your own than with vague feelings of niceness.

Behind the Tanks

Via Cracked:
Despite a continuing lack of rich vigilante superheroes, crime in America has been dropping for decades. Among other things, this means that police officers now have it easier: It's safer to be a cop today than it has been in over 50 years. In fact, the number of police officers killed by guns in 2012 was the lowest since 1887, and I'm pretty sure guns back then were steam powered and required 10 minutes of hand cranking. 
And yet, as we've written about before, police departments all over America are going mad with power. SWAT teams are everywhere, doing stuff like storming art galleries for serving alcohol without the right permit and raiding Tibetan monks who overstayed their visas. In general, American cops are projecting less "friendly face of public order" and more "bad guys who just stumbled out of a young-adult dystopian movie." 
Why has this happened? Why are so many of America's police, who I'd like to assume are mostly normal, decent human beings, acting like they're policing a futuristic war zone instead of crime-lite America?
To the answer the question, the reason why cops are turning into stormtroopers is pretty simple:  America has imported a lot of uncivilized people who are neither capable of building a civilization nor maintaining it.  While violent crime rates are very low right now, one reason for this is that non-white non-American immigrants still tend to be afraid of the authorities, particularly locals, who are not as subservient to the federal policy of invade the world, invite the world.  Also, a lot of the crime committed by illegal immigrants is covered up or unreported, and thus stays off the books, and is therefore not counted by the statisticians.

Peace and social harmony are generally only possible in prosperous, powerful, homgenous cultures.  Undermining these elements causes instability and requires greater shows of power to restabilize the culture.  Thus, allowing dishonest, criminally-inclined invaders asylum in a country (e.g. giving amnesty to those who violate immigration laws) tends to undermine the homogeneity of a law-abiding culture.  Curtailing the subsequent possibility of an increase in lawless behavior requires an increase in displays of power.

Alternatively, allowing a large number of poor people to enter a country (say, because they come from such an uncivilized culture they are constantly engaged in civil wars and ethnic cleansing, as might be the case in Burma or Somalia) usually makes a country poorer (at least on a per capita basis, obviously).  Compensating for the increased levels of poverty as a result of this influx of fiscally in culturally impoverished people usually requires amping up power structures to attain an increasing amount of compensatory wealth.

Or, to state it another way, the only way to have diversity and stability is through fascism.

08 July 2014

Doing The Things That Make For Peace

News from Baltimore:
After two recent “knockout games” left several people in Baltimore injured, the city’s mayor has decided to speak out. 
WNEW Annapolis Bureau Chief Karen Adams reports that Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is disgusted by the attacks and says they are not a game. 
“They don’t understand the consequences,” Rawlings-Blake said. “If you knock someone out, you could think its a joke and you’ll hurt somebody – that person could die. And then your life is ruined for some stupidity that you and your friends think is fun. It’s just not worth it.” 
Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that adults in the city can help to prevent these crimes by being more involved in the lives of children who may be roaming the streets.
I would generally concur that additional parental guidance in the lives of delinquent youfs is a good thing.  I suspect that most of the youths playing the knockout game are children of single mothers, and have few or no positive male role models in their lives, to say nothing of fathers.  This is, of course, mere speculation.  Nonetheless, there is much to be said for increased parental guidance in the lives of the young and restless.

There is also a lot to be said for being armed and dangerous, particularly to the point where youfs are a little hesitant to play the knockout game with you.  To this end, furthering the goal of promoting peace and reducing violence is a matter of arming yourself intelligently and knowing the basics of fighting.

Guns are an obvious solution, but they are not as advantageous as Hollywood propaganda would leave one to believe.  Guns are a deterrent because many people ignorantly believe that guns are a magical tool that can instantly kill anyone with a single shot.  The truth is that it takes a fair amount of training, as well as regular practice, to be proficient at accurately wielding a firearm while under pressure.  In addition, instant kills are rather rare.  Statistical analyses tend to suggest that roughly 33% of shooting victims die from their wounds.  While 90% of gunshot wounds to head result in death, it is usually quite difficult to pull off a headshot in a high-pressure self-defense situation.  Additionally, anecdotal evidence shows that merely shooting someone is not enough to prevent them from attacking you, at least in some instances.  Not only that, guns can only fire a limited number of rounds; once you run out, all that's left is a gun-shaped brick.  Thus, guns are far from foolproof as a method of deterrence.  That is not to say that guns are useless for self-defense, only that they are not a comprehensive solution.

Knives are good option to have in your personal arsenal, in that they enable you to do lots of damage in hand-to-hand combat.  While knives are not as lethal as guns, they are more useful for inflicting lots of damage at close range, and have the added bonus of never needing to be reloaded.  They aren't as scary-looking, generally speaking, and therefore are not as likely to simply scare off would-be attackers.  But if you actually have to engage in violence, they are a better choice in close range action.

Batons are a good choice as well, especially well-designed martial batons.  While they don't do the same sort of damage that knives do, they do inflict lots of pain, are good at breaking bones, and are quite good for close-quarter combat.

Being good at fighting is mostly a matter of being willing to fight, and not being an idiot when you do.  Fighting tends to hurt, even when you win.  As such, it takes some predetermination to know when to fight.  Know when to walk away, and know when to fight.  Some dude jawing at you over some nonsense isn't a reason to fight.  A young thug playing knockout game with you or a loved one is.  There is little point in fighting about stupid things when you can simply walk away.  However, there is no value in trying to walk away from someone who is determined to fight you.  Turning your back on a potential attacker is a good way to get hurt.

The main key to avoiding fighting like an idiot is to know how to use your weight.  If you are much smaller than your opponent, you are best off using your weight to run away.  If you are bigger than your opponent, don't let him use your weight against you (i.e. don't let him get lower than you and knock you to the ground).  The bigger guy can absorb more damage by virtue of size.  The bigger guy can also dish out more damage, again by virtue of size.  This is simply basic physics.

Training to fight is advantageous, though not necessary.  Most street thugs are dumb and undisciplined, which is one of the reasons why they are street thugs.  They convey their status by how they dress and pose.  They try to look and act intimidating, by their actions are generally unable to cash the checks their poses write.  Their bravado tends to be a mask for their cowardice, which is why they run away after they incapacitate their victims.  There is little threat of them getting arrested in the first couple of minutes after their crime, and zero threat of retribution from their victim.  As such, a sufficient display of force (pointing a gun or pulling a knife, or a good rap to the head with a baton) should be sufficient to dissuade them from from further attempts at violence.

If street thugs persist in being violent and conflict occurs, the main rules of fighting successfully are 1) get your opponent on the ground in a prone position and 2) exploit the weak zones of their bodies.  Noses are easy to break, and solid shots to the ears are disorienting.  The throat is also fairly weak, so attempt to punch it or choke it.  Tuck your chin to prevent your neck from attacked and keep an arm or a shoulder turned to avoid blows to your own nose or ears.  a groin attack may be effective, but it is not necessarily the most effective place to attack.  A punch to the solar plexus can often be debilitating.  The main thing is to be committed your actions.  Either be willing to inflict maximal or run away.  There is no point in being half-committed to a fight.

Being armed and having some, even small ability to fight is a good way to deter crime.  While parental guidance in the lives of bored hoodlums would undoubtedly be beneficial, the world is still yet a long way from reaching its ideal state and so in the interim it is best to be armed and dangerous.  Now you know how.

An Experimental Solution

Ron Paul fails to see one:
Last week Americans were shocked and saddened by another mass killing, this one near a college campus in California. We all feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims. 
As usual, many people responded to this shooting by calling for new federal gun control laws, including the mental health screening of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. There are a number of problems with this proposal. Federally-mandated mental health screenings would require storing mental health records in a government database. This obviously raises concerns about patient privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality, as well as the threat of identity theft. Anyone who doubts that these are legitimate concerns should consider the enormous privacy problems with the Obamacare website; some have even suggested that healthcare.gov be renamed indentifytheft.gov. 
Giving government the power to bar some Americans from owning guns by labeling them as "mentally ill" could easily lead to serious abuses. Even authors of mental health manuals admit that mental health diagnoses are subjective and can be based on "social constructions." Thus, anyone whose behavior deviates from some "norm" could find himself deprived of his second amendment, and possibly other, rights.
It is certain that giving increasing federal power to bar citizens from owning guns is not only a clear violation of the 2nd amendment, but also generally unwise policy and anti-freedom.  On the other hand, the entire point of the federal system and its clear demarcation of powers and its delineation and enumeration of rights is to give the states and people the ability to experiment on how to balance the tradeoff between securities and freedoms.  As such, it is entirely legitimate for state governments to limit the sale and usage of firearms, should they so choose.  States can also choose to collect data and screen for the mentally unstable and bar them from gun ownership, if they so choose.  If citizens of the states don't like the regulations and rules imposed by the states on gun ownership, they can move to a different state, or attempt to elect politicians who more accurately reflect their civic desires.

While the right of gun ownership is absolute, there is absolutely nothing that precludes anyone from voluntarily giving up their rights in exchange for belonging to an organized community.  Indeed, the inability to properly understand and extend this concept is a blind spot of many libertarians.  It is intellectually easy for libertarians to understand this general principle when it comes to, say, work contracts.  If, for example, an employer mandates someone to adhere to a dress code as a condition of employment, virtually every libertarian would say that an employer is withing his rights to make this a condition of employment and that prospective employees would have to choose whether to give up their right to choose how to dress in exchange for the benefits of working for a particular employer.  Alternatively, prospective employees could attempt to negotiate different terms of employment, which the employer could accept or reject.

In like manner, a collective entity like the state can decide, if it so chooses, to regulate the behaviors of its citizens.  And, like the employees in the above example, citizens are free to move out of the boundaries of the state if they decide that they do not like the bargain the state is making with them.  Alternatively, they could attempt to bargain with the state.  As long as the state allows current citizens to leave or elsewise renounce their citizenship, the social contract is pretty much akin to a business contract, and in neither event would anyone's rights be denied.  (As a caveat, a state that denies citizens the right to renounce their citizenship is certainly trampling on the rights of citizens, and the social contract is void.  This is not currently the case with the United States, though.)

What seems to be misunderstood about the US constitution is that many believe it to be something other than a document that prescribes the limits of a specified form of governance.  Basically, it puts limits on the social contract of the federal government.  The federal government is simply an entity designed to provide some degree of governmental and social cohesion for a limited number of states.  The limits of the federal government, as prescribed by the constitution, exist to delineate what is the realm of the feds and what is the realm of the states.  The federal government has the authority to subjugate the states in a specified number of ways, and it is up to the states to accept or reject the terms the fed offers.

While libertarians often tend to have a decent understanding of contract theory in general, they seem increasingly ignorant of social contract theory.  Liberty is fundamentally the right to do whatever you choose, insofar as you do not infringe upon the rights of others to do the same.  This right to choose, however, can be voluntarily given up for any reason.  Furthermore, liberty does render contracts null and void.  If you agree to not own a weapon as a condition of employment, your rights are not trampled upon.  If you agree to not own a weapon as a condition of belonging to a social club, your rights are not being trampled upon.  If you agree to not own a weapon as condition of being a citizen of a state your rights are not being trampled upon.

The fundamental problem with the federal government trying to limit gun ownership is not necessarily that they are trying to have people not exercise a right; the problem is that the federal government is not keeping its contractual obligations.  The federal government is contractually obligated to refrain in any way from infringing upon the people's rights to bear arms.  State governments, in contrast, are not (though some states do constitutionally obligate themselves from infringing on this right).

The bigger problem with modern libertarian thought is that it is, for the most part, communistic and progressive, about which more anon.  The basic mindset of modern libertarian thinkers appears to be that of a two-year-old brat, in that they want all the upside in life (security, money, etc.) without any of the downside (restrictions on behavior, etc.).  This is wishful thinking at its finest, and is incredibly ignorant to boot.

In Pursuit of Better Art

Doug Giles:

If Christians are going to rail against Hollywood, I suggest getting into the fray and besting ‘em at their own game; or don’t bitch when they put out gay cowboy movies or when they morph Moses into some ganja smoking Rastafarian or something.
Is the church’s answer to LA’s lunacy the Left Behind movies? Or the ubiquitous and underfunded Jesus flicks that always have him looking like an angst-addled Jared Leto? Nothing like trying to beat something with nothing, Church.
Which leads me to dig the knife further and ask the church the tough question of why haven’t we championed serious involvement in the arts by our congregants, versus just hissing from the lattices of our stained glass windows? I have actually heard pastors condemn those who wanted to pursue a career in Hollywood and yet, I can’t think of a more needy place for serious and excellent Christian involvement than the arts.
It’s actually quite astonishing how much ground Christians have conceded to the godless materialists in the artistic realm.  It used to be that the church would commission art; now it’s hostile to artists.  It is certainly true that artists these days have a rather atheistic bent.  Consequently, their attempts at art can be glossy—pretty, even—but often lack the depth of true beauty.  Sometimes, the end results are pure propaganda.  Even so, it would behoove the church to seriously encourage and develop the artistic spirit in its people once again.

To this end, there are a couple of things that must happen.  First, the church needs to start treating art as media for sacred expression and treating artists with respect and status.  Second, the church needs to do its best to encourage those with artistic aspirations to develop their craft.  Third, the church needs to find a way to ensure the distribution of new Christian art.

While it is easy to feel betrayed by modern artists, or to fall into internecine squabbling over the  hermeneutical validity of, say, Christian pop music, it’s downright foolish to act as if art no longer matters since Christians are not in control of it.  The church must nonetheless begin to show respect for art and artists alike, and encourage artists to produce works of true beauty.

Additionally, the church must work on developing a framework for the craftsmanship of art.  Art is certainly a craft, and has certain standards.  Writers need to know how to be disciplined at writing, at developing characters, at composing prose, at plotting, at dialogue, and so forth.  Merely have a good moral isn’t enough; can the author show the moral to the readers with it seeming ham-fisted?  Can the writer present the moral without readers getting bored before they get to it?

Musicians need to know music theory.  They need to know the rules of composition.  They need to know how to play their chosen instrument.  Songwriters need to know how to craft songs, how to use imagery, how to make rhymes and weave meter through their lyrics.  Can they create a melody with lasting beauty that listeners don’t soon forget?  Can they lead listeners to a beautiful truth?

Every art has its craft, and craftsmanship is not intrinsic; it must be taught.  There must be room for experimentation and failure as well; it’s part of the learning process.  Not every attempt at a book turns out a classic, nor does every attempt at a song turn out a hit. Not every painting is a masterpiece.

Furthermore, it’s important to not get all bent out of shape if art does not conform to the saccharine standards of evangelical Christians.  The Bible itself is far from being a book of happily-ever-afters.  Many of God’s favorite people lied, committed adultery, murdered, were killed, and lived in misery.  The real-life experiences of many Christians are often like this.  Murderers come to Christ; adulterers repent of their sins; etc.  If Christians are to produce art, it must be real.  And reality is often bitter and repulsive.  If art is to be good, it must be honest for lies are from the devil.  And an honest look at this fallen world is not going to be pretty, which is what makes the story of redemption so beautiful to behold.

Finally, it is important to share this art with the world.  Lamps are not meant to sit under a basket, they are supposed to illuminate.  The gatekeepers of this world hate God and his children.  They despise life and beauty, and will fight anyone who attempts to spread the glory of God and the light of life to the world.  The reason why the gatekeepers kicked Vox out of the SFWA was ultimately because he created a work of art that showed just how depraved their materialist worldview is, and how utterly devoid of creativity and beauty their works truly are.  To be brief, the gatekeepers are not our allies.

To some extent, Christians can ally themselves with mercenaries (like Amazon, e.g.) but ultimately Christians will need to develop their own distribution networks.  This will require a good grasp of technology and business.  Artists are generally not good at either, which is why even some of the most famous artists end up dying broke and alone.  Christians who are good at either business or take should be encouraged to get into the art distribution market.

There is much work to be done in the realm of encouraging and promoting Christian art.  Christians need to refrain from stigmatizing art and artists (though they should stigmatize art that is Bad; not because it is art but because it is Bad), and they need to know how to recognize what is wholesome and produce art that is Good.  Then they can begin to criticize art in earnest.

The Modern Pharisees

The modern Pharisees are liberals:

Al Gore reportedly left government with a net worth of less than $2 million; he's now worth more than $200 million, in part by profiting from climate policies he lobbies for. Gore surely believes in those policies, but why does he get the benefit of the doubt? GE spent millions on politics in exchange for "green energy" policies that generate billions in profits that wouldn't exist in a free market. Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon recently chronicled how George Soros and new liberal golden-boy fat cat Tom Steyer have financial interests at stake in their own preferred public policies. And yet they get glowing treatment from the press as idealists sacrificing profit for principles.
Liberals are quintessential Pharisees, in that they are not only flawed, but they are deluded in thinking that they are essentially flawless.  Case in point:  Al Gore pursues policies that make him super-rich, but at no point does anyone question his motives; his motives are simply assumed to be pure by mere virtue of the fact that he is a double-plus-good-thinking liberal.  Now, I have no idea what his motives are, but I’m a little doubtful that his policies are not motivated by profit.  I’m willing to concede that it’s possible that his enthusiasm for his beliefs have propelled him to success, but I’m not 100% convinced that this is indeed the case.

More to the point, the most infuriating thing about liberals is how they are not at all different from the people they condemn as raciss, sexiss, homophobic, etc.  Some of the most hilarious racist and sexist jokes were told to me by self-confessed liberals.  I’ve heard liberals use an astonishing array of remarkably diverse racial epithets.  What’s impressive to me, though, is how many of them think that a) they are doing this “ironically” and that b) doing so makes it not racist.  Liberals simply cannot admit that they are just like everyone else; to do so would undermine their status as the morally superior.  Thus, they are the modern Pharisees, and are consequently deserving of mockery, condemnation, and contempt.

07 July 2014

On Our Way to Africa



Men between the ages of 25 and 54 are in their prime working years. Generally speaking, they’re too old for college and too young for retirement.
In February 2008, 87.4 percent of men in that demographic had jobs.
Six years later, only 83.2 percent of men in that bracket are working.
This employment rate is an important indicator of the health of the labor market. I’ve written repeatedly that overall job growth has roughly kept pace with population growth since the recession. Nothing less; nothing more.

To state the obvious, this state of affairs wouldn’t exist if we got rid of all the immigrants and strongly encouraged women to tend to the affairs of home instead of doing bullshit corporate work.

To state the less obvious, it starting to look like fewer men will be involved in building and maintaining society.  This will probably introduce either a soft matriarchy or a lot of what essentially amounts to tribalistic polygamy as the decreasing numbers of high-status men and the increasing numbers of high-status women eventually yield to reality, and women start sharing high-status husbands.  Astute readers will note that these two states of affairs—polygamist societies and matriarchal societies—have pretty much been the defining social structure of African countries for quite a while, especially in the less- and un-colonized African countries.  I hope Americans like grass huts.

Thoughts on the Pharisees



Perhaps the thorns, those pesky fornicators/sluts, feminists, frivorced women, messy people, etc., cross our path as a lesson in extending patient grace.  A person in rebellion is only going to get more fire for their rebellion from a Pharisee.  The Pharisee approach is akin to stripping you naked in shame and shoving their version of correction and holiness in like a cold suppository. In contrast, the Jesus approach is a warm cup of tea where the medicine is subtle and still goes down, but in a much more gracious, patient way. Sipped over time.

The Pharisee approach was more of an exercise in moral superiority.  Christ, in his blistering criticism of the Pharisees, said “woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’”  Of course, it was the Pharisees who would conspire to put Jesus to death, which tends to undermine the notion that they would not have been partakers in shedding the blood of the prophets.

What Christ tended to condemn the Pharisees for was not their coldness or their tendency to shame sinners.  How could he, since Christ would often shame sinners himself?  Rather, what Christ often condemned the Pharisees for was their deluded trust in their own self-righteousness.  G. Campbell Morgan, in his book The Great Physician noted that the reason why Christ was so often extreme in his treatment of the Pharisees and other leaders was due to the fact that the cancer of sin in their lives was at a critical stage.  They were spiritually sick, just as everyone was and is.  Unlike most people, however, the Pharisees were quite unaware of the fact of their spiritual illness.

Further, Christ never really condemns the Pharisees for their teachings, nor does he undermine the legitimacy of their authority.  In his condemnation of the Pharisees, he says, quite clearly, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do…”  He also goes on to say, “They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments,” as a display of piety.  Christ acknowledged their moral authority (and their subsequent failings as well), and told people to obey their rules.  Christ never had any issue with their piety, nor would Christ ever seek to reduce or eliminate piety in general.  Christ’s problem with the Pharisees stemmed from their hypocrisy (literally “play-acting”).  Their piety and rules were simply surface-level behaviors that did not reflect the spiritual emptiness of their hearts.

The Pharisees could be harsh in their condemnations, but this is no evidence of wrongdoing.  Indeed many of God’s prophets were quite harsh when condemning people.  John the Baptist had no qualms about calling certain people, “a brood of vipers.”  Nathan was quite harsh when attempting to get David to admit his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of Uriah.  Sometimes harshness is appropriate; sometimes it is not.  Harshness is not, however, Pharisaical and Pharisaism has much more to do with hypocrisy than with the tone they took in dealing with those whom they perceived to be as morally inferior.

Sell The House


NPR:

The 132-year-old brick structure is sitting on prime real estate six blocks from the White House. It was once a school, but it's been vacant for almost three decades.
"All the walls are peeled, there's collapsed ceilings, there's moisture problems. It runs pretty much the gamut," Wise says.
Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they're expensive. The Office of Management and Budget says these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.
That's because someone has to mow the lawns, keep the pipes from freezing, maintain security fences, pay for some basic power — even when the buildings are just sitting empty.

The case for selling off underutilized buildings is pretty straightforward:  The government gets cash, which will help with the budget deficit, and gets to reduce spending in the long run.  Since, to paraphrase Dave Barry, selling off under-utilized buildings makes sense and the people want it, it won’t happen.

More to the point, though, the bigger problem at hand is not that the government won’t do this, but that virtually no one in the government, and very few voting taxpayers are actually serious about fiscal responsibility.  On the obvious side, the government has been running a budget deficit every year since ’94, with the lone exception of 2000 (incidentally, the last year of Clinton’s presidency, FWIW).  The federal deficit has been $500+ billion for a decade.

Furthermore, the American people aren’t much better.  American consumers owe more than $11 trillion in debt (again, this is NOT government debt).  The average American household has a mortgage of $154k, student loans of $34k, and credit card debts of $15k.

Neither the American government nor the American people exercise fiscal prudence.  Neither are responsible with money.  Is it any surprise, then, that the government that represents the American people is utterly incapable of cutting out budgetary waste so as to improve its financial standing?

23 June 2014

Let's Get Rid of the Corporate Income Tax

Pat Buchanan:
Consider. Here in America we do not tax charities, churches or colleges. Yet these institutions produce a fraction of the jobs that businesses produce. 
If, as a nation, we are committed to "creating jobs," does it make sense to impose the highest corporate tax rate in the Western world on our biggest and best job creators?
Is this not economic masochism? 
Many governors understand that if you want something in your state, you do not drive it out with high taxes. You strengthen the magnet of low taxes. Florida wants residents of other states to move there and retire there, so it has no income, estate or inheritance tax. 
For years, Rep. Jack Kemp urged the creation of enterprise zones in poor communities like Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Harlan County, Kentucky. Businesses that relocated there would be exempt from corporate income taxes. 
Why not make the United States the largest enterprise zone on earth -- by abolishing the corporate income tax? 
If the corporate income tax were repealed, no U.S. company would think of moving abroad, and every transnational company would think about moving to the USA.
Furthermore, as I observed three years ago, corporate taxes account for less than 10% of federal tax revenue and less than 6% of federal expenditure.  So, not only is the federal corporate income tax stifling, it doesn't generate nearly as much revenue as other taxes or bond sales do.  What good does it do to have such a tax when there is so many costs and so few benefits?

In Praise of Obama

Pat Buchanan:
What Obama has is less a foreign policy doctrine than a foreign policy disposition. He is a reluctant interventionist. 
He got us out of Iraq and is taking us out of Afghanistan. Yet he was pushed into a war on Libya that turned out disastrously and is now dipping his toe into what he has called "somebody else's civil war" in Syria. 
... 
As for Obama's foreign policy, while the think tanks and media elite regard it as vacillating and weak, the people who gave him two electoral victories seem generally to approve. 
Broadly speaking, Americans are delighted our soldiers are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. They were passionately opposed last August to U.S. action in Syria. They dislike Iran, but like that the president is negotiating with Iran.
If there is one good thing that can be said for Obama, it's that he is very much to be preferred for his foreign policy than any of the war hawk idiots the GOP has nominated, or even considered nominating.  While Obama is still an interventionist at heart, he is nonetheless a rather reluctant one, and is to be commended for winding things down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As for those who say that Obama is weak and vacillating in regards to his foreign policy, I'd simply like to point out a) that wars cost money and b) the US government doesn't have any to spare.  Obama's "weak" foreign policy is more a by-product of fiscal reality than personal weakness.  One, then, shudders to think just how bad things would be if McCain were in charge.

It's a Trap

Steve Sailer:
But the sexism of gay is not really a bug, it's a feature. After a number of years of persecuting older individuals for saying "homosexual" instead of "gay," then the persecutions can begin of people for saying "gay" instead of "lesbian and gay." And then the bisexuals and trans will have their turn persecuting the losers who say "lesbian and gay." And then the different flavors of trans will get to persecute those who aren't paying adequate attention to their immensely important differences, and so forth ad infinitum.
Alternatively, you could stop trying to appease the rainbow fascists and call them by a much more appropriate name:  sinners.

21 June 2014

Culture vs. Biology

Free  Northerner:
God blessed most with a sexual drive and a holy desire to become one flesh with another. To demand abstinence until some point in their 20′s or 30′s from those not given to singleness is cruel, destructive, unrealistic, unbiblical, and satanic. The focus on abstinence hands the devil a strong hold over young adults in which to subvert their holy desires into unholy ones. 
One of the major problems with the modern church is the unbiblical emphasis on abstinence. Abstinence should never be an issue in the church. If two Christian young adults want sex with each other, their parents should rejoice and bring them before the altar post-haste. 
Is it any wonder the unchurched are repulsed by such a hideous doctrine as abstinence?
While this analysis is a little heavy-handed, it's also a tad ignorant.  Cue Steve Sailer:
Clark’s last book, 2007’s A Farewell to Alms, updated Malthus by using troves of English wills from 1200 to 1800 to document that the English were already following Malthus’s 1798 advice to restrain their breeding—they had been delaying marriage until they could afford it. The average age of marriage for Englishwomen from 1200 to 1800 was around 25, about 7 years older than in China. Not surprisingly, China had far more famines. [Emphasis added.]
The doctrine of delayed abstinence until marriage is not a church doctrine per se but an Anglo-Saxon cultural doctrine that's been adopted by the modern American church.  This is neither right nor wrong, since Biblical principles are meant to be adapted to specific cultures.  By the same token, the advice to marry young is neither right nor wrong, but is simply an application of a broader principle with a slightly different value proposition.

From my own personal observation, people who marry young, and have lots of children young, tend to be poorer and less materially successful than those who delay marriage and childbearing.  They do not seem to be more or less spiritual than those who delay marriage and children, but then I'm hardly the final judge of the matter.

Now, material success is by no means a foolproof indicator of moral uprightness, though God has occasionally promised prosperity to those who are obedient to him.  That said, it's important to note that delayed marriage and childbearing does have some important social and personal benefits.

As Steve Sailer notes, one of the main social benefits of a delayed marriage and the consequent restrained breeding is that there tends to be fewer famines.  This is accomplished in two ways.  First, people spend more of their peak productive years accumulating and improving resources, and increasing their provisions.  Second, people don't draw on accumulated capital and provisions until later in life than would otherwise be the case.  Consequently, this means that people have fewer children and greater means with which to provide for them, leading to fewer economic hardships.  Rapidly expansive populations, in contrast, tend to spend more time making children and less time providing for them, which has an unfortunate and occasionally deadly tendency to lead to severe resource shortages.

Ultimately, what we have is a tension between two principles.  On the one hand, having lots of children early and often is a good thing.  On the other hand, providing for one's children is a good thing.  The reality of living in a finite world is that children consume scarce resources and so the more children you have the more difficult it becomes to provide for them.  Balancing this tension requires making provision for both the natural desire for sex and procreation, and a long-term view of providing for one's family.

Marrying young, so as to satisfy sexual desires isn't necessarily wrong, but it can be a little short-sighted.  There isn't anything wrong with short-sightedness, but God doesn't seem to be very impressed with it.  He doesn't hate short-sightedness, either: Samson's listed as a paragon of faith in Hebrews 11, after all.  If anything, he seems more or less neutral on the matter.  However, the doctrine of marrying young and banging out lots of children does have its consequences, and it's simply foolish to pretend they don't exist, or to not disclose them when offering advice to those contemplating marriage at a young age.

31 May 2014

What's The Point of Drugs?

Via Bloomberg:
Tamiflu and Relenza, antiviral drugs stockpiled by governments to tame influenza outbreaks, haven’t been proven to prevent pandemics and may cause more harm in some patients than good, researchers said after reviewing 170,000 pages of clinical-trial data. 
The findings, published today in the journal BMJ, came from the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit U.K. research organization, using information obtained from Roche Holding AG (ROG), maker of Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), which sells Relenza. 
The U.S. has spent $1.3 billion, and the U.K. 424 million pounds ($710 million), stockpiling the drugs following a 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu. The Cochrane researchers, who examined the reports of 20 Tamiflu trials and 26 Relenza studies, found Tamiflu reduced flu symptoms for adults by 17 hours without curbing the number of hospitalizations. Tamiflu also caused vomiting, delirium and loss of kidney function in some patients. There was no evidence that using the treatments could stop a massive outbreak, the researchers said.
It amazes me that people even listen to pharmaceutical companies and doctors when it should be obvious that most of these people are simply making shit up and talking out of their asses.  When a proposed solution is ineffective or makes the problem worse, or even creates new problems, that's a sign that it is time to propose another solution.

What's weirder to me, though, is how there are certain types of Christians (that I've known, at least) who get upset at the thought of recreational drug use but don't bat an eye at pharmaceutical companies.  They hate recreational drugs fundamentally because they're illegal and are cool with pharmaceuticals because they are legal, even though the legality of a given drug is mostly arbitrary (e.g. some recreational drugs can have deleterious effects on the kidney, just like Tamiflu yet the recreational drugs are banned while Tamiflu is not, thus showing that health concerns aren't the deciding factor).

To get back to the topic at hand, pharmaceutical companies are no more trustworthy or reliable than the average street pharmacist, and those who put their faith in medicine are fools.  Successful pharmaceuticals owe their success more to marketing than real science.

Quiet Prosperity

Steve Sailer:
Driving cross country recently, we zoomed through the Amish country in Holmes County in Ohio, where 44% of the population speaks some sort of German/Dutch as their first language. I was under the mistaken impression that the Amish abjure all technology past some point in history, such as the New Testament, on fundamentalist theological grounds. This would imply that the comfort gap is continually increasing: e.g., children would be playing with un-awesome wooden toys. 
But a couple of hours of driving around showed I was mistaken. Congregations apparently pick and choose which technologies they will allow themselves based on what they kind of culture they want. This means they can adopt new technology if they feel it is constructive. The kids, and there are a lot of kids, typically have brightly colored plastic outdoor toys like other children have.  
There's nothing that looks like modern poverty and there's a faint air of quiet prosperity. It's a much tougher life than I'd like, but my general impression was that these people know what they are doing. They might well be getting better at doing what they do. 
There is a sizable Amish community northeast of my former home, Fort Wayne.  One of my brothers once interned for a financial consulting group in Fort Wayne and was surprised to discover that there the firm had a relatively large number of Amish clients, most of whom were millionaires, that were looking for asset protection.  The Amish also seem to have a good political lobby, seeing as how they live quite out of step with the modern state and don't seem to suffer much in the way of political penalty for it.

The Amish life might seem tough to outsiders, but my perspective as a painter is that manual labor is more rewarding and enjoyable than most white collar workers would suspect.  Toss in the fact that Amish women tend to be prettier than average and also quite open to having lots of children (and consequently the adult calisthenics such outcomes necessarily imply), and you have yourself a pretty enjoyable life.  Rewarding work, lots of sex with a beautiful wife, and amassed wealth besides...  How bad can that really be?

How to Cheat at Employment

Vox on purges:
Most of the time, employment purges are not legal. If you are being pressured to resign, that is in itself a de facto admission that they know they can't fire you. Of course, none of this will prevent you from getting blackballed when applying for a new job, which is why it is wise to always use an untraceable pseudonym on the Internet and to avoid social media.
Cheating at wrongful firings is mostly a matter of getting the leftists to do their own dirty work, which can be fairly enjoyable if you have the right sense of humor.  Cheating at hiring and firing, though, is a different story.

To cheat at hiring, the easiest thing to do is have a comprehensive list of qualifications  that no one can meet.  This means that you can pick pretty much whoever you want for whatever reason you want because you can disqualify anyone at will. If you don't want to hire someone because he's an especially aspie atheist progressive, just say he doesn't meet your (impossible) qualifications.  Thus, you have a legal justification for your personal decision.  Just make sure that you have an official, approved story for rejecting an applicant and that you stick to it at all times.

Cheating at firing is a bit trickier, but it should be possible to offer an unwanted employee a promotion and raise and detail that the new job requires the execution of certain duties the employee is particularly unsuited for.  After enough documented failures to perform, you can fire the employee with minimal chance of repercussion.  Make sure to document everything, though, and never voice that the firing is related to anything but job performance.

Employment laws are mostly checklists.  As long as every box is checked correctly, there shouldn't be much of an issue.  As long as you can provide a reasonable professional explanation for your decisions, you can pretty much do whatever you want as far as hiring and firing goes.  You just have to make sure that the right boxes are checked.  These are the rules of the game; exploit them to your advantage.

05 May 2014

Meekness

If meekness isn't weakness, what is it? The word has an association with domesticated animals, specifically beasts of burden. At first blush, this etymology doesn't thrill me; I don't particularly aspire to be ox-like. But when I think about it, an ox at the plow is not weak but extraordinarily strong. The key, though, is that his power is harnessed and directed. Perhaps meekness is strength that is submitted to an appropriate authority. [Source.]
With the exception, perhaps, of Paris Hilton's purse-dogs, domestic animals are not generally viewed as weak.  Dogs, particularly large dogs, are able to incite fear in most children, and even some adults.  Indeed, few things are scarier than an angry, uncontrolled dog.

Horses can also be quite dangerous because not only are they large and strong, they can generally be quite skittish.  Anyone who is kicked by a horse, assuming he survives, is in for a world of hurt.

A good example of meekness was seen this weekend at Churchill Downs, in the Oaks and Kentucky Derby races. The horses in those races are massive, strong thoroughbreds.  They are extremely powerful, but their power is harnessed to win races.  Meekness is brute strength under a master's control.  It is domestication.

A sheep dog and a race horse are both meek.  They are not weak, nor are they pushovers.  They have strength to be used for specific purposes.

In like manner, the human forms of meekness are usually on display in the military and police forces.  In both organizations, men are trained to hurt and kill effectively.  However (in theory at least), these men are trained to be discriminate in their use of power.  Police men are not supposed to abuse citizens, but rather to arrest criminals.  Soldiers are not supposed to fire their guns at the slightest noise, but rather to carefully aim at their enemies.  Both police officers and soldiers have great power, but they are not supposed to wield it thoughtlessly.*

Since meekness is meant to conjure up the image of a powerful animal being brought into subjection to a master, it is worth asking whether Christians are truly meek in the sense in which the word is biblically.
There are two conditions that must be met in order for one to be considered meek.  First, is one living in subjection to a master?  Second, is one powerful?

While most Christians will claim to live in subjection to Christ (and will be judged by Christ, not me), most Christians are not powerful.  Indeed, most Christians appear to be weak and fearful.  Thus, most Christians are not really meek, for though they live in subjection, they are not powerful.

And yet, meekness is well spoken of in the Bible.  Moses was called the meekest man on the earth, and Christ said that meek were destined to inherit the earth.  Since meekness is bringing one's power in subjection to God, why is so much emphasis placed on subjection and so little on power?  As far as meekness is concerned, you cannot have one without the other.

Indeed, it was Christ who told his followers to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."  The choice to use "serpents" was deliberate, and meant to evoke certain satanic connotations.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong about understanding how the world works and using the Prince of the Power of the Air's power structures against him.  Indeed, that's exactly what Paul did to get what he wanted from the Roman officials in Philippi in Acts 16.

Thus, the church is suffering from a lack of meekness because it easier to subjugate through castration than through training.  This neutering robs the church of its power and thus its weakness.  It also robs the church of its future because the castrated cannot reproduce.

Ultimately, if the church is to grow and become stronger, it must stop castrating its members and reducing them to powerless, cowardly people.  Instead, it must teach them to be strong and channel their strength appropriately.

Christ was easily the most powerful man who ever lived.  No other man could raise the dead, cure diseases, and change the weather like he did.  And no other man brought his power under the Father's control like Christ did.  Christ's meekness was seen both in his calming of the storm and in his death on the cross.  And his death would not have the meaning it does if Christ never had the power he did.

So, since Christians are to be meek like Christ, they must have his power and use it in subjection to the Father's will.  And, they must not ever view weakness as a virtue.

* It's interesting, is it not, that women tend to be almost-universally attracted to men in uniform.  Wearing a uniform conveys power and purpose, and women tend to be attracted to both.  It's interesting to see that clerical uniforms have tended to lose their social cachet (relatively speaking) over the last couple of decades.  Clearly, being Christian does not speak to having power, simply subjection.

Is America Still A Serious Country?

Pat Buchanan asks a rather spurious question:
Which brings us to the unanswered questions.
How did Donald Sterling get away with behavior, in a professional sports league dominated by black players, which would get a college kid kicked out of school and scarred for life? Have they no morals clause in the NBA? How was Donald Sterling voted that lifetime achievement award by the NAACP?
The answer to all likely lies in the adage: Follow the money. 
Nevertheless, when nonsense like stupid racial remarks by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Clippers boss Donald Sterling can consume the nation's conversation for a full week, it does raise a far more disturbing question:
Is America still a serious country?
First, it is assumed though not proved that America ever  was a serious country, and therefore the question is a leading one.  Indeed, when America was ruled by more philosophical leaders, it wasn't a country at all, but a union.  This is but quibbling over words, and doesn't address the real meaning of Buchanan's syntactically misleading question.

What I don't understand is how the man who grasped the full import of the "gay mafia" fails to understand the significance of racial politics in 21st century America.  The issues that Bundy and Sterling bring to the forefront are symbolic of a greater matter:  racial animus as a tool for political control.  Bundy would have been a non-issue if he had simply paid off the feds like a good serf.  Sterling would be a non-issue if he sold his team to someone of whom the NBA approves.  While the media lapdogs duly report the pre-approved talking points in an almost robotic manner, the issue of racism is indeed a serious business because it is the current front for fascism.

The former front of fascism--environmentalism--has largely fallen by the wayside at this point because the alleged science upon which its fascist policies recommendations are based have generally been proven false or misleading.  Equality, though, is built right in to American mythology.  It's in the Declaration of Independence, after all, and thus egalitarians not only get to be fascists but also take the moral high ground away from more liberty-minded opponents by appealing to patriotism, of all things.  Thanks, Thomas Jefferson!

At any rate, race matters more and more because it is the front line of ideological warfare, and one that is fairly favorable to progressive fascists.  As such, spending lots of time discussing race, though juvenile-sounding in its practical application, is a deadly serious business, and not one to be dismissed lightly.  Just because the anti-racists sound like austists learning how to interact with other people for the first time ("don't be mean or call people names; it's really bad") doesn't mean that the consequences of their anti-racist apologias are without significance.

More to the point, countering anti-racists  by asking, "how could Sterling be the Bull Connor of California when he has a girlfriend who describes herself as black and Mexican, hired a black coach for his Clippers, Doc Rivers, and pays his players, mostly black, millions of dollars a year?" is not much of a rebuttal.  First, you don't counter flaming rhetoric with logic; emotional appeals are best answered with emotional counter appeals.  Second, if you are going for a logical appeal, don't use bad logic.

Hiring people of a different race is not proof-positive that one is not racist; it simply proves that one hired people of a different race.  The definition of racism is predicated on one's beliefs, not one's economic practices or "revealed preferences."   Clearly, Sterling is not fond of black people.

So what?  Most white people aren't fond of black people either, which is why so many affluent liberals like to live far away from blacks and deal with black people's problems on thier own schedule, and with a path of retreat mapped out in case any of the youths they attempt to help decide to turn on them.

Indeed, the best and easily most amusing response to liberal hysteria over racism is to play a little game I like to cal "Where Do You Live."  The game consists of asking nice white anti-racists where they live and then asking them why they don't near the "black" part of town.  In Louisville, where I currently reside, my particular variation is to ask why people living in, say, the Highlands or in Middletown don't live off of Preston or Dixie.  The standard reply is "the schools" and so all I have to do is chase the rabbit down the hole and then get them to admit that they're racist and then spend lots of time making them feel guilty.

That so few conservatives are willing to do this sort of thing exaplins why conservatism is becoming increasingly irrelevant.  If you accept the progressive paradigm of anti-racism, you eventually have to condemn racism like they do.  If, however, you believe in free association, you should be willing to embrace racism to some degree and thus defend it.  We all discriminate, even the fascists.  We even discriminate by race, even the fascists.  So what, then, if someone is racist?  Aren't we all?

The problem, ultimately, is not that America is not a serious country, but that it is not an honest country.  We have plenty of serious discussions about race, especially when a conservative opens up his mouth.  What's been lacking in all these discussions for the last fifty years, though, has been honesty.