Shared posts

07 Oct 22:31

News Flash: Science proves important people pay less attention to unimportant people

by Steve Sailer
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, explains in the NYT:
A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker. ...
This has profound implications for societal behavior and government policy.  

I didn't quite follow Goleman's logic all the way to the end, but it has something to do with Republicans being Bad.

As a follow-up, they should investigate the burning problem that beautiful women tend to pay scant attention to homely, cheaply dressed guys who hit on them in bars and supermarket checkout lines.

07 Oct 22:24

Tyler Cowen denounces Open Borders

by Steve Sailer
And no I do not favor open borders even though I do favor a big increase in immigration into the United States, both high- and low-skilled.  The simplest argument against open borders is the political one.  Try to apply the idea to Cyprus, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland, and Iceland and see how far you get.  Big countries will manage the flow better than the small ones but suddenly the burden of proof is shifted to a new question: can we find any countries big enough (or undesirable enough) where truly open immigration might actually work? 
In my view the open borders advocates are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice.  The notion of fully open borders scares people, it should scare people, and it rubs against their risk-averse tendencies the wrong way.  I am glad the United States had open borders when it did, but today there is too much global mobility and the institutions and infrastructure and social welfare policies of the United States are, unlike in 1910, already too geared toward higher per capita incomes than what truly free immigration would bring.  
Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.  (The clever will note that this problem is smaller if all wealthy countries move to free immigration at the same time, but of course that is unlikely.)

07 Oct 08:23

The Shutdown problem

by jim

The republican party has a big problem: How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The government has, without quite realizing it, accepted piecemeal funding of everything except Obamacare. There is no shutdown. There is just the government doing occasional bits of petty spitefulness and nastiness to express its hatred of its subjects.

Since no shutdown, no reason for the Republicans to pass a bill funding Obamacare. The “shutdown” can continue forever. How are they going to get themselves out of this problem?

If the Republicans retreat from victory, republican voters are going to become even more disgusted than they are already. If, on the other hand, they stand pat, and the government just goes right ahead with Obamacare, they will have failed in their task of making it look as if voters can influence the government.

Since the Republicans have won, the only way to maintain the illusion of democracy is to postpone Obamacare.

Those parts of the world where health care works have a system that is both more socialist than the US and more capitalist than the US, in particular, and especially, Singapore. Singapore has a fully capitalist health care system with actual prices. The American health care system does not have prices, therefore does not have markets, therefore is not capitalism. But, if someone is stony broke, the Singaporean doctors can kick him from the fully capitalist health care system, to the fully socialist system, where he is taken care of by a doctor on the government payroll, gets government medicines, has a government bed in a government owned building, for a low government set price, or for free if he cannot afford that price.

Somehow, almost everyone in Singapore prefers to go with the capitalist health care system.

Similarly, a major reason the Canadian health care system works is that nearly everyone lives a short distance from the US border.

06 Oct 17:00

Ten Objections to Traditionalism and Monarchism, With Answers

by Michael Anissimov

There are many obvious objections to traditionalism and monarchism — many of which have been taught in schools or homes since the French Revolution, and which are faithfully repeated to this day. Many date right back to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet, which John Adams rightfully called a “poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass”.

1) Things are so much better now technologically, of course Democracy is a good idea!

Comment: This one is the first objection that anyone with half a brain immediately comes up with. Addressed here, at Handle’s Haus. The full explanation for why democracy and technological progress are orthogonal is very, very long and hasn’t been written up yet. The full picture is something that took me several years of reading to reach. For now, just let me comment that the Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution got going in countries that were monarchies, republics, and mixes of both such as Victorian England. It’s not like society was technologically primitive prior to the implementation of Democracy in Europe. In prior posts I’ve mentioned how the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire were industrial powerhouses during the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and early 20th century.

2) There is less violence now.

Comment: It depends on which traditional era you’re comparing us to, but the short answer is that during the era of Enlightened monarchs, there was less violence than there is now, both in terms of warfare and on a day-to-day basis. See also Foseti’s review of Steven Pinker’s book.

3) It’s unjust not to let people have a say in the decisions that affect them. 

Comment: People do more harm to themselves when they have a say in government policy they know nothing about. If we thought people were better off voting for political decisions, there wouldn’t be a neoreaction. The reason why neoreaction exists is that it’s fairly clear to us that everyone is worse off from democracy, not better off. This is pretty fundamental. The long-form argument is Hans Herman-Hoppe’s Democracy: the God That Failed. A shorter and heavily libertarian-biased argument is in Bryan Caplan’s Myth of the Rational Voter. See also Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Liberty or Equality.

4) Human rights are sacrosanct, and monarchical or hierarchical systems compromise human rights.

Comment: This is an important issue, but a complicated one from the Lockean 21st century frame of reference. (Though a peasant from the 18th century would understand it easily.) The simple answer is that the Lockean concept of “natural rights” is profoundly flawed, and actually restricts human freedoms rather than enabling them. Nothing could be more unnatural. Rather than true freedom, what we have is “many individual, domesticated, and mechanized freedoms, in a state of reciprocal limitation.” The Lockean concept of natural rights is thoroughly and simply deconstructed in chapter three of Julius Evola’s Men Among the Ruins.

5) Good kings are good, but bad kings are very bad.

Comment: Bad kings are not nearly as bad as Demotist/Communist dictators. Bad kings are in a different universe from bad Demotist leaders. There is not even a vague comparison. In the traditional system, kings rely on the aristocracy and clergy for support, and have trouble doing anything without them. For a Demotist leader, there tends to be far fewer checks and balances. They can cause a half million deaths in a place like Iraq with a snap of their fingers. Study up on the history of “death by government” to get a better perspective on what I mean. Kings and emperors very rarely, if ever, engage in mass murder against their own people.

6) What if the king is an idiot or psycho?

Comment: Then the prior king appoints a regent to take over the affairs of state on behalf of his successor. There is also a debate within the Reactionary community as to whether adoptive succession is preferable to hereditary succession, which avoids the issue of stupid or crazy children. Adoptive succession was used for the “Five Good Emperors” of the Roman Empire, until the disastrous sixth emperor, Commodus, who was the child of the fifth. After he threatened to kill them, the Roman senators ended up paying a gladiator to strangle him in the Colosseum’s equivalent of locker rooms. After his assassination, the senators declared Commodus damnatio memoriae and all his statues and inscriptions were destroyed. Such extreme scenarios rarely ever happened during the age of Renaissance European monarchs. One of the greatest statesmen of all time, Klemens von Metternich, strongly influenced the mentally deficient monarch Ferdinand I of Austria during his reign, sat on the regency council, and ran most important affairs, presiding over a hundred years of relative peace in Europe.

7) Traditional societies harm outsiders by being exclusionary and not letting them play too. 

Comment: Too bad. The point of a traditional society is to serve the people who are a part of it. If foreigners want to have a good society, they can make their own. It is not possible to make functional societies for everyone on Earth overnight. It’s better for 50 million people to live in a flourishing society and the rest of the planet to be stuck with democracy than it is for everyone to be stuck with it. If people had good societies themselves, they wouldn’t be so hung up on trying to raid the societies of others. The reason they complain about exclusion is because their societies are broken and they want to escape them. This is all the more reason to build the border walls taller and thicker.

8) I want the freedom to run amok, be totally hedonistic, defect in Prisoner’s Dilemma, etc. 

Comment: No. Following an extreme Pareto principle, probably 2% of people in society are doing 95% of the damage. These people enjoy modern democracies because they are allowed to run amok. (The plundering of Russia — in the name of “democracy” and the “free market” — during the collapse of Communism is one particularly egregious example.) A strong central leader puts an end to these shenanigans. In a healthy society led by a monarch, these defectors will receive a rude awakening. In democracies, they buy silence with campaign donations.

9) The idea of a monarch or an aristocracy is a bunch of bullshit.

Comment: Democracy is a bunch of bullshit. Imagine if every family or company were run by popular vote. It would be total chaos. Many of the fundamentals of the world are already reactionary and hierarchical, it’s only the government that has been temporarily been conquered by Demotist ideology. The reason why the Left keeps working day and night to deconstruct and “equalize” society is that it keeps naturally falling back into a reactionary order based on hierarchy and ability. Progressivism has to keep running just to stay in the same place. This Sisyphean cycle would be amusing if it hadn’t caused over a hundred million deaths in the 20th century alone.

10) Wealth is unequally distributed and it’s unfair.

Comment: It is unfair. The primary reason why it’s unfair is that the current rich are hoarding their wealth offshore rather than putting it to work for the populace, as they are traditionally supposed to. The role of a monarch is to use force and intimidation to ensure that the nobility does what it rightfully should — run projects that constructively generate wealth for the country and its inhabitants. The traditional wealth of the nobility is in land, not the accumulation of trinkets such as cars. Nobles that abdicate their responsibilities and focus only on themselves will be punished by the State. Over time, feelings of realistic mutual expectation will develop, and the nobility will understand what is expected of them. It’s quite simple, and worked perfectly well for many hundreds of years. The problem today is that the wealthy consider themselves atomized, cosmopolitan individuals with no allegiance to any state or the other classes. The solution is not to grab their capital and tear it apart into a million pieces so it can be handed to peasants who will squander it (how many times does this have to fail horribly until people get it?), but to cultivate a nobility that understands its responsibilities to the nation. Since the present-day rich are mostly conceited and selfish, they will have to be whipped into shape by a strong monarch. It’s only a matter of time until this happens, since the alternatives — state redistribution or lower class rebellion — don’t work in the long term and lead to economic collapse.

06 Oct 13:37

Total Reaction

by Michael Anissimov

A prescient post on the neoreaction appeared on April 10, 2012, at the Midwest Ballad Review blog. John Derbyshire had just been fired from National Review Online for a notorious article he wrote for another venue. The blog post is notable for making many crucial points about the neoreaction just as it was beginning to coalesce — the true takeoff didn’t begin until December 2012, though. The post is titled, “John Derbyshire’s Firing is an Ideological Matter”:

The conservative blogosphere thinks of itself as the zone of true believers (don’t we all), a ragtag crew ranged against the hated RINO, against Washington, the moderate squish, and Babylon beyond. On first glance it would appear that this spat of Derbyshire (and his defenders) vs. the NR editoriat follows that pattern. I don’t think this is correct, exactly.

I think there is a different kind of cleavage happening here; it’s not a continuum of right vs. center, of the-real-thing vs those-who-compromise. When it comes down to it I think we’re looking at a genuine ideological disagreement. Derbyshire, for NR, was always a representative of a different kind of conservative, not just “more than” but different from average American Republicanism. “Derb” held a different set of ideas that are both Jacobite-ancient and internet-au-courant.

As in all things the borders are fluid, but let me sketch out two camps: one is Americanist. This is the basic National Review position, the average Republican position, the average sentiment of the red American. It’s conservative, but still sees itself as fighting for and working within the bounds of America’s founding mythology: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” you know the rest.

Derbyshire wasn’t ever on that team. His atheism ought to have been the tip-off. He played in a different pool. His work, and the work of people who write for the non-NR places he turned up, argued explicitly against the bounds of Americanism as an imperative of civilization: rights and equality sound very nice, but it’s all fake, and we are being destroyed. The article that got him fired is a straightforward argument against the Declaration. How else can you summarize it but “it is self-evident to me that men aren’t equal at all, now behave accordingly.” This is all he’s ever written.

As I’ve said before, there is a second conservatism haunting the internet. Look for Derbyshire’s name and you’ll find it. For a sympathetic view of it, take a look at ex-pat right-wing philosopher Nick Land’s praise and appraisal of one “Mencius Moldbug,” another name you will surely run into if you venture into the deep reacto-sphere.

Land calls this set of ideas “The Dark Enlightenment”; let’s just call them the Anti-Enlightenment. To give you some flavor, Land adopts the Moldbug term “Cathedral” to stand in for the great enemy of liberty and truth: it’s not just the State (as your Austrians would have it), nor Feminism (as your PUA political-misogynists would say) nor Equalism (your scientific racists’ bete noire) — the Cathedral is all these things, and more besides. It’s the whole of Western culture basically since the Reformation, including democracy. The modern democratic-national-Westphalian order is a sick, evil cult. “MM” is the at the outer edge of this line of thinking to be sure, but he’s a good enough example, and the lines connecting these people are short. The rejection goes very deep.

(I could write a whole post on Land; though I’ve never read any of his books, I’ve followed his online output for years now. If you’re a fan of Simon Reynolds, you may have run into Land, in a very different context.)

So what’s it worth, to point out how wrong Derbyshire is? To people of this camp, a thorough “owning” like this one from the liberal internet is nothing of the kind, just a weak prayer, another profession of the articles of the Declaration’s faith.

But curiously we can see the conservative disowning of Derbyshire take a basically similar shape: reasserting basic Americanism against the Anti-Enlightenment. You can see it from conservatives as hard as Andrew McCarthy, (who gives a little bit to Derbyshire’s argument):

We believe in the equal dignity and presumption of equal decency toward every person — no matter what race, no matter what science tells us about comparative intelligence, and no matter what is to be gleaned from crime statistics…To hold or teach otherwise is to prescribe the disintegration of a pluralistic society, to undermine the aspiration of E Pluribus Unum.

…and James Antle:

A small but growing number of people on the right seem to be embracing the idea that if these liberal observations [about race] are false, then the exact opposite of them must be true: interracial harmony is effectively impossible; affirmative action harms whites in exactly the same way Jim Crow harmed blacks; the era that gave rise to the civil rights movement wasn’t that bad; we are all at imminent risk of being attacked by predominantly black flash mobs; white racism doesn’t exist (proponents of this last bit seem divided on the question of whether it should exist). Needless to say, these views are also obvious nonsense. It will be hard for us to live together as Americans if we constantly believe the worst about each other.

A while ago I wrote that this other kind of rightwinger — the younger, internet-bred Derbyshire — is endlessly fascinating to me; getting an accurate judgment of their strength is a big preoccupation of mine. (It’s worth noting that this second camp of semi-underground arch-reactionaries is not synonymous with “the gutter” of hard-right internet rabblerousing. The Breitbart organs have come out in support of Derbyshire’s ouster. Mostly.)

In recent years they have scored a notable political-rhetorical success: the “alpha/beta” male typology beloved of antifeminists and evo-psych poonhounds has firmly entrenched itself in the conservative political internet and beyond. Derbyshire’s ejection suggests, at least, that the Dark Enlightenment will have limited success on overt racism; arguments on that score will have to be kept to a Murray/Hanson standard of long-winded classiness.

But my suspicion is, in the long term, little by little, the Anti-Enlightenment is winning on the right.

Neoreaction is totally hostile to Americanism, and especially hostile to what America has become. For instance, in living memory (since 1965), the idea of multiculturalism has become synonymous with Americanism. This is a fantastic bit of cultural engineering. For 189 years prior to 1965, there was no such conception of America. So what we have here, for the last 53 years, is a bit of abberrative fiction pulled out of a hat during the 1960s. This idea of a multicultural America has only been “American” for 22.3% of our nation’s history, and would have baffled our Founding Fathers and everyone else for nearly two hundred years afterwards.

To Reactionaries, modern-day Republicans are just another kind of Whig. Republicans are essentially Democrats, just lagging 10-20 years behind on “social justice” issues, if that. This is why taking sides in spats between Republicans and Democrats seems largely pointless to us; they both encourage big government, they both prostrate themselves to the lowest common denominator, they both gleefully participate in absurd political theater and popularity contests, they both unquestioningly accept the precepts of Lockean political theory, and so on.

To describe the Reactionary worldview, I’ll quote Evola’s Men Among the Ruins, as I often do:

Recently, various forces have attempted to set up a defense and a resistance in the sociopolitical domain against the extreme forms in which the disorder of our age manifests itself. It is necessary to realize that this is a useless effort, even for the sake of merely demonstrative purposes, unless the disease is dealt with at its very roots. These roots, as far as the historical dimension is concerned, are to be found in the subversion introduced in Europe by the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. The disease must be recognized in all of its forms and degrees; thus, the main task is to establish if there are still men willing to reject all the ideologies, political movements, and parties that, directly or indirectly, derive from those revolutionary ideas (i.e., everything ranging from liberalism and democracy to Marxism and communism).

Liberalism and democracy and Marxism and communism are all seen as roots of the same disease, anti-Traditional revolutionary thinking, which inevitably destabilizes everything it touches, while portraying itself as a new objective morality. More Evola:

What is needed, therefore, is a new radical front, with clear boundaries drawn between friends and foes. If the “game” is not over yet, the future does not belong to those who share in the hybrid and crumbling ideas predominant even in groups that do not belong to the Left, but rather to those who have the courage to espouse radicalism—namely, the radicalism of the “absolute negations” or of “majestic affirmations,” to use expressions dear to Donoso Cortes.

Neoreaction is scary and reprehensible to Democrats and Republicans alike because it doesn’t even try to be respectable in the eyes of those who buy into the Whig-Protestant consensus of modernity and have done so for more than two hundred years. There is no point of contact because we entirely reject the shared premises that Americans and modern Europeans have on all sides of the political spectrum. Our rejection of modernity is total and beyond any form of compromise.

The core of our “radicalism” (which is really nothing but normalcy) are the “absolute negations” and “majestic affirmations” Evola refers to. He wrote in 1953, “My principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.”

It’s as simple as that. The modern West is insane, and it won’t be better soon.

(Confused? Try the Unqualified Reservations pdf.)

05 Oct 05:17

Will the Swiss vote in a guaranteed annual income?

by Tyler Cowen

Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults, in a further sign of growing public activism over pay inequality since the financial crisis.

A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.

Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday and tipped a truckload of 8 million five-rappen coins outside the parliament building in Berne, one for each person living in Switzerland.

With that, a married couple could piece together more than 67k and simply not work, so this sum appears infeasible.  There is more information here, hat tip goes to Evan Soltas.

04 Oct 13:00

"Peer review is a joke"

by (Vox)
The non-author of a sting paper peer-reviewed and published by Science points out that the open access sting published by Science is conclusive proof that so-called peer review is the problem, not open access publication:
Although it comes as no surprise to anyone who is bombarded every day by solicitations from new “American” journals of such-and-such seeking papers and offering editorial positions to anyone with an email account, the formal exposure of hucksters out there looking to make a quick buck off of scientists’ desires to get their work published is valuable. It is unacceptable that there are publishers – several owned by big players in the subscription publishing world – who claim that they are carrying out peer review, and charging for it, but no doing it.

But it’s nuts to construe this as a problem unique to open access publishing, if for no other reason than the study, didn’t do the control of submitting the same paper to subscription-based publishers (UPDATE: The author, Bohannon emailed to say that, while his original intention was to look at all journals, practical constraints limited him to OA journals, and that Science played no role in this decision). We obviously don’t know what subscription journals would have done with this paper, but there is every reason to believe that a large number of them would also have accepted the paper (it has many features in common with the arsenic DNA paper afterall). Like OA journals, a lot of subscription-based journals have businesses based on accepting lots of papers with little regard to their importance or even validity. When Elsevier and other big commercial publishers pitch their “big deal”, the main thing they push is the number of papers they have in their collection. And one look at many of their journals shows that they also will accept almost anything.

None of this will stop anti-open access campaigners  (hello Scholarly Kitchen) from spinning this as a repudiation for enabling fraud. But the real story is that a fair number of journals who actually carried out peer review still accepted the paper, and the lesson people should take home from this story not that open access is bad, but that peer review is a joke. If a nakedly bogus paper is able to get through journals that actually peer reviewed it, think about how many legitimate, but deeply flawed, papers must also get through. Any scientist can quickly point to dozens of papers – including, and perhaps especially, in high impact journals – that are deeply, deeply flawed – the arsenic DNA story is one of many recent examples. As you probably know there has been a lot of smoke lately about the “reproducibility” problem in biomedical science, in which people have found that a majority of published papers report facts that turn out not to be true. This all adds up to showing that peer review simply doesn’t work.
He's referring to John Bohannan's article "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?", in which the author submitted an obviously fake paper describing the anticancer properties of a chemical extracted from a lichen that was nominally written by Ocorrafoo Cobange, a fictional biologist at the nonexistent Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara, that was accepted by 157 open access journals and rejected by only 98. As Slashdot describes it: "The article reveals a 'Wild West' landscape that's emerging in academic publishing, where journals and their editorial staffs aren't necessarily who or what they claim to be."

This sting highlights the vital difference between scientody and the scientistry which is, most of the time, a fraudulent parody of what non-scientists believe science to be. Not only are scientists mere men rather than the white-coated demigods purely devoted to science they like to believe themselves to be, but due to the extraordinarily perverse incentive system to which they are subject, they are provably less honest in their occupations than the average individual.

Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you that you cannot take intelligent design seriously because it isn't peer reviewed or that you can soon expect to cook pasta in the Atlantic because the scientific consensus is 95 percent certain that Man is causing the oceans to boil. The fact is that scientistry has become increasingly disconnected from scientody, peer review is a charade, most published science papers are not reproducible, and what passes for science is simply not what you probably believe it to be.

The irony is that the Science article is, in itself, bad scientody. Bohannan did not utilize a control group; he did not submit the fake paper to a single conventional subscription journal. He also did not send it to the majority of open access journals on the grounds that they do not require article processing charges.

Science not only is not the sole arbiter of truth, the assertions of scientists shouldn't even be taken seriously until the "science" is transformed into something that is actually reliable, which is to say, engineering.

Posted by Vox Day.
05 Oct 01:11

Is the "No True Scotsman" fallacy a fallacy?

by Steve Sailer
In recent years, as the logical objection "Correlation does not prove causation!" has spread to the lower depths of the Internet, the cool kids have increasingly turned to retorting "No True Scotsman." It's proving an increasingly popular safeguard against Noticing Patterns.
No true Scotsman 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
[For the practice of wearing a kilt without undergarments, see True Scotsman.] 
No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.[1] When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim ("no Scotsman would do such a thing"), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule ("no true Scotsman would do such a thing").  ...
The use of the term was advanced by British philosopher Antony Flew: 
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again". Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing". The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing".[4] ...

An example of a political application of the fallacy could be in asserting that "no democracy starts a war", then distinguishing between mature or "true" democracies, which never start wars, and "emerging democracies", which may start them.[3] 

How is our understanding of the human world improved by snickering about "No True Scotsman" fallacies when somebody offers to refine their initial assertion to make it more accurate? Obviously, Flew's example is intended to be comical. In contrast, Wikipedia's example about democracies and war is not inherently implausible, but the Wikipedians don't seem to notice. To them, they're both examples of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

I have no idea what's empirically true about Wikipedia's democracy / war assertion, but offering a distinction between mature and emerging democracies is hardly prime facie derisible. You could go on to define maturity in terms of years of endurance or numbers of peaceful changes of power or whatever and then see if that pans out statistically.

Nor is even the literal No True Scotsman argument itself automatically foolhardy:

Angus: No Scotsman rides in an electric buggy while playing golf! It's American degeneracy.

Jock: Well, actually, a survey shows that about 3% of Scotsmen ride while playing.

Angus: No True Scotsman rides in an electric buggy while playing golf! 

Jock: I lost my left leg serving in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders in Yemen in 1967, so I can't walk 18 holes anymore. The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers unanimously voted to allow me to play Muirfield with an electric buggy annually on Bonnie Prince Charlie's coronation day in a two-ball foursome in which I partner with my boyhood friend from the streets of Edinburgh, Sean Connery (who, of course, walks).

Angus: Okay, No Two-Legged True Scotsman rides in an electric buggy while playing golf!

In general, we're seeing an ongoing convergence between the bad intellectual habits of two groups that are powerfully represented in Internet discussions: the politically correct and the Aspergery. The former dislike pattern recognition and the latter love mechanistic computer-programming style reasoning. And they increasingly come together to try to shut down probabilistic thinking about human behavior.

04 Oct 15:36

A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations — PDF

by Michael Anissimov

The basic premise of UR is that all the competing 20th-century systems of government, including the Western democracies which came out on top and which rule us to this day, are best classified as Orwellian. They maintain their legitimacy by shaping public opinion. They shape public opinion by sculpting the information presented to the public. As part of that public, you peruse the world through a lens poured by your government. I.e.: you are pwned.

Thus the red pill: any stimulus or stimulant, pharmaceutical or literary, that fundamentally compromises said system of deception. That sounds very medical, but let’s be clear: you are not taking our pill as a public service. At least with our present crude packaging, the remedy is not accessible to any politically significant percentage of citizens. Rather, you are dosing up because you’d rather be high. Despite the agony of ingestion, it’s just too much fun to see your old reality from the outside. This, rather than “society,” is why you will return to UR again and again.

Seen from outside, the Western democracies are particularly elegant examples of Orwellian engineering. They function in the context of a free press and fair, contested elections. They operate no gulags. Not only has UR never been bothered by the authorities, I have not received a single private communication that I would describe as in any sense unfriendly. So how on earth can the system be described as Orwellian?

Easily. Of course, everyone describes it as Orwellian. Professor Chomsky, for one. But UR gets the same result in a very different way. You now enter a journey from which your soul may not return. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya. The back button is up and to the left. Like yourself the way you are? You might just want to press it.


04 Oct 15:02

Foseti’s Review of “The Better Angels of Our Nature”

by Michael Anissimov

Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature is often held up uncritically as “proof” that the world is getting less violent over time and therefore better. This is similar to how Guns, Germs, and Steel is held up as evidence that the success of Western civilization was just a big fluke, and has nothing to do with the qualities of the people that built it. Both provide politically correct narratives that reinforce the ideology of the ruling progressive class. What a coincidence that two extremely popular historical books flatter the current system!

Reactionary blogger Foseti read Pinker’s book and gave it a review:

Pinker’s basic problem is that he essentially defines “violence” in such a way that his thesis that violence is declining becomes self-fulling. “Violence” to Pinker is fundamentally synonymous with behaviors of older civilizations. On the other hand, modern practices are defined to be less violent than newer practices.

A while back, I linked to a story about a guy in my neighborhood who’s been arrested over 60 times for breaking into cars. A couple hundred years ago, this guy would have been killed for this sort of vandalism after he got caught the first time. Now, we feed him and shelter him for a while and then we let him back out to do this again. Pinker defines the new practice as a decline in violence – we don’t kill the guy anymore! Someone from a couple hundred years ago would be appalled that we let the guy continue destroying other peoples’ property without consequence. In the mind of those long dead, “violence” has in fact increased. Instead of a decline in violence, this practice seems to me like a decline in justice – nothing more or less.

Here’s another example, Pinker uses creative definitions to show that the conflicts of the 20th Century pale in comparison to previous conflicts. For example, all the Mongol Conquests are considered one event, even though they cover 125 years. If you lump all these various conquests together and you split up WWI, WWII, Mao’s takeover in China, the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, the Russian Civil War, and the Chinese Civil War (yes, he actually considers this a separate event from Mao), you unsurprisingly discover that the events of the 20th Century weren’t all that violent compared to events in the past! Pinker’s third most violent event is the “Mideast Slave Trade” which he says took place between the 7th and 19th Centuries. Seriously. By this standard, all the conflicts of the 20th Century are related. Is the Russian Revolution or the rise of Mao possible without WWII? Is WWII possible without WWI? By this consistent standard, the 20th Century wars of Communism would have seen the worst conflict by far. Of course, if you fiddle with the numbers, you can make any point you like.

Foseti quotes another reviewer, writing at Foreign Affairs:

Yet even if Pinker is right that the ratio of violent to peaceful deaths has improved over time (and he probably is), his metric of progress deserves a bit more attention than he gives it. His argument about decreasing violence is a relative one: not that more people were killed annually in the past than are killed in a given year of recent history but that more people were killed relative to the size of the overall human population, which is of course vastly larger today than in earlier eras. But ask yourself: Is it preferable for ten people in a group of 1,000 to die violent deaths or for ten million in a group of one billion? For Pinker, the two scenarios are exactly the same, since in both, an individual person has a 99 percent chance of dying peacefully. Yet in making a moral estimate about the two outcomes, one might also consider the extinction of more individual lives, one after another, and the grief of more families of mourners, one after another.

Pinker’s argument isn’t as clear-cut as people make it out to be. Remember that Pinker is first and foremost a cognitive scientist, not a historical analyst. He has a fantastic reputation for being a cognitive science genius, but this shouldn’t hold us back from examining his historical arguments with a skeptical eye. Too often, Harvard professors are regarded by high-tier intellectuals as beyond criticism.

04 Oct 16:48

Catholic military chaplains face ARREST during Obama’s Government Shutdown

by (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

During the Obama Shutdown, Catholic military chaplains who say Mass, marry, bury or baptize face arrest.

From Catholic Vote:


Our government is out of control.

First, it was the World War II veterans who had to break down barriers to see the open air, un-attended memorial erected in their honor.  A memorial which is on public land but is supported – including the National Park Service fee – with private funds. This week there was more security surrounding this memorial — just to keep elderly veterans out — than there was at our embassy in Benghazi the night it was attacked.

And for what? To inflict as much pain as possible through this government shutdown. It’s called Washington Monument Syndrome, and it’s pure political theater.

But now there’s a story just coming to light that takes things even further. According the Archdiocese for Military Services, GS and contract priests (who are paid by the federal government as independent contractors in places where there aren’t enough active-duty priests to meet the needs of Catholics in military service) are being forbidden from celebrating Mass, even on a volunteer basis.

If they violate this restriction, they face possible arrest. FOR CELEBRATING MASS. 

From John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese:

There is a chronic shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains. While roughly 25% of the military is Catholic, Catholic priests make up only about 8% of the chaplain corps. That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests.  The temporary solution to this shortage is to provide GS and contract priests.   These men are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present.  With the government shutdown, GS and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer.  During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.

As an example, if a Catholic family has a Baptism scheduled at the base chapel at Langley AFB this weekend, unless they can locate a priest who is not a GS or contract priest, they should consider it cancelled.   Likewise, a Marine who attends Sunday Mass at the Quantico Chapel will have to go elsewhere this weekend.  If you are a Catholic stationed in Japan or Korea and are served by a Contract or GS priest, unless you speak Korean or Japanese and can find a church nearby, then you have no choice but to go without Mass this weekend.  Until the Federal Government resumes normal operations, or an exemption is granted to contract or GS priests, Catholic services are indefinitely suspended at those worldwide installations served by contract and GS priests.

At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform. Why not?

This shutdown impacts Catholics in the military worldwide. In the DC-metro area, it specifically impacts bases like Quantico. On the Facebook page for the Archdiocese, Catholic military members commenting on the story are not happy. Comments include:

“This is outrageous!!! Especially threatening them with arrest to voluntarily do their job.”

“Unbelievable! I was worried about this because our priest is contracted as well. It is bad enough to be furloughed but to not have a Mass to attend, is a real downer,”

“Just one example, a couple is getting married tomorrow at a large Air Force Base that is staffed by a Contract priest. That priest did all of their marriage prep, and has gotten to know the couple very well over the past few months. But with the shutdown, he cannot perform their wedding. Instead of the priest that the couple has come to know and love, an active duty priest has to be sent in to perform the wedding of two people who are strangers to him and he to them.”

” Is anyone up there going to start a protest?! A rosary ?!?!? A nice Catholic riot maybe?! PLEEEAAASSEEE?! SOMEONE?! ANYONE?! Any real Carholics out there?!!!!???!”

This is outrageous. It is a violation of the First Amendment. It is a prohibition of the free exercise of religion to order priests under penalty of arrest that they cannot volunteer their time to offer Mass to the faithful on base. This cannot be allowed to stand.


Read the rest there… and get angry.

What do you want to bet that The First Gay President, the Granter of Waivers, the Selective Upholder, would take time of campaigning to grant a chaplain – even during his Shutdown – to marry two men.

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03 Oct 11:42

“A World of Security”

by Michael Anissimov

This excerpt from Stefan Zweig’s autobiography does a good job of capturing the flavor and stability of the Austrian monarchy, which dates back to 996.


It’s very interesting to read this in a world where America and Europe are characterized by political and economic instability and ethnic strife.

03 Oct 10:50

Anissimov Responds to Scott Alexander on “Empirical Claims”

by Michael Anissimov

Responding to this

3. There were (and are) several post-industrial monarchies; the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, predominantly. According to Wikipedia, “The government played a powerful role in the industrialization of the German Empire founded by Otto von Bismarck in 1871 during a period known as the Second Industrial Revolution.” The production data is here. The industrial production index shows a continuous, stable progression, without a recession, for the 47 years of the Empire’s existence. In contrast, over the past 47 years, America has had at least 7 years of recession (15%), more like 11 years (23%) if you count the United States as being in a continuous recession since 2007, as economist Tyler Cowen and blogs like Zero Hedge do. The economic growth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1.76% per year) “compared very favorably to that of other European nations such as Britain (1%), France (1.06%), and Germany (1.51%)”.

The economic development of France under Louis XIV was an economic miracle. (Just ask Voltaire.) Same for the development of Russia under Catherine the Great, Sweden under Charles XV, Prussia under Frederick the Great, and Portugal under Manuel I, to name a few. However, it’s true that the vast majority of modern economic development has occurred under Demotist systems. This is a Catch 22 for the reactionary. Revolutionaries were able to destroy most monarchies before the Industrial Revolution really took off. Some theorists have argued that the economic improvement was actually the cause of these revolutions; the lower classes achieved levels of wealth historically associated with high-level political power, which they then grabbed violently — or at least the illusion of it.

Here is a list of some of my favorite kingdoms. As we can see, most of them were before the Industrial Revolution.


Interestingly, however, the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution all occurred under the patronage of monarchs. It was the rise of absolute monarchies which provided the political stability and economic wealth which made the Scientific Revolution possible.

The debate is difficult to resolve because it is never apples-to-apples. It is always apples-to-oranges, and relies on deep historical knowledge and subjective appraisals of relative importance, guided by confirmation bias all the way.

4. I’m not just saying that there are certain ideas which are popular, but that there is a secular religion that permeates most of society, enforcing a uniformity of thought rarely seen before in history outside of Communist countries. In 1835, de Toqueville wrote:

“I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”

If it was bad then, it’s far worse now.

Regarding America being global policeman, it’s all in the degree and the framing. We have so many military bases overseas and meddle in the internal affairs of so many other countries, we are acting as global policeman whether or not we choose to bomb countries like Syria or Libya. The “disputes” are about whether we should be an extremely aggressive global policeman or merely a highly aggressive global policeman. By the standards of pre-Wilson Americans, we are up to our eyeballs in global policing. We consider this the status quo and only quibble over the decimal point.

The “all men are equal” quote is supposed to apply to just the law, but it does not. In practice, all democracies display a “leveling mania” that implicitly associates wealth or natural aristocracy with wrongdoing. Look at the phrase “all men are created equal,” which has no Biblical basis. This phrase does not just apply to legal treatment, it’s a dogmatic maxim that is supposed to dictate the worldview of every citizen and somehow be self-evident. Before the late 18th century, it was obvious to everyone that men are not all created equal; they have different levels of intelligence, industriousness, quality of character, courage, capability, and so on. That is why natural aristocracies have been a practically universal feature of human civilizations prior to the French Revolution, stretching back to Sumerian city states and Indo-European tribal groups.

Again, this is a matter of degree and framing. We are so soaked in Lockean political theory that we debate over tiny details of it and fancy ourselves open-minded. Yet only a hundred years ago, over 70 million people lived in highly successful societies (Austria and Germany), which won more Nobel Prizes than Britain, France, Russia and the United States combined, and categorically rejected these “immortal principles” of equality. We rarely hear about this, because the Demotist side won World War I and rewrote history accordingly.

Tell a college class or any group of non-rationalists, “Some people are simply superior to others” or even “IQ is real and more predictive of life outcomes than any other factor” and watch their faces. It is disingenuous to argue that the sentiment “all men are created equal” applies only to the law and nothing else. If political science 101 states an “intended interpretation,” no one strictly follows it. The actual interpretation is so much broader, and is baked into the roots of the Demotist style of thinking.

5. I’m not saying that having “sacred values” is bad. I just want the traditionalist values to be sacred rather than Demotist values. My opinion on that is pretty straightforward and has nothing to do with “fairness” or anything similar. I am not interested in “fairness,” I am interested in the dominance of values that promote stability.

6.  The elections matter for a few broad-strokes policies like Obamacare. Indeed, legislatures spend the majority of their time fighting over hot ticket issues such as these. I am not saying that elections and elected officials do not matter, just that they matter less than many people suppose. The iron law of oligarchies — that all states are oligarchies whether they act like it or not — is still in effect. I just want the oligarchies to be explicit and stable rather than implicit and constantly engaging in low intensity civil war. Universal health care in the United States was always just a matter of time. If Romney were elected rather than Obama, it would have been the next President who advocated for it instead of this one. The idea that the people would consistently vote for a President or Congress who do not advocate for universal health care is not realistic in the mid-to-long term. It is a developmental inevitability regardless of the elected.

03 Oct 07:50

Bandar is back (in manic phase of his bipolar cycle)

by Steve Sailer
The Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983-2005 was Prince Bandar. Because he is the son of a part black slave girl, he's ineligible for the Saudi throne, but he has been an invaluable servant of the royal family at tirelessly spending its (not) hard-earned money to buy the maximum influence in the global imperial capital. For example, when George W. Bush thought about running for the White House, George H.W. Bush asked Bandar to educate his provincial son on America's foreign policy.

Who knows what fraction of Official Washington he's gladhanded or outright bribed? Do you, for example, really want to be at the sold-out Redskins-Cowboy game? It just so happens that Bandar is a close, close friend of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Bandar's memoirs would make interesting reading, although he no doubt he has his notes about everybody he's dealt with in his long career locked tightly away (but perhaps not so tightly locked up that he hasn't rigged some kind of deadman switch that would publish them in case of something unfortunate happening to him ... just speculating ...)

Every so often, however, Bandar tends to disappear, either due to alcoholism or depression or who knows what. He is said to have had his first depressive disappearance in the mid-1990s. He seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth from 2008 to 2010, but how now he appears to be back with a vengeance, running Saudi Arabia's adventure in Syria.

Much of history is made by men whose manic phases happen to coincide with eras of opportunity.

One question I've never seen investigated is whether bipolar disease might be semi-adaptive in a few lucky individuals. Do cycles just hit at random, or in some people do they coincide with auspicious and unauspicious periods? Perhaps we'll never know because if you fall in the latter category, they don't call you crazy, they call you "Mr. Speaker" (or whatever maximal title you attained during an up period).

02 Oct 19:36

Is there a rural British rebellion against markets in everything?

by Tyler Cowen

What. WHAT!!!

Cats, foxes, badgers, mice or dogs, killed and mangled by tires and left to rot by the side of the road. Most people simply drive past and feel disgust with perhaps a tinge of sorrow. But Arthur Boyt scrapes them up and has them for dinner.

Roadkill eaters devour whatever they find. Boyt, 74, a retired researcher, collects the furry accident victims and takes them to his remote house in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southwestern England, the AFP reports.

Then he gets to work skinning, gutting and, of course, cooking them. Proper preparation is especially important because some of the animals he finds have been dead for a few weeks. You can just pick off the maggots and worms, he says, and still enjoy the meat.

“I’ve eaten stuff which is dark green and stinks — it does appear that if you cook it well, its rottenness does not hinder one’s enjoyment of the animal,” Boyt told the AFP. “It’s not in the taste of the food; it’s in the head. It’s a threshold you have to step over if you’re going to eat this kind of stuff. You say ‘OK, this is just meat.’”

“I have never been ill from eating roadkill,” Boyt notes. “People have been here for a meal and been sick when they got home — but I’m sure that was something else.”

Not from The Onion, rather here is the article from the English-language Der Spiegel.  And I wonder if his marriage counts as an instance of assortative mating or not:

Boyt’s wife, on the other hand, is a vegetarian. So he only cooks roadkill when she goes out. “She goes to see her mother once a week,” he says. “So if she stays the night, it’s a grand opportunity for a big feast.”

02 Oct 16:44

What Francis shows Catholics about Catholics

by Proph

The orthodox Catholic position regarding the Holy Father is that his authority comes from Christ, and therefore is a fact we must live with whether he is a living saint, a silly old fool, or a degenerate scoundrel. No one knew this better than St. Francis of Assisi who dealt with some of the scummiest of the scummy Popes at one of the worst times in the history of the Church, yet who resolved nevertheless to obey them in all things but sin and to make a spirituality of that obedience in order to inspire and transfigure the faithful. This authentically Franciscan orthodoxy made clear the way forward for genuinely holiness-minded Catholics living through difficult times: we need not like the man who is Pope any more than we need like the man who is our father, we may even be inclined to complain to like-minded friends about this or that injurious decision of theirs, but both remain nevertheless our fathers with a legitimate claim to our piety and our prayers, which we sin by withholding.

The modern Western Catholic, who is basically just that and in that order (modern, Western, and only then Catholic), wants and desires to be pious toward the Holy Father but, lacking even a remotely effective formation in history or spirituality or anything else, cannot conceive of such piety and obedience being offered on anything other than (essentially modern) consensual terms. So he convinces himself that he does not love and obey the Pope because he is the vicar of Christ but because he is a good man who never ever says anything stupid, and if you disagree, go to Hell with the rest of the Pharisees.

What Pope Francis is showing Catholics about Catholics is that, what they lack in St. Francis’ holiness, they make up for by being remarkably competent suck-ups.

01 Oct 22:22

California has highest poverty rate in country

by Steve Sailer
For a long time, I've been pointing out that many standard statistics of income, poverty, or cost of living fail to fully get at the underlying question of most interest: standard of living. Now, a new study from the Public Policy Institute of California that includes a better cost of living measure and government benefits finds that California, home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, has the worst poverty rate of any state in the country, with vast Los Angeles County having the worst poverty rate in the state.

From the Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County leads California in poverty rate, new analysis shows 
A new analysis of hardship that adds factors such as housing costs and government benefits found that 27% of L.A. County residents lived in poverty in 2011, compared with the official rate of 18%. 
By Gale Holland 
September 30, 2013, 9:05 p.m. 
Los Angeles has the highest poverty rate among California counties, according to a new analysis announced Monday that upends traditional views of rural and urban hardship by adding factors such as the soaring price of city housing. 
The measurement, developed by researchers with the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, found that 2.6 million, or 27%, of Los Angeles County residents lived in poverty in 2011. The official poverty rate for the county, based on the U.S. Census' 2011 American Community Survey, is 18%. 
The new analysis set California's poverty rate at 22%, the highest in the nation, compared with the official rate of 16%. [Emphasis mine].
Counties such as Placer and Sacramento, with more moderate housing costs, have lower poverty rates than those of metropolitan areas, researchers said. 
"We always see maps of official poverty and think of the Central Valley as the most impoverished,"

Well, much of the Central Valley also looks depressingly poor when you drive through it.
said economist Sarah Bohn, a research fellow at the public policy institute and one of the study's authors. "This really turns that on its head." 
The new model aims to present a fuller picture of poverty by taking into account living expenses and government benefits ignored in the official formula.

But, I thought massive immigration was Good for the Economy?

30 Sep 23:28

Daily Mail v. NYT smackdown on gypsies in France

by Steve Sailer
It would be interesting to compare coverage of gypsies (a.k.a. Roma) in the New York Times versus the Daily Mail. My impression is that you could come up with an equally accurate awareness from both, but that, even though New York Times readers average better reading skills, the average Daily Mail reader winds up better informed because the Daily Mail articles are structured to communicate the key information, while the NYT articles are structured to bury it. 

For example, in summer's NYT article "Treatment Still Harsh for Roma in France" by Steven Erlanger, the first five paragraphs are boilerplate about how everybody is mean to the gypsies, but then you get to this, which I'll ellipse like crazy to get the key point across lucidly:
Small, thin, often wearing bright clothing like green pants or a pink scarf, the men are prostitutes, looking for work or waiting for prearranged rendezvous. ... Some are as young as 14, though they insist they are older; some are 16 and married, sometimes with children. ... He and his friends, like Bogdan, 17, and Gutsa, 17, whose wife is pregnant, “do business” at the station, he said; 

Homosexual prostitution and heterosexual baby boom all rolled into one!

NYT reporters tend to be bright and they'd prefer not to be boring, but they have to respect the world view of their readers: everything bad is the fault of some majority. So, you start with five paragraphs about how bad the majority treats the minority to imply that the juicy details you finally get to reveal about how hilariously awful is Roma culture must be the fault of the French for trying not to get their pockets picked by gypsies.

In contrast, the Daily Mail structures its articles to put the fun stuff first. From today's Daily Mail:
Roma gypsy gang sold their women for stealing skills and children were used like conscripts in a criminal army, French court told at start trial  
Young wives with good looks and stealing skills were traded for £170,000 
Police discovered the 'criminal army' through phone tapping 
Defendants argue it was illegal intrusion into normal Roma dowry system 

The scary word is "normal."
27 people charged are accused of committing 100 robberies in 2011 alone 
Offences were carried out in France, Belgium and parts of Germany  
Suspected gang leader, a 66-year-old woman to be tried separately 
Children as young as 10 were part of a ‘criminal army’ of Roma immigrants which included 13-year-old wives ‘bought’ for up to 170,000 pounds each, a court heard today.  
Details of the sinister network emerged during the trial of 27 men and women aged between 19 and 55 in Nancy, eastern France. 
All face up to 10 years in prison after being accused of a wide range of crimes, ranging from robbery to people trafficking. 
The case began on the day that France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius declared Romania and Bulgaria should not be allowed into the passport-free Schengen zone due to security fears. 
Ultimately run by a 66-year-old woman, the network expected boys and girls to bring in at least 4000 pounds a month through robbing people in the street or in their homes. 
It comes as Britain braces itself for an influx of Roma from Bulgaria and Romania when EU labour restrictions are eased next year. 
Gilles Weintz, the detective who led the enquiry into the France-based ring, said all those involved were Roma originally from Croatia. 
... Male leaders ‘bought young wives’ for the cash equivalent of up to £170,000 each from other families in Croatia, and selected them especially for their stealing skills.

‘The better they were at stealing, the higher the price was,’ said Mr Weintz.  
‘Young looking women also commanded higher prices because they had a better chance of passing themselves off as minors. 
‘The burglaries were carried out daily all over Europe,’ he added. ‘They never stopped - for the children it was like a form of military service.’  
Those running the ring were monitored via tapped phones which revealed a ‘mafia style’ network, with those in charge using their stolen money to buy upmarket properties in Slavonski Brod in Croatia. 
... The officer cited the case of a woman identified as Nathalie who had been bought but failed to live up to expectations by bringing in 'only' 200,000 euros over two years. ... 
Her family was allegedly ordered to pay back 100,000 euros but the amount was finally reduced to 55,000 to take into account the sexual abuse she had suffered. ...
All argue that their complicated financial transactions were based on traditional Roma dowry arrangements, and that the phone tapping was illegal. 

And now we finally get to the boring NYT lede-type stuff:
Defence lawyer Alain Behr also said the current anti-Roma feeling in France meant they could not get a fair trial.  
‘I hope there will not be a judicial stigmatisation as there is currently a political stigmatisation,’ said Mr Behr. 
Speaking on France Inter radio today, foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France is not in favour of allowing Romania and Bulgaria into Europe's passport-free Schengen zone for now due to concerns about border security. 
He said: 'If there is not a change in conditions, we won't be in favour.' ...
Romanian and Bulgarian citizens currently have the right to travel with a passport throughout the Schengen zone, which removes border controls among most EU countries as well as non-members such as Switzerland and Norway. ...

Fabius fears lax immigration laws in those countries could mean any nationality could gain French access.

... Last week, Interior Minister Manuel Valls caused uproar in the left-wing governing coalition by saying most immigrant Roma could not be integrated into society and should go home. 
The far-right National Front has made the issue a top campaign theme for March's municipal elections, warning of a new influx of immigrants if Romanian and Bulgarian citizens are allowed to travel freely without passports in the Schengen zone. 
29 Sep 14:30

WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE? Francis and the ‘c’atholic Left.

by (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)


Liberals, living in Nephelokokkygia, think that Pope Francis is “teachable“.  When he confounds their expectations and does something Catholic, they say, “He’ll come around.” When he makes sharp negative remarks about radical feminists, they respond, ”We’ll guide him him.”

And then it came to pass that Pope Francis excommunicated a now former priest, Greg Reynolds, for his heretical view on the ordination of women, and his promotion of same-sex acts and for his desecration of the Eucharist.

I wrote about this HERE.

I wanted to give the story a few days to disseminate and for the impact of it to settle in.

It has.

We now have to ask…

Where’s the liberal outrage? Where is the criticism of Francis?

When Pope Benedict exercised his proper role to remove a malfeasant bishop or impose medicinal censures, apoplectic liberals threw a spittle-flecked nutty.

“MEDIEVAL!”, they screamed. “OLD WHITE MALE OPPRESSOR!”, they howled. “VATICAN II!”, the sputtered. ”MEANIE!” they whined.

But that was Benedict.

Days after the world learned of the excommunication by Francis – the fluffiest and most wonderfullest Pope ehvur and the first who ever kissed a baby – of a liberal model priest because of things dear to the liberal Left, there still no reaction from the liberal catholic Left.

What gives? When Francis does exactly what Benedict did and would have done, is not Francis also a medieval Vatican II hating patriarchal white oppressive mean old meanie?

Where are the nuns? Why aren’t they outraged by Francis’ reaffirmation of what John Paul II and Benedict affirmed? Where are the pro-abortion feminazis? Where is the homosexual lobby? Where are the theology professors?

And where-oh-where is Sr. Joan?

Nothing? Not a peep? No outrage?

Do they all still believe – together with their darling, the disgraced Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM, – that Pope Francis is “teachable”?

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28 Sep 19:56

General solicitation

by Mencius Moldbug
I think, of all the responses to Urbit, somehow the one I liked the best was:
It's a shame that as a developer, I need to see these stuff (like this Urbit fantasy) to remind myself about why I really started to tinker with computers.
Although an honorable mention has to go to:

I ate something I shouldn't have the other day and ended up having this surreal dream where Mencius Moldbug had gotten tired of the state of the software industry and the Internet and had made his personal solution to it all into an actual piece of working software that was some sort of bizarre synthesis of a peer-to-peer identity and distributed computing platform, an operating system and a programming language. Unfortunately, you needed to figure out an insane system of phoneticized punctuation that got rewritten into a combinator grammar VM code if you wanted to program anything in it. I think there even was a public Github with reams of code in it, but when I tried to read it I realized that my computer was actually a cardboard box with an endless swarm of spiders crawling out of it while all my teeth were falling out, and then I woke up without ever finding out exactly how the thing was supposed to work.

Anyway, if you are or know any UR readers who are either (a) SF-area startup lawyers or (b) accredited investors, preferably experienced angels, please dispatch to moldbug at gmail.  You might be surprised by how not crazy we are.
27 Sep 12:20

Australia wins the right to remain white.

by jim

Since Europe has been flooded with non whites, Australia is close to being the whitest remaining country, possibly is the whitest remaining country.   This is of course illegal under international law – since the Cathedral writes international law.

The Cathedral holds that international law requires that if a boatload of third worlders shows up, the first world country where they show up has to take care of them and put them on welfare for the rest of their lives.  (It is more complicated than that, and different rules apply to America, but that is the practical effect in Australia and Europe.)

This international law has been seriously getting up the noses of Australians.  The newly elected Australian government announced a new policy:  That boatloads of illegal immigrants would be taken back to the land from whence they came.

This would have been a violation of Indonesia’s sovereignty, since Indonesia did not want them back, and the Australian navy and Australian marines would have to sail up to the beach and unload the illegal immigrants in rubber boats, which would require Australian marines kicking the asses of illegal immigrants while within Indonesian waters, indeed while between the high tide mark and the low tide mark, which is one step short of invasion.

To which the Australian government replied that Indonesian boats coming to Australia without permission was a violation of Australia’s sovereignty.

The Cathedral media, and Cathedral academics in both Australia and Indonesia had a meltdown and said the policy would lead to war, but, in the last few hours, Indonesia backed down, and now the Australian navy sails to twelve miles off the Indonesian shore and hands captured illegals over to the Indonesian navy across the twelve mile limit.   Two shiploads were unloaded a few hours ago.  If Indonesia, then anywhere.  The Australian navy has established its right to send people back to whence they came.

I fear that Europe lacks the balls to follow this precedent and it is probably too late for Europe anyway.

25 Sep 16:14

Fishwrap and excommunicated Australian are “shocked”

by (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

Yesterday I wrote (HERE) about the Australian now-former priest, Greg Reynolds, who received a decree of excommunication. The excommunication was issued under the aegis of Pope Francis.

This has sent liberals into a tail spin.

After all, isn’t Pope Francis supposed to be against rules?  Isn’t he the most wonderfulest and bestest and fluffiest Pope ehvur?  He’s so chill about, you know, like, stuff like … you know!

Today the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) is throwing a little nutty about the excommunication of former-Father Reynolds.  Let’s call it The Melbourne Ultimatum.

Here is a sample of their angst.

First, they are all shocked!

Fr. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia, told NCR by email late Monday night his initial reaction was “shock” upon learning of his separation from the church. Australian media have reported he is the first member of the Melbourne archdiocese excommunicated and the first priest from the area laicized for reasons other than pedophilia. [Lesson: There are grave problems you can get yourself into - which can be censured even with excommunication -  other than pedophilia. As a matter of fact, these other grave matters have been well-known for a long time.  Then again, he said an illicit Mass during which the Eucharist was given to a DOG.  Maybe that was it?]

The news came Sept. 18 through a canon lawyer for the Melbourne archdiocese, Fr. John Salvano, who invited Reynolds a few weeks earlier to meet “to discuss ‘some canonical issue,’ ” Reynolds said. The former priest said Salvano presented him the letter of excommunication and proceeded to read it to him, since Reynolds did not read Latin. [That didn't occur in a vacuum.  In most cases people who are involved in these canonical procedures are advised along the way. But I am not privy to the back story here.  It is hard for me to imagine that this came like a bolt from the blue.]

Part of the shock stemmed from uncertainty with who initiated the excommunication and laicization process. During the meeting, Salvano told Reynolds that while Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart previously considered beginning the laicization process, he had not gone forward with that plan. Instead, unknown people had contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which requested Reynolds’ file from Hart. [I don't have any inside information about this, of course, but the CDF is able to initiate canonical processes on its own authority.]


Let’s go on to the core of the matter.


The letter, a copy of which NCR obtained and translated, accuses Reynolds of heresy (Canon 751) [What could that be?  Reynolds asserts that the Church can and should ordain women.  That is one point that could figure in that charge.] and determined he incurred latae sententiae excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” (Canon 1367). [He probably wasn't selling or giving the Eucharist to Satanists.  However, if he, as a suspended priest without faculties, was illicitly celebrating Masses and then retaining and distributing the Eucharist to anyone at all, that could be a "sacrilegious purpose". ] It also referenced Canon 1369 (speaking publicly against church teaching) in its review of the case. [Just check the internet for stories about him and what he has said and written in public.]

Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff [He might refer to himself most often as "Bishop of Rome", but he remains also "Supreme Pontiff".] having heard the presentation of this Congregation concerning the grave reason for action … of [Fr. Greg Reynolds] of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, all the preceding actions to be taken having been followed, with a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse, has decreed dismissal from the clerical state is to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church,” read the document, signed by Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the congregation, and his secretary, Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria. [His dismissal is for the good of the Church, and the excommunication is for his own spiritual good.  These actions had to undertaken for he purpose of the salvation of souls, to avoid scandal, etc.]


Skipping down:


Reynolds told NCR that while he knew the pope had reiterated that the door to women’s ordination was closed, he said his hope was that it didn’t mean the door was locked, “or maybe there is a way in through an open window.”

“I am very surprised that this order has come under his watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done,” he said. [That means that he hasn't been paying attention.]


So, Greg Reynolds joins fellow ex-priests such as Roy Bourgeois, who didn’t pay attention, who didn’t submit to the Church’s judgment concerning grave matters, and who decided to oppose the Church publicly and thus cause scandal.

This is sad.  We should stop for a moment and say a prayer for him.  We should then remind others who, like him, are sunk in error and defiance, that the possibility of censure awaits them as well.

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24 Sep 19:00

Dogma is still non-negotiable even through Francis is now Pope

by (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

Ed Peters (continue to pray for the complete recovery of his son Thom) has an interesting post at his place. You can check the full text and the whole context over there, but let’s focus on the guts of the entry:


Considering her age (+2,000 years), her membership (+1,000,000,000), and her range of concerns (eternal salvation and human civilization), the Catholic Church has a remarkably short list of non-negotiable assertions. Some of these non-negotiable assertions deal with dogma (e.g., Jesus is divine and human, or, there are exactly seven sacraments) and some of these non-negotiable assertions deal with doctrines (e.g., the Church has no power to ordain women to priesthood, or Thomas More is a saint) but in both cases, the assertion being made is, Catholics hold, being made with infallible certainty.

Now, among the assertions made by the Church with infallible certainty, I have argued, is this one: God made marriage to exist between one man and one woman. Catholics could debate, say, whether this assertion is a dogma to be believed or a doctrine to be held, or whether the assertion is knowable by reason alone or requires the gift of faith. Catholics could even debate whether civil unions of one sort or another between two persons of the same sex are good for society or bad. But Catholics cannot, I suggest, argue whether true marriage exists only between one man and one woman. To debate whether marriage can exist between two persons of the same sex is to imply that some Catholic non-negotiables can be negotiated by Catholics.



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24 Sep 02:00

Peter Turchin explains War! What is it good for?

by Steve Sailer
Mounted Mongol warriors
Via Dienekes:
War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies  
Peter Turchin et al. 
PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1308825110  
How did human societies evolve from small groups, integrated by face-to-face cooperation, to huge anonymous societies of today, typically organized as states? Why is there so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states? 
Existing theories are usually formulated as verbal models and, as a result, do not yield sharply defined, quantitative predictions that could be unambiguously tested with data. Here we develop a cultural evolutionary model that predicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history. The central premise of the model, which we test, is that costly institutions that enabled large human groups to function without splitting up evolved as a result of intense competition between societies—primarily warfare. 
Warfare intensity, in turn, depended on the spread of historically attested military technologies (e.g., chariots and cavalry) and on geographic factors (e.g., rugged landscape). The model was simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afroeurasian landmass and its predictions were tested against a large dataset documenting the spatiotemporal distribution of historical large-scale societies in Afroeurasia between 1,500 BCE and 1,500 CE. The model-predicted pattern of spread of large-scale societies was very similar to the observed one. Overall, the model explained 65% of variance in the data. An alternative model, omitting the effect of diffusing military technologies, explained only 16% of variance. Our results support theories that emphasize the role of institutions in state-building and suggest a possible explanation why a long history of statehood is positively correlated with political stability, institutional quality, and income per capita. 

Here's a video of the spread of empire in theory and in history.

Turchin is from Russia, the son of a prominent Soviet dissident. So, this Get Big or Get Stomped logic is obvious to him. I wrote something much less sophisticated but along similar lines after a 2001 visit to Moscow.

23 Sep 16:07

Assorted links

by Tyler Cowen

1. Why are so few people breaking 115 years of age?

2. Insight into the bankless, and Jon Hilsenrath on Yellen’s management style.  People, I say it’s time to think twice on this one.  It’s showing multiple classic signs of “employee who should not be promoted.”

3. Was Bach a reformed teenage thug?

4. Diane Coyle reviews Joe Studwell’s How Asia Works.

5. Steve Teles on kludgeocracy in America.

6. Stanley Fischer opposes forward guidance from the Fed.  Let’s face it: right now we are living under pure monetary discretion.  From the article: “You can’t expect the Fed to spell out what it’s going to do,” Mr. Fischer said. “Why? Because it doesn’t know.”

22 Sep 20:27

Slate Star Codex Responds to “Empirical Claims of Neoreaction”

by Michael Anissimov

Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex has responded to my recent post, “Empirical Claims of Neoreaction”:

3. The reason there was no stock market collapse during the reign of Czar Nicholas wasn’t his far-sighted economic policies, it was that Imperial Russia had no stock market to speak of. Monarchist states throughout history have generally been preindustrial states with few of the features of modern economies. That exempts them from a lot of the modern business cycle – although of course they still have to deal with famines and the sort of swings more primitive economies have to deal with. In terms of overall stability, monarchist states seem to do a bit worse.

4. If you’re just saying that our culture has certain ideas which are popular and certain ideas which aren’t popular, fair enough. But some of the things you put in there seem strange. Most people both in and out of government *disagree* with the idea that America should be a global policeman – polls show this statement constantly getting under 50%, and Congress passes on most chances to police the world (Syria being only the most recent example). Likewise, the idea that “all men are equal” is something Reactionaries constantly misinterpret, even though the intended interpretation is political science 101 – not that everyone is equally intelligent, beautiful, et cetera, but that everyone should be equal before the law – there shouldn’t be a law saying we can punish poor people for attacking rich people but cannot punish rich people for attacking poor people.

5. You are correct that having “sacred values” shuts down debate and is bad. But this is not a uniquely or even primarily progressive problem. As Moldbug’s latest post pointed out, throughout history rights have been thought of as a primarily aristocratic institution. For example, lese majesty – the idea that the king is exempt from criticism. Or blasphemy laws – the idea that the national religion should be a sacred institution immune to anyone’s objections. The only difference between traditionalist and progressive societies in that traditionalists generally use these rights to protect/shut down debate on traditionalist policies, and progressives use them to protect/shut down debate on progressive policies.

6. Sort of. But for example, I have no doubt that if the Republicans rather than Democrats had won the last two presidential elections (or even a few more seats in the Senate), we would not have Obamacare. That suggests that who wins elections has quite a bit of importance. Indeed, that principle is necessary for Reaction to make any sense. If democratic governments were controlled by powers behind the throne, and monarchist governments were controlled by powers behind the throne, there would be no difference between them and any criticism of “demotism” or “mob rule” would fall flat.

22 Sep 07:30

*Vodka Politics*

by Tyler Cowen

The author is Mark Lawrence Schrad and the subtitle is Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State.  This is a gripping and original book, even if it overstates its conclusions sometimes.  Here is one bit:

Shcherbakov — Stalin’s today drunkard — died from a heart attack two days after the Nazi surrender…at the ripe old age of 44.  While Stalin valorized him, Khrushchev and the rest of the circle “knew that he died from drinking too much an an effort to please Stalin and not because of any insatiable urge of his own.”  Likewise, Andrei Zhdanov — once thought of as Stalin’s heir apparent — died less than three years later at 52, to the end ignoring his doctors’ frequent warnings to stop drinking.  It was clear to all that this situation was disastrous both for their work and their physical health.  “People were literally becoming drunkards, and the more a person became a drunkard, the more pleasure Stalin got from it.”

…the use and abuse of alcohol is crucial to understanding the dynamics of autocratic rule in Russia.

What else do you learn from this book?  It seems that Raymond Llull, still an underrated figure, is the one who spread vodka-making techniques to much of Europe (he also discovered an early version of social choice theory in the 13th century, not to mention he advanced the theory of computation).

I liked this bit:

The financial needs of the early Russian state dictated pushing the more potent and more profitable distilled vodka over less lucrative beers and meads.  To maximize its revenue, the state not only benefited from its subjects’ alcoholism, but actively encouraged it.

As late as 1927, the state’s vodka monopoly accounted for ten percent of government revenue.

Gorbachev, by the way, was known as “Mineral Water Secretary,” because he did not drink like the others did.  Here is a joke from the book:

Q: What is Soviet business?

A: Soviet business is when you steal a wagonload of vodka, sell it, and spend the money on vodka.

From the Yeltsin years to the Putin years, the average Russian boy lost a measured eighteen percent of his muscle mass.

Recommended, and you can pre-order the book here.  Here is my earlier post, “The culture of guns, the culture of alcohol.”

18 Sep 19:49

Lessons in Manliness: The Hobbit

by Jeremy Anderberg


The Hobbit has been a favorite of children and adults alike since its publication in 1937. It used to take a backseat to The Lord of the Rings, but with the movie being released last summer, interest has been renewed in Bilbo Baggins’ adventure.

When it was originally published, it was put into the children’s category and even won prizes for best juvenile fiction that year. Tolkien himself, however, said that a simple tale like The Hobbit can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, making it a great story to read with your kids.

In the book, the reluctant Bilbo Baggins is recruited by a wizard, Gandalf, to join a group of dwarves on an adventure. There are 13 dwarves in the party (an unlucky number, hence the recruitment of Bilbo) who have been exiled from their home, the Lonely Mountain, by a dragon. In that mountain are mounds and mounds of treasure, which is what attracted the dragon in the first place. Nobody has yet had the gall to try to fight off the beast and reclaim the mountain, so these 13 dwarves, plus Bilbo, make a run at it. Together they cross valleys, mountain ranges, murky forests, and raging rivers in order to make their way back home to the Lonely Mountain to fight the dragon.

There are many lessons we can glean from The Hobbit, but today we’ll focus on just a few of this classic tale’s most salient takeaways:

1. You can aspire to and achieve greatness no matter who you are and no matter your stage in life. This sounds extraordinarily like a cliché, but do you really believe it? Contrary to what the movies would have you believe, in the book, Bilbo was 50 years old when he set out on his adventure. (So was Frodo, in fact, in Lord of the Rings.) He had “little to no magic,” and “didn’t like to be called audacious.” He was a thoroughly middle-aged fellow who had no interest in spicing up his life. He lived comfortably, ate and drank much, and enjoyed his cozy home. He even said, “We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

And yet, Bilbo ultimately becomes the hero of our story. He often complains and longs for home, but he keeps pressing on. He even gets to a point where he can feel the desire for adventure calling out from within him. We’ve written about the importance of taking full advantage of your 20s, but the potential of your middle and elder years shouldn’t be squandered either. Will you be an empty nester or retiree with a quiet, comfortable life? Or will you say “yes” to whatever adventure or dream is trying to make itself heard from within your spirit? When you feel yourself trying to say that you’re not the kind of person to start your own business or that you’re too old to travel the world, harness your inner Bilbo Baggins. Say yes, take the first step outside your front door, and keep on going.

2. A great leader knows when it’s time to step back and let go. There are plenty of leadership lessons we can learn from Gandalf, but his wise style of mentorship is what stands out most. Gandalf travels a good distance with Bilbo and the company of dwarves, but ultimately leaves them to their own devices. He says, “Indeed we are now a good deal further east than I ever meant to come with you, for after all this is not my adventure.”

A great leader and mentor will certainly assist his followers, especially at the start. But there comes a point when the leash has to come off. It’s difficult because it means you have to trust the person with whatever task you’ve charged them with. You’re giving up control of the situation, which is a tough thing for humans to do. Think about what a great coach does, though. He teaches and guides as far as he can, but ultimately he’s not the one who can win the game. He has to put his trust in his players to actually make the plays. The same thought rings true of parenting. The instinct is to just hold a child’s hand for ever and ever, and yet there comes a day when you have to let go, even if it means allowing them to make mistakes and giving them the space to find their way through those mistakes on their own.

3. There are some things in life we just have to accomplish on our own. Just as a great leader knows when to let go, a mentee must embrace the challenge of sometimes going it alone. One of my favorite lines in the book comes after Bilbo has killed a giant spider. His friends had been kidnapped, he was all alone, and to top it off it was the pitch black of night. “Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder.”

I can relate to this, albeit in a comparatively very small way. In the last half-year or so I’ve taken up running, something I had never done before. In the beginning, progress was quick. I went from walking half of my three miles, to only walking a few blocks of it in a matter of weeks. But after that, it felt like a barrier went up, and I couldn’t make much progress. My wife finally convinced me to run with her, and for the first time, I went 3+ miles without once stopping. Huzzah! I now knew that I could do it. And yet, I had to also do it on my own to prove to myself that it was legit. So a couple days later I went out for a run, and sure enough, my brain wanted to walk. Even just for 10 seconds. And yet, I knew that I physically could do it, so I powered through and did it on my own. It took a friend along the way (my wife) to show me I was capable, but to ultimately break through the barrier and feel stronger as a runner I had to do it on my own. Can you relate?

4. To simply continue on is one of the bravest things that can be done. Near the end of the story, Bilbo is in the mountain and ready to gaze upon the dragon that is guarding the lost treasure. He’s alone, and in the dark (seems to be a common setting, doesn’t it?). He could see the glow of the dragon’s fire, but not the dragon himself. “It was at this point Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

His greatest battle was not with the dragon, but with his own will. He knew danger was ahead. He didn’t know what it looked like, but he knew it was coming. He steeled himself, and continued on. That singular moment of deciding to move forward was braver than any other thing that Bilbo ever did. Quite a statement, isn’t it?  And yet, it rings true. Deciding to do something, with unknown waters ahead, is much harder than doing the thing itself. When we moved to Denver from Iowa a year ago, my wife and I were both jobless. She had just graduated from physical therapy school, and I had just been laid off from my job, which was supposed to continue as a work-from-home position. I can say with certainty that the decision to move out here anyway and follow the adventure was much harder than the actual moving day. Our toughest challenges are mental; and once you clear that hurdle, you can do just about anything.

5. A great story always has conflict or hardship. Imagine your life as a story. Not too long ago, we even had a guest post about this — our life is a journey, and a heroic one at that. Imagine yourself sitting down with your grandkids and telling them the story of you. “Well, I made some money, bought a few cars, sat around and watched TV for a few hours every night, and that’s about it.” Pretty boring, isn’t it? Now imagine that you can start hours worth of stories with, “I explored…I traveled…I fell in love…I fought and won…I overcame…I sweated…” Not only would the story be better, but you likely would be far more satisfied with the course of your life.

J.R.R. Tolkien agrees. “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyways.” He is saying that a life of good ease is a boring one. It’s often what the American dream aspires to, but the reality is that personal growth, and even enjoyment, are things that come out of some kind of challenge. Whether it’s huffing and puffing and groaning your way up a mountain for the view at the top, or getting laid off and finally realizing you don’t want to be in a cubicle anymore, joy is often found after a bit of trudging. Don’t shy away from challenge. Embrace it, and know that someday it’ll make for a great story.

What lessons have you gleaned from The Hobbit? Which of these five most resonate with you? Tell us in the comments!



16 Sep 10:25

Larry Summers withdraws

by Lion of the Blogosphere

Larry Summer had to withdraw from consideration to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, and that’s because three Democrats on the Senate banking committee wouldn’t support him because he made pro-HBD comments in 2005.

So I guess the lesson here is that if you want good jobs, don’t make pro-HBD comments, even if the comments only involve sex and not race.

06 Sep 23:32

#4852900: Czy Ty wrzucasz pliki binarne do GIT'a?

<A> Czy Ty wrzucasz pliki binarne do GIT'a?
<B> Tak, a co?
<A> Nie lubię plików binarnych.
<B> A ja nie lubię murzynów. I co z tym zrobimy?
<A> Ich też nie wrzucaj do GIT'a.