Archive for the 'Human Behavior' Category
Posted by David Foster on 20th September 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
(The politicization of American society has increased markedly since I wrote this post in May of 2014. Sports, for example, is now politicized–see what happens when a culture loses its last neutral ground?–along with everything from shopping to education. The sway of ‘progressive’ orthodoxy continues to extend its sway over all aspect of American life.)
Many will remember Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, in which she said:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed….You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eight years from now, you will have to be engaged.
Victor Davis Hanson notes that she also said:
We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.
…which is, of course, entirely consistent with the assertion made by Barack Obama himself, shortly before his first inauguration: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
It should be clear by now that all aspects of American life and society are rapidly becoming politicized. Obama has greatly accelerated this movement, but he didn’t initiate it. The “progressive” political movement, which now controls the Democratic Party, has for a long time been driving the politicization of anything and everything. The assertion “the personal is political” originated in the late 1960s…and, if the personal is political, then everything is political.
Some people, of course, like the politicization of everything–for some individuals, indeed, their lives would be meaningless without it. In his important memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffnernoted divergent reactions from people when the political and economic situation stabilized (temporarily, as we now know) during the Stresemann chancellorship:
The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.
But this return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:
A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.
To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.
I’m afraid we have quite a few people in America today who like having “the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions.” But for most people, especially for creative and emotionally-healthy people, the politicization of everything leads to a dreary and airless existence.
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Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Germany, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics, Russia, USA | 21 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd August 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
(And on the Unjust Fella … But mostly raineth on the Just, for the Unjust steals the Justs’ umbrella!)
Yes, it’s been raining here in South Texas for all of about this week. Not that we’re here in any danger of being washed away as they are in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and environs, although there have been reported a couple of high-water rescues on the local news. It’s just one of those things; kind of embarrassing, actually – that there are certain stretches of road (to include some lengths of interstate highway) and intersections within the city boundaries which, given a certain amount of rain, falling in a limited space of time – are guaranteed absolutely to flood out. Just one of those things. All of us locals know where these places are, since many of them are helpfully marked with bright yellow indicators, marked off in feet by the side of the road in low places so that one may judge – and others are just uncomfortably close to certain watercourses which usually only have flowing water in them when it rains. So the rain has fallen, to the tune of about ten inches in nearly as many days, according to the gage in my back yard, with not much effect here save pleasantly surprising everyone expecting August in Texas to be interminably hot, dry, and medium-crispy. The lawns and highway verges are all turned a lush green; mark us all down as relatively happy with this local result of Global Climate Change … or what used to be called “weather.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Americas, Current Events, Human Behavior | 7 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd August 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
George Soros is a Hungarian born billionaire who seems to be funding a lot of malicious mischief around the world. Why ?
Soros was born in Hungary in 1930.
That Wiki article is very favorable to Soros and does not mention a few things.
There is considerable discussion of Soros’ role under the Nazis.
It has been alleged that he was a collaborator. Apparently, he did admit doing some things that could be criticized although the role of a 14 year old is pretty weak.
It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a — a very personal experience of evil.
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this [Christian] protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.
KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.
KROFT: I mean, that’s — that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Mr. SOROS: Not — not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t — you don’t see the connection. But it was — it created no — no problem at all.
KROFT: No feeling of guilt?
Mr. SOROS: No.
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Politics | 27 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 19th August 2016 (All posts by Ginny)
Ivanka Trump, mother of three and stunning in a sheath, introduced her father at the Republican Convention. Many argue his kids seem great – certainly they appear loyal, attractive, alert, and sensible. But be that as it may. Both Adams and Franklin disowned sons. For most of us, raising children will be our most consequential task and Trump seems to be doing reasonably well. But it’s a thin reed.
Still, that dress! It represents what moved country after country out of poverty. Causes of that respect across class lines and the rise of a large middle class and greater health for all are complicated: some see the Bible in the vernacular, some see the marriage of the Great Awakening with the Enlightenment, Dutch and English traditions, sea routes. Surely living longer and with more health meant more productivity. Others rightly prize a concept motivating these views, that each has within the divine. Such a belief emphasizes human rights – the free market of commerce, of ideas, of innovations, of speech, of religion. Honoring the dignity and virtuous habits of the bourgeoisie led to a respect for everyman and everyman’s talents. It was huge, that change from 1700 to 2100. And a signifier is a presidential hopeful in the most powerful nation introduced by his daughter in that blush pink dress.
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Posted in Business, Capitalism, Elections, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior, Trump | 9 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st August 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
When FBI Director Comey publicly took a dive and sold out the rule of law in refusing to prosecute Hillary Clinton’s Cyber-security crimes. He began a new chapter in providing evidence of the validity of “Broken Window Policing” in the field of cyber-security. For which, see the following definition:
The broken windows model of policing…focuses on the importance of disorder (e.g., broken windows) in generating and sustaining more serious crime. Disorder is not directly linked to serious crime; instead, disorder leads to increased fear and withdrawal from residents, which then allows more serious crime to move in because of decreased levels of informal social control.
Hillary and the FBI Director Comey have advertised both outrageous cyber-security weakness and more importantly the breakdown of social mores of “the rule of law” in Federal Government cyber-security. If you advertise you are weak, stupid and capricious in enforcing cyber-security, it is blood in the water for cyber-criminals of all sorts.
Consider this not exhaustive list busted e-mail security associated with Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party surrogates.
1) Hillary’s email system on Bill Clinton’s server.
2) The Hillary Controlled Democrat National Committee email server.
3) The Democrat Congressional Candidates Committee server.
4) Hillary’s election campaign server.
5) Hillary’s several different illicit off-site email servers when she was Secretary of State.
This is a very small fraction of the “Broken Window theory” as applied to cyber-crime. What we see related to Hillary. The problem here is that this sort of political corruption cannot be centralized. If Hillary can do it and get away with it. Exactly how many other illicit off-site e-mail accounts filled with Federal secrets are there now? And how many more will there be between now and Jan 2017?
Lois Lerner at IRS and the EPA director are both known to be using non-Federal government secured public e-mail systems as early as 2010.
Exactly how many other officials at the State Department, Defense Department, Interior Department (Can you say Secret Service?), other non-departmental American intelligence bureaucracies, and the Federal Reserves are there?
That is the real cyber-security “broken window” Hillary and FBI Director Comey have opened. And this is the cyber-security nightmare that will be with America for decades, barring a massive and systematic purge of everyone high and low associated with such behavior by a new President or after another — likely nuclear — Pearl Harbor.
I’ll close with the following Sept 12, 2008 Obama campaign statement that applies in 2016:
“Our economy wouldn’t survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats,” “It’s extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn’t know how to send an e-mail.”
— Obama for President 2008 campaign spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.
Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Elections, Human Behavior, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th July 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Almost every day, I see someone arguing that we shouldn’t worry about terrorism so much because your chances of being killed by a terrorist are less than your chances of being killed in an auto accident, or by slipping in the bathtub, or some such comparison. Barack Obama, according to The Atlantic, “frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.”
Indeed, this argument was even being made shortly after 9/11, even being made by people with obviously high intelligence and mathematical knowledge. Marvin Minsky, MIT professor and pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, recommended scrapping “the whole ‘homeland defense’ thing” as “cost-ineffective.” According to the WSJ, Minsky calculates that the cost of preventing each terrorist-caused airplane fatality would be around $100MM, and that “we could save a thousand times as many lives at the same cost by various simple public-health measures.” Whatever one thinks about the performance of Homeland Security as an organization, as a matter of logic Minsky’s argument was just plain wrong, as are its present-day equivalents.
Calculations of probability must be based on assumptions about whether the rate at which some phenomenon is occurring is static or is subject to change. Based on the numbers of influenza in 1914, you might have concluded that you were not at material risk of dying from this disease. In 1918, things looked very different. The dynamics of the disease led to a very rapid increase in the probability of infection.
If the FAA receives some service difficulty reports indicating that cracks have appeared in the wing spars of a few aircraft that have reached about 10,000 hours in service…aircraft of this service level representing a small portion of the total production for this model…they’re not going to dismiss it with ‘well, no biggie’ and wait until substantial numbers of planes reach 15,000 hours or so and have the wing spars actually break in flight. They’re going to analyze the situation and quite likely issue an Airworthiness Directive against the aircraft, requiring inspections and remedial action.
The wing spar case is an example of a process in which the mere passage of time can change the probabilities of the adverse event occurring. The influenza case is an example of a malign positive feedback loop, i.e., a vicious circle–the more people become infected, the more other people they infect. Positive feedback loops tend to have exponential growth patterns until something stops them.
In the case of terrorism, it should be obvious that successful terror attacks act as encouragement for future acts of terror–definitely a positive feedback loop. Remember what Osama bin Laden said about people wanting to side with the ‘strong horse’? Moreover, terror attacks are demoralizing to the target country in a way in which random accidents are not. There has already been a chilling effect on free speech driven by the desire to avoid angering the Islamists.
Bookworm offered an interesting take on this topic:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Islam, Terrorism | 27 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 22nd July 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
In one of the old Neptunus Lex posts that Bill Brandt has been rerunning at The Lexicans, Lex wrote about the man who was CO of his FA-18 training squadron:
My student cohort held him in awe: We’d been told that he had received an Air Medal during the war for saving a squadron mate’s life, or his liberty anyway. The latter had come off target badly hit and managed to limp only as far as the harbor at Hai Phong before his machine came apart. The pilot had been forced to eject and was floating in his raft a mile or so off shore, when he saw an NVA patrol craft bounding out to seize him. The unlucky aviator was contemplating the austere amenities of the Hanoi Hilton when our CO roared overhead at 500 feet, firing a Shrike missile in boresight mode.
The Shrike is an anti-radiation missile, designed to home on enemy radar and destroy it. The radar-following mechanism is its only guidance system; the only way to hit a target that is not emitting radar is to get very close to it before you fire the missile–thereby placing yourself at considerable additional risk Lex’s CO had taken that risk, destroying the North Vietnamese patrol craft, and making it possible for the shot-down pilot to be rescued by helicopter..
Reading the story, I couldn’t help wondering: which if any of our current crop of political candidates and leaders would–in the extremely unlikely event that they ever found themselves flying combat aircraft–have made the same decision?
Posted in Human Behavior, Politics, USA, Vietnam, War and Peace | 25 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 6th July 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Dale Franks, Vote Properly, You Virulent Racist!:
But let’s go even further. Even if you could prove that, on balance, free trade is an unquestionable economic benefit, people might still prefer to be measurably poorer if that’s the price that must be paid to maintain their traditional social and political cultures. (This has even more relevance in the case of the EU, because the EU actually has power. Imagine if NAFTA had an unelected Commission in Ottowa or Mexico City that could impose laws on the United States.) Perhaps people don’t regard their economic interests as important as their national or cultural interests. It doesn’t matter what elite opinion thinks the people’s most important interests are. In a democratic society, ultimately, it only matters what the people think they are. People get to determine their own priorities, and not have them dictated by elites. The people get to answer for themselves the question, “In what kind of country do I want to live?”
Of course, I would argue that we don’t have truly free trade or, increasingly, a free economy in the United States. The Progressives always look at the rising income inequality and maintain that it’s the inevitable result of capitalism. That’s hogwash, of course, and Proggies believe it because they’re dolts. But the problem in this country isn’t free trade—we have precious little of it—or unrestricted capitalism, since we have precious little of that as well. The issue behind rising income inequality isn’t capitalism, it’s cronyism. Income isn’t being redirected to the 1% because capitalism has failed, it’s happening because we abandoned capitalism in favor of the regulatory crony state and its de facto collusion between big business/banking interests and a government that directs capital to favored political clients, who become “too big to fail”. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, because we know the Treasury Secretary will be a former—and future—Goldman Sachs executive.
Franks’s post is very well thought through and ties together the main themes that appear to be driving US, British and European politics. It’s worth reading in full if you haven’t yet done so.
Posted in America 3.0, Capitalism, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Culture, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Elections, Human Behavior, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Society, Tea Party, Tradeoffs, Trump | 9 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 30th June 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
The first two posts of a five-post series:
Part 1: It Is All Cameron’s Fault:
Finally, you might ask why did Cameron promise the referendum in his party’s election manifesto? It is simple. Even with the promise of a referendum, Cameron barely overcame the UKIP surge: a 3.8 million vote surge. It was only by peeling off voters from UKIP—through the promise of the in-out referendum—that made him PM. Had he not made this election pledge, any number of marginal Tory seats would have tipped: Labour, Lib-Dem, or UKIP. There was no blunder here by Cameron. It was not the referendum which destroyed Cameron’s ministry; rather, it was the promise of a referendum which made Cameron the Prime Minister in the first instance.
[. . .]
Parties who have been rejected at the polls twice should engage in meaningful introspection, at least, if they expect to be taken seriously in the future. The let’s put all the blame on Cameron position lacks just the sort of gravitas that one hopes to see in serious opposition parties.
Part 2: The U.K.’s Bradley/Wilder Effect Is Enough To Swing Elections:
If a society permits those who engage in wilful violence and those that command the police & the revenue office to drive normal political expression underground, then that society will not have normal political expression. One consequence of the lack of normal political expression is that every poll will lack validity.*
(Related: Brexit, Predictions and Trump.)
Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Europe, Human Behavior, Immigration, International Affairs, Politics, Polls, Predictions, Tea Party, Trump | 2 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 24th June 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
The bookies, until the votes were being counted, were showing greater than 2:1 odds against Brexit in yesterday’s referendum. The subsequent Brexit victory appears to confirm the hypothesis that many Brits were lying to pollsters.
The bookies are showing odds of around 3:1 against a Trump victory in our presidential election. Arguing predictions is a fool’s game, but it may be that our election polls are wrong for the same reason as the Brexit polls apparently were. The Democrats and their media allies have demonized Trump as a racist and misogynist, and it seems likely that many people who intend to vote for him aren’t admitting it. We’ll know soon enough.
Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Current Events, Elections, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Media, Politics, Polls, Predictions, Trump, USA | 10 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th June 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
When sleep the sentinels, ’tis the barbarian at the gate who strews their eyes with dreams. Then are they vanquished by the desert, leaving the gates free to turn noiselessly on their well-oiled hinges so that the city may be fecundated when she has become exhausted and needs the barbarian.
Sleeping sentry, you are the enemy’s advance guard. Already you are conquered, for your sleep comes of your belonging to the city no more, and being no longer firmly knotted to the city…And when I see you thus I tremble; for in you the empire, too, is sleeping, dying. You are but a symptom of its mortal sickness, for ill betides when it gives me sentries who fall asleep…
For if you no longer know that here a tree stands, then the roots, trunk, branches, leafage have no common measure. And you can you be faithful when an object for your fidelity is lacking? Well I know you would not sleep were you watching at the bedside of her you love. But that which should have been the object of your love is dispersed into fragments strewn at random, and you know it no more. Unloosed for you is the God-made knot that binds all things together.
–Antoine de St-Exupery, Citadelle
Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Society, Terrorism, USA | 12 Comments »
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th May 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
From The Men Who Would Be King
For all his persuasiveness, incompetence is Satan’s principle problem. The devil always sets out to construct heaven and winds up with hell because he uses the wrong principles. ~Richard Fernandez
I’m reminded by that statement of something a former Soviet general wrote after the fall of the USSR, that the difference in societies produced by the Bolshevik Revolution and the American Revolution came down to founders and their guiding principles, You had Madison and Jefferson and The Enlightenment, we had Lenin who led us into communism.
I remember a conversation I had with two young leftists where I work. One, a young girl with a physics degree, the other a young man with a BSEE. They were Obama supporters and Progressives. I tried to engage them in the idea of First Principles, in the cause and effect and unintended consequences of political and economic policies and approaches. Neither knew what I was talking about. They were simply convinced that a smart guy needed to be in power to do whatever needed to be done. ‘People are stupid! They need to be told what to do.’ I think they would have been committed Bolsheviks in another place and time. In reality, both were the idiots they were sneering at, they just didn’t realize it. Possibly they were projecting their own lack of understanding of the world onto everyone. They had no understanding of the disastrous effects Progressive policies have had on the black population, on race relations, on the economy, on their own lives and opportunities and job prospects. They just wanted someone ‘smart’ in charge to fix it. They set out to build heaven and will be forever confused by the hell that results.
Ben Rhodes and Jonathan Gruber both lied to sell Progressive policies that could not be sold on their merits. That’s why they lied. But like the young Progressives above, both believe people are stupid and need to be told what to do by someone a lot smarter, like them. The lying is incidental. It’s ego confirmation to them that the peasants are so dim they actually believed them. No wonder Obama spends his whole life with a smirk on his face.
Posted in Human Behavior, Leftism, Obama, Political Philosophy | 7 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 1st May 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Prince Andrei (in War and Peace), who is falling in love with Natasha, is talking with her sister Vera:
“Yes, that is true, Prince. In our days,” continued Vera–mentioning “our days” as people of limited intelligence are fond of doing, imagining that they have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of “our days” and that human characteristics change with the times–“in our days a girl has so much freedom that the pleasure of being courted often stifles real feeling in her.” (emphasis added)
Bingo, Leo Tolstoy! I have often observed people writing or speaking about “these days” but equally or more often about “this country” or “this society” as if they had conducted a vast comparative study. Frequently you will hear people talking about some unfortunate characteristic that is pretty much universal across space and time and attributing it the “modern American society” or simply “our society.” Few of these, I’m pretty sure, have either spent a lot of time in other societies or made a serious study thereof, nor have many of them conducted extensive historical research about other eras.
I’ll give the floor to Gilbert and Sullivan, whose Lord High Executioner was looking forward to doing away with:
The idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone
All centuries but this, and every country but his own
Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 27th April 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
The novel Once An Eagle (also made into a TV miniseries) tells the story of two American army officers, across a time span ranging from the First World War to the interwar years to World War II and beyond. Sam Damon is a farm boy who has worked his way up in rank: he is committed to accomplishing his assigned missions and looking out for the survival and well-being of the men under his command. Courtney Massengale is a West Point graduate with something of an upper-class background: he seeks out higher rank through political maneuvering, prefers Staff to Line assignments, and has little concern for subordinates. The book is widely-read and highly-regarded in U.S. military circles.
In the story’s climactic scene, Sam is commanding a division destined to participate in an attack on a Japanese-held island. He is not thrilled to find that his division has been placed under the command of Courtney–now a three-star general and corps commander despite having spent his entire career in staff roles. He is even less thrilled when he hears Courtney’s plan for the invasion–“PALLADIUM”–which is in Sam’s judgment far too complex to succeed in actual combat conditions.
The Japanese launch their counterattack while Sam’s division is in a highly vulnerable state, in the midst of the turning maneuver required by the Palladium plan. And the reserve unit which could have saved the situation has been redeployed by Courtney so that he can have the honor of being the first American general to capture a Japanese-held city intact. While Sam is leading a desperate fight for the survival of his division, Courtney is riding in triumph through the town of Reina Blanca.
Sam Damon and Courtney Massengale are endpoints on a spectrum, of course; few real people are as good as Sam or as bad as Courtney. But still, it seems to be useful to ask the following question:
What is the mix of Damon vs Massengale in each of our current presidential candidates and among other members of our national leadership?
Posted in Book Notes, History, Human Behavior, Management, War and Peace | 33 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th April 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Curious indeed, to reflect that by the end of this year, I will have been out of the Air Force for as long as I was in it – but the time does fly when you are having fun. But twenty years in the Big Blue Machine does leave marks, as well as an exquisite sense of how the military really operates in real time, among the lower-ranking levels, close to the ground. This isn’t a sense readily developed from reading, although I suppose someone with wide experience, a strong sense of empathy and close personal associations with veterans can develop it by proxy.
This around-about way of explaining how all this last week, my daughter and I were wondering about a murder-suicide at Lackland AFB last Friday morning – nearly a week ago. A trainee airman had fatally shot his squadron commander, and then killed himself. Of course, it all came out in dribbles over the weekend; the trainee was an E-6, aged 41 and a student in the pararescue course … and had also resigned from the FBI as a special agent. Everything about this was curious, even unlikely; the Air Force para-rescue specialty is one of the most physically-demanding jobs the Air Force has. It’s comparable to the SEALS, and Army Special Forces, in that many are called, few chosen, and even fewer still graduate.
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Posted in Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, Military Affairs, The Press, War and Peace | 32 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 27th March 2016 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
After 240 years of relative quiescence, at 4:53 PM local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010 the Enriquillo fault system ruptured near 18°27’ N, 72°32’ W in an M 7.0 earthquake, followed by numerous aftershocks, mostly westward of the mainshock hypocenter. Institutional functionality, or the lack thereof, in Haiti prior to the earthquake was such that there was no local seismometer network in place, so nuances of slip in the 2010 earthquake involving several associated faults have had to be inferred from kinematic models.
The Enriquillo fault itself forms the boundary between the Gonâve Microplate and the Caribbean Plate, but seismic activity along it is driven by collision with, and subduction of, the North American Plate. The entire fault system may have begun a new cycle of large earthquakes similar to those of the 18th century, in which case there will be several more such events with significant effects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic through, very roughly, 2080.
Around half the entire US population donated money for Haitian earthquake relief in 2010. I may not have been among them, but as initially recounted in this forum in April of 2011, I was drawn into restoration work in a computer lab and fixed-wireless network in Petit-Goâve, and have subsequently assisted in similar efforts in Musac (Mizak), La Vallée-de-Jacmel. Paging through the visa section of my passport, I now find an astonishing number of red ENTRÉE and blue SORTIE stamps from the Ministere de l’Interieur et des Collectivites Territoriales / Direction de l’Immigration. My God, I’ve been down there 16 times. What was I thinking?
Something like this …
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Posted in Americas, Book Notes, Christianity, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Ebola, Elections, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Latin America, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Society, Systems Analysis, USA | 4 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th March 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Last summer I posted a couple of columns on growing up in Chicago in the 1940s.
My family history is a story of Chicago as my mother was born there and her parents met in Aurora, a suburb where my grandfather’s sister ran a boarding house. My grandmother lived there while working as a supervisor in a corset factory after she had moved to Chicago from Canada. My grandfather, Joseph Mileham, was a railroad engineer, the equivalent at the time of an airline pilot. My father’s family were farmers and lived 60 miles from Chicago. He and my mother met in Chicago when they were both working at a music company. They had a typical long Depression courtship which included a trip to California by my mother after she lost her mother and brother the same year, 1926.
My growing up was an almost idyllic childhood, although of course it had its moments.
The house I grew up in is shown here.
That photo was taken a few years ago. I took a more recent one a few years ago and the owner of the house, a black guy about 35, came out to see who I was. He insisted on taking me on a tour. He was quite proud of it. He asked if I could send him photos of the house when we lived there. Here are a few more of them.
Now, that neighborhood was the subject of a feature story in the Chicago Tribune today.
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Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 17th March 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Facebook:
What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call “rational” or “irrational” comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.
(Via Richard Fernandez.)
Posted in Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Elections, Human Behavior, Politics, Society, Statistics, Tea Party | 5 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 17th March 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Charles Murray, quoting himself and Richard Herrnstein from The Bell Curve:
In sum: If tomorrow you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the cognitive differences between races were 100 percent genetic in origin, nothing of any significance should change. The knowledge would give you no reason to treat individuals differently than if ethnic differences were 100 percent environmental. By the same token, knowing that the differences are 100 percent environmental in origin would not suggest a single program or policy that is not already being tried. It would justify no optimism about the time it will take to narrow the existing gaps. It would not even justify confidence that genetically based differences will not be upon us within a few generations. The impulse to think that environmental sources of difference are less threatening than genetic ones is natural but illusory.
In any case, you are not going to learn tomorrow that all the cognitive differences between races are 100 percent genetic in origin, because the scientific state of knowledge, unfinished as it is, already gives ample evidence that environment is part of the story. But the evidence eventually may become unequivocal that genes are also part of the story. We are worried that the elite wisdom on this issue, for years almost hysterically in denial about that possibility, will snap too far in the other direction. It is possible to face all the facts on ethnic and race differences on intelligence and not run screaming from the room. That is the essential message [pp. 314-315].
Posted in Culture, Human Behavior, Quotations, Science, Society, Statistics | 4 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th March 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Richard Fernandez has a very good post exploring the reasons why a person would choose to join something like an Islamist militia in Libya. Read the whole thing.
His post reminded me of something that Virginia Postrel posted on 9/11/2008:
Glamour can sell religious devotion or military glory as surely as it can pitch lipstick or island vacations. All promise a way to transcend our everyday circumstances, to experience more and become better than ordinary life allows. All invite us to imagine escape and transformation…The question for this September 11 is, How do we puncture the glamour of Jihadi terrorism? The first step is recognizing that such glamour exists.
I was also reminded of a passage from Erich Maria Remarque’s neglected novel ‘The Road Back,’ which follows a group of former German soldiers in the aftermath of WWI. One member of the group, George Rahe, explains his inability to come to terms with peacetime: Comradeship and idealism are perishing in “this pig’s wash of order, duty, women, routine, punctuality and the rest of it what they call life here”…he sees an ordinary city street as “All one long fire trench” and the houses as “Dugouts, every one–the war still goes on–but a dirty, low-down war–every man against his fellow–” These feelings drive him to join up again–most likely one of the Freikorps units which sprang up during the postwar chaos.
Also, Arthur Koestler wrote about what he called the Tragic and the Trivial planes of life. His friend, the writer and fighter pilot Richard Hillary, explained the concept thusly:
K has a theory for this. He believes there are two planes of existence which he calls vie tragique and vie triviale. Usually we move on the trivial plane, but occasionally in moments of elation or danger, we find ourselves transferred to the plane of the vie tragique, with its non-commonsense, cosmic perspective. When we are on the trivial plane, the realities of the other appear as nonsense–as overstrung nerves and so on. When we live on the tragic plane, the realities of the other are shallow, frivolous, frivolous, trifling. But in exceptional circumstances, for instance if someone has to live through a long stretch of time in physical danger, one is placed, as it were, on the intersection line of the two planes; a curious situation which is a kind of tightrope-walking on one’s nerves…I think he is right.
Posted in Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 2nd March 2016 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
What I’m feeling for the GOP is a kind of disinterested sympathy, punctuated with schadenfreude, the disinterest arising from never having been a Republican, the sympathy from the GOP identification of a plurality of my close friends – uniformly horrified by what is happening – and the schadenfreude from the abrupt collapse of three-plus decades of pharisaical social conservatism. Turns out that eventually enough of the electorate whose resentment you’ve been stoking figures out that it’s a waste of time and fastens on to something else, something that matches their actual resentments a lot more closely. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Blogging, Book Notes, Civil Society, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Elections, History, Human Behavior, National Security, Politics, Predictions, Society, Trump, USA | 13 Comments »
Posted by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach on 28th February 2016 (All posts by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach)
I commented in this post about the consumerist fog that in which I was living as a middle-rank American military officer, and my desire to “fix” or improve my situation by taking command of my finances.
How did we do it?
It was simple, but not easy.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Personal Finance, Personal Narrative, Taxes | 14 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 23rd February 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Seth Barrett Tillman:
I wrote and published this 8-page short story–Purim & My Bangladeshi Friend–a little while back. As I said, today is Purim, and it’s Purim again in a month. So my short story is, I think, once again, timely, and sadly, once again, all too relevant to life in our shared West, in our shared modernity.
Seth’s story is here.
(Today’s post is a rerun because Lex wrote a post about Seth’s story a couple of years ago. Lex’s post is still worth reading.)
Posted in Deep Thoughts, Europe, History, Holidays, Human Behavior, Islam, Judaism | 1 Comment »
Posted by Jonathan on 22nd February 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
Vote ONLY for someone who has failed and has LEARNED from failure. This limits the field to Trump, Cruz and Carson.
–Chet Richards, in a response to this post at Belmont Club
Posted in Elections, Human Behavior, Politics, Quotations, Trump | 16 Comments »