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  • Archive for the 'Human Behavior' Category

    Overdrawn

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th December 2016 (All posts by )

    I was kind of intrigued by last week’s Buzzfeed article, attempting to whip up the internet mob for the purpose of going after Chip and Joanna Gaines, who have a hugely popular home renovation show on the HGTV channel, and cannily have never said a word on the show regarding their more or less mainstream Christian beliefs, or their attendance at a mega-church where the pastor apparently is on the record as having expressed disapproval of the concept of the institution of formal marriage being anything other than that of a man and a woman. (Note: I’ve never watched the show myself, although my daughter has. Blondie avers that Joanna Gaines is a one-note designer; her thing is shabby chic. All to the good, since that is my own preference, well-mixed with Laura Ashley comfortable country antique seasoned with a splash of William Morris/Craftsman. And … well, most people have items of décor and large furniture of which they are fond … who the heck clears the deck and redecorates every year or so, in response to the fashion of the moment? Only the very wealthy and socially insecure, I surmise.)

    More power to them – the Gainses and their redecorating business; not the internet lynch mob, always ready to be whipped up to a fine frothing frenzy. Really, this early 21st century is increasingly resembling the 16th, in the ruthless search for the ritual burning at stake by officials or by the annoyingly self-appointed for individuals who refuse to give lip-service to the prevailing social/political orthodoxies. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Diversions, Human Behavior | 10 Comments »

    The Inner Ring

    Posted by David Foster on 4th November 2016 (All posts by )

    The behavior of the network of people surrounding the Clintons, as detailed in recent revelations, reminds me of a talk that C S Lewis gave at King’s College, University of London, in 1944.

    And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

    And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

    The full text of the talk is here:  The Inner Ring

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Politics | 5 Comments »

    Human Emotions and the Nuclear Codes

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd November 2016 (All posts by )

    Two stories about Hillary Clinton:

    1–Yossi Tzur, who lost his son, Assaf, in a terror bus bombing in Israel, described the meetings with a number of American officials that he participated in when he came to this country as part of a delegation including other families of terror victims:

    “We were welcomed with warmth, with empathy, all heard us and gave us their attention, well, almost everybody.”

    Tzur went on to describe the delegation’s meeting with Rudy Giuliani. “You could feel the warmth of the man, his humanity, his care,” he wrote. “You could see tears in his eyes when he told the stories. The meeting was scheduled for an hour, it took almost two hours and then he stood with us patiently taking photos with each and every one.”

    From New York, the delegation went to Washington for a series of meetings, one of them was in the Senate with NY Senator Hilary Clinton. Tzur recalled that “we arrived at her office in the Senate and were shown into a small meeting room, it could hardly fit all of us, it was dark, crowded, it didn’t even had water on the table. So we waited.

    “Time went by, 15 minutes, 30, an hour. Her aides were embarrassed saying she is coming any minute now. After an hour and a half Clinton arrived. 

    “She looked as us seeing the group in the room, we could see she is not really there with us, we felt she was impatient and just looking to finish it and go. We felt really uncomfortable… Even before we could speak she said, you probably want a photo, come let’s go out, leading us to the stairs. There she asked us to stand on the stairs and one of her aides took the photo. We still wanted to talk to her, people came ready to tell her their story, she didn’t intend to hear, it looked she didn’t want to hear. With inhuman coldness she went out amongst us all and disappeared in one of the corridors leaving us shocked and disappointed.”

    2–Linda Tripp, White House secretary during the Bill Clinton administration, describes the reactions of Vince Foster and Hillary Clinton while watching the horrible Waco “law-enforcement operation” (in which 76 people died, including many children) unfold on television:

    “A special bulletin came on [CNN] showing the atrocity at Waco and the children. And his face, his whole body slumped, and his face turned white, and he was absolutely crushed knowing, knowing the part he had played. And he had played the part at Mrs. Clinton’s direction.

    Her reaction, on the other hand, was heartless. And I can only tell you what I saw.”

    Indeed, it seems obvious that Hillary Clinton does not possess the normal human complement of emotional reactions, that she is cold and robotic.  Something is definitely missing there.

    Democrats and their supporters keep arguing that Donald Trump must not be trusted with the nuclear codes.  In my view–if a decision for or against a nuclear launch must be made, I’d prefer it to be made by someone that can understand at a visceral level what it means for real people.  Which would not be Hillary Clinton, who really does not appear to see other human beings as anything other than tools in her unending power games.

    There has been much discussion lately about whether decisions in war can be entrusted to intelligent robots.  I’d rather not see the most important military decision of all time made by a human robot.

     

    Posted in Elections, Human Behavior, Politics, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Public Policy As Fashion

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd November 2016 (All posts by )

    Thomas Sowell notes, again, the failure of leftist policies to achieve their intended results:

    If the left chooses to believe that government intervention is the answer to such tragedies, that is their right. But, if they expect the rest of us to share that belief, surely they could subject that belief to some empirical test. But we can, however.
     
    The 1960s were the triumphant decade of those who wanted government intervention to “solve” what they called “social problems.” How did that work out? What were things like before this social vision triumphed? And what were things like afterwards?

    The failures of the Left to correlate cause and effect, even to remember how things used to be, in relation to leftist govt policies are legion. Thus leftists advocate War on Poverty-type programs as antidotes to problems that became worse after the original War on Poverty. Similarly and classically, leftists have favored rent control laws as remedies for housing shortages in cities such as NYC where housing shortages did not exist before rent control. And they defend, or at least have a soft spot for, the Castro dictatorship even though pre-Castro Cuba was relatively much more free and prosperous. It’s difficult to hold leftist views if you see govt policies as subject to empirical validation. In that case you ask the right question: Did things get better or worse after X? But it’s easy to hold such views if you see politics as fashion or a means of engaging in virtue-signalling. Then the question becomes: What are the popular opinions among today’s in-crowd?

    Being a follower of clothing fashions is harmless. Being a follower of opinion fashions is personally corrupting and harmful to others, especially as government becomes larger and more intrusive.

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading and Watching

    Posted by David Foster on 1st November 2016 (All posts by )

    Makeup, mate choice, and political philosophy…an interesting piece by Sarah Hoyt.

    Historical ignoramuses at American universities.  A professor has been quizzing his students for 11 years concerning their knowledge of some basis fact, and the trend is not positive.

    Crybullies at Smith College…a student reports:

    During my first days at Smith, I witnessed countless conversations that consisted of one person telling the other that their opinion was wrong. The word “offensive” was almost always included in the reasoning. Within a few short weeks, members of my freshman class had quickly assimilated to this new way of non-thinking. They could soon detect a politically incorrect view and call the person out on their “mistake.” I began to voice my opinion less often to avoid being berated and judged by a community that claims to represent the free expression of ideas. I learned, along with every other student, to walk on eggshells for fear that I may say something “offensive.” That is the social norm here.

    The dark art of political intimidation.  A video by Kimberly Strassel.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Education, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy | 1 Comment »

    “Underground DSM-IV – Full Version”

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2016 (All posts by )

    An interesting and entertaining post from AVI:

    Related: “No one is listening to me,” means “no one is agreeing with me.” This has been remarkably durable over my career. The idea seems to be “If you were really listening to me you couldn’t possibly disagree.” Countering with the statement “I hear what you are saying, but i don’t agree with it” can actually provoke assaultive rage. It must come near the core of problem.
     
    Pts. referring to length of time they have been in hospital as an argument for privileges or discharge means they still don’t get it.
     
    Gazing intently slightly upward — choosing among several things to say (Lots of people do this.)
    The further up the gaze, the more possible responses – usually not a healthy sign.
    Gazing at ceiling: = Choosing among a multitude of things to say, i.e. lying.
    Turning back to interviewer, spinning in chair: = Antisocial PD

    Worth reading in full.

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Medicine | No Comments »

    Life in the Fully Politicized Society (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 20th September 2016 (All posts by )

    (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.

    and

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Germany, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics, Russia, USA | 21 Comments »

    The Rain it Raineth on the Just …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd August 2016 (All posts by )

    (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 »

    Why does George Soros try to destabilize the West ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd August 2016 (All posts by )

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Politics | 27 Comments »

    What Works and What Doesn’t, Again: A Blush-Pink Frock

    Posted by Ginny on 19th August 2016 (All posts by )

    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.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Capitalism, Elections, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior, Trump | 9 Comments »

    Hillary & FBI Director Comey’s Cyber-Security “Broken Window”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st August 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Statistical Malpractice, Cluelessness About Humans

    Posted by David Foster on 28th July 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Loyalty and Risk-Taking

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd July 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th July 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Reflections on the Revolution in the UK

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th June 2016 (All posts by )

    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.

    and

    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 »

    Brexit, Predictions and Trump

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th June 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    When Sleep the Sentinels

    Posted by David Foster on 13th June 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    ‘People Are Stupid’, And What Follows From That

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th May 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Tolstoy on Human Nature, and Certain Interpreters Thereof

    Posted by David Foster on 1st May 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    Sam Damon or Courtney Massengale?

    Posted by David Foster on 27th April 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »

    The Heart of the Matter

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th April 2016 (All posts by )

    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.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, Military Affairs, The Press, War and Peace | 32 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 11th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Many types of preening

    The mind of the Left, from a former insider

    How leftist Western intellectuals are undercutting a Muslim dissident

    There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing going on

    Drinking on a date has very different effects for men and for women

    How a US kid turned into a free-range German child

    Related to the above: how free play creates emotionally stable children in an unstable world

    An American fighter pilot meets the North Vietnamese ace who shot down his friend

    Neptunus Lex described the proper frame of mind for winning in air combat as “personal, like you’re in a knife fight in a phone booth, and someone has to die before anyone gets to leave.”

    Posted in Aviation, History, Human Behavior, Islam, Leftism, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Poukisa Mwen Te Ale An Ayiti

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 27th March 2016 (All posts by )

    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 …

    Read the rest of this entry »

    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 »

    An update to growing up in Chicago.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th March 2016 (All posts by )

    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.

    paxton

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »

    Quote of the Day 2

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th March 2016 (All posts by )

    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 »