The End Of Nothing

Something that was quite clear at the end of the Cold War was that the Republican Party, without the Soviets as an enemy, was just a collection of unrelated groups. What held the GOP together, was a general opposition to communism. It was, at the simplest form, the party of patriotism, the weak form of nationalism that used to be the core of the American creed. That patriotism was, in large part, kept alive by the Cold War. The Soviet menace was a daily reminder that we had to stick together to defend our liberty.

What kept the GOP together, to a much greater degree, is what gave coherence to the Buckley Right. The thing that fused the various tribes on the Right together was external to all of them. They feared Soviet communism. To traditionalists and social conservatives, the godless materialism of communism was monstrous. To the libertarian capitalists, it was communist central planning. To the internationalists and expansionists, Soviet domination was the great menace they feared.

Once the Cold War ended, it was no longer obvious as to why the Republicans or conservatives should hang together, other than habit. The GOP first tried to recast itself as technocratic reformers, promising to make government more efficient. That was the general thrust of Gingrich-style politics. It was just a green eye-shade version of what came from the Democratic Leadership Council. Instead of pitching themselves as “new democrats” they would pitch themselves as “new republicans.”

This had an appeal to certain parts of the Buckley coalition as well. The libertarian wing was loaded with technocrats eager to try their hand at social planning. The Jack Kemp wing was sure that some tinkering in the tax and regulatory code would bring an era of boundless prosperity. Second generation neocons were eager to apply this same logic to international affairs. The Freedom Agenda was, when you think about, urban planning applied to the Middle East in order to save Israel.

All of this technocratic obscurantism concealed a fundamental truth about American conservatism, at least as far as the Buckley version. It was never a movement based in a core philosophy. It was just a buffet of rhetoric and policy positions borrowed from movements rejected by the Left. For example, if the Left had retained its Christian roots and enforced that morality, Evangelicals would be on the Left. Most are indifferent to economics. Their interest in foreign policy begins and ends with Israel.

No doubt, Christian readers would take exception to this, because they have been conditioned to believe Christianity is a right-wing phenomenon. That’s a carryover from the Cold War where the Left was identified with godless materialism. In America, the Left has its roots in Christianity. The 19th century reformers were all explicitly Christian and working from Christian morality. Go back and read the writings of abolitionists and it is clear they saw their movement as a Christian movement.

Similarly, the neocons have no obvious fit on the Right. Their worldview is the philosophy of Athens, while paleo-conservationism is the philosophy of Sparta. Conquering the world in order to make it safe for democracy was always on the American Left. It is what motivated the Wilsonian reformers and the New Deal radicals. It is what led Kennedy and Johnson to commit to a land war in Asia. The neocons were always a liberal tribe looking for a political home, not a philosophical one.

This reality of the American Right, that it is just a collection of misfit toys, was made plain in the reaction to Tucker Carlson great speech. If what he said was truly at odds with the core philosophy of the Right, the response would have reflected that. Instead, it was a grab bag of policy complaints (examples: here, here, here and here) The carrying on about Carlson questioning the sanctity of global capitalism strongly suggests these people don’t know why they believe what they believe. They’re just repeating lines from a hymnal.

Of course, this is not a revelation. It was obvious for a long time, but, again, it was papered over by the technocratic obscurantism of the libertarian wing and the Jewish liberation theology of the neocons. The Mitt Romney campaign of 2012 was like watching a robot read the lines of a rule book. No one could think of a reason why Mitt Romney should be president or why his party even existed. His campaign was a collection of slogans recycled from old copies of National Review.

That’s the reality of Buckley conservatism. It was always just a catechism of convenience that gave disparate groups a set of rules so they could work in concert. Over time, it became a racket and repeating those lines correctly became the secret handshake of those working in Conservative Inc.. As an organizing philosophy, it offers nothing, because it promises to do nothing. It’s just a list of reasons why a group of strangers with nothing in common should vote for more of the same.

January Grab Bag

The week after the New Year week is always a weird one. In the dreaded private sector, people are busy catching up on what they did not get done over the holidays. Closing the books for the year and getting ready for the coming year keeps people busy. For the political class, it is a time for extra partying, as newly minted pols arrive and the old politicians return to the Imperial Capital. The media is busy being instructed on how to lie to the public in the coming year. The result is a slow week or two in January.

I thought about doing an immigration show or maybe a shutdown show, given that Trump had his big speech on Tuesday. The speech was a bit of a flop, as far as I could tell. I looked at some twitter feeds of immigration patriots and they were not impressed. On the other hand, everyone was horrified by the image if Chuck and Nancy. They looked like weird lizard people from another planet. The more the public sees those two, the better it is for Trump in this fight. He should get them on TV daily.

Anyway, I went in another direction, looking for stuff that was not terribly political, at least related to current events. I do start with a segment on Tucker’s great monologue from the start of the year, which made so-called conservatives very sad this week. I think in the fullness of time, we will see this as a turning point of sorts. It’s a time for choosing among the so-called conservatives and libertarians. They can either join team anti-white or join team white. The days of ignoring this reality of dwindling.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show

Contents

  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: Tucker’s Speech (Link)
  • 12:00: Head Shots (Link)
  • 22:00: Universal Deceit (Link) (Link)
  • 32:00: The Blood Feud (Link)
  • 42:00: The Two Laws (Link)
  • 47:00: White City (Link) (Link)
  • 52:00: Let Nature Fix Africa (Link) (Link) (Link)
  • 57:00: Closing (Link)

Direct DownloadThe iTunes PageGoogle Play LinkiHeart Radio, RSS Feed

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

The End Of The Line

The Consumer Electronics Show happened this week in Las Vegas. There was a time when this was an international event, as everyone wanted to see the latest electronic gadgets that were about to hit the market. The pace of change was so quick, every year featured cool new ideas and concepts that promised to alter how we experience our entertainments. There was also the futuristic factor, as companies would preview what cool new technology they were about to bring from the lab to your home.

That’s no longer the case as the consumer electronics business seems to have run out of road, as far as cool new ideas. This is apparent in the troubles Apple is suddenly facing. It makes a cool looking toy, but there’s nothing unique about an iPhone. It does what all the phones do now. The gap between it and the low end brands is not enough to warrant a premium. This is an issue turning up all across the consumer electronics space. There’s just no new technology to make any of it “must have” or any brand unique.

The big new idea this year is 8K TV, which is just becoming a reality. TV makers have made 4K the default now. Everyone hopes these super high resolution TV’s will spark a revolution in both accessory items and the content itself. So far, 4K has not made much of an impact on consumers. It turns out that better resolution does not improve the quality of the content. That was true of HD, but at least those sets looked cool and they were much easier to move around the living room. They also made 80-inch screens possible.

That’s the tell with this stuff. If a new technology has an impact on the consumer, it can first sell at a premium. That was the case with HD television. Middle-class white guys in the suburbs built man caves around their big screen. That did not happen with 4K television as people just ignored it until the price dropped to normal levels. That means the same will happen with 8K. The resolution and sound of the television has reached the point where it is more than good enough for the majority of people.

Manufacturers have known this for a while, which is why they invested heavily in virtual reality. Virtual reality or some other immersive technology is the assumed to be the next step, but people don’t seem to like the idea. VR headsets have been out for a while and they have been a big flop with the public. Part of it is you look like an idiot wearing the things and no one wants to look ridiculous. The experience so far is less virtual reality and more altered reality, like being on hallucinogens.

There’s also the fact that virtual reality will probably not work anything like the electronics makers imagine. Human perception is something we know little about and what we think we know we have all wrong. Much of our reality is probably generated by our brains from stimuli that we get through our senses. We’re not living in the matrix, but we are living in a stripped down version of reality. Our brains consumer just what is necessary to build a reality from information stored in our brains that we accumulated in life.

Otherwise, the “new” stuff coming from electronics makers is increasingly ridiculous implementations of things like voice activation. A voice activated parasol was probably fun to design, but it is entirely useless. In fact, voice activated stuff will most likely fail miserably for two reasons. One is the idiocy of it. Just think of how annoying it is to talk to a robot on the phone when dealing with the bank or pharmacist. No matter how good the technology gets, you will always know you are talking to a thing and that feels dumb.

The other factor is privacy. You have to be close to retarded to invite these devices into your home, given what we already know about the tech firms. If the mobile carriers are willing to sell your location data in real-time to anyone who wants to buy it, including criminals, then they will sell your private conversations in real time too. Just as prisoners figure out how to make their cells a private space, the future means the home becomes a technology free area, so people can have an escape from the panopticon.

The end of the road for consumer electronics will no doubt have an impact on video content creation. Something that has gone unnoticed is how the technological revolution transferred billions every year from consumers to the entertainment business, without much change in the content. If anything, the result was more bad content and much more propaganda. The selling of the poz is so over the top now, it is intolerable. That suggests the content makers are ripe for “disruption” as the cool kids say.

A hint of it is in the audio space. It took a while, but the mp3 altered music and spoken word formats. People still listen to talk radio, for example, but the switch to podcasts and live streams is happening quickly. Like evening news shows, terrestrial radio is the thing that appeals to older people. It has no future. In all probability, we are on the cusp of a similar revolution in video content. It will have different contours, but the end result will be a radical change in the economics of entertainment.

Of course the petering out of the consumer electronics revolution will have economic consequences. The PC revolution ran its course, just as we are seeing with home entertainment and mobile phones. At the end, we quickly saw a consolidation and commoditization of the market. No one thinks much about the big name computer makers and in time no one will care who makes their television or smart phone. These household names will either move onto other things or go out of business.

The Active Citizens

Recently, I have been getting hammered with spam calls on my mobile phone. These are robo calls for various scams. One that comes daily is for some green energy scheme that promises to save me 50% off my electric bill. Another is a call from “your credit card company” that starts with “Don’t hang up.” I always hang up. The frequency of calls has reached the point where I no longer bothering answering my cell. I’ve turned the volume down to zero and check the log once in a while to see if anyone I know called.

This is a recent issue. I’ve had the same number for a long time that I registered with the do not call registry. I have no idea if that works, but the lack of spam calls had me thinking it must have worked until recent. Out of curiosity I went to the site for the FTC to see if maybe that service had been discontinued. It turns out that it still exists, but the web site is down, supposedly because of the government shutdown. That’s not a joke. Here’s the link and they posted the notice in Spanish, for the convenience of Mexican users.

Now, it would surprise no one to learn that a government website is really just a facade and that web requests are being handled by a person, who types the response to each query. You can just imagine an army of Winston Smith’s typing web responses and noting unapproved activity. That’s certainly not the case here. The bureaucrats in the FTC thought this was a bold statement. In reality it is just the petty nonsense that goes on with the administrative state. They put that up to spite the public.

This small little incident I’m describing is a microcosm of what’s wrong in the country. The FTC website should not exist. There’s no need for a do-not-call registry. The government could simply make the telephone companies responsible for the abuse that goes on with telemarketers. The phone companies would then demand the government pass laws that discourage these scams. The phone system operators would then aggressively police their networks and turn the scammers over to the state.

That does not happen, of course. The idea of the government doing things to make daily life easier on the citizens is so alien to us now, that the very suggestion of it is met with howls of protest. That is, after all, what happened when Tucker Carlson suggested the people in charge start worrying about the happiness of the public. The shrieking and gasping at such blasphemy around the Imperial Capital was deafening. No one in the ruling class, or their attendants, thinks the government owes us anything.

The paleocon formulation for this is anarcho-tyranny. This is when the state is no longer able to do the basics of government, like going after phone scammers. That’s the anarchy part. On the other hand, the state is more than happy to hassle citizens over petty rules and regulations. That’s the tyranny. It’s true in a lot of ways and certainly applies to local government. That’s not all of it though. There’s a growing hostility to the idea of people expecting their government to be responsive to the public.

That’s the core of the immigration debate, when you examine it. One side still thinks it is the duty of government to protect the borders and enforce the immigration laws. More important, they expect the government to put the general welfare of the American people ahead of the interests of foreigners. Sure, some immigration is fine, as long as they assimilate and become an asset. In other words, immigration is just another public policy and the right policy is the one that serves the interests of the citizens.

The other side thinks the only reason anyone wants to limit immigration is to protect losers who can’t compete with the newcomers. After all, only losers want the government to protect them from competition. David French calls it victim-politics. In other words, if you think the people in charge are not doing their duty to look out for the interests of their fellow citizens, you’re a crybaby and loser. It’s amazing, but a guy who has spent his life on the government teat thinks his class owes you nothing.

In other words, we have gone past the old anarcho-tyranny formulation into a new phase where the ruling class can’t be bothered to do anything. In fact, they are offended by the very suggestion that they have a duty to the rest of us. Carlson is going through an advertiser boycott because he had the temerity to suggest that maybe the people in charge are not doing their duty. All the beautiful people are rushing to social media to defend billion dollar global corporations against a guy who says stuff on TV.

Of course, the pettiness of the administrative state and the hostility to the idea of responsive government have the same root cause. The ruling class no longer see the rest of us as being citizens in the way they are citizens. We know have active citizens and passive citizens. The former is for members of the managerial class and the latter is for the rest of us. Active citizens get to talk about what kind of country they want and how the government will achieve it. Passive citizens just sit quietly in the cheap seats.

That’s why they are so offended by Trump and the surge in populism. They see it as a something like a slave revolt. It’s not the material inconvenience. It is the moral effrontery of the hoi polloi daring to question them. That’s the reason the FTC site is down. The people who did that think they are doing us a favor. They are offended and probably bewildered as to why this is happening. They are so divorced from the rest of us, we may as well be space aliens or wild creatures living in the forest.

This is why reform is hopeless. It’s not that “the deep state” is secretly gaming the system to their advantage. There’s nothing secret here. The sorts of reform needed would have no material impact on our rulers. The reason reform is hopeless is they now define themselves in opposition to the rest of us. They no longer see themselves as our fellow citizens. Rather, they see us as a threat to their status as active citizens. Anything that blurs the lines between us and them, must be opposed, on principle.

The American Jizya

It used to be that social reformers would talk about the day when racism has been eliminated from society. They would quote Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, suggesting the goal was a colorblind society. The only people to say this today are clueless civic nationalists and so-called conservative pundits. The former are always behind the times and the latter is here to run cover for the Left. In the game of racism, the caravan has moved onto a new wave, the third wave of anti-racism.

Like feminism, anti-racism has reinvented itself to meet the challenges of the multicultural age, particularly in light of the new demographics. Blacks griping about whites is not of much use when you have varieties of Hispanic, Muslims, Asians, Jews and lifestyle degenerates. The new challenges of the majority-minority empire require a new kind of anti-racism and a new kind of racism for it to oppose. The new racism is exotic and mysterious, while the anti-racist is fighting a spiritual fight, not a legal one.

Eric Hoffer made the observation that people involved in causes never reach a point where they say the cause has achieved its goals and therefore can disband and cease its activities. For example, anti-smoking zealots have accomplished all that can be accomplished, yet they persist. The same is true of drunk driving activists. Short of martial law, there is not much left to do about drunk driving and smoking. Yet, the pressure groups behind these causes still raise money and agitate for attention.

The same thing has happened with the various causes of Progressivism. Something like environmentalism has evolved into a weird nature cult, with apocalyptic predictions backed by flimsy science. Feminism is pretty much a nonsensical collection of tantrums sporting bizarre lingo and outfits. Anti-racism has moved from demands for equity before the law and mitigation for past racism, to a semi-permanent regime that includes groups, who voluntarily left their home lands for the white nations they now despise.

As a practical matter, so-called “third wave anti-racism” is really just a demand by non-whites that whites mitigate the realities of biology. They can’t say that so they have to use weird language and comical neologisms. The demand is that whites exhaust themselves maintaining a white bourgeois society, so that non-whites can enjoy first world comfort, without actually having to maintain it themselves. The new white man’s burden is whites living as despised helots in the societies they created.

For example, whites are supposed to solve the black crime problem, but not notice that black men commit a lot of crime. No one is supposed to mention that blacks don’t cooperate with police. The justification for the former is the history of racism, while the latter is excused as blacks not wanting to attract attention to the black community. Whites are supposed to work around the realities of the black community, while mitigating the realities of the black community. This is impossible and unreasonable.

Another example is how non-whites expect to be allowed into elite schools. In the name of diversity, the elite colleges decorate each class with vibrancy. The professors are expected to make sure these students graduate and never mention that they make up the bottom third of the class. Once out in the world, the process starts over as law firms hoover up non-whites to meet their diversity quota. Of course, no one is supposed to notice that these lawyers are not very good at being lawyers.

Then you have the central tenet of third wave anti-racism, which is that whites, just by being white, are a burden on non-whites. Because whites want the best for their kids and want to live in safe neighborhoods, it means they live in places without convenient bus service. This is a burden on non-whites, as they don’t have easy access to whites and the societies they create. This is so-called white privilege. The only way to eliminate this is to eliminate white behavior, which would end the modern society.

Instead, the new anti-racism regime is one where every white person is born guilty, tainted by the original sin of white racism. Therefore, just as man was condemned to toil outside of the Garden of Eden for eternity, whites are now condemned to pay the jizya in order to keep non-whites in comfortable modern lifestyles. That means open borders for formerly white countries and a metastasizing set of rules to govern the thoughts and speech of whites. The American jizya is about keeping non-whites happy.

That’s the core argument of Ta-Nahesi Coates. In his jeremiad in favor of reparations, you’ll note he never actually puts a number on it. Reparations are, by definition, about making the other party whole. Coates rejects that such a number exists, because what he means by reparations is actually a recitation. He demands an endless recitation of the crimes committed by whites against blacks. This is to both punish whites in a material sense and to remind them that they are now in the inferior position.

In order to understand the social justice movement, one must first replace the word “justice” with the word “vengeance.” It’s not about settling the books or making anyone whole. It is about establishing a new hierarchy in which whites are the infidels of the new multicultural empire, forever paying the jizya to keep modern society rolling. The point of the tax is not just to finance the system, but to lock in the moral relationships of the new multicultural empire, because it cannot exist without the jizya.

Neo-Democracy

Most people think democracy means the people get to vote on who holds office and what laws get passed. Government by the people and majority rule, at least when it comes to elections and referendums. Not so long ago, serious types would correct someone if they said America was a democracy. They would say it is a republic, not a democracy, which is technically correct. Civic nationalists will still do this whenever someone says America is a democracy, even though the term has become ubiquitous.

Putting aside the linguistic issues, most people think of democracy as something close to the Merriam-Webster definition, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” The people have the final say on who holds office and by extension, what they do while in office. The government is controlled by the people, through an orderly process of elections and referendums.

The people in charge, however, have a different definition of democracy. They look at democracy as a thing, rather than a process. When they speak of democracy, they are talking about the offices and institutions they control, both official and unofficial. The media, for example, is an unofficial part of the democracy. The array of non-profits and think tanks are part of the democracy. The entirety of the managerial state is this thing they call democracy, which is why they endlessly talk about the need to defend it.

For example, this story in Foreign Policy magazine is about how Denmark’s use of computer software to manage welfare benefits is a threat to liberal democracy. The authors use the term in the way in which normal people would use it. They provide an example of how one municipality is using “a system that would use algorithms to identify children at risk of abuse, allowing authorities to target the flagged families for early intervention that could ultimately result in forced removals.”

In order for these systems to work, the state needs access to all sorts of data that not so long ago was assumed to be outside the scope of government. Think about what the state would need to know about “the children at risk” in order to know they are at risk. Most of what would be useful is the sort of information, people in liberal democracies think is none of the government’s business. Then there is the notion that the state has the right to involve itself in the affairs of citizens, before they do something wrong.

Notice too the shift in language. Those inclined to dystopian views like to use the word “pre-crime” to define this sort of thing, but it is actually worse. The new class thinks they need to intervene in your life before you do something wrong, which is different than preventing crime. What the Danish state is up to is intervening in the lives of citizens before they act in a way that may be legal but not in their interests. The state now has a monopoly on morality, in addition to a monopoly on violence.

As the authors point out, the core assumption of liberal democracy has always been that the state must be restrained. This is described as negative liberty. The state is out of the way of the people, who are then free to pursue their interests. It’s why the US Constitution narrowly describes the role of each branch of government. It’s also why there is a bill of rights, which describes broad spheres into which the state is prohibited. In theory, the government is like a dog on a leash. It can only go where the leash permits.

What’s happened in the last several decades in the West is a subtle shift away from negative liberty to positive liberty. This is the claim that to be free, a person must be self-determined, able to control their own destiny in their own interests. For example, an addict is not free because they are a slave to the drug. A black person, despite equality before the law, is not free due to white racism and the legacy of slavery. The state may not be placing obstacles in their way, but the person is not in control of their destiny.

The role of the state, therefore, is not to stay out of the way, but to intercede in order to clear these limits on the citizen’s ability to fulfill their potential. That’s why the Danish government just assumes it is their duty to meddle in the personal lives of citizens. They are not violating their rights. Instead they are helping them reach their potential, by preventing them from doing things that are not in their interests. In the case of family life, it means stopping people from being bad parents or bad examples to their children.

It’s why the new class is in such a panic over the rise of populist movements in the West and willing to use totalitarian means to suppress them. From their perspective, these forces are a threat to democracy, because they are the democracy. The new class, this consolidating class of people at the top of politics, administration, finance, business and the law, are the indispensable class. Without them, there is no democracy, because there is no one to structure your life so you can reach your fullest potential.

It’s also why they are prone to blaming the super natural for observable phenomenon like racial inequality or the differences in the sexes. When you eliminate the natural explanations for why blacks have different life outcomes than whites, then you are left with the supernatural. White privilege is just another way of blaming bad juju. The same is true of “gun violence” which shifts agency from the trigger puller to the object. These various bogeymen become an explanation and a rallying cry for the new class.

More ominous is how the new class, at least in America, is slowly coming to the conclusion that the reason the new citizens are not reaching their potential is that the old citizens have a mystical power source. The mere presence of legacy Americans, minding their own business, living their lives, is bad for the new citizens. After all, that is the definition of white privilege. There can be only one solution to that problem. That probably explains why the Sackler family walks free. They are the sword of democracy.

The Greeks & Us

I’m back! I was never really gone, but the podcast took a week off over the holidays, so the podcast is back. It’s good to take a break from something like this on occasion, just to recharge the batteries. This thing takes about six hours a week, spread over the week, so there is more work to it than the blog. The part that takes the most time is gathering ideas and assembling notes. The recording is only about two hours. Still, it’s not a full time job, but it takes time, so a little bit of a break from time to time is a good idea.

One of my more popular podcasts was the one I did on the Romans. Everyone on the Right, even the sissy-Right, likes to talk about Rome. There’s something satisfying to the comparisons between America and Rome. That’s probably because the Romans had a lot of interesting characters. The Romans were also around a long time, so it feels like their history is the set of all possible outcomes for a people. With a little historical license, you can find an example from their history to meet just about every need.

The Greeks are a bit different. I think it is because the West has so much more respect for the Greeks than the Romans. Maybe it is the fact the Greeks never conquered the world, like the Romans. Alexander certainly did, but his empire did not outlive him and the people involved were not so dramatic. That said, there are a lot of interesting lessons to be drawn from the history of ancient Greece. That’s the theme for the show this week. It will be a sampling of ancient Greek history and the relevance to our own age.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show

Contents

Direct DownloadThe iTunes PageGoogle Play LinkiHeart Radio, RSS Feed

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

The Risk Of Speed

When it comes to automation, people tend to assume the robots will perform the same tasks as the humans they replace, just with fewer mistakes and fewer days off. While that is true, automation almost always means changing how the work gets done, in order to break it into discrete operations. Instead of a man at a workstation, doing a series of tasks, each task is done as a single event by a single robot. This simplifies the task of automation and reduces the cost of the automation by eliminating variables.

This atomization of the work not only makes the work process more efficient, it changes how the humans have to analyze it. Instead of focusing on the people, they must focus on the process. That’s always part of process improvement, but because the process changes and the variables change, new phenomenon turn up in the process. In statistics, they say quantity has a quality all its own. In automated systems, speed has a quality all its own. Those super fast, super accurate robots change the nature of the process.

Think of the game of table tennis. It is a pretty simple game, in terms of strategy. The players try to trick one another with various tactics like setting up a shot or putting spin on the ball so it is hard to return. Player A will use top spin to force Player B to change how he strikes the ball. At some point Player A will change, thus fooling Player B, who then hits the ball beyond the far edge of the table. Alternatively, one player will make the other player move side to side, increasing the chances of a physical error.

If you are coaching table tennis, it is all about training the human to play against the other human. Now, replace the players with robots. The first thing that changes is the players will not make physical errors. So, the side to side business no longer makes sense. The same is true of using ball spin to induce a physical error. The robots will strike the ball correctly each time. In other words, when you remove human error and human emotion from the game, the strategy of the game has to change as well.

It also means the game changes. For example, the team that makes the first robot player will build it to capitalize on human error. Soon, other teams will replace their humans with robots. At that point, everyone stops trying to exploit human error. Instead, they are trying to make faster robots. If their robots can exceed the physical limits of the other robots, then they win. Soon, there is an arms race between the robot builders to make the fastest robot, in terms of physical response, along with the faster processors.

If you stop and think about what this would look like, it sounds kind of cool at first. The first robots would be slow and stupid, but eventually they would pretty amazing. They would go from amusing to terrifying as the speed of the game would become incomprehensible to humans. The speed, agility and processing power of the machines would have the ball flying through the air near its maximum velocity of 900 miles per hour. The paddles would be made of special material, in order to prevent them from flying apart.

Automating the game of table tennis would first result in removing the strategy of the game that exploits human failure. This would be true of any system that is being automated. System analysis would also change as the speed of the machines would create new points of failure and new challenges, in terms of finding efficiency and a competitive edge. In other words, as the problem solving shifts from the human variable to the engineering issues, system analysis has to change accordingly.

Now, instead of robots playing table tennis, let’s think of something else. Currently, close to 90% of trades in the equities markets are done by robots, which are just computer programs attached to the financial system. These programs have access to financial data throughout the system, which is inputted into their systems and the output is the buy and sell decisions. Teams of smart people called “quants” spend endless hours fine-tuning their programs to make them faster and more efficient at trading equities.

If you read the book The Money Game, which was written in the 1960’s, it presciently predicted the rise of the machines in the financial markets. What was clear to smart people at the dawn of the robot age, but not clear to most people, is the old systems regulating and controlling markets would not hold up to automation. It took the Black Monday crash of 1987 for everyone to realize that the controls had to change in order to accommodate the new robot players in the financial system.

In the 2000’s, the rise of high speed trading algorithms and large scale trading models eventually broke the system again. The emergence of the so-called “flash-crash” was entirely due to speed. While the first phase of automation removed the normal human checks on trading, resulting in runaway selling, the next phase of automation allowed for bad human decisions, like errors in trading algorithms, to be implemented so quickly, the systems could not respond. The result was erroneous sell-offs.

That brings us to the current market volatility. The decline itself is getting all of the attention, mostly for marketing and political reasons. The dullards in the media know how to sell gloom and they like blaming bad news on Trump. Historically, this bear market is not important. Whether it is called a correction or a bear market, the numbers are not all that significant. We’ve seen much worse. No one is jumping from their office windows and the public is not banging the sell button on the investment account.

What’s unique about this market is the weirdness. There is sustained volatility, but also a sustained decline, that does not appear to correlate to factors in the economy or in the financial system. The tiniest bit of news can cause wild swings. Apple announced what everyone should have known by now, that their toys are not selling as well as in the past, and the market takes a big tumble. Apple shares dropped 10% in minutes. Of course, this ripples to the rest of the market in seconds as well.

What could be happening is the next phase of automation. The speed and complexity of the algorithms are no longer comprehensible by the humans involved in the system. Like our table tennis playing robots, a level of speed and complexity passes the event horizon of humans to comprehend. Watching the robots play table tennis would be like watching a whirl of stars, beautiful, but impossible for the mind to fathom. Similarly, the new market dynamics may be reaching the limits of human regulators to fathom.

This is not to imply that the robot traders have become aware and are now taking control of the system from humans. That would be interesting, but the robots are still relatively dumb. Instead, they have reached levels of efficiency and speed that exceeds our ability to model properly. The result is the wild volatility and the seemingly irrational behavior of the markets. Put another way, this is the age of basic ideas implemented so fast and with such efficiency, they become irrational to their human creators.

The Forever Heretic

Every once in a while, particularly during the Obama years, someone would compare the ideological enforcers to the Red Guards of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Inevitably, the response from many so-called conservatives, would be that it was an exaggeration or just a bad comparison. After all, today’s ideological enforcers just shriek and make life unpleasant for the bad-thinker. No one is being forced to publicly confess to imaginary crimes or being sent off to a reeducation camp.

The whole point of comparing something in the current time, or even the near future, to something bad from the past, is exaggeration. The point is to make the present thing appear worse, in order to warn of something bad on the horizon. The shrieking social justice warriors may not be physically attacking college professors today, but if they are not stopped now, they could be doing this in the near future. That’s the whole point of the exaggerated comparison. It is to warn of something bad on the horizon.

The question never considered is what happens when the warnings prove to be correct, but no one is taking notice. That is, what if the shrieking social justice warriors start forcing college professors to wear dunce caps and the people in charge open up reeducation camps for bad thinkers? That would be pretty bad, but it would be worse if people just shrugged and said, “Sure, you were right about this turning into the Cultural Revolution, but what are we going to do?” What exaggeration do we use then?

We are now about to find out. This story from the New York Times was bouncing around among dissidents over the holidays. It tells of a black women who got her feelings hurt on Twitter a couple of years ago. The people in charge used her sadness to force one of the people making her sad to confess to imaginary crimes and agree to spend 200 hours in a reeducation camp. Additionally, the black girl will monitor his behavior and determine if he is sufficiently submissive to her, before he is released from custody.

That sounds like an exaggeration, for sure, but it is not. A year ago, American University celebrated the acquisition of a new totem to their goodness, but then that totem was mocked on Twitter by people who read the Daily Stormer website. One of them, Evan James McCarty of Eugene, Ore., was hunted down and brought to trial. According to the New York Times story, he was forced “to apologize, renounce white supremacy, undergo counseling and help civil rights groups fight hate and bigotry.”

The point they are making, as is the point of any sort of mob justice or vigilantism, is to send a warning to others. When the Maoists were parading around bad thinkers in dunce caps, it was not about the victim. It was a message to everyone else. You either fall in line or you face something similar. That’s the point of this case and the harassment campaign run by propaganda organs like the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. Kelly Weill and Chris Mathias are hired ideological enforcers, not journalists or reporters.

No doubt people will argue that this characterization of this event is out of line or an exaggeration. They will point out that the victim agreed to perform the confession and agreed to enter a reeducation camp. That’s true, strictly speaking. It’s also true that workers around the country “volunteer” to undergo morality training and submit themselves to examination, in order to ensure they are not blaspheming the gods of the state. In an ideological state, people “volunteer” for a lot of things.

It is tempting to dust off the great quote from Theodore Dalrymple about how in communist societies, the purpose of propaganda was to humiliate. There’s certainly truth to that in this particular case. The new class wanted to humiliate the Twitter troll in order to make a point. They probably wanted him to wear a dunce cap and sandwich board detailing his crimes, but maybe next time. The assumption is that no one will want to submit themselves to the same humiliating punishments so everyone will fall in line.

There is another side to the coin here. This was an act of vengeance. The story and the facts make clear that the new class is angry that anyone would dare disrespect the gods of the state. They are insulted by these silly acts of rebellion. That’s why the ink was not dry on the settlement and the lawyers for the black girl were on the phone to the New York Times with the details. They wanted to make sure that everyone in this kid’s community knows he is a blasphemer and a heretic. It was a high tech doxxing.

Therein lies the big difference between what the Maoists or Soviets were doing to their heretics. The Chinese college professor wearing the dunce cap, while being jeered by his revolutionary students had the hope that one day the people doing the jeering would rehabilitate him. The Russian forced to confess to harboring bad thoughts or listening to decadent music could hope to get a reprieve, if he grovelled sufficiently. In other words, the condemned still had some chance at redemption.

There will be no rehabilitation for Evan James McCarty. This is now on his permanent record. Anytime a prospective employer or rival in the work place puts his name into a search engine, his crimes will be announced. That’s the point of having this posted in the New York Times. That’s the real punishment. They are not allowed to brand him or force him to wear an armband, so they make sure his crimes were announced by the main organ of the ideological state. He’ll be a heretic forever.

2019 Predictions

Most of the predictions for the coming year have something about Trump and his agenda, as he faces a divided Congress. What will be revealed is the Congress is not so divided after all, as both parties will boldly lock shields to thwart the Trump agenda. The House will spend the year issuing subpoenas and holding hearings so their more clownish elements can perform for the cameras. The Senate will go on strike, doing nothing other than quietly pushing through Trump’s appointments to the Federal bench.

The Mueller probe will take a different turn in 2019. Now that it has been established as a semi-permanent oversight office, charged with keeping Trump from doing anything, the cover-up of the FBI subversion will be completed. All Congressional inquiries will end and the IG reports will contain nothing. Team Mueller will then turn to watching everyone working in the White House to make sure nothing can be done without the approval of official Washington. Team Mueller will be the shadow cabinet going forward.

The race to see who succeeds Trump in 2020 will be where the action is as the Democrats start to get serious about building their field. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris will be working the donor circuit, using exploratory committees to help build their brands in early states. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary are just 13 months away. Elizabeth Warren will turn out to be Howard Dean in a dress, as her campaign will make a lot of noise in the media, but not appeal to actual voters.

Because the Democrats will be shifting their focus to winning the White House in 2020, the censorship trend will take a different turn, as the tech giants begin to censor the Left. Look for the social media companies to begin cracking down on the BernieBro wing, in an effort to boost the standing of party approved candidates. Suddenly, groups like Antifa are going to find themselves without the protection they have enjoyed. They were always corporate tools, they just never knew it. In 2019, they find out who signs their checks.

The volatile bear market will continue as the financial world adjusts to some big new realities. One is the white retirement will quicken, slowing the flow of cash into retirement funds. Second, the Fed will continue to unwind its positions, thus raising the value of cash, while managing a mild deflation in asset values. Home prices will start to fall in certain markets and categories. The great demographic turnover has begun and the financial world will begin learning why no one cares about the Mexican stock market.

The world will start to notice that the Chinese economy cannot transition to one reliant on domestic demand fast enough to avoid a correction. China built its economy on currency manipulation and exploiting loopholes in global trade arrangements. Those loopholes are now closing. The Fed and ECB are much less tolerant of currency manipulation. The transition to a more normal economic model will require breaking more than a few iron rice bowls. That means China will get more authoritarian in the near term.

Theresa May will not get her fake Brexit bill through the Commons. Instead, there will be a second referendum later in the year so the Brits can vote correctly this time. The original deadline will be suspended pending the outcome of the new referendum, which will be rigged to make sure the remain side wins. Theresa May’s government will fall and new elections will be held. All concerned will accept a Tory defeat as the price that must be paid in order to defend British democracy.

On the Continent, populist unrest will give momentum to the Three Seas Initiative as part of a corrective to the European project. This year will see two camps emerge with one favoring the decentralized model championed by Poland and another camp favoring a centralized model with Germany in charge. The irony of the decentralized model being favored by all of the former communist nations will not be lost on anyone. The great test for both camps is their approach to immigration, which is becoming untenable.

Cord cutting will begin to have a real impact on the sports entertainment business. The rapid growth of American sports was driven by television money. That television money came from the cable monopolies that were given the right to tax households for content they would not otherwise purchase. Cord cutting and the demographic changes mean fewer households willing to pay the Hollywood jizya. This is the year when college and professional sports leagues begin to feel the pinch.

Finally, this is the year when serious questions about the authenticity of the Facebook business model go mainstream. For years, everyone has accepted their word, as far the number of users looking at ads on the site. Every six months they have to apologize for another “bug” in the metrics that overstated their claims. No one really knows how many humans actually use the site and advertisers have no way to know if humans really view their ads. This year people begin to wonder if Facebook is on the level.