The Genius Cat Lady

This is one of those sites that is so full of nuttiness it almost feels like satire, but it is completely serious. Obviously, a site calling itself “Brain Pickings” should be brimming with sarcasm, but this one is brimming with unintentional comedy. For starters the blogger describes the site as “a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness.” There is a better than even chance that Maria Popova is going to end up living with 50 cats. It juts has that sort of vibe, based on the first impression.

The “about” section is a bit sad. Anytime you see someone claiming to be in “search for meaning” you just know they are acquainted with the psychiatric industry. Women seem to use that expression a lot and almost always they are single, childless and full of feminist nuttiness. Women with kids and a husband have all the meaning they need. They don’t have blogs where they talk about their feelings and pretend to be free spirits. Perhaps there are exceptions, but that’s the general rule.

Anyway, The post is about someone called Angela Duckworth, who appears to have been given a MacArthur genius grant for telling people things that are mostly false. Her claim to genius status is a new book explaining  how “self-control and grit — the relentless work ethic of sustaining your commitments toward a long-term goal — impact success.”  While that is largely true, you are born with these qualities, or not born with them in the case of people who lack those qualities.

Is there anyone who does not know that successful are blessed with personality traits like determination and a relentless work ethic”? Now, the blank slate people don’t accept that these are innate qualities, for the most part. Instead they think they are the product of environment like good home habits and good schools. There’s money in selling people books about how they can acquire the skills that will make them successful, so it makes sense that people write such books. A genius, however, should know better

Now, Miss Duckworth is not dumb. According to the post, she thought about starting a school to put her theories to the test, but decided the “model did not hold much promise” so she “decided to pursue a PhD program at Penn.” It’s always better to be someone offering novel, untested theories that confirm the deeply held beliefs of the ruling class, than to be the person trying to make those novel ideas work. The former pays better and has little risk, while the latter pays poorly and usually ends in tears.

Another amusing tidbit from the post is this weird way of avoiding the obvious. “She found that the students’ self-discipline scores were far better predictors of their academic performance than their IQ scores.” This is certainly true, but the correlation between IQ and impulse control is high. There’s a very good chance that the kids with poor self-control also happened to be black. They were probably from poor families. It’s hardly a revelation that poor impulse control, low-IQ and poverty are features of black communities.

This is the trouble people often have when thinking about this stuff. The the traits associated with high achieving people tend to be clustered together. That is, there are few high-IQ people with poor impulse control and high time preference. On the other hand, there are people with self-control, but a low-IQ. Intelligence is still the main factor in life outcomes, but self-control can either mitigate or amplify it. A dumb guy with self-control is going further than a average guy who can’t control himself.

A better way of stating it maybe is to think these various traits as forces pushing in either direction on a person. Some push harder, because they have greater value in current society. Intelligence means a lot today, but not as much in the tenth century, at least with regards to life outcomes. The mafia used to say you get further with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. Today you get further determination and high-IQ than just determination. That’s strangely difficult for modern people to accept.

TFA Uber Alles

I saw this linked on Steve Sailer’s site and thought it worth a different take. Steve tends to focus on the race angle, which is not unreasonable. For as long as I have been alive, public policy types have been harping about the race gap. Sometimes they take a break and lecture about the lack of females in science, technology and math fields. They always start with the same premise. White men have rigged the game and are surreptitiously keeping the black man down and the girls out of the STEM fields.

No one bothers to explain why white men have allowed Jews and Asians to overrun the system. n fact, east Asians are starting to overrun elite prep schools and universities, which is why they are dropping the private school entrance exams in NYC. Too many Chinese kids are winning places in the schools. We have spent tens of billions on every education fad imaginable and the numbers have not budged. In fact, they may have declined. For some people, that’s a clue that maybe something else is at play.

This first quote from the Teach For America article is amusing. “The phrase closing the achievement gap is the cornerstone of TFA’s general philosophy, public-relations messaging, and training sessions. As a member of the 2011 corps, I was told immediately and often that 1) the achievement gap is a pervasive example of inequality in America, and 2) it is our personal responsibility to close the achievement gap within our classrooms, which are microcosms of America’s educational inequality.”

If the missionary zeal was not clear enough, there’s this. “Although TFA seminars and presentations never explicitly accuse educators of either, the implication is strong within the program’s very structure: recruit high-achieving college students, train them over the summer, and send them into America’s lowest-performing schools to make things right. The subtext is clear: Only you can fix what others have screwed up.”

Youth organizations in Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany had the same premise. The older folks had made a mess of things. The next generation, the young people, they can start fresh as the new model citizen in the new model army. Ladling on a healthy dollop of “trench socialism” gets you an individual who has given over themselves entirely to the cause. Of course, it’s not hard to see how this can get out of hand. Today TFA is helping little black kids read. Tomorrow they overthrowing the state.

Well, maybe they won’t until tomorrow. In the weeks between accepting the offer to join TFA and the start of our training, I was told by e-mail that “as a 2011 corps member and leader, you have a deep personal and collective responsibility to ground everything you do in your belief that the educational inequality that persists along socioeconomic and racial lines is both our nation’s most fundamental injustice and a solvable problem. This mindset,” I was reminded, “is at the core of our Teach For America.”

Anyone familiar with 20th century European history can see what the TFA is doing. It is not quite a cult, but it has the trappings of a mass movement. The people running TFA are trying to build something more than a teacher training program. They want an army of true believers infiltrating the schools. Presumably these young fanatics will one day take up positions of authority and run the education system. The fact that every totalitarian movement aims first at the youth is not coincidence here.

It is the sickness of democracy. With a king, there’s no doubting his authority and legitimacy. His father was king. Alternatively, with a great warrior or general, he earned the spot by killing the enemies of the people. Even a dictator has the legitimacy of force that he uses to maintain power. In democracy, the only reason for anyone to be in charge is they talked the dumbest people into voting for him. Therefore, you need some way to convince people to follow the rules and respect the system.

The trouble is, civic religions quickly turn the country into an ideological state and what soon follows is the fanatics. Unlike the Maoist or Stalinist fanatics, no one is under any illusions about their source of power. In a democracy, the people become convinced they voted for the fanatics. The only way to prevent this is to have an official religion that has a source of authority outside the state. It’s a different form of throne and altar, but it can keep the fanatics under control, at least until the throne kills off the altar.

Being Remembered

One of the great insights I found in David Goldman’s book, How Civilizations Die, is how he linked fertility, religion and the desire to be remembered. As someone who is non-religious, it made a lot of sense. After all, the primary biological imperative, the reason all living creatures exist, is to pass on their DNA to the next generation. Like salmon, cornflowers and butterflies, humans are wired to reproduce. That is just the material way in which we are remembered.It’s how nature remembers us.

For a species cursed with self-awareness, it is easy to see how this can mutate into a desire to be remembered for our deeds, the composition of our life as a members of our tribe. We honor our dead, mark their graves, so we will be remembered by those who come after us. Being able to walk through a cemetery and recognize the names or stand in the same spot as your ancestors once stood is an important part of what motivates all people. We want to be remembered as we remember those who came before us.

I’m at an age when these thoughts come easily so it is no surprise that this column by Steve Sailer brought it to mind. The Graduate was released before I was born and was already a cultural icon by the time I had any clue about it. I may have seen it at some point, but it left no impression on me. I don’t recall anyone in my peer group ever mentioning it. For Baby Boomers, it remains a cultural touchstone. The title alone means things to them. It conjured memories of that old American they once knew.

The thought that occurred to me is what happens when the Boomers shuffle off this mortal coil? Will that movie still be a considered great art? I’m sure Steve would probably say yes and point to films like Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Citizen Cain is probably the best example of a movie that remains a classic long after anyone involved is dead, but does anyone watch it? I’ve never seen it and I doubt I know anyone who has seen it. The only people who talk about it are film buffs and academics.

The answer is I may never know if anything of the Baby Boomer generation leaves a lasting impression on future generations. I probably will live long enough to have some inkling, but maybe not. despite the fact the Boomers can never stop talking about themselves, they don’t seem all that concerned with being remembered. Instead, if pop culture is any indication, they seem obsessed with redoing the culture of the youth but better, as it more material and less spiritual.

It’s impossible to figure this stuff in the moment. History is the story of unexpected men and events. What gets remembered is often what was unknown at the time. The Sound and the Fury was a dud until Faulkner was in his dotage. I think it sold 3500 copies when it was released on 1927. Today it is considered the greatest work of Southern literature and one of the great American works of fiction. The movie A Christmas Story was a flop when released, but is now a staple of season.

The thing I wonder about these icons of early Boomer culture is whether they will be used to explain the insane rampage through America’s cultural institutions over the last half century. If the movie touched Boomers because of the alienation of the main character, the question is why were all of these kids feeling alienated? What went so horribly wrong that a generation of middle-class Americans produced a batch of kids determined to commit cultural suicide? Will their cultural items provide a clue?

Given the arithmetic, it is unlikely the nation survives the denouement of the Baby Boomer generation. Libraries full of books will be written on how they did it. The degeneracy, the lack of a future orientation, Jewish influence will all be causes future historians point to explain the death of America. Why they did it will be the great question to be debated for generations after. Maybe The Graduate will be one little piece of the puzzle and therefore be remembered long after the last Boomer is finally in Hell.

The Bob Seger Lesson

I was getting a haircut on Sunday and the chit-chat with the barber was about music. She is my age, mid-40’s, so she thinks the new pop music is mostly crap. Her son is listening to hip-hop, which is degenerate crap. That was never said, but the thought was in the air, so to speak. Whatever artistic merit there was to hip-hop, if any, disappeared when white boys in the suburbs became the prime demographic for music about the ghetto. That and the performer cannot sing, read or write music or string together comprehensible lyrics.

There’s lots of crap in pop culture, so hip-hop is just one example. To paraphrase John Derbyshire, pop culture has always been filth. It’s also always been a racket to skim middle-class whites of money. Read the book The Wrecking Crew and you will learn about how the early rock music was mostly manufactured by middle-aged Jews from the Jazz era. The difference between now and previous eras is that there used to be talented musicians and groups producing some quality stuff.

A good example is Bob Seger. He got famous in the 1970’s with a bunch of hits that still get airtime today. Go into a college bar and you will still find a few Seger songs getting played. Seger was before my time, for the most part, but my generation was playing his stuff in the 80’s and 90′ so it is not like he is a newly re-discovered fad because of a TV commercial. The reason he had some staying power is the quality of the music. Even doggerel put to a simple ditty can aspire to the sense of the timeless.

I was never a big fan, but I have been listening to his greatest hits lately. The lyrics and pacing are phenomenal. It is what you get when experienced professional musicians with talent make records. In all probability they hammered out each song on a piano and then brought in the rest of the instruments. The studio sessions were about getting the sound on vinyl, not making bad voices and bad musicians sound good. Seger and his collaborators had real talent and produced a quality product.

That got me thinking about what is and what is not quality pop music. There are probably dozens of examples from each decade that you can point to like this. The 1950’s were dominated by manufactured pop hits, but Chuck Berry made the electric guitar do things unheard of before his time. Fifty years from now people will find his licks beguiling. The Stones, The Who, and Hendrix will hold up and have held up. The 70’s had Zeppelin, which may have been the most sophisticated rock band ever.

Nothing in pop music rises to the level of Beethoven, of course, but there and bands and performers in most decades with artistic talent. That seems to have slowed in the mid-70’s with the rise of disco and hip-hop. I’m not sure who from the 80’s would be in the same club as the Stones or The Who. The 90’s saw things fall apart completely, as there were no dominant acts. That could simply be my age showing, but I was till plugged into pop culture in the 1990’s, so I don’t think I’m falling into geezerism here.

This apparent decline in high end quality music the last two decades is a mystery that goes without notice. Instead, the pop industry just turns up the hype to eleven figuring young people will not notice they are being sold synthetic pap. It’s not an accident that the “hype man” has become a feature of everything from sports to movies. There are thousands of people paid to tell us that the latest movie, TV show or pop act is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel.

Still, where are the talented musicians going if not into the garage or basement to create something good? Part of the answer is nowhere. Young people are simply not picking up instruments as they did in the past. When I was a kid, everyone played something, even in poor neighborhoods. It was just the way. I was started on the trumpet at six and took lessons until I was 12. Most kids dropped it for sports or other stuff, but many stuck with it.

Today, the only kids I see with an instrument are Asian girls carrying violins. Blacks have abandoned the guitar and seem to be losing interest in the drums.  Whites have dropped music entirely. This old post describes the plight of the guitar in music. As white culture recedes, pop culture has changed to appeal to non-whites. As pop culture has become a formal part of state control, garage bands no longer have a place, so white kids don’t bother wasting their time learning to play instruments.

Another argument is that computers are filling the void. Anyone can now sit down at their PC, load some software and create the sound of drums, guitar, piano, etc. They can make their voice sound like something other than a bag of cats. There’s no longer a need to learn to read music or play an instrument. Certainly studios stopped using drummers when they could use computers instead. The problem here is the computer does not improvise, experiment or make adjustments.

Again, this a reflection of the culture. As whites become a minority in their own lands, their culture switches from that of a confident majority to that of a captured minority. There can be great art to emanate from a defeated people. James Joyce was a man from a captive people. Southern literature reflects the culture of a defeated region of old America. Maybe pop culture will change to reflect the plight of whites in the West. Alternatively, American Indians never produced a pop culture after their defeat. They just died out.

That brings me back to Bob Seger. He did not hit it big out of the womb. He kicked around for years learning how to play music that people enjoyed. Good musicians have an ear for what others will like. That comes from many nights in many clubs. Dragging your computer gear into the club and “DJ’ing” is really not the same thing. When you get down to it, you’re just wearing another man’s suit, pretending you look better in it. A vibrant people make for a vibrant culture, which makes a Bob Seger possible.

Like America, our pop culture is dying with autumn closing in…

Living Past 115

This is an interesting post that touches on two interesting things. One is the fact we may be reaching the limit of human longevity. Once you eliminate the problems that come from scarcity and then address the basics of medicine, human life spans start to grow. People also get healthier over their lifetime. Humans are far healthier late in life than at any other time. We are probably within reach of solving some of the big killers like cancer, heart failure and dementia. While some may never be “cured” they will be manageable.

For things related to aging, the eeffects will continue to be postponed. Within living memory, a healthy a vigorous 70-year old was something like a miracle. Today it is common. We will certainly be seeing more and more vigorous octogenarians, especially as medicine gets a grip on using things like HGH and SARM’s. Of course, we are already seeing drugs that allow humans to extend their sexual activity into old age and the demand for this stuff will spike as Boomer head into their final chapter of life.

This need to extend life and the quality of life is not without some spooky stuff. Here’s a bit from the linked post.

“The only way to get a person past the “Calment limit” of (say) 125 will be some sort of genetic engineering. This might prove to be, if not easy, at least fairly routine — in technical terms. Fiddling with just a few genes in worms, fruit flies and mice has enabled scientists to extend their lifespan, sometimes up to sevenfold. One recent study in Lausanne found a 50 per cent reduction in the activity of just three genes on Chromosome 2 increased mouse lifespan by about 250 days, and kept them healthy longer.”

Once you start talking about genetic engineering people, the mind quickly moves from the spooky to the sinister. As soon as it becomes possible to alter one’s aging with gene therapy, drugs will be created to give the same effect. If reducing a certain protein extends youthfulness, a clever company will bottle it and sell it. Human nature being what it is, there will come a time when this is not just possible, but considered essential.

Strangely, the naive assumption that people will be ethically constrained in this area is why we will see the genie get loose as soon as it can be uncorked. Matt Riddley, the writer of the linked post, thinks it is hard to imagine any scientists willing to do what is necessary to bring such technology forward, with regards to humans. After all, it will require human trials and that means experimenting on embryos, which will be brought to term. That’s a nice way of saying it will require experimenting on kids.

The fact that China would have zero hangups about doing this is alien to most western ethicists. Amazingly, China remains an inscrutable place for the West. The Russians would probably have no trouble with the ethics either. Even if they were not willing to experiment on their own people, they would happily team up with India or maybe the Iranians to conduct the research on their people. Making fewer better people is probably the next phase of the arms race between peoples.

Riddle asks an interesting question, which suggests something about the Western cognitive elite. “Plus, ethics aside, it is not easy to see where the demand for such a drastic and expensive step would come from. Who would actually want their next child to live past 125, let alone badly enough to go through with it?” There’s that fatigue with living that turns up in the elites, that animates the current culture. The thing is, not everyone is looking to call it quits. That’s the Western disease. 

Hispanic Heritage Month

I’m watching the NFL and I keep seeing references to Hispanic Heritage Month. I watch the NFL via Red Zone so it is a bit of an echo chamber for whatever they are hawking each Sunday. It reminded me of traveling through Hispania as a boy with my parents. It was so odd hearing everyone speak Hispanish instead of English. Of course, even a child had to be impressed with the great achievements in Hispanic culture.

My goodness. There is no such thing as Hispanic culture outside the blinkered world of identity politics. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans call themselves Hispanic unless they are getting paid to do it. The word “Hispanic” is like the word “African-American” in that the only time you hear it is when ruling class types are around. I live in a black neighborhood and I never her anyone say “African-American.” Not even me.

More important, let’s say we’re lumping all Latin culture into one bucket for the sake of brevity, why would anyone celebrate it? Hispanic culture sucks. We know this because half of Latin American is trying flee it for North American culture. Even Africans, given the choice of Mexico or staying put are not going to Mexico. These people are coming here to get away from Hispanic culture, not celebrate it here.

It is, of course, just part of the larger anti-white campaign. The Cold Civil War, between good whites and bad whites, has been hijacked by foreign elements and slowly turned into a war on whites in general. It’s not as obvious now, but it will get increasingly obvious in the coming years. Cerebrating Hispanic culture is really just a way of celebrating the planned death of white culture.

United Good

Certain people in the media are promoting this as a great idea. Ever on the lookout for their next crusade, they have decided that giving highly privileged teenagers more money for playing a game is their next Civil Rights Movement. Every week a chattering skull is demanding (demanding!) the NCAA pay players. Never mind that the players are being paid, in the form of tuition, room, board, training and promotion.

It’s a great example of how gesture politics works in a secular theocracy. There’s no analysis of the proposal or skepticism about it being possible. There’s not even the natural instinct of people making a living off of college sports, wondering if it will harm their interests in some way. It’s simply assumed to be good, because everyone in the hive seems to think it is good. Therefore, everyone in the media makes the grand gesture in support of it. It’s rule by gesture consensus.

You also note the choice of language. If the players were demanding a free market for their services, something that somewhat exists, but could be expanded, the media would not be enthusiastic for it. The handful of performers who play the libertarian role in the mass media would be required to speak on behalf of it, but otherwise it would get no traction. The fact that the players are “united” is what titillates the media. United is always seen as good, while divisive is bad. Boo divisive!

It’s a strange thing about the modern ruling class. It is the confluence of totalitarian sensibilities of Puritanism and the Jewish hatred of exclusivity. That means on the one hand everyone has to believe the same things, no matter what. At the same time, there better be no barriers to entry anywhere within society. That’s no who we are! It really is a nutty secular religion, in that it is everything it claims to oppose.

As far as the condition of college athletics, we see the same sorts of weird contradictions we see in official dogma. The universities are run by Progressives and all the players are black. yet, we’re repeatedly told that the players face all sorts of racial barriers. The lack of black coaches is blamed on alumni who write six figure checks, no questions asked, to the very liberal university leaders, who then never hire blacks.

At least everyone is united though.

Fake Nerds

When I was a boy I had a thing for taking stuff apart. I was curious about how things worked. For instance, I once took the TV apart when my parents were away. Thinking back it is amazing that I did not electrocute myself. It’s also amazing that there was a time when parents thought it was fine to leave an eight year old home alone. It was a different country back then. Kids in my underclass neighborhood were home alone all summer with little to no supervision.

Anyway, my thing for taking stuff apart became a problem so my poor parents bought me some nerd toys to keep me busy. I got a toy like this to learn how electricity worked. I got a chemistry set which I wound up using to kill the fish with by accident. The theory behind the toys was to encourage the smarter boys to use their brain, instead of playing sports all the time. In the 1970’s, it was still assumed that boys played sports, got in fights, rough housed outside and so forth.

I may be mistaken, but the “nerd” was a term people used. Being bookish was a thing and it was like being gay in the working class. Kids with brains and curiosity therefore were guided into manly ways to use your head. My chemistry set, for example, had a recipe for gun powder. Imagine something like that today. The shrieking from the usual suspects would be deafening. The electricity set had plans for building radios, just like they used in the army. It was a way to make being smart have utility.

Even way back in those olden times, people were starting to sense that having brains was going to be more useful for boys than being tough. The technological revolution was just starting to have a practical impact on the average people. My father, a steamfitter, got a calculator, which cost a bundle, from his employer to do layout work. My mother, a secretary, had to learn how to use a word processor. My first typewriter, in 1980, had an LCD screen to preview what I typed before committing it to paper.

It was already clear that the world was entering a fork in the road. Down one path the smart people would go and down the other the not so smart.  Parents, even old school working class types, saw the writing on the wall and started to encourage their kids to become nerds. My father thought it was fascinating that I had a head for numbers. He would quiz me all the time. When I took up chess, my grandfather would always want to play, as he loved the game of chess.

Here we are four decades later and the nerds run the world – sort of. The political class is still the same sort. Few have any math or science. The financial class, the folks really in charge, rely heavily on a technological elite, as well as people from the STEM fields. The rise of the quant, that guy who started out in physics, but ended up creating investment models, is proof the nerds run the world. Money men ar still portrayed as alpha males, but the alpha male on Wall Street is now a Korean or a Jewish nerd.

Nerds have certainly become a dominant force in modern societies. They have supplanted the “working man” in the popular culture. You just don’t see too many TV shows, for example, where the main character is a blue collar guy. When you do see blue collar guy in popular culture, he is either a  clownish exaggeration intended to make sport of the working man or a modern of the noble savage that is supposed to validate the prevailing assumptions about society, culture and politics.

Instead, the popular shows have snarky, high IQ nerds as stars. Big Bang Theory is a great example of this taken to the absurd. Anyone familiar with people in fields like theoretical physics knows they are not living in a hip apartment doing fun and interesting things. But, that’s TV. it is all fake, even the nerds. Cop shows now feature girls using technology to outwit the offish white criminals. Criminals on TV, of course, are nothing like reality, as far as complexion and competence.

That’s the other thing we have now – fake nerds. It makes sense. If the archetypal hero is a nerd, the beautiful people will imitate him. The fashionable Left has latched onto this with a death grip. I regularly see my lefty friends linking to stuff like this. None of them can add past ten without help. They majored in soft subjects like art of sociology in college and struggle with basic technology. It is really important to them, however, to be pro-science.

That means memorizing the latest from the Climate Change Cult (CCC), berating Christians for creationism and talking about their favorite science shows. The parents always swear their kids mastered the iPad (Apple being another pseudo-nerd symbol) at birth. That’s always amusing. Every Progressive mediocrity swears their kid is exceptional, which violates a basic rule of biological science. We now live in a world where every kids is above average.

Another manifestation of the fake nerd is the stat geek. ESPN has a fellow named Pablo Torre, who ticks a number of boxes. They have him on to perform the role of the young, hip math savvy sports analyst. I looked him up and found he was a sociology major at Harvard. The fact that he went to a swank prep school and Harvard suggests he is of above average IQ, but his last name suggests he could have gamed the system so it is hard to know. Still, he has no math or science.

Now, he is pitched by ESPN and he plays along, as a stat geek. He’s the nerd with the numbers, juxtaposed with the dumb guys in the sports department. In reality he reads FanGraphs, gleans a few statistics that sound cool and then spouts opinions on TV and the internet. Nothing wrong with it, but it is clearly an act, no different than someone playing a doctor in a drama. That’s TV, but TV shapes and reflects the greater culture.

The new cool is pretending to be someone who had a pocket liner as a kid and still pines for his slide rule. Just as the 70’s hipsters were products of squaresville, today’s nerds are most likely liberal arts majors that cannot figure out how to change the time on their car’s radio. That’s not what matters though. What matters is everyone knows how much you freaking love science. To say otherwise is to risk heresy.

The most ridiculous manifestation of this is the “policy wonk”,  who plays the role of expert on government and social policy. Like the fake nerds in sports, these nerds majored in journalism or public policy, maybe took a basic stats class. Otherwise they have no math or science. Their “wonkery” is nothing more than memorizing the policy positions of their party and then reciting them in clever ways on TV or print. The clever part is key. “Snark” is the call of the fake nerd, no matter the field.

Snark is an ironic disdain for convention that is really just a signaling mechanism. The snarky fake nerd makes some comment about Southerners, for example,  rejecting evolution as a way to publicly identify himself as an inside the set of right opinions. His coevals will respond with something similar, thus establishing that they too are members of the proper set. The person who takes issue with the comment is then identified as the outsider. Snark and irony are just public displays of membership in a group.

The Cult of Modern Economics

Economics is not a STEM field, even though economists try hard to convince people it is a branch of mathematics. It is a social science decorated with mathematics. That gives it the veneer of respectability that a field like sociology lacks. That said, it often resembles a cult, in that it has developed an internal logic and language that makes perfect sense to those inside, but seems weird and nutty to those outside. For example, they treat Maynard Keynes in the same way Mormons treat Joseph Smith.

Anyway, the buzzing over the Fed’s sudden course change is a good example. This is a fairly typical example. It does not mention Keynes, but the the belief that creating credit money is always and everywhere a good thing is on display. The intellectual trap they have made for themselves is quite clear. If credit creation  adds to the GDP, then it is always good to create debt. There are no conditions under which it can be bad so expanding he money supply becomes a permanent part of the economy.

No one ever stops to wonder how this can be so? After all, if it were that easy, it should have worked all the other times it was tried. The answer, of course, is to say it is different this time. The “new normal” meme has become the get out of jail free card for every utopian dreamer. In the case of economics, any doubts about endless credit creation is waved away with the line, “things are different.” In other words, everyone is supposed to just take what economists say on faith.

Economics is the religion of modern times. In a previous age, rulers would have a holy man or a shaman to endorse his polices. Today, the economists provide this role. In Obama’s first term, Christine Romer was trucked into the White House to tell Obama and the country that the math” said a reckless spending spree was just what the economy wanted. That’s when the “multiplier effect” got loose in the conversation. Since then every minor economic shaman has some theory about a multiplier effect.

The nuttiness is on full display at this site. These guys have built out a series of interactive charts to show various “multipliers” and the impact of the current fads in the faith. For the record, they are making sport of the whole idea by showing the nonsense of it all. The fact is, government spending fueled by debt is great until you run out of people willing to lend you money. Then you become Detroit. Quantitative easing, which is just credit creation at below market rates is just a clever way to disguise it.

By pumping the extra money into assets like stocks, purchasing power is destroyed slowly, rather than in hyper inflation like you see with old fashioned money printing. At some point, the new money will leak into the real economy. Americans have been getting poorer slowly, but seem to be figuring out what has happened to them.Adjusting for inflation, the government share of the economy has more than tripled in the last forty years, per capita and adjusting for inflation.



In addition to the growth of the state at all levels, the amount of debt, both public and private, has exploded: At every stop along the way, modern economics has told our rulers that this was the right policy. The result is a massive, incompetent government systematically beggaring the public. More critically, it has allowed for the transfer of social capital to massive global companies and financial institutions. The price of cheap goods is living among strangers who you don’t dare trust as neighbors.


Moonbat on Moonbat Crime

This has been making the rounds on social media. It is an old post, almost a decade old, so it will be curious to see if the authoress will be forced to recant it. Ms. Bindel is upset that some crazy person hired a doctor to butcher him into looking somewhat like a woman and he now he wants to be a rape counselor. By the logic of modern “gender studies” he is on solid ground. After all, gender is a social construct. he can be a women if he wants and everyone has to pretend he is a women.

She’s right, of course. There’s no such thing as a sex change procedure. It is all cosmetic as far as biology is concerned. If this guy is dug up 500 years from now, the DNA test will say he was a man. The reason for that is you cannot alter your DNA. Therefore, his sex is male because his DNA says he is a male. He may think he is a woman, a goldfish or a starseed. That just proves he is in need of psychiatric care. If he was convinced he was an elf from the North Pole, he would be in an asylum.

What makes this stuff amusing, obviously, is it is the intersection of one type of reality denying lunacy colliding into a different brand of reality denying lunacy. It’s a bum fight between left-wing crazies. In this case, it is angry old-school feminism against faddish degeneracy. For the longest time, cropped hair lesbians, dressed like loggers, were the cutting edge of academic fashion. All of a sudden whites guys in summer frocks are getting all the attention. It’s unfair!

Ms. Bidel writes, “Feminism is supposed to be based on the premise that prescriptive gender roles are a cause of women’s oppression.” She could have written that feminism is about rallying the the hobbits to defend The Shire and been on more rational ground. Men and women have different biological destinies. Thousands of years of evolution have made the sexes what they are, including their roles in human societies. Division of labor between the sexes is an incredibly useful adaptation. It may be inconvenient for some small portion of males and females, but Mother Nature does not care about your feelings.

In fact, mother nature has a funny way of punishing humans for defying reality. It usually means death and/or great suffering. Animals with weird mating or dietary adaptions like Pandas tend to get wiped out. Or, like the Shakers, wipe themselves out. That’s what appears to be happening with human populations that have adopted the voodoo of feminism. Fertility rates plunge. It turns out that men, rather than keep playing their role, have adapted too. The feminist demand for attention has resulted in them being ignored.