The Food Quack

The food grifter, Vani Hari, has a new grift working. According to her website she targeted Chick -fil-A for her latest shake down. Chick-fil-A is a private company so we’ll never know how much money changed hands. The company may have been willing to give her a press release she can post on her website. This is the sort of thing that gets the suckers buying her crap and reading her website.

Vani is mostly an attention whore hoping to parlay her quackery and exotic looks into TV gigs. She certainly knows nothing about food science, based on the nonsense she posts on her site. But, almost everything to do with diet is nonsense, so she is unremarkable in that regard. The Standard America Diet, as promoted by the government, is quackery. This from her latest post on bread:

Bread is a really hot topic and is targeted as the root of many health problems. Overall, bread gets a bad reputation because grains are not easy for your body to digest, can overwork your pancreatic enzymes, contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid and an abundance of dreaded gluten. Also, our wheat crops in this country have been through some serious genetic manipulation to make them profitable for the food industry and less healthy for us.

First off, grains are no more or less easy to digest than anything else. There are things in food our body does not break down. These are passed our system. Second, there is no such thing as “overwork your pancreatic enzymes.” She just made that up or thought it sounded scary and decided to borrow it. The real knee slapper is “contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid and an abundance of dreaded gluten.”

Every food huckster latches onto scare words and throws them around to sound sincere. Anti-nutrients are in all of our food. Cooking breaks them down, making it easier for us to absorb nutrients from food. I bet she thinks “anti-nutrient” means it actually takes away nutrients from our system. More precisely, she probably thinks the gullible fools she targets will fall for it.

Taking advantage of people’s fears is a staple of the snake oil salesman, whether it involves, snakes, oil or a combination of the two. The person peddling compliments or some magic health formula is subtly playing on the natural fears people have for disease or aging. Most of it is hamless, but a pest like Vani, however, can cause real damage. Her shakedown of Chik-fil-A is a good example.

During my meeting with them back in October 2012, we discussed a laundry list of concerns I had with their menu items – everything from MSG in their famous sandwich, to artificial food dyes, to TBHQ, and GMOs. During our discussion in their boardroom, they asked me to prioritize the list of requests. I told them eliminating artificial food dyes would be a quick change to implement, but my number one request on the list was to provide safer and more sustainable chicken that is raised without antibiotics and GMO feed.

Even though they are not going fully organic or non-GMO, this commitment is significant. This will help to reduce the common practice of using antibiotics to quickly fatten chickens and keep them “healthy” in unsafe conditions. This is important because the more we use antibiotics in our environment, the less impact they will have on us when it comes to treating certain superbugs. The widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed is responsible for creating new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, that could, frankly, wipe out the human race if we don’t start doing something about it now.

It’s rather obvious that the Chick-fil-A executives have learned a lesson from dealing with the Gay Liberation Army.  The simple answer is to just buy off these people, which is how people like Jesse Jackson got rich. That’s what Chick-fil-A is doing here. They are buying her off with some cheap publicity, that they can then use to promote themselves as the good guys. It’s just another scam in this low-trust society.

The Stupid State

The ham-handed way American diplomats go about their craft is usually just a source of amusement, but it does have serious consequences. For decades, American rulers have been content to beat the stuffing out of third world nothings, rather than mixing it up with the big boys like Russia and China. It’s been mostly a waste of men and money, that has sapped the strength of the military. Otherwise, it has not caused that much trouble for Americans or anyone else, other than the third world target.

That may be changing with the reckless and stupid way the Obama administration has handled Ukraine. The story from a while back is a good example of the amateurish way the American deep state interfaces with the world. The Russians have very real interests in Ukraine. They also have very strong emotions about the place. They are not going to stand by as America peels away another layer of their defense against creeping liberalism.

They certainly are not going to let their access to the Black Sea get blocked by a bunch of yahoos from western Ukraine. That’s why they have moved to take Crimea and inched the world closer to a very dangerous confrontation.This may be a game for the ruling class in the state department and the administration, but it is serious business to the Russians. They will not yield to bluster from armchair generals in the American media or positioned at places in the State Department.

The Ukraine has a respectable military force. They have roughly 700 main battle tanks at the ready and 60,000 ground forces. To put that in perspective, the Russians have 360,000 military personnel spread over the whole of their country. If the Russians seize Crimea, Ukraine may feel they have no choice by to send in their tanks. Deliberately causing an international crisis by meddling in Ukraine is deeply stupid. That’s how Americans play the great game, which why we should not be playing it.

The Ukrainian nationalists in the streets have done one thing. That’s made clear they can and will force the politicians to flee. If you are a Ukrainian politician right now you understand that and will appeal to the nationalists. It is pretty safe bet that the nationalists will not be OK with the Russians seizing the Crimea. On the other hand, the usual suspects have been stirring up trouble in Ukraine for a long time, so who knows how the politicians will respond. That’s why we bets stay out of it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates : Bigot or Honest?

The word “bigot” like the word “racist” has become nothing more than a synonym for “bad” as used by the Left.  It is a part of the Left’s war on language. If you brought in ten left-wing intellectuals and asked them to write down five principles of fascism, you would get a dozen responses. Some would require years to finish the answer. The same is true of racism. They would all agree that racism is bad, but what actually constitutes racism is a mystery that must be provided to them by others.

Professional lunatic Tim Wise has made a career, as it were, trying to write a definition of the word. The word “bigot” has gone in for the same treatment, except it basically means anyone who rustles the Left. You get called a bigot, for example, if you don’t want homosexual males showering with your kids at school. You are a bigot if your wife stays at home with the kids. Even so, we are still allowed to keep dictionaries and we can look up the definition of these words. Here’s the entry for bigot from Webster’s

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially:  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Note the modifier. A bigot is someone that has an irrational intolerance or fear of something or someone. Refusing to have dealings with Catholics because you think the Pope is trying to control the world is bigotry. Refusing to have dealings with the Mafia because you think they may try to kill you is not bigotry. The former is not based on any known facts, while the later is based on mountains of evidence and history.

On the other hand, refusing to have dealings with Catholics because you you don’t like them and think Catholicism is an offense to God is rational. If you are a devout Muslim, for example, you think Catholics and all Christians are enemies of God. They are non-believers, which you are commanded by Allah to oppose. If you are truly devout, you have nothing to say to these people other than “submit or die.”

This brings us to the point of this post. The increasingly famous Mr. Coates has been obsessing over the Michael Dunn murder case. For those unfamiliar, this is the case of white man shooting a black.  A middle-aged white guy shot and killed a young black male at a gas station. The black male was playing loud music, as is their custom, and the old white guy took exception. An argument ensued and the white guy pulled a gun and started shooting, killing 19-year old Jordan Davis.

To get on TV, the state prosecutor wildly over-charged the white guy with first degree murder. The jury chose to convict on attempted murder, which will put the white guy away for the rest of his life, given the sentencing guidelines and his age. Given the notoriety, the white guy will be murdered in prison within five years. That’s just a reality of the modern prison system. Famous prisoners always have a target on them, but famous racists have a special bounty on them from the blacks.

A rational person would look at the events and conclude the jury got it as right as they were allowed. If the prosecutor was not a fool, he would have properly charged the case and Dunn would have been found guilty of murder. Instead, we have a result that black victimologist can wave around as proof they are being hunted by evil white devils. One of them is Mr. Coats, the subject of this post. His latest post is an interview of sorts with the victim’s mother.

Last Thursday, I took my son to meet Lucia McBath, because he is 13, about the age when a black boy begins to directly understand what his country thinks of him. His parents cannot save him. His parents cannot save both his person and his humanity. At 13, I learned that whole streets were prohibited to me, that ways of speaking, walking, and laughing made me a target. That is because within the relative peace of America, great violence—institutional, interpersonal, existential—marks the black experience. The progeny of the plundered were all around me in West Baltimore—were, in fact, me.

What the country thinks of his son is not rooted in superstition. When adults confront a teenage male, they immediately begin to assess the risk. Young males are by nature, the most dangerous members of any human society. In America, young black males commit almost a third of the homicides, despite being just 3% of the population. Unless you are from another planet, you know this. Mr. Coates knows it too. That’s why he no longer lives in West Baltimore and instead lives with white people.

That’s the important bit to know about West Baltimore. It is and has been 100% black since Mr. Coates has been alive. It is a crime ridden war zone because it is run by out of control black youth gangs. He knows that. His father certainly knew it. His father claims to have been a Black Panther, but was most likely just another looter in the riots of 1968. For anyone of any race to be a little cautious if not frightened by young black males is simply acknowledging observable reality.

The question of the post is whether Mr. Coates is honest or a bigot. We can dispense with honest as it is clear he is not being very honest. Unless he has brain damage or has had a psychotic break, he certainly knows the greatest threat to his son is not a white guy at a Florida gas station. He also knows the real reason people are wary around young black males. He could simply say he hates this reality and wishes it were otherwise. That would be honest. Instead he conjures another reason.

Mr. Coates keeps using the word “plundered” to describe blacks in America. The idea, I surmise, is that blacks are in this degraded state due to white racism. His coevals in West Baltimore were joining gangs and shooting each other because long ago a white guy did bad things to their ancestors. Alternatively, the rules of society make young black males into homicidal maniacs, despite the fact most black males are not homicidal maniacs. Whatever works to excuse the behavior is the rule here.

The fact is, Coates, like all American blacks, is entirely defined by his relationship with white Americans. He is incapable of being grateful, because it would strip him of his sense of purpose, his reason to exist. Therefore, the never ending blood feud must be continued generation after generations. It’s a superstition now, where blacks are trained to fear whites, even though whites are coddling blacks to a degree never seen. His irrational fear of whites makes him a bigot, according to Webster’s.

The Coming Collapse

Nothing lasts forever. Human societies rise, reach their peak and nthen go into decline, or possibly collapse. The US has had a great run the last 100 years or so. Even Rome did not have the global influence we see with the USA. Like Rome, American culture is altering the cultures of the world. How much of a lasting influence it has is up for debate. What is not up for debate is that America and American influence is in decline.

Here’s an interesting bit of math on the state of the country.

In 1935, the year that FDR signed the Social Security Act into law, the birth rate was 18.7 per 1,000. In 1940, when the first monthly check was issued, it had gone up to 19.4. By 1954, when Disability had been added, the birth rate at the heart of the Baby Boom stood at 25.3.

In a nation of 163 million people, 4 million babies were being born each year.

By 1965, when Medicare was plugged in, the birth rate had fallen back to 19.4. For the first time in ten years fewer than 4 million babies had been born in a country of 195 million. Medicare had been added in the same year that saw the single biggest drop in birth rates since the Great Depression.

There could not have been a worse time for Medicare than the end of the Baby Boom.

Today in a nation of 317 million, 4.1 million babies are being born each year for a birth rate of 13.0 per 1,000. 40.7% of those births are to unmarried mothers so that it will be a long time, if ever, before they pay back into the system, and most will never put back in as much as they are taking out.

 According to people who measure these things, the United States generates $50,000 of income per person. That’s the sum of all income divided by the population. That ties out to GDP close enough for economics. Experience says the American economy can tolerate about 25% of tax at the federal level before bad things start happening. That’s $3.7 Trillion in spending that the tax base can support. Once you exceed that you have to borrow and that creates trouble in future years.

Liberals and libertarians both act as if the crisis facing us can be fixed if we take more from the “wealthy elderly” or give them less. The crisis is born of demographics. It can’t be fixed by targeting the elderly because they haven’t been the problem in some time.

It’s the same crisis being faced by countries as diverse as Russia and Japan. The difference is that Russia is autocratic and has little concern for its people while Japan shuns immigration and has a political system dominated by the elderly.

The United States however takes in a million immigrants a year. In his 2013 State of the Union address, Barack Obama praised Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian woman who moved to the United States at the age of 79 and never learned to speak English, but did spend hours waiting in line in Florida to vote for Obama.

Between 1990 and 2010, the number of immigrants over 65 doubled from 2.7 million to 5 million. Twenty-five percent of these senior immigrants were over 80. Elderly immigrants are also much more likely to become citizens, in part because the requirements for them are lower. Many, like Desiline Victor, don’t even have to learn English to be able to stand in line and vote.

15 percent of senior immigrants come from Mexico largely as a result of family unification programs. If amnesty for illegal aliens goes through, before long the country will be on the hook not just for twelve million illegal aliens, but also for their grandparents.

Decades ago, Milton Friedman noted that you can have a welfare state or immigration, but not both. Cities and states tested this in the last fifty years by offering generous welfare benefits. What they found is they became welfare magnets. America is now the premiere welfare magnate in the world. If you are a poor person in Guatemala, getting to America is your only goal. Since cheap labor makes the ruling class rich, they are happy to import world’s poor into your neighborhood.

The welfare state has been spending more money with an unsustainable demographic imbalance. There are fewer working families supporting more elderly, immigrants and broken families. The Russians invest money into increasing the native birth rate. Instead we fund Planned Parenthood because liberal economic eugenics dictates that we should extract “full value” from working women as a tax base to subsidize the welfare state while discarding the next generation.

The “modern” system that we have adopted with its low birth rates, high social spending and retirement benefits is at odds with itself. We can have low birth rates, deficit spending or Social Security; but there is no possible way that we can have all three.

And yet we have all three.

In the European model that we have adopted, men and women are supposed to spend their twenties being educated and their thirties having two children. These Johns and Julias will work in some appropriately “modern” field building apps, designing environmentally sustainable cribs for the few children being born or teaching new immigrants to speak enough English to vote. Then they plan to retire on money that doesn’t actually exist because they are still paying off their student loans.

John and Julia began marriage with tens of thousands in debts, only one of them will work full time, while the other balances part time work, and they will do all this while being expected to support social services for new immigrants and a native working class displaced by the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, not to mention the elderly and the entire bureaucracy that has grown around them. If John and Julia are lucky, they will find work in a technology field that is still growing, or, more likely they will pry their way into the social services bureaucracy which will keep on paying them and cover their benefits until the national bankruptcy finally arrives.

In this post-work and post-poverty economy, those most likely to have children are also least likely to work or to be able to afford to have those children.

Birth rates for women on welfare are three times higher than for those who are not on welfare. Within a single year, the census survey found that unmarried women had twice as high a birth rate as married women. These demographics help perpetuate poverty and feed a welfare death spiral in which more money has to be spent on social services for a less productive tax base.

Children raised on welfare are far more likely to end up on welfare than the children of working families.

Fertility rates fall sharply above the $50,000 income line and with a graduate degree; that has ominous implications in a country whose socio-economic mobility rates continue to fall.

Progressive activists still talk as if we can afford any level of social service expenditures if we raise taxes on the rich, but workers can’t be created by raising taxes. Everything that the left has done, from breaking up the family to driving out manufacturing industries to promoting Third World immigration has made its own social welfare spending completely unsustainable.

By 2031, nearly a century after the Social Security Act, an estimated 75 million baby boomers will have retired. Aside from the demographic disparity in worker ages is a subtler disparity in worker productivity and independence as senior citizens are left chasing social spending dollars that are increasingly going to a younger population. ObamaCare with its Medicare Advantage cuts was a bellwether of the shift in health care spending from seniors to the welfare population.

Increasing welfare is only a form of Death Panel economic triage that doesn’t compensate for the lack of productive workers. It’s easy to model Obamerica as Detroit, a country with a huge indigent welfare population and a small wealthy tax base. The model doesn’t work in Detroit and it’s flailing in New York, California and every city and state where it’s been tried.

After a century of misery, the left still hasn’t learned that there is no substitute for the middle class. It’s not just running out of money, it’s running out of people.

The welfare state has no future. It is only a question of what terms it will implode on and what will happen to the social welfare political infrastructure when it does. The violence in Venezuela and the slow death of Detroit give us insights into the coming collapse of the welfare state.

The flaw in the math posted above is that income is not distributed equally. Half of the population is made up of children. Some portion is too old to work, 10-15 percent, and some are broken in some physical or mental way. We know that half the work force is not working. That means the bulk of earnings are in the hands of a tiny minority. The super rich don’t pay taxes. It is why the Reason Magazine guys noted that there seems to be a hard cap of about 19% on tax receipts.

Economists, who have been wrong about every prediction they have made since Keynes first published, argue that the gaps can be bridged with credit creation from central banks and unlimited borrowing. This is being tested now. Obama has been borrowing and spending like you would expect from his kind. Debt is piling up at record rates to record levels. The fact that we have not had an Argentine collapse is proof it will never happen, according to the profession that is never right.

Whole Foods

The hallmark of Baby Boomer culture in the late empire America is turning consumer products into religions. Steve Jobs, the quintessential Boomer guru in many ways, made owning an Apple product a social statement. His revival shows were nothing more than his confirmation that the assembled were chosen from eternity to be with the oneness of Apple. There’s a reason why their mobile products sold well, while their back office stuff was a dud. They were statements, not actual products.

The same thing is true with Whole Foods, a temple of post-modern consumerism for those who pretend they oppose consumerism. That makes this post a bit of a surprise, given that the Daily Beast is for the sorts of people who shop at Whole Foods. The typical reader is the type buying organic bananas or free range chicken. All of which costs twice what it would at a normal market. Maybe that’s why the author largely misses the religious angle and instead stumbles around the science-y stuff.

If you want to write about spiritually-motivated pseudoscience in America, you head to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It’s like a Law of Journalism. The museum has inspired hundreds of book chapters and articles (some of them, admittedly, mine) since it opened up in 2007. The place is like media magnet. And our nation’s liberal, coastal journalists are so many piles of iron fillings.

But you don’t have to schlep all the way to Kentucky in order to visit America’s greatest shrine to pseudoscience. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites.

I’m talking, of course, about Whole Foods Market. From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.

My own local Whole Foods is just a block away from the campus of Duke University. Like almost everything else near downtown Durham, N.C., it’s visited by a predominantly liberal clientele that skews academic, with more science PhDs per capita than a Mensa convention.

Still, there’s a lot in your average Whole Foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section—yep, Whole Foods sells books—boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracleand Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.

You can buy chocolate with “a meld of rich goji berries and ashwagandha root to strengthen your immune system,” and bottles of ChlorOxygen chlorophyll concentrate, which “builds better blood.” There’s cereal with the kind of ingredients that are “made in a kitchen—not in a lab,” and tea designed to heal the human heart.

Nearby are eight full shelves of probiotics—live bacteria intended to improve general health. I invited a biologist friend who studies human gut bacteria to come take a look with me. She read the healing claims printed on a handful of bottles and frowned. “This is bullshit,” she said, and went off to buy some vegetables. Later, while purchasing a bag of chickpeas, I browsed among the magazine racks. There was Paleo Living, and, not far away, the latest issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Pseudoscience bubbles over into anti-science. A sample headline: “Stay sharp till the end: the secret cause of Alzheimer’s.” A sample opening sentence: “We like to think that medicine works.”

Organic food is a boondoggle, of course. There are no standards for labeling something organic and there is a lot of fraud. Is using an “organic” fertilizer better than using a chemical created in a lab? How does one define better? Then there is the fact that the produce gets mixed up on the way to the store. The retailers just put the good looking stuff in the organic bin and the beat up stuff in the regular bin.

Customers are not there to get food. They are there for salvation. The food is just a part of the ritual. Whole Foods is not selling produce, they are selling grace. Everything about the operation is pure capitalism, but it is aimed at bourgeois people, who need to feel like they have purpose beyond making money. In the 60’s, New Age gurus made money off of these people selling made up eastern religions. Today, corporations like Apple and Whole Foods are doing the same thing on an industrial scale.

Food cults are not new. The Jews are well known for their dietary laws. Catholics used to have dietary laws too. Muslims have dietary rules, similar to Jews. There’s something in the human psyche to make a religious fetish out of food. What’s happening today, in the great bust-out that is modern America, is this quest for grace, whether through food or consumerism, is turned into a big business.

Farewell Wanker

Piers Morgan is one of those guys who is infamous, rather than famous. people know of him, if they know of him at all, for his many ridiculous moments on CNN. Of course, hardly anyone watches CNN, unless they are stuck in an airport. The reason they hired Morgan was to boost ratings, knowing his reputation in Britain for making a fool of himself on their chat shows. Now the internet brings news that CNN have finally pulled the plug on the Piers Morgan.

There have been times when the CNN host Piers Morgan didn’t seem to like America very much — and American audiences have been more than willing to return the favor. Three years after taking over for Larry King, Mr. Morgan has seen the ratings for “Piers Morgan Live” hit some new lows, drawing a fraction of viewers compared with competitors at Fox News and MSNBC.

It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.

CNN’s president, Jeffrey Zucker, has other problems, but none bigger than Mr. Morgan and his plum 9 p.m. time slot. Mr. Morgan said last week that he and Mr. Zucker had been talking about the show’s failure to connect and had decided to pull the plug, probably in March.

Crossing an ocean for a replacement for Larry King, who had ratings problems of his own near the end, was probably not a great idea to begin with. For a cable news station like CNN, major stories are like oxygen. When something important or scary happens in America, many of us have an immediate reflex to turn on CNN. When I find Mr. Morgan telling me what it all means, I have a similar reflex to dismiss what he is saying. It is difficult for him to speak credibly on significant American events because, after all, he just got here.

I received a return call from Mr. Morgan and was prepared for an endless argument over my assumptions. Not so. His show, he conceded, was not performing as he had hoped and was nearing its end.

“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” he said, adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic.

The implication is that Americans are just too provincial for an urban sophisticate like Piers Morgan. Never mind that he was no such thing. It was all an act. He is a prol striver with a middling education and even less of an IQ.  In the UK he worked for trashy tabloids. His role on CNN was to be the snobby Brit, lecturing the provincials about the proper way to think about politics. Since the few people watching CNN are far Left, that was bound to be a bad formula. Now the experiment is over.

Socializing Insanity

The extemporaneous mutterings of Hollywood people are often amusing, because these people are both dumb and insulated from the real world. We like to think these people get loopy after years of fame, fortune, drugs, alcohol and so forth. That’s not the case. Almost all of them were nuts long before they got famous or even got into the business. The best in recent years has been Alec Baldwin. The guy is what the Brits used to call mad.

I flew to Hawaii recently to shoot a film, fresh on the heels of being labeled a homophobic bigot by Andrew Sullivan, Anderson Cooper, and others in the Gay Department of Justice. I wanted to speak with a gay-rights group that I had researched and admired, so I called its local Honolulu branch.

The office number turned out to be some guy’s cell phone. I left him a message—I said, “I’m from out of town, I’m visiting Hawaii on business, I’d like to  get some information on your group.” After two or three more calls, he answered the phone. I said, “Yeah, I’m the guy that called about your organization.” And he said, somewhat impatiently, “Okay, well, what did you want?” I said, “Well, let me put it to you this way, Nick. Your name is Nick? Nick, let me begin by asking you a question. Who would you say, by your estimation, is the most homophobic member of the entertainment industry currently in the media?” And he paused for a long count of four and said, “Um … Alec Baldwin?”

And I said, “Ding, ding, ding, ding! Bingo, Nick, bingo! That’s who you’re talking to.”

He said, “C’mon!”

I said, “Nick, I want to come in and talk.”

I met with Nick and others from two LGBT organizations. We talked for a while about the torment of the LGBT life many of them have lived while growing up in traditional Hawaiian families. Macho fathers. Religious mothers. We talked a lot about words and their power, especially in the lives of young people.

One young man, an F-to-M tranny, said, “Are you here to get dry-cleaned, like Brett Ratner?” Meaning I could do some mea culpa, write them a six-figure check, go to a dinner, sob at the table, give a heartfelt speech, beg for forgiveness. I thought to myself: Beg for forgiveness for something I didn’t do?

I said, “No. I don’t want to get dry-cleaned. I don’t want to be decontaminated by you, Karen Silkwood–wise, scrubbed down. I want to learn about what is hurtful speech in your community. I want to participate in some programs about that. Or underwrite one. And then, like you, I just want to be left alone.”

His line about the Gay Department of Justice is a good one. Giving homosexuals a veto over public discourse is just socializing insanity. Homosexuals do have unpleasant lives due to losing the biological lottery at birth. There is a good bet that homosexuality is just one manifestation of a larger psychological problem. This story from the failed state of California is not a promising omen.

A senior at Azusa High School will be the first transgender student to play on the girls’ varsity softball team, school officials said Friday.

Patrick Cordova-Goff, 17, who goes by Pat, is a member of the cheer squad and student body president. She could also be the state’s first transgender student to play softball at a high school.

Pat, who played baseball in her freshman year, began trying out for the softball team two weeks ago, said Azusa Unified School District Supt. Linda Kaminski.

The transgender teen learned she made the softball team when high school officials posted tryout results Thursday, Kaminski said.

The first game is scheduled March 5 at the school.

“The softball team is practicing and focusing on their upcoming season,” Kaminski said. “Coaches from nearby districts are positive about the upcoming games.”

Kaminski said only a few people have expressed concern about the school’s decision to let a transgender student play on the girls’ softball team.

“But when they hear how we are addressing their concern, they are understanding,” Kaminski said.

Pat’s path to making history in her district, perhaps the state, was paved by two major events.

Let’s get a look at “Pat”

Unsurprisingly, Pat looks like a young man in drag. That’s because Pat is a young man in drag.

One of them was California AB 1266. The state law–signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last August–prohibits public schools from “discriminating on the basis of specified characteristics, including gender, gender identity and expression,” the bill reads.

The law also allows students to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, such as athletic teams and competitions.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs school sports, took action and amended its Constitution and Bylaws to include new guidelines for transgender students participating in high school sports.

The new rule states that all students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records.

The bylaw went into effect beginning the 2013-14 school year, according to CIF-SS Communications Director Thom Simmons.

CIF officials said they did not know whether Pat was the first transgender student in the state to play on a girls’ softball team.

“No appeals have been filed in the CIF Southern Section or any other sections across the state to my knowledge,” Simmons said.

No student or school has sought assistance from the CIF’s Gender Identity Eligibility Committee, which looks at whether a transgender student is eligible to play in a sport or not, officials said.

Pat, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and founded Azusa’s Gay-Straight Alliance, a high school club advocating transgender student rights, is just one of many students across the country driving cultural change.

Last year, in Huntington Beach, Cassidy Campbell ran a successful campaign to become Marina High School’s first transgender homecoming queen.

“I’m doing this for the kids who can’t be themselves,” Cassidy told The Times.

That same year, Pat also sought a bid for homecoming queen, but she did not win, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.  The paper was the first to report on her softball tryout.

I will allow for the possibility this young man thinks he is a woman. There are cases where people are convinced they are invisible or missing limbs. These beliefs are easily refuted, but the person persists in their belief. When a person is convinced of things that are easily refuted, we assume they are insane. If Pat were convinced he was a bird, no one would let him jump off a building. For his own safety, adults would step in and get him whatever care was available for his affliction.

There’s also the possibility that Pat is just an attention seeker. From the news accounts, it appears his first attempt at being a public nuisance failed. Being publicly gay is no longer shocking or even interesting. He started a club and tried various ways to make a pest of himself, but no one seemed to care very much. Now that he is wearing a sun dress and trying out for the softball team, everyone is noticing. Not everyone can be Miley Cyrus, but they can try.

What’s going on here is we are socializing the mental illness of this person. Everyone is being forced to alter their lives to accommodate a crazy person. It is one thing to pay some tax to fund an asylum. It is quite another for girls to be forced to compete against a man as a condition of joining the softball team. This puts the safety of young women at risk so a handful of lunatics can get some grace on the cheap. It is only a step removed from human sacrifice where one must die so others can be happy.

The Future of Revolution

The word “revolution” brings to mind rampaging mobs carrying torches and pitchforks, while their betters run for their lives. Revolutions, in the common way of thinking about the term, are always violent. In reality, the degree of violence is not all the same, as some are quite peaceful, while others are quite bloody. Relatively speaking, the American Revolution was peaceful, compared to the French Revolution. This post in the Los Angeles Times on Ukraine has an interesting end worth considering.

I have argued that, in our time, 1989 supplanted 1789 as the default model of revolution. Rather than progressive radicalization, violence and the guillotine, we look for peaceful mass protest followed by negotiated transition. That model has taken a battering of late, not only in Ukraine but also in the violent fall that followed the Arab Spring. If this fragile deal holds, however, and the fury on the streets can be contained, Europe might again show that we can occasionally learn from history.

Revolution is not merely a change in who holds the keys to the prison. Revolution is a sudden collapse of the old system and the evolution of a new system. The French Revolution was not a failure when Napoleon crowned himself emperor. He may have looked a lot like Louis XVI, but it was not a restoration of the Ancien Régime. It was just another step in France evolving into a post-monarchical state. What’s going on in Ukraine is just a change in who sits atop the existing order.

What’s happening in Ukraine is a bad example, as it is a land with a strange history and not much of an organic identity. Much of what it means to be Ukrainian is tied to the history of the surrounding people. Still, to assume all revolutions are violent and obvious is an error. Like the cultural revolution that swept the West in the 1960’s, it is only in retrospect that it becomes clear that the old order was wiped away. That was not a violent over throw of the old regime, but it was a revolution nonetheless.

Chained Weighted CPI

Behind the degeneracy of language lies the degeneracy of ideas. Those seeking to corrupt the minds of their fellow man, naturally seek to corrupt the language. One way is to expand the definition of words to include things previously excluded. Another is to coin new terms that presumably capture new ideas, but in reality conceal some truth that could be stated in plain language. Chain Weighted CPI is an example.

An alternative measurement for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that considers product substitutions made by consumers and other changes in their spending habits. The chain-weighted CPI is therefore considered to be a more accurate inflation gauge than the traditional fixed-weighted CPI, because rather than merely measuring periodic changes in the price of a fixed basket of goods, it accounts for the fact that consumers’ purchasing decisions change along with changes in prices. Because the fixed-weighted CPI may consistently overstate inflation by ignoring the disinflationary effect of quality improvements and new technology, in addition to the substitution effect, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains that the chain-weighted CPI is a closer approximation to a cost-of-living index than other CPI measures.

That sounds wonderful, but it no more of an empirical truth than the claim that vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream. The word to key on is “better.” That’s not an empirical term. Fred may be better than Joe, in the opinion of Fred’s mother, but Joe’s mother will hold a different opinion. On the other hand, if Fred is taller than Joe, that’s not a disputable opinion. It is an empirical fact. We can measure both men and arrive at the correct answer. Height is not a matter of opinion.

Economists at the BLS may feel one measure is better than the other, but that is meaningless. The rest of us are not living our lives to make the BLS happy. We make our value judgments based on all sorts of personal and cultural factors. We think sports cars and better than sedans, because of the cultural connotations. We may like chicken better than steak, because of personal taste, but the market place thinks steak is better, because more people prefer steak. Speaking of which,  from Investopedia:

For example, consider the impact of two similar and substitutable products – beef and chicken – in the shopping basket of Mrs. Smith, a typical consumer. (Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the “core” inflation rate ignores food and energy prices because they are too volatile.) Mrs. Smith buys two pounds of beef at $4 / lb. and two pounds of chicken at $3 / lb. A year later, the price of beef has risen to $5 / lb. while the price of chicken is unchanged at $3 / lb. Mrs. Smith therefore adjusts her spending pattern because of the higher price of beef, and buys three pounds of chicken, but only one pound of beef.

The fixed-weighted CPI measure would assume that the composition of Mrs. Smith’s shopping basket is unchanged from a year earlier, and would compute the inflation rate as 14.3% (i.e. the difference between the total price of $14 and $16 paid for two pounds of beef and chicken a year apart). The chain-weighted CPI measure would, however, consider the effect of Mrs. Smith substituting a pound of beef with a pound of chicken because of its lower price, and would compute the inflation rate as zero (because the total amount spent is unchanged at $14).

Now, we can pretend that chicken and beef are interchangeable products, even though they are not. We can also pretend that consumers value both equally, even though we know they don’t. We can also pretend that people value living in a nice neighborhood the same as living in a ghetto. We can pretend that people value walking to work the same as driving, particularly in driving rain storms.  In other words, the mischief potential makes this an entirely worthless method for measuring inflation.

Of course, economists refuse to acknowledge this rather obvious problem. When you bring it up, the response is “how can we know people prefer X over Y and are not just responding to price?” In other words, confirmation of the defect is denial as long as it is in the form of a question. Then they quickly change the subject and lard up their response with meaningless jargon. It is why macroeconomics is not a serious field, outside of some basic observations about human behavior.


Russia is a giant energy company with a country attached to it. Putin certainly has a tribal affinity for his people and their shared history. He is a proud Russian. He exists, however, as long as Gazprom is generating tens of billions of dollars in profits for the Russian ruling elite. Like any CEO, he is not in charge because they like him. He is there to make sure the stock holders make money, even if that means people get killed.

Ukraine will never be allowed to drift into the NATO orbit by the Russians. The people can do what they like, but the Russians will always be there to undermine their efforts to break free from the bear. It is not just money involved, there’s history. The French and Germans have marched through Ukraine enough times for the Russians to think it is necessary to make Ukraine a wall to keep out the next European flood. That may seem ridiculous to the Western ear, but it is baked into the Russian DNA. There’s also Ukraine itself.

The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.

The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.

Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.

They have a few articles on Ukraine that are worth reading. Steve Sailer touched on something the other day worth considering. Western Europe sorted through it’s tribal division over many centuries of warfare. Poles mostly live in Poland. Czechs mostly live in Bohemia. Germans mostly live in Germany. A thousand years of fighting it out has settled the boundaries, for the most part. There remain pockets of trouble, like the Walloons and Flemish, but not enough to die for or even kill for.

Eurasia is another matter. The Russians have been the dominant ethnic group for a 1,000 years in some areas, despite being a minority. Ukraine has been a part of Russia since the Treaty of Pereyaslav.  Instead of sorting out the territorial and cultural matters, they have remained bottled up. Ukraine is not a rational country as drawn because it is not  ethnically rational. Perhaps what we are seeing there now is a preview for the region as the tribes begin to assert themselves and sort through their territorial disputes.