Or Maybe They’re Just Cool Looking Rocks

Archaeology is a fun subject, but there’s a decent amount of unsubstantiated claims in the field. For example, we know a lot about the people living in New England in the 18th century, because they left lots of written records and physical evidence. A lot has been lost over time, but science has gotten better so we can look at old bones and old artifacts and learn things missing from the written.

The people in 8th century New England are a different story. They left little evidence, far fewer bones and not much of a record, written or otherwise. The further you go back, they less evidence we have to go on and that means lots of speculation. There’s nothing wrong with speculation as it can lead to discovery. A good narrative that incorporates the available evidence can lead researchers to troves of new evidence, but it can also be complete nonsense. Here’s an example.

Concentric stone circles near rocks weighing more than a ton — apparently aligned to mark solar events — are believed to be part of a Paleo-Indian site in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Clarke County that an expert has dated to about 10,000 B.C.

The complex along Spout Run has 15 above-ground stone features. Though still under study, it could be one of the oldest man-made structures in North America still in existence and twice as old as England’s Stonehenge.

Christ and Rene White, who own the property near Bluemont and made the initial discovery, credit their Native American heritage for the finding.

When Chris White, who is of Cherokee descent, was building a home for himself and his wife — who is a Lumbee Indian — on the wooded land, he said he often took a break to walk by Spout Run, which tumbles downhill in its rocky bed across his land.

Something told him that the area was important, and he decided to create a stone medicine wheel on the 20-acre property below Bears Den Trail Center — a lodge owned by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

To his surprise, he realized the area across the stream already had a stone circle. In fact, it had several concentric stone circles.

The first red flag is the Indian heritage stuff. We’re supposed to believe that Indians just know how to recognize Indian stuff. He is Cherokee, of course. They always pick the cool tribes. The Fake Indian from Massachusetts, who is really a WASP, claims to be Cherokee. I bet if we learn that the Cherokee were cannibals the number of people claiming to be Cherokee would suddenly plummet. Anyway, the medicine wheel nonsense is a nice touch.

For a professional opinion, the Whites contacted retired archaeologist Jack Hranicky of Alexandria, who had investigated five other Paleo-Indian sites in Virginia.

It was Hranicky who realized that the rocks in and outside the circles aligned with special features on the Blue Ridge.

A line from a center rock, over a specific boundary rock, intersects the feature called Bears Den Rocks on the mountain. Standing on that center rock, looking northeast, a viewer can see the sun rise over Bears Den on the day of the summer solstice in June.

Moving around the circle, another set of rocks points to Eagle Rock on the Blue Ridge, and also to sunrise on the day of the spring and fall equinox in March and September.

Yet a third points to a saddle in the mountain, where the sun rises at the winter solstice in December.

This could be true or it could be nonsense. Almost everything we “know” about Amerind people is speculative. We take what we know about Native Americans and work backward, trying to explain the fossil record and archaeological evidence. Genetic evidence confirms the very broad outlines of how and when people entered North America from Eurasia. The mass of knowledge that is confirmed is a drop in the ocean of what is speculative. Again, nothing wrong with it, but this news story makes it sound like we know that these people had a high level of sophistication.

To date the age of the site, Hranicky excavated an area of five square feet, carefully numbering every rock and setting it aside, to be replaced later. He wanted to create as little disturbance as possible in hopes that future technology will have better methods of studying the site. His digging exposed three artifacts — a thin blade of quartzite, a small piece of jasper and another piece of the rock that had been shaped to be used as a small scraper.

Hranicky believes the jasper ties the Spout Run site to the Thunderbird Archaeological District, an intensely excavated Paleo-Indian site on the Shenandoah River in Warren County.

There, 9,000 years ago, Paleo-Indians — who Hranicky calls Virginia’s first engineers — quarried jasper from the river’s west bank to make tools.

Hranicky suggests that after quarrying jasper for tools at Thunderbird, Native Americans walked down the Shenandoah River and held some sort of cultural ceremonies at the Spout Run site. Rock engravings in the shape of footprints could be intended to mark where to stand to observe an equinox.

To get some idea of the site’s age, a section of jasper from the Spout Run site was sent to James Feathers, who runs the Luminescence Dating Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle.

This, said Feathers, is a dating method based on solid-state physics. Materials absorb energy from natural processes and can store that energy for indefinite periods of time. Exposure to heat can release energy.

According to Feathers, the piece of jasper found along Spout Run was heated, perhaps in a campfire, and it’s possible to determine by the proportion of luminescence when that occurred.

“The method has been in use for more than 30 years,” Feathers explained, “and has been shown to be accurate against independent dating evidence. Precision is usually 10 percent or better.”

The date when that piece of jasper was burned on the Blue Ridge, Chris White said, is about 10,470 B.C.

This is consistent with other evidence. Humans entered North America roughly 10,000 years ago. The dating method is reliable and the types of tools would be consistent with hunter-gatherer populations. There are still some big holes, as genetics is revealing some populations in South America who are closer related to pacific islanders than the rest of the native people. How that happened is a mystery.

This is interesting stuff, but the desire to deify the Native Americans gets the better of the people reporting on it. The truth is the Amerind people were not very advanced, even by the standards of the world 10,000 years ago. These stones could very well just be cool looking stones. Anyone who has spent time in the wild has run across some amazing looking stuff created by Mother Nature.

Republican Suicide

Suicide gets a bad rap in the modern world, but it used to be considered an honorable solution to life’s problems. That’s never the way it works these days. We have Muslim lunatics trying to blow up the world and liberal fanatics trying to destroy Western civilization. Closer to home, we have the Republican Party, which is supposed to represent sensible white people, doing everything it can to harm and alienate the people they claim to represent. Here’s their latest.

The deadline to pass immigration legislation is this August, said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who is part of the effort to develop an immigration bill that could pass the House.

“The legislative process in essence, frankly, has to work on deadlines. There’s a deadline. And the deadline is that if we don’t get it done by August it doesn’t happen,” Diaz-Balart told CQ Roll Call at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s awards gala Thursday.

“If Congress doesn’t act by the August break, the president is going to do something. And once that happens, two things happen,” said Diaz-Balart. “No. 1 is that the possibility of any further negotiations — of any — disintegrate.”

This is a classic gambit. Martin Luther King played this card repeatedly. His Letter from a Birmingham Jail is a legendary example. He offered a choice to white America. They could either deal with him and his demands or they could deal with an army of rioters in the streets. His calculation, a correct one, was that middle-class white people did not want to see the cops shooting black people on television.

Diaz-Balart is doing the same here. Either pass his amnesty scheme or something worse will happen in the fall. What could be worse than flooding the country with illiterate Mexican peasants is Obama flooding the country with illiterate Mexican peasants. Of course, if Obama does it it will be worse because reasons. This is obviously aimed at the Fox News types. Then we have Rand Paul making crazy sounds about voting.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky broke Friday with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud at the polls, saying that the focus on such measures alienates and insults African-Americans and hurts the party.

“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party — and among the very few — to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.

This, of course, is completely insane. Everyone with an IQ above room temperature knows liberal democrat groups work hard to pollute the ballot in America. The one chance to clean this stuff up is requiring a valid ID. In states like North Carolina, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, well orchestrated vote fraud can swing an election. Al Franken is in the Senate because of vote fraud.

Then we come to the final bit of insanity from the weekend. Republicans now want to lesson the penalties on illegal immigrants.

Republican Rep. Raul Labrador on Thursday offered a potential immigration deal to the White House, saying the GOP would agree to loosen penalties on illegal immigrants if President Obama would agree to increase visas for foreigners who work in high-tech fields.

Mr. Labrador suggested dropping the penalty period that bars illegal immigrants from reapplying to enter the U.S. legally after being deported, a period that now lasts for between three and 10 years, depending on how long they had first remained in the country illegally.

“I think most Republicans agree that the 3- and 10-year bars have to go away because right now the people that are here illegally, they have to go home to become legal, but then they have to remain home for ten years,” the Idaho Republican said. “We remove those bars from them, you could fix the status of about 25 percent of the people that are here illegally right now if they return to their home country and then they come back legally.”

Under current law, those that leave the U.S. after living here illegally for six months or more cannot return for three years. Those who lived here illegally for at least a year cannot return for ten years. That has served as an incentive for many illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. rather than return home and face years long bans.

Mr. Labrador, who dropped out of a bipartisan group last year that tried to strike a broad immigration deal, made the overture at a forum of House conservatives hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

He said in return for dropping the bars, Democrats should agree to boost legal immigration by granting green cards to foreigners who graduate from American universities with advanced degrees in the fields of science, engineering, math or technology.

Think about this for a second. This guy wants to cut the legs out form under working class Americans by bringing in foreigners to take their jobs. Then he doubles downand says he wants to gut the market for tech workers, letting proven criminals Apple, Google and eBay slash the pay of their workers by hiring foreigners on visas. It’s as if he really hates the people he claims to represent.

Raul Labrador hates America. Specifically, he hates Americans. Even more precisely, he hates the people who are inclined to vote for him and his fellow Republicans. He has to know that there is zero chance this scheme helps his party. Every bit of data we have shows that immigration hurts Republicans. Pushing these polices guarantees the defeat of his party. What strange virus has gripped the minds of these men leading them to advocate suicidal policies?

The best course is to stand aside and let the suicidal get on with it. Basically, we have one party with two faces. This fools people into thinking they have a choice at the ballot box. if one of those faces dies, then people have to find another option. It does not mean things will change, but it offers an opening. Let the GOP pass amnesty so they can obliterated at the ballot box. The shame of 2008 was that it was not a bigger win for the Democrats.


In the latest Radio Derb, he mentioned this story from Britain. The short version of it is Britain is slowly going halal. The natives are allowing Muslim fanatics to colonize the place and add it to the caliphate. That’s an exaggeration, sort of. For reasons no one knows, they have imported millions of Muslim crazies, who now make up 4% of the population. The results are predictable. Bombings, consanguineous marriages resulting in a rash of pinheads and, of course, demands for special rights.

Then there is this story. It is easy to get sucked into believing things that you want to believe, so it is a good idea to seek out contrary opinion. In this case, the New Statesman is a left-wing site, which in this context means they will be in favor of unlimited immigration and cosmopolitanism. The headlines promises the counter argument to the resistance to open borders.

I am sitting in one of London’s finest Indian restaurants, Benares, in the heart of Mayfair. I’ve just placed an order for the “Tandoori Ratan” mixed-grill appetiser – a trio of fennel lamb chop, chicken cutlet and king prawn.

I’ll be honest with you: I’m pretty excited. Most of the upmarket restaurants in London do not cater for the city’s burgeoning Muslim population. Benares is one of the few exceptions: all of the lamb and chicken dishes on its menu are halal.

The restaurant opened in 2003 and its owner, Atul Kochhar, is a Michelin-starred chef. “Right from day one, we’ve kept our lamb and chicken halal,” Kochhar says. “It was a very conscious decision because I grew up in India, a secular country, where I was taught to have respect for all religions.” Kochhar, who is a Hindu, says Muslims make up “easily between 10 and 20 per cent” of his regular diners. It isn’t just a taste for religious pluralism that has dictated the contents of his menu; serving halal meat makes commercial, as well as cultural, sense.

At this point, the B.S. detector is flashing. One of the oldest gags the Left employs is to conjure the too good to be true example that just happens to prove their point. In this case, the choice of this one restaurant is supposed to be emblematic of the market at work. If the market resulted in a refusal to go hala, the author would have an entirely different view of the market. That’s always how the Left views the market.

To other, perhaps less tolerant types, however, the rise and rise of halal meat in the west and here in the UK, in particular, is a source of tension, controversy, fear and loathing. British Muslims are living through a period of halal hysteria, a moral panic over our meat. First there came 9/11, 7/7 and the “Islamic” terror threat; then there was the row over the niqab (face veil) and hijab (headscarf); now, astonishingly, it’s the frenzy over halal meat.

Now the B.S. detector is flashing so much it is starting to smoke. The fake outrage is an old standard from lefty. If you want to know when he is about to slather on a layer of bravo sierra, look for the mock outrage. That’s the tell. Of coruse, once we learn about Mehdi Hasan it comes into perspective. The brief bio says he is a regular around Fleet Street. Then there is this bit from the Spectator.

As displays of duplicity go, Mehdi Hasan’s performance on the BBC discussion show Question Time seemed hard to beat. Hasan delighted leftists by hounding the Daily Mail. Who really “hated Britain”? he asked. Not Ed Miliband’s father, as the Mail had claimed, but the “immigrant-bashing, women-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail.”

How the audience clapped and cheered. How they loved the sight of a principled left-wing journalist taking on the “Daily Hate” without fear of the consequences. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the Mail showed within a day that Hasan’s outrage was phoney: a piece of cynical crowd-pleasing by a manipulative hack. He had sent Paul Dacre a begging letter asking for work. Although he was on the left, Hasan said, he admired the paper’s

“passion, rigour, boldness and, of course, news values. I believe the Mail has a vitally important role to play in the national debate, and I admire your relentless focus on the need for integrity and morality in public life, and your outspoken defence of faith, and Christian culture, in the face of attacks from militant atheists and secularists.”

The Mail attracts writers, who ought to oppose it, because it pays them top rates on one condition only: they say exactly what the editor wants them to say. You can get at least £1,000 for a morning’s work, and Dacre will fill your pockets even if he decides not to use your piece. Writers will bark like a performing seal for money as easy as that. My colleague Polly Toynbee once revealed that Geoffrey Wheatcroft, an author she regarded as a friend, produced a “stinking” attack on her at the Mail’s behest. He then “had the nerve to write me a cringing [private] letter claiming his copy had been doctored and, anyway, he had a lot of little Wheatcrofts to keep in shoe leather”.

Wheatcroft was being too modest. If you obey orders at the Mail, you can keep them in Louboutins.

But leftists should pause before denouncing Hasan as a charlatan and a sell-out. They are the purer hypocrites and greater fools. Hasan is from the Islamist religious right. He disputes how closely he has pushed up against the extremes – ever the politician, he says that old clips of him denouncing non-Muslims as “cattle” have been “taken out of context”. But he was being sincere when he told Dacre he was

“attracted by the Mail’s social conservatism on issues like marriage, the family, abortion and teenage pregnancies”.

Of course he was attracted. He is a religious reactionary. I have no doubt either that if Dacre had offered him work, he would have taken it and the opprobrium that would have followed, not only for the money but for the love as well.

Just when it looked like Mehdi was nothing more than a liberal crank, we learn he is something worse. He was born in Britain and lives there now. He passes himself off as a moderate Muslim adapting well to life in a civilized country. In reality he is loyal to Islam above all else. According to his Wiki, he has been caught, in unguarded moments, saying the sorts of things one expected from Muslim lunatics.

It is why no civilized country should permit the entrance of citizens from Muslim countries, outside of diplomatic delegations and narrow business reasons. Allowing any settlement of Muslims in your lands is asking for trouble. They simply refuse to adapt or get along with non-Muslims. What they believe, what Mehdi Hasan believes, is incompatible with Western liberal democracy. Why on earth would sane people is a western democracy invite these people to settle in their lands?

Scare Words

The modern mass media is just the marketing department for the managerial elite and the billionaires who control the country. The notion that they speak truth to power is ridiculous. They speak power to the rest of us. That’s their job. This story in the New York Times is a great example/ In a different age, it would be described as Stalin-esque pamphleteering. Today it is an example of their style guide.

The Republican National Committee moved Friday to seize control of the presidential primary debates in 2016, another step in a coordinated effort by the party establishment to reshape the nominating process.

Committee members overwhelmingly passed a measure that would penalize any presidential candidate who participated in a debate not sanctioned by the national party, by limiting their participation in subsequent committee-sanctioned forums.

The move represents the party’s effort to reduce the number of debates and assert control over how they are staged.

In making the case for adopting the new rule, party officials repeatedly criticized the moderators and format of the 2012 primary debates, appealing to the suspicions that many Republican activists have about the mainstream news media. “The liberal media doesn’t deserve to be in the driver’s seat,” said the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, addressing committee members here at their spring meeting.

Such rhetoric makes taking over the debates easier to sell to the committee’s more conservative members. But what party leaders are principally concerned about is reducing the number of debates to avoid a repeat of the 2012 campaign when a series of insurgent candidates used the forums — 20 in all — to draw attention to their candidacies. Some party leaders say they believe that the number of debates pushed Mitt Romney to the right in a way that contributed to his loss to President Obama.

Look at all the scary words. They are claiming what is a minor change in the debate schedule as some dark, is malign conspiracy to blot out all that is holy and good. What makes it even more hilarious is the GOP establishment is clearly taking the advice of the Left and trying to shed their conservative supporters. Yet, the Left still finds it a foreboding sign of a new dark ages. The so-called conservatives never learned that there is never any pleasing their Progressive masters.

The last line about “Some party leaders” saying Romney was too far right is entirely made up, of course. This is what is called in the business “an imaginary source.” They believe they exist, but like elves and wood nymphs, there’s no evidence. They are pushing the crazy narrative that the GOP has gone too far Right, so they make up evidence to support the claim. Mitt Romney works for the same donors as Barak Obama. They are competing for the same favors.


One bit of vibrancy around the Imperial Capital is the massive number of Spanish speaking peasants that have crowded into the area. Hyattsville Maryland, for example, looks like Tijuana. The store signs are all in Spanish and the streets are littered with little brown people who look like extras from a documentary on the Mayans. Any large parking lot features numbers of loitering men, waiting for day work. Contractors will pull up in trucks and a few men will jump in the back.

Another feature of our new vibrantly diverse future is organized crime. In Northern Virginia, MS-13 has setup a base camp. Like all major businesses, they feel the need to be near the center of world power. If the Fortune 500 can keep offices in DC, MS-13 can keep space in Northern Virginia. They were, after all, created by the US government. Our tax dollars trained them in El Salvador and then our rulers imported them into Los Angeles as part of our open borders policy.

This new vibrantly diverse future is not without some small downsides. Take, for example, this story out of Minnesota.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area is a long way away from the home turf of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, but that didn’t stop three cartel enforcers from making their way up the region in an attempt to hunt down two teenagers they accused of stealing drugs and money from a stash house.

The three enforcers were allegedly sent from Los Angeles to St. Paul on orders from the Sinaloa cartel to find the people who stole 30 pounds of methamphetamine and $200,000 from a stash house in St. Paul. The two teens that the cartel hit men snagged were tortured, had their lives and that that of their families threatened and were told to find the missing drugs or come up with $300,000 to compensate the cartel, according to court documents obtained by the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune newspaper.

“The kidnappers told [the 19-year-old] that if he didn’t return the drugs or come up with the money, he and his entire family would be killed,” according to court documents.

In case you are curious, this is what diversity looks like:

Here’s something else to get used to:

Despite indictments pending and two of three enforcers taken into custody, the story has people in the Twin Cities area shocked and worried as law enforcement deals with a spike in drug trafficking and heroin overdoses.

Federal authorities told the Star Tribune that they are not shocked that the Sinaloa cartel would go to such lengths to retrieve their money and drugs, especially in the lucrative Midwest heroin market. What worries them is that instead of using their own people, the cartel apparently hired the hit men from the feared Mara Salvatrucha 13 street gang (MS-13).

The phrase “not shocked” means “thinks it is hilarious” in federal law enforcement language. This is the sort of thing that makes their work interesting. Properly enforcing the borders and sensibly dealing with drug gangs is hum-drum stuff. Chasing down murder-torture around the country, while giving interviews to the press is fun. It makes their work fulfilling, which is the only reason our betters hold jobs these days.

The War on the Past

If you have an interest in population genetics or evolutionary biology the coming debates about the nature of man will be very interesting. Wade’s new book is causing a lot of difficulty for the Left, forcing them into denying science. Gregory Clark’s book, The Son Also Rises, started the ball rolling. The rapidly expanding base of knowledge coming from genetics is blowing big holes in the orthodoxy. It promises to be a good summer of reading blog posts like this was from Steve Sailer.

A massive problem in contemporary intellectual discourse is that people don’t remember the past well and don’t have a critical attitude toward whatever is the latest conventional wisdom about the backwardness of the past. In the Obama Era, we see race and sex disparities all around us, and the only socially acceptable explanation for them is that the past was so incredibly racist/sexist until … well, nobody can quite remember when, but it must have been practically the day before yesterday.
So, it’s hard for contemporary intellectuals to put themselves back into the shoes of their predecessors.
This is an excellent observation that applies to the debate over homosexuality. The public debate always assumes that way back in like last week, homosexuals were in bondage, forced to work on lavender farms in the South. There’s never any evidence presented, other than the obligatory reference to Stonewall. Famous homosexuals have been erased from history, because they could not have existed, according to the prevailing narrative promoted by the usual suspects.
Sailer is correct that this leads to endless errors and mistakes, as he goes onto point out in that post. He assumes this obtuseness is the result of wanting to justify the present fads.Maybe. It could also be part of a greater war on the past, which is a manifestation of self-loathing.The modern Progressive hates his ancestors because they created the present, which the moral man detests and wishes to change. All that “leaning forward” stuff looked like pulling at the leash for a reason.
The left imagines themselves at war with the past, trying to break free from that which ties them to the present. It is why they deny biology, for example. The thought that we are the result of mating choices over many generations is horrifying. How can we break free when we are just a point in the time line? When the Left is viewed as a religion, the war on the past makes more sense. Belief is powerful stuff, so powerful it allows to people to deny observable reality.

New Age Nonsense

This was in the link list post at Marginal Revolution. It is a wonderful example of authentic new age gibberish. It is all emotive, synthetic language that is popular with the managerial class these days. It’s the sort of therapeutic language that is supposed to both validate the people using it and establish them as insiders in whatever it is they are promoting. This sort of gobbledygook is common now in corporate America, to the point where there are websites fro generating it.

Astra Taylor is the author of “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age,” a new book on how information technology and market changes are reshaping art and culture.

Here is the bio of Astra Taylor:

Astra Taylor is a Canadian-American documentary filmmaker, writer, and musician, best known for her 2005 film, Zizek!, about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and for her 2008 film, Examined Life.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Taylor grew up in Athens, Georgia,[1] and was unschooled until age 13.[2] She attended Brown University for a year and holds an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School. She has taught sociology at the University of Georgia and SUNY New Paltz. Her writings have appeared in numerous magazines, and in 2006 Filmmaker Magazine listed her as one of “25 new faces to watch.” She is the sister of painter and disability activist Sunny Taylor,[3] and is married to Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel.[4] Taylor performed with Neutral Milk Hotel during the band’s reunion tour of 2013/2014. She is the author of the book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, published by Metropolitan Books.

The “unschooled” bit is amusing, as it could only come Astra Taylor or maybe fellow feminists. they like the pseudo-language stuff.  If you are going to make up a nonsense biography, calling yourself “unschooled” is a good start. The links in her Wiki page go nowhere so a little search reveals this video. Mostly third-wave feminist nonsense, bit we learn that “unschooled” means home schooled. In her circles, “home schooled” is equated with Walmart and gay bashing so they use a neologism.

Right out of the shoot, the interview takes on the vibe of a couple of hens yapping at one another while waiting for their kids at the Montessori school.

HF – At many points in the book you suggest that new technologies, far from leveling the playing field, are creating their own forms of inequality. How can open technologies lead to very unequal outcomes?

AT – It’s true that our new communicative technologies can create space for many voices, but the Internet also reflects and often amplifies real-world inequities. It is open but also unequal.

Contrary to all the hype about the “long tail,” the cultural playing field hasn’t been leveled so much as rearranged. What we are seeing is the emergence of the “missing middle” (a phrase I’ve taken from the political scientist Matthew Hindman). Online the bandwagon effect intensifies: the big can get bigger than ever before, and there are lots of tiny interesting things on the margin, but the in-between is hollowing out. The Internet is a global distribution medium.

Now, the Interwebs has been with us for two decades. The first browser was dropped in the early 1990’s. Not many people were on-line back then compared to now, but it was not a tiny community. When Astra was discovering middle-school, adults were discovering the Internet. Now she is “educating” the rest of us about how the Internet is changing the world. This is a hilarious phenomenon that is popular with feminists for some reason. maybe it is empowering.

I try to highlight a contradiction in the contemporary media ecology. On the one hand, a handful of businesses are rising to become new info-monopolies. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are now among the biggest companies in the world, siphoning revenue away from other local economies to Silicon Valley or Seattle or wherever, concentrating wealth in the process.

On the other, even as this remarkable concentration is playing out, our relationship with media is becoming more personalized. No one can tell you what to click on, Web sites reflect your preferences, and everyone has a glowing screen of their own. Yet these catered services generally rely on centralized vendors and services, like Amazon or Apple, that control the hardware we are using and the content we consume. This creates a kind of vertical integration behind the scenes. Certain barriers to cultural participation have been removed, and we can all post on social media or comment on articles, but massive asymmetries of power persist. Individually we glean benefits that are orders of magnitude smaller than the benefits for the platform owners who can collect and harness the “big data” generated by our communications.

There are certain buzzwords that are popular with these new age hustlers. One of them is “ecology.” The reason is it conjures images in the mind of plants and fuzzy cute animals. People like plants and fuzzy animals. Then there’s the old standby, the false dilemma. The specter of the global mega-corporation versus granny viewing pics of her grandkids on Facebook.

Of course, we see the liberal use of neutralizing words. A “kind of” vertical integration is, logically, no vertical integration, but the point is to have it both ways. It is a way of taking both sides while allowing the listener to assume whatever ever they find pleasing or validating. Obama speeches are full of this sort of language. The text is largely meaningless, so the listener can make it about themselves.

Ordinary Madness

Within living memory, a normal person could have a civil conversation about politics with someone identifying as liberal. It was not that everyone got along. It was that everyone seemed to agree on the value of civil debate. Only far out wackos thought you were evil for voting for Reagan or favoring tax cuts. Liberals did not like conservatives, but they did not hate them and they did not treat them like lepers. It was still possible for people to disagree without despising one another.

In the 1990’s that began to change. The vulgarity of the Clinton crowd made civility difficult. The culture gap became a chasm in the 1990’s. If you voted Republican it was not just because you happened to like their positions or the candidate. Party affiliation became tribal identification and the debates, therefore, were not about facts and reason. They were about which side you were on in the culture war. The roots of the great divide between use them started in the 1990’s.

On television, the public affairs shows turned into shouting matches. The liberal would talk over everyone, ignore the questions and just chant the slogans the Left was embracing at the moment. They called it spin, but it infected everything. This filtered into daily life and it became impossible to maintain a friendship with a lefty, because who they were was now defined by their hatred of normal people. The Left became an identity cult based on hatred of normal white people.

These days, the only way to maintain a civil relationship with a lefty is to avoid anything but sports and weather.  Anything that bumps up against the tenets of the faith, even tangentially, has to be avoided. Everywhere you turn a lunatic is preaching at you about gay marriage, the war on women, racism, white privilege and on and on. It often feels like the book I am Legend. Instead of raging vampires, we’re surrounded by lunatic liberals shaking their piety bracelets at us.

This post over at The Spectator does a good job analyzing the ratcheting lunacy we see around us.

It has long been clear that expressing certain views has been a form of social signaling, although social media has made this far more explicit. Holding what might be loosely called politically correct opinions on a range of issues suggests that the holder is more likely to be well-educated, wealthy, young, probably attractive, and possessing social nous (ie in touch with social trends).

But Kristian’s theory also explains one aspect of political correctness: the speed at which the accepted and acceptable view moves, heading in an ever-more extreme direction.

It goes further. Ever notice the speed with which buzzwords and catchphrases get popular among the Left? Obama used the word “shellacked” after the 2010 election and every lefty in America was littering their language with it. Another example was “gravitas” after that idiot Biden was picked to be Obama’s running mate. Language no longer has the same meaning for them as the rest of us. instead, it works like incantations signifying membership in the faith.

He uses the analogy of the music fan who, once the band he’s into has been discovered by everyone else, must find some other obscure outfit as a positional good. Once a wacky idea becomes accepted, the high-status politically correct brigadier must stand out with some new area of concern; this he or she does with one of those articles or blogs in which it is argued that, while progress has been made in one particular battle against prejudice or bigotry, the real war is now against racism in food labeling or the lack of transgender dolls for my children. It doesn’t matter if the issue at hand is inconsequential or, more likely, impossible to overcome; in fact the more so, the better.

Unlike with music, however, the trend is always in one direction and there is no re-centering; it would be as if the mainstream of elite taste in music went from Led Zeppelin to Black Sabbath to Metallica to Slayer and onto Napalm Death. Politically that’s what much of the commentary in places like Slate sounds like to me – just some guy atonally screaming in my ear about some micro-injustice.

Not a bad example. Thatcher called it the ratchet effect.

Another aspect of this mindset is the desire to punish people who have insufficiently correct views on doctrine, even if the beliefs they hold were orthodoxy ten or five years ago. I’d really like to conduct a Stanford Prison-style experiment in which people were rewarded (perhaps with a dopamine hit) for punishing those with heretical views, and to see where it led. To make it more interesting, only people with unorthodox views on only one side of the political spectrum would be punished, to see how extreme a group would become towards the other direction in a short space of time. Soon they’d be sacking people for disagreeing with an idea that didn’t exist anywhere in the world before 2001 – oh whoops, sorry, that was real life.

There are examples of the public simply going mad. Athens leading up to the Sicilian expedition is an example. The Athenians appear to have lost their minds and threw away their advantage on a crazy idea cooked up by a conman. The Abolitionist Movement is something closer to home. Large numbers of whites in the north wanted to murder the whites in the South and would not be deterred. Prohibition is another example from the American past. Maybe there is something wrong with our grain.

Why Do We Need More Immigrants?

In this post about the economics of Brooklyn, there is this bit of data:

Kind of. In 2011, the Census estimated the median household in Brooklyn earned $42,752 a year.  In 1999 the Census estimated the median household income in Brooklyn was…$42,852 (in 2011 dollars; the listed figure in 1999 dollars is $32,135).  That’s compared to a national median household income of $50,502 (in 2011) and $55,999 (in 1999), again using 2011 dollars.  In constant dollars, Brooklyn stagnated while incomes dropped elsewhere.

In that period, we have probably absorbed 20 million legal immigrants. Some claim we have also added another 10-15 million illegal immigrants. The debate over the exact figures is pointless. Everyone agrees we have added a whole bunch new people. This at a time when Americans are getting poorer, outside the over-class and managerial class. They are doing great, naturally, but the middle class is slowly being drained away by globalism and the resulting wage constraints.

The sentimentality of immigration is tough to resist. The myth of immigrant America has been sold to us for generations. People are conditioned to think immigration is one of the great virtues of America. The mathematics of it, however, are beyond dispute. The elites are deliberately impoverishing the country by importing millions of foreigners, who suppress wages and bid up housing.

Nobody Knows the Mind of the Bear

Paul Craig Roberts is an old paleocon, who used to be a regular on the talk radio circuit as a gadfly on foreign affairs. Like a lot of these guys, he has been slowly marginalized to the point where he has no mainstream outlets. if were up to the neocons, these guys would be reduced to using mimeograph machines and handing out their columns on street corners. Anyway, has an interesting take on the current mess in Ukraine.

Washington has no intention of allowing the crisis in Ukraine to be resolved. Having failed to seize the country and evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base, Washington sees new opportunities in the crisis.

One is to restart the Cold War by forcing the Russian government to occupy the Russian-speaking areas of present day Ukraine where protesters are objecting to the stooge anti-Russian government installed in Kiev by the American coup. These areas of Ukraine are former constituent parts of Russia herself. They were attached to Ukraine by Soviet leaders in the 20th century when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country, the USSR.

This is a popular refrain from paleocons, but there’s good reason top be skeptical about these Machiavellian schemes. Our princes are all that clever. They can reason through the here and now and even plot a few steps ahead, but anything beyond a couple of moves and they get into trouble. The State Department was mucking around in Ukraine thinking they had things under control. Then they didn’t and Putin found himself with a golden ticket to claw back some territory.

Essentially, the protesters have established independent governments in the cities. The police and military units sent to suppress the protesters, called “terrorists” in the American fashion, for the most part have until now defected to the protesters.

With Obama’s incompetent White House and State Department having botched Washington’s takeover of Ukraine, Washington has been at work shifting the blame to Russia. According to Washington and its presstitute media, the protests are orchestrated by the Russian government and have no sincere basis. If Russia sends in military units to protect the Russian citizens in the former Russian territories, the act will be used by Washington to confirm Washington’s propaganda of a Russian invasion (as in the case of Georgia), and Russia will be further demonized.

That’s the issue. If Team Obama is a bunch of bunglers, then it is hard to argue they have some clever plots going on to restart the Cold War.  On the other hand, they could simply be bunglers, deceived by the permanent foreign policy community. So maybe that’s what he is getting at here. On the other hand, there are old ethnic interests at work here, so the deep state could be even deeper that the State Department.

The Russian government is in a predicament. Moscow does not want financial responsibility for these territories but cannot stand aside and permit Russians to be put down by force. The Russian government has attempted to keep Ukraine intact, relying on the forthcoming elections in Ukraine to bring to office more realistic leaders than the stooges installed by Washington.

However, Washington does not want an election that might replace its stooges and return to cooperating with Russia to resolve the situation. There is a good chance that Washington will tell its stooges in Kiev to declare that the crisis brought to Ukraine by Russia prevents an election. Washington’s NATO puppet states would back up this claim.

It is almost certain that despite the Russian government’s hopes, the Russian government is faced with the continuation of both the crisis and Washington puppet government in Ukraine.

This is the interesting bit. No one wants to leave things in the hands of the voters, as they may vote for their own interests. That’s an important lesson of history. Elites are all for democracy as long as they can predict and control the results. The French, Germans, Americans and Russians will be spreading around money and hit-men between now and the election, trying to get a favorable result.

On May 1 Washington’s former ambassador to Russia, now NATO’s “second-in-command” but the person who, being American, calls the shots, has declared Russia to no longer be a partner but an enemy. The American, Alexander Vershbow, told journalists that NATO has given up on “drawing Moscow closer” and soon will deploy a large number of combat forces in Eastern Europe. Vershbow called this aggressive policy deployment of “defensive assets to the region.”

In other words, here we have again the lie that the Russian government is going to forget all about its difficulties in Ukraine and launch attacks on Poland, the Baltic States, Romania., Moldova, and on the central Asian states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The dissembler Vershbow wants to modernize the militaries of these American puppet states and “seize the opportunity to create the reality on the ground by accepting membership of aspirant countries into NATO.”

The War on Terror is winding down and a whole lot of folks will be looking for new dragons to slay. It is an old problem. A nation ramps up for war and then finds itself with a whole bunch of restless warriors looking for something to do. American motorcycle gangs are a result of World War II vets coming home and looking for action. Today, the decommissioned warriors are guys with advanced degrees and wearing suits.

Instead of buying a Harley and looking for action, they take a job at some quasi-government outfit full of ex-Seals and former intel guys. Maybe they end up at a defense contractor. Companies like this rely on their contacts to get contracts for dirty jobs like sending vehicles to Georgia as they prepare for war with Russia. War is a business and there are lots of people in the war business.

The time is approaching when Russia will either have to act to terminate the crisis or accept an ongoing crisis and distraction in its backyard. Kiev has launched military airstrikes on protesters in Slavyansk. On May 2 Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kiev’s resort to violence had destroyed the hope for the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the crisis. Yet, the Russian government spokesman again expressed the hope of the Russian government that European governments and Washington will put a stop to the military strikes and pressure the Kiev government to accommodate the protesters in a way that keeps Ukraine together and restores friendly relations with Russia.

This is where the Western mind goes wrong. In Eurasia, waiting is the preferred strategy. In fact, it was the basis of Russian military tactics for close to a century. Let the enemy wear himself out attacking you then counter-attack in force. Putin most likely sees no advantage to doing anything but waiting for the West to make another mistake or run out of steam. If he is wrong, not much changes on the ground. If he is right, he can advance his cause a little more.

This is a false hope. It assumes that the Wolfowitz doctrine is just words, but it is not. The Wolfowitz doctrine is the basis of US policy toward Russia (and China). The doctrine regards any power sufficiently strong to remain independent of Washington’s influence to be “hostile.” The doctrine states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

The Wolfowitz doctrine justifies Washington’s dominance of all regions. It is consistent with the neoconservative ideology of the US as the “indispensable” and “exceptional” country entitled to world hegemony.

Maybe, but it also looks like elements of the American ruling class are flinching at the price tag. Empire is expensive and the public appears unwilling to pay forever. The marginal return on investment of Poland is infinity higher than Ukraine. What we may actually be seeing is the water’s edge. The benefits from expanding empire further east are far outweighed by the cost. Russia is just not worth all that much.