The Vice Economy

Casino gambling is going to make for a good book one day. I’m sure lots of books have been written on the subject from all angles, but the one containing the epitaph is still unwritten. Way back in the olden thymes, Las Vegas was the one place to legally gamble. That meant that most people did their gambling illegally.

Now we are up to our eyeballs in legal casinos, often run by the state. The argument being that it raises money from a bad thing to be used for a good thing and it cuts down on crime. Whether any of that is true is debatable, but what is certainly true is the casino business is in trouble. This story from Atlantic City is a pretty good example.

The Revel Casino Hotel warned its staff Thursday that it will shut down this summer if a buyer can’t be found in bankruptcy court.

In warning letters given to employees and obtained by the Associated Press, Revel said it is seeking a buyer for the struggling $2.4 billion casino, but can’t guarantee one will be found. If not, employees could be terminated as soon as Aug. 18, Revel said in the letter.

“If Revel is unable to complete such a sale promptly, Revel expects to close its entire facility,” the letters read. The company also said it plans to stay open while it searches for a buyer.

Shortly after distributing the letters, Revel filed a Chapter 11 petition in federal bankruptcy court, its second in as many years. Revel said it hopes to find a buyer quickly.

“We will work to reach an agreement with a new owner who will help ensure Revel’s long-term financial stability and who shares our commitment to providing Revel’s guests and players an exceptional experience,” said Scott Kreeger, Revel’s president and chief operating officer.

He said the casino has obtained a $125 million loan from one of its existing financiers so it can operate during its stay in bankruptcy court.

If you have never been to Atlantic City, here’s a quick primer. Imagine a bombed out ghetto city like Detroit or Newark. Place it next to a decent beach with a boardwalk and then plop some tacky casinos and you have Atlantic City. This particular casino was built far from the massive ghettos that bound the boardwalk area. In theory, it should be thriving, but it is not. In fact, all of the casinos in AC struggle.

One reason is the surrounding area. The big mistake was not pushing out the locals when they built the casinos in the 1970’s. But, that was before liberals figured out how to use gays and Mexicans to clear out a neighborhood and gentrify it. Back then they still thought they could fix the ghetto. The other reason for the failure of AC is the casino boom. In fact, we may be reaching peak casino.

Racetrack casinos used to contribute as much as $240 million a year to Delaware’s tax coffers. But as the Northeast becomes saturated with gambling venues, the state’s casino revenue has tumbled, prompting a new industry request—for a tax break.

“It’s a different world for the Delaware casinos,” said Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who supports reducing the tax burden on casinos by $20 million a year to help them compete.

More casinos have opened in the Northeast over the past decade than in any other part of the country, and the expansion is causing upheaval in the region. States that adopted gambling earlier than their neighbors, such as Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, are watching dollars drain away, and new projects have some wondering how many facilities the area can support.

Twenty-six casinos have opened since 2004, fueling a 39% increase in total annual gambling revenue in the mid-Atlantic and New England, according to a study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Within 100 miles of Philadelphia, there now are 24 casinos, a big shift from the early 1990s, when Atlantic City, N.J., enjoyed an East Coast monopoly. At least a dozen more gambling spots are in the pipeline from Massachusetts to Maryland, raising fears in states such as Rhode Island that their casino tax windfall is at risk.

This is a familiar pattern. A truly new product pops up creating a new industry. Once it is clearly a winner, others rush in to get a bite of the apple. Supply shoots up, prices collapse and the product becomes a commodity. That’s followed by a culling of the supply herd. Cheap money fuels consolidation so eventually you end up with a handful of suppliers of the product, who can make low margin businesses work on volume.

The question is what comes next. In every other business a few operators emerge as the apex predators to gobble up the rest. That can’t happen with state run gambling parlors. Some will go this route where private operators run the casinos and pay a special tax to the state. That either means the state takes a smaller cut or they find a way to turn the operator into a utility, which seems unlikely.

There are two other models that could be the end game. One is the nationalized business model. In the old days it was popular in Europe for the state to take control of whole industries like steel and energy. By the 1970’s these industries were money losing disasters threatening to bankrupt the state. They were privatized and in many cases sent overseas. Decades from now states will probably be unloading these white elephants for pennies on a dollar.

The other model is pornography, which has followed an interesting path. The Internet gave new life to an industry largely run by degenerates and gangsters. It suddenly got cool and it got rich. But, the same tools that opened it up to professional business people opened it up to global competition. Revenues collapsed as amateurs started giving away their porn on the Internet. The “adult bookstore” followed Blockbuster Video into the great abyss.

Gambling can be done on-line. Not all of it, but poker, sports books and other, as yet uninvented, games can be done effectively on-line. Prohibitions against on-line gambling will work for a while, but getting around these limits is getting easier. I know poker players who belong to private on-like clubs, using gaming consoles. It will not be long before a clever guy figures out how to “monetize” this.

Gambling has been a part of human societies since at least settlement. The thing is, there’s little value added opportunities in it. You can build a four-star hotel on a beach and make big money. Other than offering drinks, safety and volume, a casino is not offering a lot to the gambler. They are not there for the shows or the atmosphere. They are there for the action. That means these state gambling parlors will see their margins drop to the absolute minimum, with many going bust in the next decade.

There’s always been something dodgy about government running the vice rackets. In America, the Federal government runs the alcohol business. They make more from it than the private players. Alcohol is taxed at over $20 per gallon. The states run the cigarettes business and are now getting into the drug rackets. They own the gambling rackets in most places. The only thing left is prostitution and porn. Making money from vice makes you a pimp, no matter what you do with the money. Seeing the state fail at it is pleasing at some level.

More important, it underscores a criticism from the old right that has long been dismissed. That is, you cannot have an economy based on doing each others laundry. You have to make thinks and you have to invent things. That creates real jobs directly through employment in factories. It does so indirectly for all of the support services. It also props up the tertiary economy, like gambling and entertainment, as people use their surplus on leisure. You can’t have a real economy very long when it is based on selling off your assets to pay for leisure.


Nixon In Black Face

This is the flashing red headline on Drudge this morning. First we were told there was a mysterious glitch in the IRS network that resulted in the loss of only the e-mails under subpoena. Now we are being told that the IRS is the only organization on the planet that does not backup its e-mail system. Instead, they rely on users to take care of that on their own, along with securing their own government issued laptops.

It was a very long time ago, so no one is supposed to think about it anymore, but Richard Nixon was run out of office for exactly this sort of thing. In fact, Nixon was chased off for talking about it. He did not actually have the IRS out harassing political opponents. it is not even clear if he talked about or simply allowed his people to discuss it in his presence. The mere hint of it was enough. Now, Magic Black Man can actually have the IRS harassing people and it is no problem.

This is from the articles of impeachment for Mr. Nixon, way back in the disco era.

Article #2 Section #1:

He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.

The whole sorry episode has been washed down the drain of history, but the IRS stuff was probably the most outrageous at the time. The Watergate break-in was a big deal, but it was clear Nixon did not know about it before it happened. It was not all that clear he knew about it before it became a big deal in he press. It is where we get the expression, “It is not the crime, it is the cover-up.”

At the time, the stuff that truly offended the people as well as the political class was the potential misuse of the IRS and FBI. It is not all that clear Nixon ever ordered anything of the sort. It is less clear that anyone else seriously tried to use the IRS as a political weapon. We now know that the FBI was corrupt in ways independent of Nixon so that’s a different story. Hoover created a monster that has never truly been tamed.

The FBI had been out of control for decades, but the IRS appears to have been fairly clean. You’re always going to have some level of corruption. When you’re dealing with sensitive data like taxes, petty abuse is inevitable. What led to including the IRS in the articles of impeachment was the mere suggestion of using the IRS for political purposes. The worst you can say about Nixon and the IRS is he would have abused it if it were a different organization.

That’s what makes this story so outrageous. This administration appears to have turned the IRS into an organization that can and was used as a political weapon. In other words, Team Obama went well past anything Nixon imagined. They have corrupted a government agency that was resistant to the Nixon people. Nixon’s corruption meter may have been pegged at ten, but Obama’s goes to eleven.

What this should do, but most likely won’t, is throw cold water on Conservative Inc and their fantasies about the Left. For decades the Left held Nixon up as the poster child for bad government. Today, they are defending a guy who makes Nixon look like a Boy Scout. These are not people who are merely mistaken. They are not people with whom you can have honest dealings. These are not men of principle. The best you can say about them is they are mendacious, cynical opportunist. In reality, they are religious fanatics. Pretending otherwise is suicide.

A National Disgrace

The foundation of western style liberalism is that the law applies to everyone equally and the law operates by a certain logic. A citizen does not have to memorize the laws in order to avoid violating them. The represents the habit of mind of the people. That’s the ideal and there are exceptions, but the general concept is what matters. The further away from the ideals, the more corrupt the society. You see that here.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the NFL’s Washington Redskins on Wednesday, saying the nickname is “disparaging to Native Americans” and cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits trademark protection on offensive or disparaging language.

The team has been under fire for the past year, with many groups, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, wanting the nickname changed.

Last month, the team hired a lobbying firm to help with the public backlash after senators sent a letter to the National Football League saying they also wanted the name changed.

 “We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the Trademark Trial and Appeals board wrote in its opinion.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said that he will not change the nickname despite the opposition.

The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board said the “Redskins” name is the subject for cancellation for “entertainment services -namely, football exhibitions rendered in stadia and through the media of radio and television broadcasts.”

The team’s cheerleading squad, the “Redskinettes,” are also subject to the cancellation, for “entertainment services, namely, cheerleaders who perform dance routines at professional football games and exhibitions and other personal appearances,” according to the board.

This jihad against the Redskins is led by one of the most corrupt humans on earth, Harry Reid (D, Organized Crime). This is a man who entered politics penniless and is now super-rich. He made his money shaking down contributors and making land deals with organized crime figures. Dan Snyder may be an odious speck of a man, but he made his money honestly. He has a right to live in a land of laws and he has right to expect those laws will be respected by his government.

This is a national disgrace. Whatever your views on the name or the people involved in the dispute, willy-nilly stealing the owner’s property for political reasons is how banana republics function. What’s next? Will Reid send in thugs to break up Snyder’s house and threaten his family? We have allowed our country to be taken over by criminals, deviants and lunatics. We should be ashamed of what we have done.

The Stupidity of Fanatics

For many people, the last decade or so has been a transition away from conventional politics into something outside of that narrow realm of Left versus Right. Whatever one wants to call the new sort of politics emerging outside conventional politics, it is largely driven by the fanaticism of both Left and Right. Both of those camps are convinced they can solve the problems of the human condition. The result is this.

The electoral upset of Eric Cantor last week — partially blamed on his squishiness about immigration, along with stories of immigrant children streaming across the US-Mexican border — have seriously dimmed the prospects of legislating immigration reform anytime soon.

That’s a shame, because normalizing the status of our millions of illegal immigrants, while clearly benefiting them, is also essential to the economic and social welfare of the country as a whole.

The writer claims to be a conservative. He is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which bills itself as right-wing, but in the current context that simple means slightly to the Right the Left. Regardless of ideology, you would think someone sporting the title “senior fellow” could get the facts right. Cantor lost because he favored amnesty and open borders. That’s not a fact in dispute by people who pay attention to these things.

Calling amnesty “normalizing the status of our millions of illegal immigrants” is dishonest even by the standards of the usual suspects. Of course, the fanatic first deceives himself, which is why he can so shamelessly try to deceive others. That’s what makes “conservative” an useless label these days. This guy calls himself a conservative, yet he is every bit as deluded and fanatical as a lefty.

Let’s start with what is not going to happen — no matter who is the House majority leader. Most illegal immigrants will not be leaving the country, either voluntarily through “self-deportation” as suggested by Mitt Romney, or involuntarily through actual deportation, notwithstanding the current administration’s aggressive efforts in this direction.

So, we have only two options in dealing with these 11 million American residents: We can keep them in their current marginal status with all the negative effects that entails for them and their communities or acknowledge their ongoing presence among us and legalize it.

Peter Salins is an unbalanced fanatic. Unless he has been in a coma for the last decade, waking up only to pen this column, he most certainly has heard the many other suggestions to deal with the invasion from the south. We have lots of options, but open borders fanatics like Peter Salins are incapable of hearing them. That’s the nature of fanatics. They see only that which feeds their fanaticism.

Both they and the country will be much better off if we pursue the latter course.

For the opponents of immigration reform, there appear to be three major concerns. Illegal immigrants: 1) broke the law, and thus shouldn’t be rewarded with “amnesty”; 2) are harming the American economy by displacing American workers and burdening American taxpayers; and 3) are a threat to American culture and values.

There are two other reasons why many Americans would like to pull the plug on immigration. One is we simply don’t want a bunch of foreigners in our towns. As citizens, that is our right. The other is men like Salins made these same arguments in the 1960’s and the 1980’s. In both cases, they were all wrong. Prudent people will wisely suspect that the third time is not the charm. Gis arguments are the same well-rehearsed nonsense we have heard for years.  He concludes with this bit:

If congressional politicians in both parties can craft a tough and realistic “grand bargain” on these terms, they would be unleashing a human capital windfall not only for the affected immigrants but for all of American society.

Well, if we can conjure leprechauns riding unicorns with gold bars flying out of their butts, we can solve all of our problems! My goodness. How can you make it to old age and still have such silly nonsense in your head?

Out Amongst The Exiles

Mark Steyn has a post on his site about his fight with the litigious climate fabulist Michael Mann. Most people in the commentariat would never risk their position in such a fight, but that appears to be what Steyn is doing. He had a prominent spot at National Review and a syndicated column. He has a contract with Rush Limbaugh. He was doing TV, but maybe that is no so anymore. The point being that he had a bunch of good revenue streams going until he took a stand against Michael Mann.

It appears that Steyn has tossed a lot away in order to fight this lawsuit. No matter how you feel about the guy, you have to admire the guy for his guts. There’s a long list of guys who have refused to go along and found themselves in exiled. Steyn is an international character with a lot of revenue sources so he is doing fine, but, it is not easy to face the wife and tell her to stretch the budget until things blow over. It’s even harder when you have kids.

Steyn is the most famous case and probably the least harmed. Steve Sailer paid a heavy price for sticking to his guns. Sailer years used to turn up in top-line publications like National Review. That was a long time ago. He also wrote for the Associated Press at one point and other prestigious journals. For the crime of not going along with the latest fads, he lost all of those gigs. As with Steyn, you have to admire a guy who would rather be right than a well aid liar.

Of course, all of the people writing for VDare and Taki are forever off-limits now for mainstream publications. That means the money will always be scarce. For guys like John Derbyshire, sent into exile last year, it probably does not matter much. He’s made his money and lived his life. In his dotage, he can afford to not care what the beautiful people think. The others have wives and families and that means bills to pay, appearances to keep up and all that comes with it.

Exile is a real fear among the chattering classes. Mention a proscribed person or publication around someone from Conservative Inc. and they will break out in hives and race from the room. A guy like Jonah Goldberg can pretend to be an edgy guy, but in reality he studies the rules every morning to make sure he is no where near the edge of what is acceptable. In fact, he has his snout in the air to make sure he knows what will be against the rules a year from now. He’s nowhere near that edge.

The fear is well founded. No one ever makes it back from exile. Joe Sobran and Sam Francis were great polemicists, yet they were never rehabilitated. They were the sort of gifted writers who made dangerous arguments fun to read. Maybe that’s what made them so dangerous. If great writers never make it back from the gulag, the lesser talents have no chance. That’s why the people in charge make examples of famous and talented people. These example frighten the mediocre.

Another side to this is what happens to former snitches who then find themselves in trouble with the rulers. Dinesh D’Souza was the guy who put the shiv in the back of Sam Francis two decades ago. It was his report of Francis at American Renaissance that got Francis fired from the Washington Times. Now, D’Souza is facing jail time and reaching out to his friends on the right to save him. With any luck, the Obama administration will find a way to send him to the electric chair.

Some people think the ground is about to shift. There are so many people on the fringe now, it is getting crowded. The internet makes it easier for these people to work together and build a new audience. We live in interesting times. No one seems to think the current arrangements hold much longer and no one can agree on what comes next, other than it won’t be more of the same. Maybe what comes next is the exiles come home from exile. Maybe they find a way to kick people off the internet.

That’s probably what comes next. The Left is ruthless and devoid of compassion. They will not be satisfied with people making a go of it on-line. They will find a way to punish those who permit them to operate on their platforms. They just need an example that is so egregious that they can justify the extraordinary measures. A decade from now, the same policing we see on mainstream platforms will be common on-line. Being exile will mean being silenced in every way imaginable.

Ruminations on Iraq

Reading reports about Iraq like this one, I can’t help but return to the old formulation I liked to use back in the Bush days. “The trouble with Afghanistan is it is full Afghans. The trouble with Iraq is there are not enough Iraqis.” Even at the height of the Iraq war, you never could find many people who identified as Iraqi first and all the other stuff second. They were always Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurds, etc. An accident of history had them born on the lands we call Iraq.

Men will fight and die for their brothers. That’s why armies are built on small groups of men under the Dunbar number. Successful street gangs and terror groups also rely on small units. Small units mean the members have emotional bonds to one another. In our urban reservations, street gangs are made up of young men who grew up together in the neighborhood. More sophisticated gangs like motorcycle clubs have very elaborate bonding rituals to make sure the clubs are cohesive.

Of course, the natural formation of small units is through blood. Early man existed in groups of 150 or so people. Everyone was related by blood. Once a group grew so large that blood relations stretched beyond second cousins, they split up into two groups and went their separate ways. In the Arab world, this is still how people naturally organize themselves. Talk to any Arab and before long they will have mentioned many “cousins” that are members of their extended family.

That’s what comes to mind when seeing stories like this one. We have a small force of mercenaries knocking off a professionally trained (allegedly) military, equipped with modern weaponry. Even if the numbers are exaggerated in that Vox story, you’re still seeing a 10-to-1 advantage having no value on the battlefield. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is wining both the moral war as well as the tactical war, despite their lack of equipment and people. Fighting spirit matters.

The historian John Keegan argued that wars are determined by culture. Arab culture is not like Western culture so their way of making war is different from that of the western nations. “War without battle” is the preferred mode in the Arab world. That means insurgencies, terrorism and social disruption are where Arabs excel. This makes perfect sense for a culture where blood relations trump all else. Kin based societies are low-trust societies so large armies are hard to muster.

Arab societies are low trust societies, which is why they have never been good at the civilization stuff that requires large scale organization. If you can only truly count on blood relatives, scaling beyond 100 or so people is nearly impossible. Even when you expand the circle of trust beyond second cousins, you limit the number of people capable of working as a unit to a few hundred. Arab societies are collection of sub-societies dominated by a master society.

It is why Arab countries are authoritarian. The people will never willingly go along with the leader, if he is not at least from their tribe. That means coercion is the only way to rule a large number of people. You never hear Arab leaders talking about “their people” with any degree of pride, like you hear in the West. They don’t even have the concept a nation in the way we understand it in the West. Instead, “us” is almost always defined by blood, which means their tribe.

This what you see going on with the Iraqi army. None of them have loyalty to Iraq. Their first loyalty is to their family, followed by the extended family of the tribe. Sectarian loyalty is as far as it goes and even there it is frayed. Followers of one Imam may detest the followers of another, despite both being in the same sect. The Iraqi soldiers are not going to fight and die for something that does not exist, unless they have a bayonet in their back, as was the case under Saddam.

The other interesting thing is all of this was predictable. The American military spent billions designing and training a military for Iraq along western lines. The trouble is they left an Arab culture that is still an Arab culture. Eventually you end up with the same old Arab army with a bunch of American gear they can barely operate. A guy named Norvell B. De Atkine wrote about this 15 years ago in a paper called Why Arabs Lose Wars. He noticed that Arab countries are full of Arabs.

The one potential upside to the break up of Iraq is the Kurds may finally get their own place in the world, at least officially. The Syrians are too weak to do much about the Kurds and the Turks are too disorganized now. Iraq falling apart opens the door for the Kurds to press their claims. Interestingly, the Kurds may be the one group in the region the West could do something with besides sell arms. They are more like Jews than Arabs, according the genetics.

Over the last 15 years, they have weathered the unrest better than any of the other people in the region. They seem to possess the ability to self-organize beyond the small unit. They have a national identity in that the Kurd living in Turkey sees himself part of Kurdistan in the same way as the Kurd living in Iraq, Syria or driving a cab in New York. Why we have ignored these people is a mystery, but maybe they have been better off as a result. Our results elsewhere are not encouraging.

My Brief Against Chav Ball

Way back in the olden thymes, when the World Cup was held in the United States, I went to the games played on Foxboro. I happened to be at the airport when the Greek team arrived, so I got to see them buying Marlboros at the gift shop. Seeing a bunch of swarthy guys chain smoking outside the terminal is my main memory of international soccer. That and how all of them were glaring at every women in sight. It was as if they just got out of prison. Little dogs and little men have no control of their sex drive.

That said, it was a good time in Boston during the World Cup and I had fun at the games I attended. Soccer is boring, dull and tedious on television. The fake injuries are so absurd and embarrassing it is hard to tolerate. In person, the game is better. When Raul collapses in a heap, acting like he took a cannon ball to the knee, the crowd roars in unison, thus making it more like a stage play than a sporting event. You lose that watching on TV, so it comes off as absurd.

Watching soccer live is also better than TV, because you get to see the players that are not involved in the play. They are often chatting with one another like they are old friends bumping into one another on a stroll. On TV, the camera follows the ball and the players all look busy. Live, you also get a better sense of what’s really happening. The strategy comes into focus sooner than on TV. Since most of the games are fixed, it all makes more sense when you get to see all of the action.

World Cup soccer and Olympic soccer are fun because so much is at stake. The Little League World Series gets big TV ratings in the U.S. for the same reason. People don’t watch little kids play baseball, unless it’s their kids. Put the same kids in an international tournament and suddenly the nation gets interested. There’s also the fact that the World Cup features the best players in the world. The fact is, Mesi and Neymar kicking a ball around will always seem more thrilling than two unknown guys.

Now, what has always turned me off about soccer is the cultural angle. When I was a boy, our betters in America tried to force soccer and the metric system on us. The people doing it were all loathsome snobs. Worse yet, all of them were the children of working class people who should have known better. But, their parents sent them off to the state college and they came back thinking they were sophisticated citizens of the world, so they loved soccer. Yep, soccer was a Boomer fetish.

Even all these year on, I still think of those smug assholes of my youth, whenever soccer comes to my attention. I associate it with the ridiculous poseurs who turn up in every Progressive cultural fad. I’ve probably heard “it is the most popular sport in the world” a million times in my life. That is the sort of thing stupid say when they want to sound sophisticated. In most of the world, soccer is the sport of the poor and lower classes. That means our bourgeois bohemians are aping the mores of chavs.

A recent development, one that I find most irritating, is the fake passion of cosmopolitan men for Premiere League teams in Britain. They saw videos of Euro guy with his hands on his head in agony over a soccer match and now they are pretending to have had a lifelong passion for a soccer club in England. I have a friend who used to call soccer “fag ball” until about a decade ago. He became a vegan and started following soccer and he now wears a Man U jersey. He says “footie” now.

It is all a pose, of course. What’s odious about the poseur is he turns his self-loathing into your problem. The poseur apes the styles and attitude of others because he hates himself and cannot stand the sight of himself. His comical pretensions force everyone else to play along, in order to be polite. Everyone knows the poseur is full of crap, but the guy who says what everyone thinks, risks being castigated for being rude. These people turn our virtues into vices. They deserve to be hated.

One other thing that turns me off is the “you don’t understand the complexity of the sport” line from people who probably don’t understand the sport at all. Soccer’s appeal is based in its simplicity. Real fans know this, but poseurs prattle on about the complexity in order to shift the focus from their misplaced and irrational love for a foreign sport, onto the skepticism of their critics. In other words, they don’t really like soccer, they just want to signal their membership in a group they believe is superior.

Anyway, that’s my problem with soccer.

The Ghetto Time Warp

Spend time in or near the ghetto, and you can’t help but notice some things. When you live and work across the social spectrum, you get a daily dose of comparisons, which makes noticing things easy. It is a dangerous game these days, of course. On the other hand, people get in trouble in the ghetto when they don’t notice things. Modern times is full of these weird, inexplicable juxtapositions.

White people know to avoid certain areas, even certain streets. Give a white person directions that include Martin Luther King Boulevard or Malcom X Avenue and they ask someone else for directions. They know those names are never used for places that house people like them. On the other hand, make a comment about it around them and they will harangue you about your racism and narrow mindedness.

I do not suffer from this malady, despite being white. I’ve learned to speak three languages: SWPL, normal and ghetto. I’m most fluent at normal because I try to hang around normal people as much as possible. On the other hand, living on the edge of the ghetto, I have picked up the tongue, which is mostly what normal people said before the lunatics took over. Watch any old 1970’s TV show and you get my meaning.

The other day I was on the way home and remembered I needed cat food. On the edge of the ghetto is a Food Lion, which seems to target the lower classes as a business strategy. They have a big sign announcing they accept EBT and WIC. I’ve stopped there many times, but rarely after work. In my work clothes, I stand out like a sore thumb. Social class is one of those things people notice instinctively, even though we pretend it does not exist. In jeans and a tee-shirt, it is not so obvious.

I get my cat food and get in line. I was in a hurry, being the end of the day, but I should have known better. In the ghetto, time works differently than everywhere else. The employees of the Food Lion are mostly black. They work on CPT. That’s Colored People Time. Start talking about CPT at your place of work and they fire you. Mention it around black people and they laugh, surprised that a white person would know the term and bother say it in public.

What CPT means is not just slowness. It is also a certain deliberate tardiness. Black people will tell you that black people are always late. That’s when you’re most likely to hear them break out the term CPT. The lateness is not meant as disrespect or even something done on purpose. Blacks have complicated lives and events just get away from them. As a result, they struggle to be on time for anything. At the same time, they are not in a great hurry to get anything done.

The two cashiers working that evening were chatting with one another, hardly paying attention to their work, which they were doing at a snail’s pace. The customer in front of me had a mislabeled product so the girl just stopped working and waited for a manager to solve the problem. It’s not laziness or attitude. The two girls were just working at a pace based on their own weird internal metronome. That’s CPT. Things just take the time they take and no one thinks much of it.

For reasons I’ve never understood, the deli counter at this Food Lion is manned by Latino males. They are a beehive of activity, but you still wait in line for an hour to get even the smallest thing. Standing there in line, I watched four or five Latinos buzzing around in a flurry of activity. There was one lonely customer patiently waiting for whatever he ordered. He was still there when I left, which is not surprising. he was experiencing something called the Latin Way.

The Latin Way is a term you hear from Latinos. Like CPT, they are surprised to hear a blanco say it. Unlike blacks, Latinos are oddly proud of it and quite open to talking about it if you ask them. They fully admit that the disorganized chaos is just the way they do things, even though it makes no sense. It’s like how the Irish are proud of being alcoholics. Or Italians proud of their gestures. It’s a part of what makes them who they are and they are mostly proud of it.

Unlike CPT, I find the Latin Way to be rather amusing. I guess it pleases my Anglo-Saxon sensibilities to see people rushing about trying to get their work done, even if they are mostly spinning their wheels. They may not be getting things done, but they seem to care about getting things done. Blacks don’t get anything done and they seem to take pride in their idleness. Latins seem to know they should be getting something done, which counts for a lot while you are waiting.

While I’m cataloging the denizens of the ghetto in this way, Hindus are an interesting case. We have a lot of them around here for some reason. My guess is they work at the engineering firms located in the suburbs. I’ve had some Hindus work for me over the years and they move at their own pace too. maybe those old school observations about people close to the equator are true after all

Judging from what I see around town, I’m thinking it is cultural. In the Food Lion, I always see the old women wandering around in their brightly colored saris. They never seem to buy anything, but they are fat as hell so I know they’re not skipping any meals, but I just see them looking. Then again, I don’t feel the need to watch them as much as the other denizens of the ghetto.

Anyway, the whites are not models of Anglo-Saxon efficiency and alacrity. The difference is when motivated, they move as fast and efficiently as anyone else. It’s just that they never seem to be motivated. On summer afternoons they sit on their front step or loiter in the parking lots. Poor people of all types are happy to while away their time doing nothing but chatting with friends.

Smoking is still popular in the great white ghetto, along with Oxycontin. You see the fat girls waddling behind strollers, while the males sit around shirtless. The idea is to show off the collection of ridiculous tattoos they love so much. Nothing tells the world you are a violent felon like a neck tattoo. In all of the retail stores on the edge of the ghetto, you never see whites working.

That’s the thing about poverty and the underclass. SWPL types think it is education, but it is time that keeps people in the ghetto. They have no sense of it. Middle and upper class people are obsessed with time. Being on time is an essential part of being a respectable person. The efficient use of time is how one is measured in their job. If you’re good at what you do, you get an assistant at work to help you make the most of your time. The rich have personal assistants to make sure no one wastes their time.

Like father’s day, I doubt watches are of much use in the ghetto. When you have no place to go and no reason to get there, knowing the time is pointless. People I know who hire entry level labor tell me the biggest challenge they have is figuring out how to tell ghetto types how to show up on time and work at a decent pace. That’s why they hire Latinos. They may be a circus of disorder without supervision, but they show up on time and at least look like they are in a hurry.

Anyway, I think that’s the dividing line in modern life. The great class line is is time preference. Conventional wisdom says the poor lack impulse control. They buy cheap crap now rather than save for better things later. They don’t understand the value of putting off today’s pleasure for something better tomorrow.

I don’t think that’s right. I think it is the lack of time preference. The middle class person understands how to comprehend the discount function, at least conceptually. The poor have no idea about any of this. A bag of weed today is just a bag of weed today. Saving for a bigger bag of weed tomorrow is inconceivable because tomorrow may as well be next century.

Of Course It is Rigged

The World Cup started off in grand fashion. The very first match was rigged so the host team could notch a victory.

Croatia coach Niko Kovac said his players “better give it up now and go home” after Brazil were awarded what looked to be a soft, and crucial, penalty in their 3-1 win in the World Cup opening game.

With the match tied at 1-1 in the second half, Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a contentious spot-kick when striker Fred went down after a light touch from Croatia centre-back Dejan Lovren.

Kovac called the penalty “ridiculous” and said Nishimura was not at the level to be a referee on the sport’s biggest stage.

“If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball,” Kovac said. “Those kinds of fouls are penalised there.

The liberal weenies in the American sporting press who keep telling us soccer is important never bother to mention that soccer is the most corrupt sport on earth. Here’s a piece on the rampant cheating and game fixing from PBS.

Soccer has been tainted in the past by evidence of match fixing. But European law enforcement officials outlined a complex scandal yesterday that was enormous in scope and could be deeply damaging to the game’s reputation.

The European Union’s police agency, Europol, said an 18-month investigation turned up 680 matches suspected of being fixed across the globe. The games were played between 2008 and 2011. The scandal may have even involved qualifying matches for the sport’s biggest tournaments, the World Cup and the European Championships.

The probe cited links to criminal networks, including a Singapore-based crime syndicate. Europol wouldn’t name any of the suspected matches or individuals, but said it involved more than 400 people in 15 countries.

That’s in Europe where respect for the law is still kind of important. Imagine what South America is like. But, that’s the nature of sports. Sports with a high level of difficulty attract a different sort of player and a different sort of fan. Soccer is just a bunch of little guys chasing a ball around. The only way to keep it interesting is gambling and heavy drinking. Maybe a little hooliganism too.

The Threat of VGM

Anything to do with the climate now has such a bad odor that most people just assume all of it is a hoax. Years of lying to people about global warming have discredited the field in the eyes of the public. That and the true believers are nut. It turns out that the real threat was never humans. It is volcanoes!

A new study by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin found that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is collapsing due to geothermal heat, not man-made global warming.

Researchers from the UTA’s Institute for Geophysics found that the Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica is being eroded by the ocean as well as geothermal heat from magma and subaerial volcanoes. Thwaites is considered a key glacier for understanding future sea level rise.

UTA researchers used radar techniques to map water flows under ice sheets and estimate the rate of ice melt in the glacier. As it turns out, geothermal heat from magma and volcanoes under the glacier is much hotter and covers a much wider area than was previously thought.

“Geothermal flux is one of the most dynamically critical ice sheet boundary conditions but is extremely difficult to constrain at the scale required to understand and predict the behavior of rapidly changing glaciers,” UTA researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The geothermal heat under the glaciers is likely a key factor in why the ice sheet is currently collapsing. Before this study, it was assumed that heat flow under the glacier was evenly distributed throughout, but UTA’s study shows this is not the case. Heat levels under the glacier are uneven, with some areas being much hotter than others.

We have always been at war with Volcanic Global Warming.