Saturday, October 7, 2017

Las Vegas

You have to be quick in the ranting game. Here I was strolling to the weekend collecting my thoughts while an astute troika already summed it up.

Pat Buchanan points out Stephen Paddock had no soul.

Steve Sailer suggests the ex-Christians no longer fear Hell.

Vox Day observes we can no longer answer sentient Man's oldest question, "Why not?"

Healthy society has three fundamental elements: hierarchy, aesthetics, and transcendence. We are distorting and deconstructing all three: everybody is equal, the aesthetics suck, and secular progressivism has replaced religious faith as the moral center.

The big mystery is the shooter's motive. He was not completely delusional and actually quite functional. He planned the massacre rigorously over a period of months. Recall anti-hero Anders Breivik transformed himself into a successful small farmer to get the licensing he needed to nearly take out Norway's governing class. By contrast, nobody knows (or nobody will yet reveal) Stephen Paddock's manifesto but that's beside the point. It could have been anything: holy war, bolshevism, environmentalism. Lots of people have agendas; I have an agenda. Most people have outlets that keep them from going into full berserker mode. Something is removing those outlets but I imagine the questions will peter out before we get too far down that path.

I love a good conspiracy theory but operationally I think we're going to be disappointed. Paddock may have had knowing assistance but that just gets us back where we started--his enablers were as broken as he was. Paddock had a hypotenuse of around 300 meters. The effective range of a decent AR-15 is 500 meters, and Paddock had a big, fat target of around 40,000 feet by area. Lots of people can do it. A middling Muslim couple could do it. Sixty-four year old white guy real estate investors can do it. For around $3,000 a rig (rifle, bump stock, bipod, scope, magazine, ammo--all commonly available), Stephen Paddock was able to project the killing force of an infantry fire team. Combine atomized society and normalcy bias with a not-uncommon amount of income and you too can go full berserker mode, and this gets me to my final point.

In the old days when somebody went off the rails all they had was a sword or muzzleloader. Capitalism and The Industrial Revolution have not only democratized luxury goods but the tools and technology of war, and delivered them to an atomized people. In the inevitable gun control debate to follow, Second Amendment advocates will ignore the technology, and liberals will ignore the atomization.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Why Capt. Villanueva had to apologize

I've bestirred myself to write on the current NFL mess.

Out of all this, an NFL player and Army veteran named Alejandro Villanueva is the only one who's had to apologize for his behavior. Here's the Wiki entry on his military career:
After graduating from the United States Military Academy Villanueva was commissioned into the United States Army on May 22, 2010 as a second lieutenant in the Infantry.[5] Directly after being commissioned he attended various military schools, including the Infantry, Airborne and Ranger Schools; all located at Fort Benning, Georgia. After completing the three courses he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. It was with the 10th Mountain Division he deployed for the first time for 12 months to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader.[5] As a result of his actions during this deployment he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire.[5] When he returned from his deployment, he was reassigned as a company executive officer.[5]

Villanueva volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger Orientation Program in 2013.[5] He was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion. His roles within the Battalion have included plans officer, platoon leader, and company executive officer.[5]

He has deployed two more times to Afghanistan for a total of eight months between both deployments.[5]
Solid, right? Here he is apologizing for leaving the locker room and standing respectfully with his hand over his heart as the US anthem was played:

Remember the Martin-Incognito dust-up I wrote about four years ago? Goggle-eyed sports fans were shocked, shocked! at Incognito's effrontery toward a teammate. But that’s just life among platoons of big, violent men. Whitey-white-white Peyton Manning and the not-terribly athletic Irish Catholic Brian Finneran negotiated the culture successfully. You hang with the bros, or you really will hang.

Football players have to depend on each other for, among other things, deterring an opponent's potentially career-ending cheap shot by threat of violent retaliation from your comrades. So when the majorities in the locker rooms voted for BLM, the owners ignored their own operations manual and pivoted to the locker rooms, and so did the white quarterbacks and linemen. Majority rule, and enlightened self-interest.

And that’s why Capt. Villanueva apologized.

This is actually a pretty big deal. As Steve Sailer explains, the hidden theme in American football's unscripted drama is defense and capture of territory, and we passionately support the physical exploits of "our" young men against "their" young men. Americans love these pageants because they demonstrate national solidarity despite deep-rooted racial and cultural differences--we fight for you, because you fight for us! Not surprisingly, the US military enthusiastically joins in the pageantry, with color guards and fly-overs and lavish recruiting ads.

Athletic events channel powerful tribal instincts into non-destructive outlets, but this gets kind of awkward when you have different tribes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The News Business

Hurricane Harvey, and now Irma, remind us that the news media is not a public service: it is a for-profit business. The Business sells ratings to advertisers, not actually useful information or analysis. Thus, the hurricane is the story, not the fact that cities like New Orleans and Houston are sitting at sea level with nowhere for the water to go or that the building codes of the Florida coast bear no relation to its geography. Cities are also behavioral and economic sinks, filled with people with no means to weather a natural disaster--which, of course, is the only reason a natural phenomenon becomes a "disaster." Cities are, in a word, fragile.

The Business is also an oligopoly, thanks to IP laws and founder effects, in the economic and cultural sense. Like all oligopolies, the Business is concerned primarily with maintenance of its oligopoly status.

The State, special interests, and others use this oligopoly to great effect. The interests of the State and its patrons coincide very nicely with the interests of the Business. They create Panic where there is no need for panic and Complacency where there is need for Urgency. Thus, in Atlanta today, hysterical people shut down a city over wind and rain; meanwhile, population density increases and giant poplars and oaks tower over power lines.

Apply this analysis to any crisis out there: hunger in Africa, not explosive r-selected reproductive practices; HIV/AIDS, not self-destructive behavior; poverty, not poor life-choices.

None of this is to deny the tragic and often capricious nature of human suffering nor to suggest that we should not seek to alleviate suffering. Poverty can result from illness or economic displacement. Unforeseen natural disasters and social catastrophes do occur. But there is a stubborn resistance to thinking critically about root causes and perverse incentives. And the Business, of all the institutions, is fundamentally and structurally not motivated even to ask the right questions.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


Chaos Manor's Jerry Pournelle has passed away. This is his Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Such clear thinking is now rare.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You must see this

Wealthy, influential Anglo-Europeans develop plan to rule foreign countries. From Marginal Revolution.

Comments are just getting cranked up as of 8:30 a.m. Hilarity ensuing.

The Anti-Gnostic August 13, 2017 at 8:16 am
“The first thing that you are missing (probably because you never lived in poor and dangerous countries) is that walls matter, this is why rich people tend to live in closed communities. Crime hits the poor much more than the rich. I move around with an armoured car and two bodyguards: not being a narco, I am afraid only of police, not assault by usual criminals.” [Emphasis added].

Wait, what?! I am repeatedly assured by many wealthy, intelligent people that walls don’t work!

I can see where this whole “wall” thing might catch on. Like-minded people, many of whom aren’t individually wealthy enough to afford a gated community, two bodyguards, and an armored car, could pool their resources and pay some agency to build a wall, say, a “Border” and hire some guys, say, a “Border Patrol” to keep out all the people who can out-thug, out-breed and out-vote them and take their stuff.

It’s like, you either have a single public wall for your community of culturally-similar people who trust each other, or you have hundreds of private walls reserved for those wealthy enough to afford them. Intriguing.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"When was the Golden Age of conservative intellectualism?"

Tyler Cowen asks:
Paul Krugman says a mix of “never” and “certainly not now” (my paraphrases, not actual quotations from him). Here is one bit:

On environment, a similar turn took place a bit later. The use of markets and price incentives to fight pollution was, initially, a conservative idea condemned by some on the left. But liberals eventually took it on board — while cap-and-trade became a dirty word on the right. Crude slogans — government bad! — plus subservience to corporate interests trump analysis.
I believe this is pretty far from the reality, here are a few points:
Tyler proceeds to mount a vigorous defense of conservative thinking on the environment but he needn't have bothered. Environmental stewardship is already reviled as a racist, i.e., conservative, i.e., old-white-guy cause.

Anyway, it's a worthwhile question but not one that I think can be answered at this point because the consensus on what constitutes conservatism has broken down. Who are conservatives--Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton or Bill Kristol and David Frum? The former would probably be denounced as, what else, fascists by the latter. Not True Conservatives.

“Conservatives” are irrevocably split between the Clash-Of-Civilizations camp and the End-Of-History camp. The former argues for conserving a civilization and the latter argues for conserving universalist ideals. My previous entry sets out the two worldviews. I regard the End-Of-History camp as naive and impotent, operationally resulting in conservatives forever apologizing Left and punching Right, thereby consolidating progressivist gains. Whig “conservatism” which conserves nothing. So that’s my Not True Conservative two cents.

I’d say the Golden Age of conservative intellectuals would be the late Victorian period of Belloc and Chesterton, and the astounding Rudyard Kipling. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Enoch Powell were the last heirs to that intellectual tradition. I’m biased toward England (which is where Belloc ended up), so there are doubtless some Continental thinkers I’m overlooking.

I agree with Krugman: conservatism in its ideological, universalist iteration has never had an intellectual Golden Age.