Senior educated white male.

Senior educated white male.

Olden times, circa 1960

I once amazed a class of 24 year-olds – when I was 57 – by saying that as a child I rode in the back seat for hours with two siblings, with no seat belts, with a father who drove while smoking a cigarette, window open. Somehow we survived. All those parents who were World War 2 survivors thought every day without gunfire aimed at them was a good day.

Here is a meditation on aging and modern times, from Brad Upton.

Brilliant conversation

“Americans believe in liberty, even at the expense of justice. Brits believe in justice and think that liberty is a good way to get there.” You will not hear more brilliant conversation this month than this. The late Clive James in conversation with the very much alive Stephen Fry.

Their talk focuses on the United States and Britain. I love to hear Fry say that “rationalism and superstition are two wings of the same heresy”.

A video obituary of Clive James is here. I regret never having known of him before today.

How do men “manage intimacy”?

The topic today sounds gay. It is not about gayness, but its opposite. How do men get along with each other? Particularly how do friends get along? There is a moment in the latest encounter of Joe Rogan with Bret Weinstein where the truth is revealed. It comes at minute 58:00. Skip to that point.

How do men handle intimacy and closeness, asks Weinstein? Several things are said:

  1. The way men behave with each other is not the way women act among themselves (I assume this. Nothing I have heard suggests that women relate to each other as roughly as men do;
  2. We shit on each other, we give each other grief, we ruthlessly expose pride and conceit;
  3. This behaviour is very important to how men do business;
  4. “Increasingly I have this idea -says Weinstein – that I need this in my life”.

The important part of the conversation lasts a minute before it descends, as most male conversation does, from the heights of significance to ribaldry and silliness. But for that one blazing minute an important truth is told.

But I will echo Bret, that males need this kind of conversation in your life, and if you do not have it, you are living an impoverished version of what your life could be. You can join the Masons if you want to formalize your interaction with other males, but a group of friends who meet once a month or so around a table for a few beers would do as well.

I have had occasion to warn any woman seriously intent upon some man: does he have friends? If not, avoid him like the plague.

I recall a doctor of my acquaintance who was wooing a woman. He knew exactly what he was doing. He borrowed me and my set of friends to deceive her into thinking that he was embedded in a set of male friends. He invited me and my circle to dinner with his intended wife. He married her and we never say him again. The deception was complete, as far as she was concerned.

The diner party at which Bret Weinstein and his wife were so impressed with how males related was hosted by the comedian Bryan Callen. He seems well worth listening to.

To those men with circles of friends, nothing I said here is original. To those men without a circle of friends, I hope you get along with your brothers and brothers-in-law.

Bronze Age Pervert, second take

I copy this from The Deep State versus the Deep Right, in The American Mind. Curtis Yarvin (formerly Mencius Moldbug) wrote this appreciation of Bronze Age Pervert, the enfant terrible of alt. right thought. Wikipedia does not like Curtis Yarvin, and it will dislike Bronze Age Pervert even more when an article on him is proposed for it.

Yarvin writes:

“Apart perhaps from Houellebecq, Bronze Age Pervert is the first major writer in our time to understand and inhabit this reality. Of course, that doesn’t mean we need his foam in our cappuccino. Indeed, when the future looks back, Bronze Age Mindset will be seen as an early, badly edited and produced, slightly embarrassing effort—notable for when, not what. Yet the Pervert himself may be best positioned to surpass his early work.

(In fact such a book, a book of true power, should not be a crappy POD edition, available to any digital idiot, but a limited calfskin printing, sold by invitation only. Everything about both experience and object must be unique, amazing, and intimidating: a book, like its author, must thrive.)

Yet the mission of the work is simple. Many misunderstand the message: they see BAP make a positive case for this thing, that thing, some crazy thing; Hollow Earth, Fomenko chronology, genetic inferiority of Udmurt and other Finnic peoples… wake up! BAP has no “message” in this stupid sense.

Like his ancestor Nietzsche, BAP is not “for” this, that, the other thing. His book is not a lecture but a fire. It does not teach, it burns; it is not words, but an act.

And it has no message. But it does have a theme. The theme of Bronze Age Mindset is the smallness of the modern world—in mind, in space, in time. …

The ocean is much larger than its surface. Most of it is an empty desert. As a mass of meat, a mere human army, the deep right is tiny.

Yet as a space—artistic, philosophical, literary, historical, even sometimes scientific—all fields that are ultimately arts—the deep right is much larger than the mainstream.

If we compare just the books published in 1919, to those published in 2019, we see a far wider range of perspectives. Almost all present ideas are also found in the past; but almost all ideas found in the past have vanished. Like languages, human traditions are disappearing—and a tradition is much easier to extinguish than a language.

The theme of Bronze Age Mindset is that if you think your mind is broad and open, you are wrong. It is a tiny, hard lump, like a baby oyster—closed hard as cement by nothing but fear. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

This message cannot be said. It must be shown—performed. And the only way to show it is for one author, a character yet more than a character, to display mastery of that space—the whole immense space of mind and time and space outside our increasingly absurd little “mainstream” bubble.”

___________________________

I cannot tell whether this is pretentious twaddle, the beginning of something important, or both.

3 movies worth your time

Midway – historically accurate retelling of how the war in the Pacific was turned around. Insightful, good CGI, and well told. 4/5 points.

Image result for midway movie

Terminator: Dark Fate – worth it for a huge romp through crashing machines, beautiful Mackenzie Davis arriving naked from the future, and a consistently snappy script. Arnie does not disappoint. As a retired terminator living in Texas, he is mellowing and learning. I want to be thirty again just to be able to woo Mackenzie Davis. 4/5 points

Image result for mackenzie davis
Mackenzie Davis

Ford versus Ferrari – a truly great movie. Left us in tears of happiness. Great acting, script, direction, photography, and script. A very surprizing experience because it was so good in its taste and execution. Mrs. Dalwhnnie loved it too. 10/10 Best of the three in the long term.

Ford v. Ferrari (2019 film poster).png

I am ignoring the Trump impeachment hearings

I believe that what I am seeing on the Intertubes and reading in the papers is no more intelligible a message than the wind shaking the trees in a storm, the babbling of a two year old, even less, the dripping of water off a leaf somewhere on a branch of the Amazon. Crickets chirping in August. A nullity, a farce, a show told by idiots signifying nothing.

Trump did what he said he did. He attempted to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. He released the transcript of the call. Many people heard it. Many more people have read it. So what?

He was doing a quid pro quo: you want arms? Be useful to me. Admitted, confessed, recorded, done. A crime? No.

Trump will crush the Democrats in the next election and they seek to prevent it by an act of theatre. They are that desperate.

Peggy Noonan says that pro-Trumpers have no defence to offer of Trump. He does not need one. Next they will try to impeach Trump for farting in the washroom. I have dismissed the noises emanating from Washington. You might think about doing so too.

Monday 18 November 2019

Today’s readings:

Climate Science Proves Scams don’t Die of exposure

Eleven years after the exposure of fraud and error at the core of temperature measurements, the global warming thing goes from strength to strength. Why? The science behind it is rotten.

US Attorney General Barr gives a lucid speech on the role of the courts and the Congress . A snippet:

“In recent years, we have lost sight of the fact that many critical decisions in life are not amenable to the model of judicial decision-making. They cannot be reduced to tidy evidentiary standards and specific quantums of proof in an adversarial process. They require what we used to call prudential judgment. They are decisions that frequently have to be made promptly, on incomplete and uncertain information and necessarily involve weighing a wide range of competing risks and making predictions about the future. Such decisions frequently call into play the “precautionary principle.” This is the principle that when a decision maker is accountable for discharging a certain obligation – such as protecting the public’s safety – it is better, when assessing imperfect information, to be wrong and safe, than wrong and sorry. “

Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class updated. Status goods are being replaced by status beliefs, The harm is greater.

“In the past, people displayed their membership of the upper class with their material accoutrements. But today, luxury goods are more affordable than before. And people are less likely to receive validation for the material items they display. This is a problem for the affluent, who still want to broadcast their high social position. But they have come up with a clever solution. The affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs.

“The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education. Only academics educated at elite institutions could have conjured up a coherent and reasonable-sounding argument for why parents should not be allowed to raise their kids, and should hold baby lotteries instead. When an affluent person advocates for drug legalization, or anti-vaccination policies, or open borders, or loose sexual norms, or uses the term “white privilege,” they are engaging in a status display. They are trying to tell you, “I am a member of the upper class.””

“Affluent people promote open borders or the decriminalization of drugs because it advances their social standing, not least because they know that the adoption of those policies will cost them less than others. The logic is akin to conspicuous consumption—if you’re a student who has a large subsidy from your parents and I do not, you can afford to waste $900 and I can’t, so wearing a Canada Goose jacket is a good way of advertising your superior wealth and status. Proposing policies that will cost you as a member of the upper class less than they would cost me serve the same function. Advocating for open borders and drug experimentation are good ways of advertising your membership of the elite because, thanks to your wealth and social connections, they will cost you less than me.”

The bankruptcy of economics

My belief, or observation really, is that economics as a discipline is a tautological exercise in self-referential abstractions: it explains nothing but itself, and has lost connection to the world. It fails as a science because in science, ideas are tested against reality, and adjusted. In economics, reality is adjusted to suit the doctrine. (Kind of like climate change ideology).

But I am a mere political scientist and sort of lawyer, so what do I know?

Along comes Robert Sidelsky, who has written Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics. He is an economist and author of a definitive biography of John Maynard Keynes. The New York Review of Books carries an excellent review of Money and Government by David Graeber, from which the quotes are taken.

“Surely there’s nothing wrong with creating simplified models. Arguably, this is how any science of human affairs has to proceed. But an empirical science then goes on to test those models against what people actually do, and adjust them accordingly. This is precisely what economists did not do. Instead, they discovered that, if one encased those models in mathematical formulae completely impenetrable to the noninitiate, it would be possible to create a universe in which those premises could never be refuted….

“The problem, as Skidelsky emphasizes, is that if your initial assumptions are absurd, multiplying them a thousandfold will hardly make them less so. Or, as he puts it, rather less gently, “lunatic premises lead to mad conclusions”:

The efficient market hypothesis (EMH), made popular by Eugene Fama…is the application of rational expectations to financial markets. The rational expectations hypothesis (REH) says that agents optimally utilize all available information about the economy and policy instantly to adjust their expectations….

Thus, in the words of Fama,…“In an efficient market, competition among the many intelligent participants leads to a situation where…the actual price of a security will be a good estimate of its intrinsic value.” [Skidelsky’s italics]

“In other words, we were obliged to pretend that markets could not, by definition, be wrong—if in the 1980s the land on which the Imperial compound in Tokyo was built, for example, was valued higher than that of all the land in New York City, then that would have to be because that was what it was actually worth.”

Readers may recall the consternation of Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve Bank, who confessed that his great error was to believe that rational information theory prevented such things as the 2007 bank blow-out. He was in a state of “shocked disbelief”. But at least he had the honesty to admit his model was at fault.

When you reach the state where, by definition, you cannot be wrong, you are doomed. How many currently unassailable ideologies will come crashing down in the passage of time? My answer, of course, is ‘all of them’.

Banning cousin marriage

Sometimes an article of fundamental importance gets through the ideological filters. One such was the publication this week in Science and reported on in Scientific American of the psychological and cultural effects of banning cousin marriages.

From the Scientific American report of it: “The engine of that evolution, the authors propose, was the church’s obsession with incest and its determination to wipe out the marriages between cousins that those societies were built on. The result, the paper says, was the rise of “small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility,” along with less conformity, more individuality, and, ultimately, a set of values and a psychological outlook that characterize the Western world. The impact of this change was clear: the longer a society’s exposure to the church, the greater the effect.”

And from the article in Science in the words of the authors: “A growing body of research suggests that populations around the globe vary substantially along several important psychological dimensions and that populations characterized as Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual. People from these societies tend to be more individualistic, independent, and impersonally prosocial (e.g., trusting of strangers) while revealing less conformity and in-group loyalty. Although these patterns are now well documented, few efforts have sought to explain them. Here, we propose that the Western Church (i.e., the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church) transformed European kinship structures during the Middle Ages and that this transformation was a key factor behind a shift towards a WEIRDer psychology.”

The scientists continue: “Globally, we show that countries with longer historical exposure to the medieval Western Church or less intensive kinship (e.g., lower rates of cousin marriage) are more individualistic and independent, less conforming and obedient, and more inclined toward trust and cooperation with strangers (see figure). Focusing on Europe, where we compare regions within countries, we show that longer exposure to the Western Church is associated with less intensive kinship, greater individualism, less conformity, and more fairness and trust toward strangers. Finally, comparing only the adult children of immigrants in European countries, we show that those whose parents come from countries or ethnic groups that historically experienced more centuries under the Western Church or had less intensive kinship tend to be more individualistic, less conforming, and more inclined toward fairness and trust with strangers.”

I am as much astonished as pleased with this report. Astonished, because it violates every contemporary commandment of political correctness, or the madness that is sweeping our intellectual life. Pleased, because it does so.

In general, you are not permitted to how that modern western mores might be preferable, let alone superior, to others, and more, that religion might have been the source of these values.

Cousin marriages have genetic effects. Visit childhood disease and mortality statistics from cousin marriages. Observe that societies or religions that extensively practice cousin marriages have much higher levels of genetic diseases than those which eschew the practice. For example, see the Guardian article here:

“Marriage between first cousins doubles the risk of children being born with birth defects, according to a study seeking answers to the higher than expected rates of deaths and congenital abnormalities in the babies of the Pakistani community.

“Researchers have concluded that the cultural practice of marriage between first cousins is a bigger factor than any other – outweighing the effects of deprivation in parts of Bradford, where the study was carried out. Marriage to a blood relative accounted for nearly a third (31%) of all birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin.

The main point of the Science article was not genetic defects, however, but the cultural effects on trust, conformity, openness, innovation, obedience to general law, and looseness of kinship connections by the proscription of first cousin marriages.

My question remains unanswered. I do not know how this article slipped through the pervasive censorship by the egalitarian forces that determine so much of what we are allowed to see. A glitch in the matrix is always possible, but people like Steve Sailer, Razib Khan, Gregory Cochrane and Henry Harpending, and other explorers in the minefields of culture and breeding have reasonable cause to be envious.