Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

A social consensus will suffice

The news that a dry Manitoba hamlet never had a legal ban on alcohol, but that everyone conformed as if it had, shows the power of social consensus to bind a community.

Why is this important, rather than merely an interesting but unimportant legal mistake?

Well, whoever said you had to line up at a bus stop? Or at a bank machine? What force of law acts here to keep people orderly?

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Little Hanover, Manitoba (below) was dry; Steinbach (above) allowed alcohol

An interesting book by Lawrence Lessig on the same subject of how we are governed illustrated the concept with a dot surrounded on four sides by a box. Each side of the box was a different social pressure. The dot represented “the regulated subject” – you and me.

1) law (the one lawyers believe is supreme, but is not)

2) society

3) markets

4) architecture

The “architecture” side stands for the force of built and made things to shape behaviour. Kerbs on roads are raised to prevent drivers from going along sidewalks, for instance. {In Bangladesh kerbs are a foot high to prevent people in SUVs driving along sidewalks and killing pedestrians. Obviously they needed stronger architecture to constrain a bad social habit}. As Lessig expressed it, in a computer environment, “Code is law”. The construction of a space enforces social behaviour as well or better than law could.

In little Hanover, Manitoba, society had achieved an effective agreement to control the sale of alcohol. No law was needed, just the belief that the law existed. I wonder how long  residents will agree to act in future as if the ban had been and were still in place, legally? (English needs a verb tense  to express the indefinite conditional continuing past-into-the-future, which does not exist. The ban had never been in place legally, but I digress).

A friend from university days once observed that, in Rumania, in the parts that had been under Ottoman domination, no one lined up for anything, and everyone just pushed as a mob to get on the bus. [They do that in Israel, too.] In parts that had been under Christian domination, people lined up.

Thus when people blather on about the wonders of multi-culturalism, I ask them, mentally, whether they have actually observed a multi-cultural society at work, because, like Gresham’s Law of Currency, bad behaviour drives out good, particularly when the people who stick to good social behaviour are told their behaviour is “intolerant”, “microaggressive”, “racist”, “culturally insensitive” and so forth.

Just you wait. Lining up at the bank machine, or crowding around it, is what is at stake in true multiculturalism, not whether you can celebrate your ethnicity.

Why is this not obvious?

Leftist culture keeps on consuming itself

At least Fake Salondot.com identifies itself clearly as parody. As for The Guardian, it is long past that, as demonstrated by its latest idée fixe, the viper’s nest of racism and patriarchy that is apparently “Thomas the Tank Engine”:

…when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke – and they are all pumping out smoke – it’s not hard to make the leap into the race territory.

[t]here are certainly a lot worse shows in terms of in-your-face violence, sexism, racism and classism. But looks can be deceiving: the constant bent of messages about friendship, work, class, gender and race sends my kid the absolute wrong message.

Of the Guardianista’s claim that it’s not hard to make the leap into the race territory, I recall this pearl of wisdom from The Tick:

And, isn’t sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you’re good and crazy, oooh, oooh, oooh, the sky is the limit.

H/T Small Dead Animals

Honey, before we were married, I knew how to drive

West Midlands Police are investigating the officer who posted this for offences against their “social media policy”, whatever that is.

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Yet, the cartoon  is true. At various points in my life, I have been married and I have been single. I have had one accident at the age of 21, and another at the age of 59, both costing less than two thousand 2014 dollars to fix.

About once a month, maybe every six weeks,   I nearly hit a person or a car because of gasps, alarms, calls from my wife as passenger.

  • I have already seen them and calculated the risks. 90%
  • I have not seen them but was about to (my head was turning, I had not yet seen them but was in the process of looking. I was avoiding  the approaching car and did not see the squirrel, etc) 7%
  • We nearly had an accident because your call of alarm distracts my attention from the road to you – 3%

The worst offence is when you are in the middle of a busy intersection making a safe and legal turn when you wife/girlfriends calls out an alarm, or asks for a change of direction. Not in the middle of making a turn!

What is it about wives/girlfriends as passengers that they feel the only thing keeping us safe is their vigilance?

I realize this sounds like a self-caricature of a bad driver, but my insurance rates and accident record speak for themselves. Statistically, I am a safe driver. And I am far more likely to have an accident from being distracted from the road by a cry of alarm than we are from my failing to see danger approaching.

In a long life I have only once dated a stereotypically bad female driver; most have been excellent. But as passengers, most wives and girlfriends are sources of considerable risk.

As with everything these days, telling the truth in public will get you into trouble.


Those looking today for insight into the Gaza conflict or the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner by Russian thugs will have to look elsewhere. Each is, in its own way, not so much news as “Pope says mass at Easter”: utterly normal.

What a tangled web we weave

Google has discovered, or revealed, that its work force is largely male, largely white, with an over-representation of Asians, disproportionately not American black, and not Hispanic. Precisely those groups associated with high IQs are most represented in its technical work force. What would you expect? Gangbangers?

Yet such is the idiocy of modern life, Google has to be seen to repent of its whiteness. By “white” we are talking about everyone from Iran, Armenia, New England, Sweden, Estonia, Quebec and Italy who are clumped together in this category.

The Atlantic reports:

According to the data, women make up 30 percent of the company’s total workforce, and 21 percent of its leadership. Only 17 percent of its technology employees are women. It’s data that the company hasn’t released before, and much more than others in the tech industry have made available.

Only two percent of the company’s total U.S. workforce is black, and three percent is Hispanic. Asians are comparatively overrepresented given their share of the U.S. population, making up 30 percent of the company’s American employees.

The gap is most acute among the company’s tech workers. Here’s the full breakdown of the company’s technology-specific workforce, which at Google mostly means engineers. The top two gender numbers are global, and the race numbers are from the U.S. only:

The motivation for releasing the numbers, according to Google human resources head Laszlo Bock, was because it’s difficult to address these issues unless they’re out in the open and backed up by facts. The release was made in the hope that Google will be able to recruit and retain “many more” women and minorities in the future.

Part of the issue is availability of candidates, and the company is focusing on education. According to the Google blog post, women earn about 18 percent of computer science degrees, and blacks and hispanics, less than 5 percent.

“We’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be—and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution,” Bock writes in the post.

“Being totally clear about the extent of the problem” of what? too many white people? Too many nerdy Asians? Too many males?

Who goes into the sciences that Google hires? Who self-selects for the career paths that Google wants? Should Sergei Brin and Larry Page, the two co-founders of Google, apologize for being Jews? Should one of them get a sex change? To ask the question is to show how absurd distributionist thinking is.

Because, according to the false thinking that is driving this story of false embarrassment,  the founders of high-tech companies should themselves be ethnically and sexually representative of the average of the American population.

While we are on the subject of biological differences

I came across this article, by Dr. Stephen Seiler the sports physiologist and his evil twin (self-confessed) Steve Sailer, the businessman and commentator. It is abut the gender gap in sports, and, as always with Sailer, so much more.

By the way, were you aware that Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team competes in practice against Junior-B level 18-year old males? Think about that for a moment, as you consider why men’s hockey is so much better.

 

Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” has been published

The most important book of social science since The Bell Curve has been published this week. It is called “A Troublesome Inheritance” by the science writer Nicholas Wade. You should read it.

Here is an excerpt from the review of Wade’s book by Charles Murray, co-author with Richard Hernnstein, of the Bell Curve.

 

Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak. If I had been out to trash the book, I would have focused on the weak ones, associated their flaws with the book as a whole and dismissed “A Troublesome Inheritance” as sloppy and inaccurate. The orthodoxy’s clerisy will take that route, ransacking these chapters for material to accuse Mr. Wade of racism, pseudoscience, reliance on tainted sources, incompetence and evil intent. You can bet on it….

“A Troublesome Inheritance” poses a different order of threat to the orthodoxy. The evidence in “The Bell Curve,” “Male/Female” and “A Blank Slate” was confined to the phenotype—the observed characteristics of human beings—and was therefore vulnerable to attack or at least obfuscation. The discoveries Mr. Wade reports, that genetic variation clusters along racial and ethnic lines and that extensive evolution has continued ever since the exodus from Africa, are based on the genotype, and no one has any scientific reason to doubt their validity.

And yet, as of 2014, true believers in the orthodoxy still dominate the social science departments of the nation’s universities. I expect that their resistance to “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be fanatical, because accepting its account will be seen, correctly, as a cataclysmic surrender on some core premises of political correctness. There is no scientific reason for the orthodoxy to win. But it might nonetheless.

So one way or another, “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be historic. Its proper reception would mean enduring fame as the book that marked a turning point in social scientists’ willingness to explore the way the world really works. But there is a depressing alternative: that social scientists will continue to predict planetary movements using Ptolemaic equations, as it were, and that their refusal to come to grips with “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be seen a century from now as proof of this era’s intellectual corruption.

It is my conviction, based on observation, that the tenured university social scientist is one of the least curious, least fact-driven, least analytical of people. He and she is the hierophant of a dogmatic revelation that asserts that race is a social construct, that human evolution stopped 30,000 years ago and that man is inherently equal but for an evil existing “system” which promotes inequality. In all important respects humans are the same, except of course, as regards our position for or against “the system”, which position acts as the sole relevant criterion of moral worth. Their ability to internalize and spout the religion of social science got them their jobs. They are priests of an ideology, which has the force and status of an established church. Do not ask them to understand what they are paid not to understand.

 

Doug Saunders’ Alternative Universe – 2

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail provoked fresh astonishment this past weekend when he asserted that the Reagan military build-up of the 1980s actually prolonged Communism, rather than brought it down.This is what he wrote:

They were wrong the last time around. The Cold War Hawks have been interred in cold earth for decades because they were wrong about the Cold War itself….

 

In the 1980s, the hawks blew our chance to end the Cold War. When the USSR was about to collapse politically and economically, the hawks persuaded NATO to respond to Moscow’s gestures with military confrontation. The 1983 stationing of missiles along the Iron Curtain did nothing to reduce the size or scope of the Soviet empire, but forced Moscow to keep the charade going for years after it would have quit. We should have known: Decades of such hawkish threats had done nothing to prevent tanks from wheeling into capitals and democratic movements from being overthrown under Moscow’s orders in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Poland in 1981.

“Strength” didn’t end that conflict. It cemented it in place and rendered it irresolvable. What finally ended it was something that remains our best hope to end this one: strong economic sanctions, tough but constant dialogue and sensible exploitation of Moscow’s weakness.

Is this fantasy or mendacity? This interpretation is so wholly perverse it staggers me: not even wrong, I am tempted to say.

  • The Soviet Union collapsed because it was economically wrecked.
  • It was economically wrecked because its economy could not maintain the huge level of military expenditures it had ramped up from the 1960s forward.
  • The Soviet Union was spending about 50% of state income on the military by the 1980s, and possibly much mor4e than that.
  • The Reagan presidency (January 1981-January 1989), confronted the Soviet Union with a military build-up it could not match. Instances include: deployment of the Pershing nuclear missile in Europe, to match the Soviet Union’s SS20s, the expansion of the US Navy to 600 ships, the beefing up the military presence in Europe with new fighters, tanks and general improvement of morale, and finally, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which threatened the USSR’s first strike capability with space-based weapons.
  • This build-up was achieved essentially by a decision to raise US interest rates, which caused the world to put its money into US dollars, so that the US Government was able to afford the debt, cut inflation, and lowered Soviet commodity prices.

Essentially the US snapped its fingers and engaged in an arms race that drove the Soviet regime into despair and sped its impending collapse. The Soviets were placing new and expensive SS20s aimed at European cities in  the late 1970s, during the Presidencies of Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and  of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the post-Soviet Russian regime signed the Treaty of Paris in 1990, formally renouncing Russia’s abandonment of the comity of nations which the Bolsheviks started in 1917, and settling World War 2 once and for all by reuniting the Germanies

So Doug, when did this arms build-up, arranged by Cold Warriors, delay the Soviet collapse? For what years – and be specific – was the Soviet Union propped up by the Cold Warriors?

Was the Soviet Union ready to crack under the pressure of President Jimmy Carter’s regime (1976-1980)? Hardly. The Russians invaded Afghanistan on Carter’s watch, and the Shah of Iran was overthrown when the Americans threw him to the wolves. As soon as Reagan came in, the Iranians announced the release of the American hostages that had been held since the fall of the Shah, another consequence of Jimmy Carter’s weakness. And all during Carter’s Presidency, the Soviet Union engaged in massive build up of its armed forces, particularly nuclear weapons.

So for what period of years was the Soviet Union kept propped up by Reagan’s anti-communism? If the Soviets were still placing SS20s in the early 1980s,  and had cried uncle by 1989, by what period of years, Doug, did Reagan’s arms race prolong Russian Communism? To ask the question is to explode its ridiculous premise.

As to his point that “hawkishness” did not prevent the Soviet Union from repressing the Hungarians 1956), the Czechs (1968), the Poles (1981) – he forgets the bloody repression of the East Germans in 1947 – he completely inverts the causal relationship between Communism and anti-Communism.

“Hawkishness” was the Western reaction to Soviet repression. Anti-communism was a reaction to Stalin’s imposition of the Soviet regime in Eastern Europe, and his violation at every turn of the Yalta Accords. (See Ann Applebaum’s excellent book on how the Soviets crushed Eastern Europe from 1944-1956 ).

That Doug Saunders holds a significant position at a major Canadian newspaper is a disgrace to the Globe. If people were more historically informed, they would be embarrassed that such a turd passes smoothly out of the anus of Canada’s establishment newspaper.

Yet there is more. Saunders’ attempt to misconstrue the struggle against Communism is part of a gigantic and ongoing attempt of the Left to snatch away the West’s unequivocal  victory against this demonic system.

After National Socialism was laid in its grave in 1945, two systems of political legitimacy confronted each other around the world: international socialism and parliamentary democracy. Our domestic left was very often blind and squishy on the subject of Communism. It professed greater concern for South African apartheid than for communist regimes, which exterminated hundreds of millions of people, and kept the rest enslaved.

Why? You will have to ask them. I do not know. But in the course of life I have noticed that the left-wing mind (mis-labelled the “liberal”) is not concerned with outcomes, only with self-congratulation for its noble intentions. The ongoing civil wars and massacres in Syria are of no concern, but Palestinian irredentism must be supported by disinvesting in Israel.

Why? My theory is that there is an implicit and never-consciously stated hierarchy of race, religion and class in the Left. It is as racist and elitist as anything they imagine conservatives think like. The hierarchy of moral concern goes like this. White is worse than brown is worse than black. Jewish is worse than Christian is worse than Islamic. Man bad, woman good, lesbian woman best. Zimbabwe can go to utter ruin but that’s okay, as long as that nasty old Ian Smith is not in charge. South-African protestant whites, suppressing blacks, that is the ultimate evil, except for – wait for it – Jews suppressing Muslims. Even worse!!

The Western Left was wrong about Communism as it is wrong about Islam, and for much the same reasons.

Both ideologies are conveniently anti-western, anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish, and anti-conservative. So why attack then tool that works for you?

Doug Saunders is just the fresh smooth face of anti-westernism – anti-us-ism, as I like to call it, the voice of self-hatred, made safe for the Globe and Mail’s readership. A smooth turd indeed.

Silly campus speech rules

I cannot say much more than Eugene Volokh does on this subject, but when you read this story about the University of Hawaii, Hilo campus, please notice that the university administrators say that there is a special “free speech zone” where student organizations may hand out pamphlets.

It is between the theater and the new student services building, like a tolerated smoking zone where obnoxious social habits may be freely practiced, before they are finally expunged from the University.

 

Hilo Hawaii

A friend who had lived in Honolulu for three years said that the political culture of Hawaii was a blend of Huey Long Democrat and Imperial Japan. I guess the University there reflects the general conformist and obedient brainlessness. Trouble is, has the brainlessness spread to Hilo from Harvard?

Political correctness and Islam are the same thing

All the instances of suppression of speech are the same story: the Left has gotten into the habit of suppressing speech and cannot stop at any point; since habits are habit-forming. Says Mark Steyn:

 If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.

After recounting all the recent instances of people suppressed or punished for being out of line with the Cathedral, Steyn adds:

 A generation ago, progressive opinion at least felt obliged to pay lip service to the Voltaire shtick. These days, nobody’s asking you to defend yourself to the death: a mildly supportive retweet would do. But even that’s further than most of those in the academy, the arts, the media are prepared to go. As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: ‘What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.’ Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.

Once again, Steyn ties it all together in a way I can only envy.

As it happens, the biggest ‘safe space’ on the planet is the Muslim world. For a millennium, Islamic scholars have insisted, as firmly as a climate scientist or an American sophomore, that there’s nothing to debate. And what happened? As the United Nations Human Development Programme’s famous 2002 report blandly noted, more books are translated in Spain in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last 1,000 years. Free speech and a dynamic, innovative society are intimately connected: a culture that can’t bear a dissenting word on race or religion or gender fluidity or carbon offsets is a society that will cease to innovate, and then stagnate, and then decline, very fast.

It is the concern of every thinking person that the we are rapidly heading to the same dismal state of inquiry as we find in Islam. We arrive at it by the same process as political correctness enforces: the suppression of free “unbalanced” debate.

And just as it was with Islam, it is a lack of confidence that underlies the suppression of free inquiry. In both cases, the lack of confidence is justified.

Compare that insecurity to the robust confidence of Christians trained in the Greek classical tradition, who are ready to take on philosophical attacks from any direction. Why are they so confident? Because they believe that human reason grasps reality and that, while some things are mysteries, we do actually apprehend with our minds what is real.

That is why Christianity gave rise to universities, science, and the modern age, and that is why political correctness and Islam are so weak, while appearing so strong. Their weakness causes them to suppress, and what each suppresses is – for the moment – different. Soon, however, political correctness will be Islam, and Islam will be political correctness. What is essentially alike will recognize its underlying likeness in the other, and will assimilate. Borg will absorb Borg.

If these forces prevail, just put a black flag on top of Parliament, shut it down and refer all political issues to the jurists at human rights commissions whose judges, naturally, will be Islamized political apparatchiks. All inquiry and discussion will become subject to  jurisprudence, since everything important has been decided anyway. No one will question anything, and inquiry will rapidly atrophy. That, at least, is their hope.

Why do Islam and political correctness resemble one another? Because they know they are artificial constructs that cannot withstand the scrutiny of reason, and must rely on the enforcement of conformity in thought, word and deed to hide from themselves their emptiness.

Am I wrong?