Friday, September 27, 2013

Wealth Gap Explained

Feminism + Huge Wave of Immigration = Falling Wages

Or

Higher Supply leads to Lower Prices


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dalrymple Channels Moldbug: Callous Altruism Kills

First, here's a snip from Moldbug's latest, Technology, communism and the Brown Scare. It's long, but it sets us up for Dalrymple's latest.
And what is communism?  As a political formula?  Perhaps we can define it, with a nice 20th-century social-science jargon edge, as nonempathic altruism.  Or for a sharper pejorative edge, callous altruism.

What is callous altruism?  Altruism itself is a piece of 20th-century jargon.  We could contrast it with the original word for the same thing, obviously too Christian to prosper in our age: charity.  When we say charity, of course, we think of empathic altruism.

When we think of charity, we think not just of helping others - but of helping others whom we know and love, for whom we feel a genuine, unforged emotional connection.  For whom we feel, in a word, empathy.  Understandably, these people tend to be those who are socially close to us.  If not people we already know, they are people we would easily befriend if we met them.

Dickens, no stranger to genuine empathy, had a term for nonempathic altruism.  He called it telescopic philanthropy.  Who is Peter Singer?  Mrs. Jellyby, with tenure.

So, for example, in classic Bolshevik communism, who is the revolution for?  The workers and peasants.  But... in classic Bolshevik communism... who actually makes the revolution?  Nobles (Lenin) and Jews (Trotsky), basically.  To wit, the groups in Russian society who are in fact most distant - emotionally, culturally, socially - from actual workers and peasants.

Similarly, the most passionate anti-racists in America are all to be found, in early September, at Burning Man.  Everyone at Burning Man, with hardly an exception, is highly altruistic toward African-Americans.  But, to within an epsilon, there are no African-Americans at Burning Man. 
  
But wait, why is this wrong?  What's wrong with nonempathic altruism?  Why does it matter to the people being helped if the brains of their helpers genuinely light up in the love lobe, or not?  Loved or not, they're still helped - right?

Or are they?  How'd that whole Soviet thing work out for the workers and peasants?

Heck, for the last 50 years, one of the central purposes of American political life has been advancing the African-American community.   And over the last four decades, what has happened to the African-American community?  I'll tell you one thing - in every major city in America, there's a burnt-out feral ghetto which, 50-years ago, was a thriving black business district.  On the other hand, there's a street in that ghetto named for Dr. King.   So, there's that.  And since we mentioned Mrs. Jellyby, what exactly has a century of telescopic philanthropy done for Africa?
.......Once you learn to recognize the distinction between empathic and nonempathic altruism, you'll see it everywhere.  Empathic altruism - charity - is simply good.  Nonempathic altruism - communism - is simply evil.  There's not a whole lot of gray area between good and evil.  Evil motivations can certainly, by coincidence, produce good results - but this is an accident, which has little or nothing to do with the supposed "good intentions."

Consider our late lamented "Arab Spring," a true "spring surprise" that is creeping closer and closer to having killed a million people.  As Stalin said, of course, a million people is just a statistic.  You need a visual.  I like to work with Olympic swimming pools full of blood.

And why did the Arab Spring happen?  It happened because our dear State Department incited revolutions across the Arab world.  And why did State do that?  They did it with the full-throated approval of the American people - all the American people, from left to right.  As far as I can recall, UR and David Goldmanwere the only two pundits condemning this enormous crime, which has produced exactly the results we expected.
  
And what were the American people thinking?  They were in a pure state of callous altruism.  They thought, we'll help our little brown Arab brothers by supporting them in their enlightened democratic revolution.  Mrs. Jellyby could not have expressed it better.

When you are motivated by genuine charity, and your charitable efforts backfire and actually harm the recipient of your help, you feel guilt and sorrow like nothing else.  You're a witness to a horrific motorcycle accident.  You run over to the man on the ground, pull his helmet off, hug him and give him CPR.  Unfortunately, he would have been fine, except that you just severed his spinal cord.  How do you feel?  Is your reaction: "oh well, at least I tried?"

How did the American people react when their Arab experiment didn't go so well?  I'll tell you exactly how they reacted.  "Oh well, at least we tried."  And then they changed the channel.  And that's what's wrong with callous altruism.
And here comes Dalrymple with UNICEF’s Chemical Weapon
In Bangladesh, UNICEF correctly observed that diarrheal diseases were killing a lot of children. In all poor countries diarrheal diseases caused by a contaminated water supply are among the most prolific killers of children, and UNICEF decided to give Bangladesh clean water. It sank millions of tube wells so that Bangladeshis should henceforth drink clean groundwater.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, much of the groundwater, clean enough bacteriologically, was contaminated with arsenic. This was natural rather than added by someone with wicked intent; but the result was that millions of Bangladeshis were poisoned by it. Chronic arsenic poisoning is an unpleasant condition and is even fatal in the long term. It is carcinogenic, and cancer rates began to rise in the country.
Nothing like it has been seen before. It is true that some people have attributed the downfall of the Roman Empire to the lead poisoning of the population caused by the lead water pipes, but this is not a generally accepted theory and in any case was a long time ago. UNICEF’s arsenic water makes the Syrian efforts seem bungling and amateurish.
Well, we all make mistakes, even if not quite on this scale. And none of us likes to admit our mistakes; UNICEF certainly didn’t. On the contrary, it was reluctant to accept the evidence of the arsenic poisoning long after the evidence was irrefutable: Its intentions have been too good for so unfortunate an effect. By the time UNICEF admitted its mistake, no one (outside Bangladesh, that is) cared.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Looking back at The X-Files on its 20th anniversary
Y 
ou could argue, and I would almost agree with you, that beneath all the obvious post-Watergate, post-JFK assassination government-conspiracy machinery, the real subject of The X-Files' stylized paranoia was the American city's anxiety toward small towns. The show out-noired noir by recognizing that the most extreme context for modern alienation was not the mean streets of the detective story but a white-collar bureaucracy that extended infinitely above the main protagonists — literally into space — and that threatened to control them without their knowing how or why. But Mulder and Scully spent most of their working hours, especially in the stand-alone "monster of the week" episodes that made up the bulk of the series, pursuing mysteries in Lake Okobogee, Iowa (where Ruby Morris was abducted by aliens in "Conduit"), or Delta Glen, Wisconsin (where the agents investigated a cult in "Red Museum"), or Miller's Grove, Massachusetts (where cockroaches attacked humans in "War of the Coprophages"). The strangeness and isolation of small towns was a theme the series returned to again and again, enough that Darin Morgan, the show's cleverest writer,2could already subvert the concept by the second season, when, in "Humbug," he sent Mulder and Scully to a town populated by circus freaks whose behavior was surprisingly normal.
In this show about not knowing, then, the agents confronted two distinct sets of frightening unknowns. On one side was the shadow government represented by the Cigarette-Smoking Man. On the other was the evil that lurked beneath the surface of every American hamlet. Often, Mulder and Scully's role was simply to act as interpreters between their own antagonists, rendering chaotic eruptions of small-town horror comprehensible to men in marble corridors in D.C. Think of all the shots of the heroes in their oversize '90s glasses laboring at their field reports, or again of all the shots of them cruising through a hostile rural enclave in businesslike topcoats and a sensible rented Buick.
This is why I stopped at saying that I would almost agree with you if you thought The X-Files' paranoia had to do with cities and small towns. For all their differences, the series' two realms shared a basic assumption about America, which was that in its essence it was still meant to be the country found in, say, Frank Capra movies: white, Christian, family-based, governed by old men. This was a status quo that was already doomed, though still superficially in effect, when the show began. Mulder and Scully function as its representatives, figures of a weird reactionary beauty, struggling to understand and then prevent the profound transformation breaking out across their world. Earth is not alone, aliens are among us, our way of life is under threat; is it so hard to locate within these sources of terror the sense of a vanishing historical phase? Think of the way Mulder and Scully have chemistry but not sex:5 Sex implies procreation, a future, a continuity that their experiences have destroyed. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Cathdral Spins Its Wheels: Why Is Breaking Bad Wife Hated?

It's only confusing for people who live in the Cathedral, especially if a lot of the dislike for a female character comes from......other females.
As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?
It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives — Carmela Soprano of “The Sopranos,” Betty Draper of “Mad Men.” Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.
At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?
But I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.

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