Assorted links

  1. By raw coincidence from – here is this line from McSweeney’s – specifically regarding prayers to end war and murder

    Mudslides, freak lightning storms, untreatable illnesses–those are God problems. But YOU killing each other with killing machines YOU created to kill each other seems like a YOU problem. Go do something about it! But, hey, that’s just this God’s opinion.

    As Hoffer put it – we walk between the devil and the dragon.

  2. My favorite SMBC so far – sort of related to my “Let’s Kill Hitler” book idea.
  3. One of Tyler Cowen’s better posts – regarding Moore’s Law and Social Media – some nuggets

    Manipulable people can be reached with a greater flood of information, so over time as data on them accumulate, they become more manipulable.

    It is often easier to manipulate smart people than stupid people, because the latter may be oblivious to a greater set of cues and clues.

    There is a performative dimension that renders both sides more rigid and dishonest.

    The socially sensitive, very smart people will become the most despairing, the most manipulated, and the most angry. The socially insensitive will either jump ship into the camp of the socially sensitive, or they will cultivate new methods of detachment, with or without Stoicism. Straussianism will compete with Stoicism.

Social sensitivity is the nugget of wisdom – that seems like more of a spectrum disorder (to use the parlance of our time)

Taking a knee, and the decline of American Communication

Something I wrote on another email exchange

Communication enhancing technology seems to have the effect of reducing our natural ability to communicate with each other – I guess they’re substitutes, not compliments.
I do think Americans are largely losing the ability to have effective conversations with people even slightly different than them, as well as losing faith in their deeply held ideas.
Quoting my own emails is the height of pretension, but I do find two of these ideas interesting, namely
  • Communication technology is a substitute for communication ability
  • We are losing faith in out ideas – even though we cling to them more tightly.

It seems that we have no hope of convincing anyone else of our beliefs, either due a lack of faith in our abilities, or a lack of faith in the veracity of our beliefs.

More thoughts on the Parkside Elementary redistricting

For those of you who haven’t talked to me in person the past week there was a large controversy over redistricting my daughter’s elementary school.  The lines were drawn over neighborhood lines, which set forth all sorts of divisive talk and feelings, which should be expected with the root action being divisive in nature.

  1. It was announced late on a Saturday night
  2. The entire neighborhood was having outraged conversations on Sunday
  3. I had the website going Monday
  4. My neighbor (who has a printing company) had the yard signs ready on Tuesday
  5. Wednesday they announce that they were withdrawing the issue from consideration (after much angry talk by the potentially excluded people, both in person and on social media)
  6. Thursday we have a meeting where they explain how everything was overcrowded and how people could voluntarily transfer if they so desired.

Much as I knock social media – it really was a help to a just outcome in this case.  Just to give Mark Zuckerberg his due…

Trumps’s first year – told with a sharp pen

By Kevin Williamson

That 2017 has been a year of lost opportunities is an important failure for Republicans, who are likely to accomplish even less in 2018, when the prospect of congressional elections held in the shadow of Trump’s unpopularity will brighten the already visible yellow streak running down the back of Republican Washington. Perhaps things will go differently. But it may very well be the case that 2017 represents all that Republicans will really get out of the Trump phenomenon: a little bit of reform, a lot of noise, and a reputation that may never recover and may not deserve to.

An excellent essay by Jonathan Haidt

Worth reading in it’s entirety – quotes

Intersectionality is like NATO for social-justice activists.


Today’s identity politics has another interesting feature: It teaches students to think in a way antithetical to what a liberal-arts education should do. When I was at Yale in the 1980s, I was given so many tools for understanding the world. By the time I graduated, I could think about things as a Utilitarian or a Kantian, as a Freudian or a behaviorist, as a computer scientist or a humanist. I was given many lenses to apply to any one situation. But nowadays, students who major in departments that prioritize social justice over the disinterested pursuit of truth are given just one lens — power — and told to apply it to all situations. Everything is about power. Every situation is to be analyzed in terms of the bad people acting to preserve their power and privilege over the good people. This is not an education. This is induction into a cult, a fundamentalist religion, a paranoid worldview that separates people from each other and sends them down the road to alienation, anxiety, and intellectual impotence.

I am of the opinion that anything that happens on a college campus is overly hyped – but he does make some good points about the Fox News effect (rewarding bombastic statements on the right) and the notion of identity politics as viewing everything through the lens of power.